Baseball Star Josh Hamilton Not Punished for Relapse

By McCarton Ackerman 04/07/15

The Players Association won out much to the chagrin of Major League Baseball.

Josh Hamilton
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Major League Baseball star Josh Hamilton will not be suspended for his reported off-season drug relapse, but high-ranking officials both in the league and on his team are not pleased about the decision.

MLB released a statement last Friday, which said that the league believed he should be subject to disciplinary action by the commissioner, though representatives of the league’s Players Association disagreed. An outside arbitrator was appointed to break the tie and they ruled that Hamilton’s behavior did not violate his treatment program.

“The Office of the Commissioner disagrees with the decision,” read the statement. “[He] will seek to address deficiencies in the manner in which drugs of abuse are addressed under the Program in the collective bargaining process.”

Los Angeles Angels' general manager, Jerry Dipoto, also released a statement which clarified that the team had no say in the decision-making process. He noted that the team “has serious concerns about Josh’s conduct, health and behavior and we are disappointed that he has broken an important commitment he made to himself, his family, his teammates and our fans. We are going to do everything possible to assure he receives proper help.”

However, Dipoto’s surprising statement could come down to money. Because Hamilton’s performance on the field has been a disappointment since signing a five-year, $125 million deal with the Angels before the 2013 season, the team would have been given a huge flexibility in payroll since Hamilton’s suspension would have been unpaid. Some of Hamilton’s teammates have spoken out against Dipoto’s comments, with C.J. Wilson calling them “disheartening.”

Hamilton missed the 2002-06 seasons while recovering from addiction, but was officially suspended from 2003-2005 because of his drug issues. He later made a triumphant return to baseball by helping the Texas Rangers make the World Series in 2010 and 2011, and winning American League MVP Honors in 2010.

News of his latest relapse broke last February, when Hamilton’s father-in-law told Newsday that the baseball star hit “a bump in the road.” Sources claim his alleged relapse took place last December, and involved both cocaine and alcohol. Some of his closest allies have even suggested the alleged slip is a sign to retire.

"He needs to get his life back in order. Even three years ago, I told Josh that you might want to consider retirement,” said Roy Silver, one of Hamilton’s closest friends and a mentor in his struggle with drug addiction. "It seems like he's struggling with things. When you've been given three, four and five chances, and it's still not working, it's best to say, ‘This is it.' His life isn't over, but his baseball career should be.''

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McCarton Ackerman is a freelance writer and editor living in Portland, Oregon. He has been a contributor for The Fix since October 2011, writing on a wide range of topics ranging from medical marijuana in Colorado to the world's sexiest drug smugglers. Follow him on Linkedin and Twitter.