Josh Hamilton is one of the greatest hitters of this generation. Yet his shadowy past filled with alcohol and drugs nearly robbed baseball fans of his talent. It is hard to find even a minor fan of baseball that does not know about his past dealings with crack and cocaine let alone booze. While he may have his life on the right path now, as anyone who has dealt with sobriety issues knows he needs help maintaining his stance on the right path.
The Texas Ranger announced on January 4th that Hamilton’s father in law Michael Chadwick has been named the new accountability partner replacing Johnny Narron who left the position to pursue another opportunity with the Milwaukee Brewers. Some have suggested that this move may not be in the best interest of the Rangers. But I suggest that Chadwick will be better at this role than Narron ever was.
The ability of Hamilton to regain his sobriety has a great deal to do with Chadwick’s help and ability to relate to what he was going through. Narron on the other hand allowed, even briefly, Hamilton to get off the wagon going so far as to doubt the authenticity of pictures of the event. It is my opinion that in the role that he was filling Narron failed because he was unable to see what Hamilton was doing as so far as it hurt him and not necessarily his baseball career. Michael Chadwick on the other hand has no reason to overlook Hamilton’s baseball statistics in relation to his sobriety, since his focus is on his personal life.
Johnny Narron was a good first choice in this role by Jon Daniels. He was a friend of Hamilton’s and he was a baseball man. He was so good in this secondary role that he secured the hitting coach job with the Brewers. I’m not against that in any way, shape or form. But I think that he was limited in what he was able to do for Hamilton by having the secondary coaching job. Or in the words of the slugger “He is fulfilling a dream to be a major league batting coach.” No one can blame him for chasing a dream, but the question comes up, how can you give yourself completely to two different focuses?
Once it was clear that Narron would be leaving and the search for Hamilton’s new accountability partner began it must be noted that Michael Chadwick was suggested not only by Jon Daniels and Thad Levine but by Hamilton and his wife Katie. Chadwick’s focus will be on keeping Hamilton on the path of sobriety and like all good fathers in law give him less leeway than any other person would.
Looking at Hamilton’s offensive numbers it may also be a good change. His 2011 .298/.346/.536 was down not only from his monster 2010 numbers of .359/.411/.633, but also down against his career average of .308/.366/.543.
2011 also saw an outburst by Hamilton on April 13th against third base coach Dave Anderson following a play that resulted in Hamilton breaking his right humerus. ““The whole time I was watching the play, I was listening (to Anderson say), ‘Nobody’s at home. I want you to go. Nobody’s at home,’ ” Hamilton said. “I was like, ‘Dude, I don’t want to do this. Something’s going to happen.’ ” As well as calling it a “stupid play” and “that’s a little too aggressive.” While understandable due to the events these comments are not good for the organization nor are they part of Hamilton’s faith first lifestyle.
The hiring of Michael Chadwick is less about nepotism than about getting the right person in this important job. Getting Chadwick in the position where he can travel with the team may turn out to be the best thing to get Hamilton to return to his 2010 MVP numbers as well doing the best to keep him healthy off the field.