The demons are back. Not that they ever left.
Baseball star Josh Hamilton’s ongoing battle with alcohol and drug addiction made headlines again this week when the Texas Rangers slugger acknowledged drinking at a Dallas bar.
Anyone familiar with Hamilton’s riches-to-rags story knows that the former No. 1 pick in Major League Baseball’s amateur draft hit rock bottom before a return to the sport’s Promised Land. He credits his recovery to his Christian faith.
A contrite Hamilton appeared before the Dallas-Fort Worth-area sports media Friday and — speaking without notes — delivered a 12-minute statement about his relapse. He opened by mentioning his “relationship with the Lord.” In all, he referenced “the Lord” twice and “Christ” once.
That prompted this Twitter post from Randy, a minister friend of mine:
In presser, Hamilton talked plainly about “Christ being his rehab.” Are you surprised that in quotes on ESPN scroll, no mention of Christ?
@OK_Rope12 I’m not surprised. Then again, I write for @getreligion
At that point, I had seen the transcript of Hamilton’s remarks but not any of the actual news coverage.
This morning, I took time to explore some of the coverage. Actually, I was pleased (and surprised) with how nicely many of the reports handled the religion angle.
For example, here’s a big chunk of the main story on ESPN’s Major League Baseball page:
“I cannot take a break from my recovery,” Hamilton said. “My recovery is Christ. My recovery is an everyday process. When I take that one day off, it leaves me open for a moment of weakness and it’s always been that way.
“For everybody that I’ve hurt, for fans, kids, people that have addictions that look up to me, I apologize to you. When you’re doing this, you don’t mean to hurt anybody, but you’re only thinking it hurts yourself, but I know it hurt a lot of people.”
After his public apology earlier in the day, Hamilton appeared as scheduled Friday night at a Christian men’s rally in Katy, Texas, near Houston. He again didn’t take any questions, and spoke only to the congregation.
“I could hide in shame and not show up tonight and be withdrawn, but I didn’t want to do that,” Hamilton told the group while reiterating his Christian faith. “I’m doing what I had to do today. I am fessing up. I am going to be a man about it, I am fessing up. People are going to call me a hypocrite, but I am a sinful man.”
Hamilton’s wife Katie posted a couple of messages on her Twitter account earlier in the day.
“Truly appreciate all the encouraging & supportive tweets we’ve been getting,” one tweet said. “God is Faithful and forgives — so thankful that you all are.”
Another tweet read: “Showing us such love and encouragement during this time.”
The Houston Chronicle noted that St. Louis Cardinals slugger Lance Berkman, Hamilton’s foe in the 2011 World Series, showed up at the men’s rally Friday night to support his fellow evangelical Christian.
Alas, the Fort Worth Star-Telegram’s main story managed to report on Hamilton’s statement without one use of the terms “Lord,” “Christ” or even “Christian.” There was this vague note:
His focus has returned to his plan to stay sober, which starts with his faith and is aided by reaching out to his support network during times when he isn’t as strong as he needs to be.
His faith in what?
Maybe the Star-Telegram (which featured a column Friday that alluded to Hamilton’s “religious faith”) assumes that everybody in its reading audience already knows all about the slugger’s Christianity.
Then again, how difficult would it be to add that one simple word (“Christian”) between his and faith?