SOUTHLAKE, Texas - The Internet has created a new strata of confidence, built primarily through anonymity, or its passive-aggressive nature. You can call anybody anything, say anything about anyone with little or no fear of actual confrontation. The test is, or should be, would you say that to a person's face?
What was already a serious issue became even more so when this week when a Texas couple won a $1.378 million internet libel lawsuit for anonymous comments made about them; these people had anonymously been accused of sexual misconduct.
When Texas Rangers' outfielder Josh Hamilton had his well publicized relapse with alcohol in February he addressed the media the day after the news broke. I wrote that the Rangers should not re-sign him to a monster extension because his body breaks down and not for any other reason.
I wrote, "One of baseball's best players is an admitted crackhead". I can't imagine I would have said that to his face.
Today, at a small media event in Southlake at a Game Stop, I apologized for the remark. He wasn't even aware of it, but it was mean, a cheap shot, and violated a pretty simple rule.
"It's OK. I forgive you," Hamilton said.
Hamilton was there to play the new PlayStation 3 video game "MLB 12 The Show" of which he is one of the few big leaguers to grace the game's cover.
Hamilton kicked my butt in this very cool, and addictive, video game. In home run derby, Hamilton hit 11 home runs to my 2. Also notice, against me, he was unable to equal the 28 home runs he hit in the first round of the real MLB Home Run Derby a few years ago in New York.
For the record, he had been practicing, and I had never taken a swing. Critics have said that hitting two home runs having never played this before is no different than scaling Everest without training.
Hamilton and I chatted about the his team's hot start, his ridiculous numbers so far (.390, 8 HR, 19 RBI), playing in a contract year, and addressing Rangers' fans concerns.
The Big Mac Blog: Did you envision a start like this for you or the team?
Josh Hamilton: People put too much stock into spring training. The game is about results. The cool thing about the team is the mentality of, 'What can each player do tonight to help us win?'
The Big Mac Blog: How are you better today as a player than when you arrived from Cincy?
Josh Hamilton: Just smarter about learning how to get into a routine. Not looking past preparing for one game. I am doing Pilates now again during the season three times a week. It takes about 20 minutes.
The Big Mac Blog: Your decision to publicly address your relapse immediately; was that instinctive or did someone advise you to do that?
Josh Hamilton: Both. My wife, my agent and I got together with the Rangers and we felt like that would be the best thing overall. We prayed about it, obviously. And there was a learning process from '09 when it happened then. And then figuring out, it happened again, what do we need to look into why it happened again? Figure out how to stay on top of it, and not just push it aside. I'm not going to play baseball forever. It was, 'Get it out there' and try to manage the problem.
The Big Mac Blog: How are you?
Josh Hamilton: Really good. Spiritually. Mentally. Physically. Everything is probably better now than it has been since I have been playing.
The Big Mac Blog: How do you deal with people like me, or others, calling you names and making comments when they don't know you at all?
Josh Hamilton: I was in Minnesota the other week and I moved from center field to left field and I was just getting worn out by the fans in left field. When you've got a 12-year-old kid calling you a crack head ... but I know that they are going through something, or they know someone going through something, and they are just lashing out. They can't quite get it. These are the ones lashing at Jesus when he was on the cross.
The Big Mac Blog: Then what is fair - whom I to say anything about you not on the field?
Josh Hamilton: That's the way I want it. I'm not only sharing God's words with people but my life with people so they can see God's grace in my life and his mercy. And show everybody that I make mistakes, too.
The Big Mac Blog: Statistically, players in contract years enjoy career number seasons; do you feel any different today in a contract season than you did one year ago?
Josh Hamilton: Absolutely not. I am under contract right now. For example, this spring a guy asked me about playing too hard. That's the dumbest question I've ever heard. How can you play too hard? You play smart.
The Big Mac Blog: It's about you getting hurt. Everyone is holding your breath when you fall.
Josh Hamilton: OK, here is the answer. Close game, ball needs to be caught at the wall, I'm running into the wall.
The Big Mac Blog: In June?
Josh Hamilton: In June. But not if we're up 10 games. Or up five runs.
The Big Mac Blog: I have no problem with that answer.
Josh Hamilton: It all depends. When I got hurt running into the wall playing the Angels, it was 1-1 or 0-0 and I had to go get it. My body always wants to do it, and so does my heart, but ...
The Big Mac Blog: What about D-Hing?
Josh Hamilton: It's something I will be able to do a little later on. You have to have a mentality and figure out a routine that works. I think my numbers drop as a DH.
The Big Mac Blog: For fans who say, 'We want Josh forever, but we're scared' what do you say?
Josh Hamilton: Gotta have faith, baby ...
The Big Mac Blog: Is that a legit question?
Josh Hamilton: Yes. But personally I can't live or play scared of getting hurt.
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