Outside of following the Red Sox with a fervor usually reserved for radical Islamists and Fantasy Football players, my other favorite baseball related thing to do this year was try and keep up with Josh Hamilton.
I've posted a few times on him: local Carolina boy who was the 1st pick in the 1999 baseball draft. You may have heard of the guy who was picked 2nd: Josh Beckett. Hamilton was the classic tale of someone who had the world by the tail, but ego, drugs, and alcohol took him down.
Except this kid was the exception: through faith, hard work, and the love a woman who wouldn't give up on him, he made it back. All the way from strung out in some crackheads mobile home to playing CF next to Ken Freaking Griffey for the Cincinnati Reds.
After being away from the game from basically 2002 to 2006, he played in all of 15 minor league games in 2006. With the odds almost a million to one, he made the Opening Day roster of the Reds this past season and ended up hitting .292 with 19 HR's and 47 RBI's in 90 games.
Word came down late today that he had been traded to the Texas Rangers. Part of me is thrilled for the guy because Ron Washington seems like a perfect manager for this kid and part of me is already worried that change may not what he needs in regards to his recovery.
I hope he's mature enough to handle it, though the fact he's made it this far tells me he is.
I hope he'll get the support in Texas he had in Cincinnati, and the fact Washington is there sort of tells me he will.
I hope he hits .300, 35, and 120 next season; 'cause if anyone deserves to have success it's Josh Hamilton.
If this isn't the perfect time of year to wish for hope, I don't know what is.
Merry Christmas, Josh.
I'll be pulling for you.