Thursday, February 23, 2012

4 comments What Josh Hamilton Can Learn from Whitney Houston, or Why Forbes Should Not Cover Sports

Forbes Magazine has a sports section. This comes as a shock to me since I didn't know this before today. While searching for really good (okay fine, I was looking for bad journalism) journalism about Josh Hamilton's relapse I found the least insightful article on the topic. It is about Josh Hamilton's relapse and what he can learn from Whitney Houston. This is one of the most tenuous ties between a pop culture event and sports that I can think of over the past few years.

Weren't there baseball players who struggled with drugs that Josh Hamilton could learn maybe Oil Can Boyd or any number of baseball players who had drugs affect their career in a negative way? Whitney Houston though? I feel like the author, Patrick Rishe, was just waiting for a tie-in to another celebrity who used drugs so he can write a column about Josh Hamilton. He should have waited longer or just not tried to tie another celebrity's drug issues in with Josh Hamilton's own drug issues.

For any of us who are children of the 80s, it was sobering and saddening to learn of Whitney Houston’s passing on Saturday afternoon.

And then when Patrick Rishe heard of Whitney Houston's passing he realized this is the perfect time to make a tenuously-related connection between Whitney Houston's drug issues and Josh Hamilton's drug and alcohol issues. After all, all druggies and their situations are the exact same, so it should be easy to compare one to another.

The economics of substance abuse is pretty cut and dry.

Economically, hard drugs are expensive.

Most of us don’t allow ourselves to become addicts because – either consciously or subconsciously – we know that the costs associated with substance abuse (e.g. monetary, physical health, emotional health, external trauma exerted upon loved ones) far exceed the benefits.

I'm arguing semantics here, but I wouldn't say addicts "allow" themselves to become addicted. Sure, they take the steps necessary in using drugs or alcohol, but I don't think it is a conscious decision for a person to wake up and say, "I think I'm going to become an addict now." It tends to start slowly and then slowly develop into an addiction without a lot of conscious thought.

Unfortunately, those individuals that develop an addiction – no matter how irrational it may appear to the rest of us – believe the personal benefits derived from drug usage exceed these costs.

I don't think addicts think rationally about their addiction in this way. This is a very economist-like way of looking at addiction in believing addicts take the time to weigh the cost and benefits of using drugs versus the cost and benefits of choosing not to use drugs. I think part of the definition of the addiction is this ability to weigh the benefits and costs of using drugs no longer functions for a person. They don't care about the cost of using the drugs as long as they receive the benefit, no matter how much the cost may hurt them personally or professionally. That's why they call it "addiction" because rational thinking goes out the window.

Hey, maybe individuals who develop an addiction are doing a cost-benefit analysis and I am just not aware of it. This does seem like an incredibly rational way of determining whether to use drugs or not, but maybe addicts are way more rational in their decision-making than I believe. After all, I don't write for Forbes Magazine.

Of course, Ms. Houston’s demise comes just weeks after Texas Rangers All-Star outfielder Josh Hamilton fell off the wagon for the 2nd time since returning to Major League Baseball after fighting his own substance abuse issues that drove him away from the game.

And there are not enough parallels between these two events that would enable a person to write an article about the similarities of these two events. Of course I say this fully knowing the same article that says Josh Hamilton can learn from Whitney Houston also believes addicts are capable of rational thinking about their addiction. So all bets are off at this point.

Days after Mr. Hamilton’s relapse, the Rangers hired Shayne Kelley to essentially play watchdog to ensure that Mr. Hamilton will stay clean going forward.

Perhaps, Mr. Kelley, you should have Mr. Hamilton sit down and read all about the rise and fall of Ms. Houston.

Right, because Josh Hamilton's own firsthand experience with using drugs, relapsing, recovering, and relapsing again isn't quite as memorable as a timeline of Whitney Houston's career. Sure, it may seem like Hamilton would be best served feeling some pain firsthand seeing on how relapsing hurt his family and friends, but I think the most convincing way of seeing Hamilton stays on the straight and narrow is experiencing Houston's drug problems vicariously through her interviews and music videos.

Have him YouTube some of her best performances when she was at the height of her career,

I did tear up earlier today while watching "I Wanna Dance with Somebody" on YouTube.

and then look-up photos and videos of her during her troubled times.

Completely ignoring the forced comparison between Houston and Hamilton, this YouTube therapy would be better served on children or for a person who has no firsthand experience with drug addiction. Considering Hamilton almost lost his career in baseball once because of drugs, and almost like his family in that time as well, I'm not sure comparing Whitney Houston's decline through the viewing of music videos is the best way to ensure Hamilton stays clean.

In fact, it is actually pretty insulting to Hamilton to suggest he watch music videos in order to see what drugs can do to a person, especially considering he probably has a laundry list of regrets caused by drugs and alcohol consumption.

Because this will remind Mr. Hamilton that nothing is forever and that substance abuse destroys.

This forced comparison really never gets any better. Just know that there is no improvement as this article goes along.

Hamilton could also look at his own life to see nothing is forever and substance abuse destroys. The idea Josh Hamilton needs to look at a 48 year old singer as an example for his life is just laughable to me.

It will remind Mr. Hamilton that his 2010 MVP award and back-to-back appearances in the World Series won’t save him from weak moments in the future that could – in the extreme – cause irreporable harm to himself and others.

Yes, Whitney Houston's death is the key to this knowledge because no other baseball players have ever struggled with addiction. Hamilton's role model has to be a least for the purposes of this article. Also, I'm not sure that's how you spell "irreparable."

Perhaps Ms. Houston’s tragedy can serve as the ultimate teaching point to Mr. Hamilton,


who has already likely jeopardized his chance for a long-term contract with the Rangers after his current deal expires at the end of the 2011 season.

I am sure since Hamilton is struggling with addiction right now, one of his biggest concerns is getting a long-term contract. He will only make $22.5 million for 2011 and 2012. How will he survive on such a small income? I am sure that long-term contract is forefront in Hamilton's mind right now. If Hamilton is as concerned about his long-term contract as much as he is concerned with getting sober then his priorities need to be realigned.

I applaud the Texas Rangers for making a “Bodyguard” investment in an effort to increase the likelihood that one of their prized assets has every chance to maximize his productive potential.

Oh yeah, that's a reference to a Whitney Houston movie. I bet Patrick Rishe has been waiting this entire column to make this reference. I would say he was "Waiting to Exhale" from anticipation over using this reference. Perhaps Hamilton should have a "Preacher's Wife" follow him around to make sure his "Cinderella" story still "Sparkles" after he gets his life back on the straight-and-narrow.

(See what I did? All of Whitney Houston's movies in one paragraph. I could write for Forbes!)

Because substance abuse will be the toughest foe Josh Hamilton ever faces.

As such, the Texas Rangers and Josh Hamilton himself should spare no expense to ensure his sobriety.

Including spending the time watching Whitney Houston videos on YouTube. This is crucial to Hamilton's recovery.

Perhaps in some odd way, Ms. Houston’s passing could reinforce to Mr. Hamilton the most important reason to stay clean.

I don't like to use the word "odd" here, but prefer to use the phrase "ever so tenuously tied" in regard to how Whitney Houston can teach Josh Hamilton a lesson on staying clean. I like to think Hamilton's greatest lesson can be learned from his own actions, attending meetings about addiction and talking with other baseball players (people who have actually have more in common with Hamilton than a middle-aged singer). But again, I'm not trying to write an article tying Whitney Houston and Josh Hamilton together.

Not just so he can hit home runs and lead the Rangers back to the World Series.

I don't see why Hamilton doesn't weigh the economic costs and benefit of having an addiction and then just making a rational decision to stay sober. Hamilton needs to do two things over the next week:

1. Watch a lot of Whitney Houston music videos and interviews.

2. Do a real cost-benefit analysis and convince himself the cost of being an addict outweighs the benefit of using drugs so he can make a decision to never use drugs/alcohol again. He needs to just stop allowing himself to become an addict.

So he can be around in 40 years to share stories of a great career with his grandchildren.

Whose great career does Josh Hamilton need to be around to share stories of? Whitney Houston. Josh Hamilton needs to get sober so he can pass her story along to other generations.


rich said...

Most of us don’t allow ourselves to become addicts

This right here is bullshit. Between cigarettes and alcohol, you have a lot of addicts.

Then if you include people who are addicted to other things - tv, internet, etc. I'd be willing to be every person on the planet has at least one thing that they're addicted to.

However, if we're limiting this just to hard drugs - two limiting factors are: money and availability.

Whitney Houston had access to drugs because she was rich and knew who to buy from. If you make 50k a year, you're less likely to develop a 40k a year cocaine addiction.

who has already likely jeopardized his chance for a long-term contract with the Rangers after his current deal expires at the end of the 2011 season.

This would be the dumbest thing in the world. You have a grown man who had a beer, with a teammate...

Yes, I get that as a recovering (recovered?) addict, he's more likely to reform the habit, but I never understood how someone having one beer after being sober for a couple years, with a teammate was a big deal.

If he went on an all night bender by himself and ended up in a ditch, then ya, that's a big deal. One beer in a bar with a teammate does not require national media attention.

Also, it's not like addicts have a hard time getting long term contracts in baseball. Look at Strawberry, Gooden or for a more recent example - Miguel Cabrera.

The fact is this - a grown man made the choice to have a beer. Should he have? Probably not, but to say that Whitney Houston can serve as some sort of inspiration is stupid.

Whitney Houston married an enabler who helped feed her addiction. She had tons of money and nothing but free time. I don't know much about Whitney Houston, but it seems like she didn't have anyone telling her to cut the drugs out of her life.

Josh Hamilton on the other hand, hit rock bottom, has the support of his wife, kids and team. He had a beer with a teammate and suddenly he needs to learn something?

Because substance abuse will be the toughest foe Josh Hamilton ever faces.

I think the fact that a father died trying to catch a ball he threw into the stands might have that beat.

Bengoodfella said...

Rich, that is very true. We are all addicted to something or another. My list is probably longer than it should be. Whitney Houston had access to a lot of money and she had people around her who probably wouldn't be inclined to tell her no. That's why Hamilton has an accountability partner. So it isn't always about allowing ourselves to be addicts, but being able to afford a certain amount of addiction.

I don't know if Hamilton will have a hard time getting a long term deal b/c of this. I think his performance on the field this season will weigh much heavier when it comes to the contract offer he receives.

Hamilton probably can't afford to just have one beer given his previous addiction, but I think other addicts can learn from Hamilton. Admit your mistakes, surround yourself with people who make you accountable. So if anything, I think Whitney could have learned from Hamilton...assuming she had a clue who he was of course.

That incident where the father died would lead me to drinking. I'm surprised he stayed sober after that.

Anonymous said...

One out of ten is bipolar I or bipolar II; 80% of these suffer from substance abuse struggles through a lifetime. These individuals are unbelievably driven-whatever means they use to not be tempted is none of anyone's business. Stop commenting on uneducated matters of brain frontal lobe activity and method of recovery

Bengoodfella said...

Anon, or spambot, or whatever the hell you are...I wasn't commenting on brain frontal lobe activity or method of recovery. The author was doing that. I'm worried about you the activity in your brain if you think I was in any way criticizing Josh Hamilton.