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Hey look, it’s the inevitable “is Josh Hamilton getting off easy because he’s white?” column!

Feb 16, 2012, 5:00 PM EDT

josh hamilton getty Getty Images

I was surprised we didn’t see this within a couple of days of the Josh Hamilton story breaking, but I’m glad it’s here all the same. Not because I think it’s worth a damn — it’s not! — but because no story about a scandal involving an athlete feels complete without it.

Take it away Mac Engel who, after noting that Josh Hamilton isn’t having effigies of him burned in the streets says …:

Now the tricky part—would you feel the same way if Josh Hamilton was not a white dude?

Would Josh Hamilton have been asked, let alone agreed, to make his first TV interview since his now famous relapse on Glenn Beck TV—as he did on Wednesday afternoon—if he weren’t white?

The race card may be an easy out for a column, but here we sit in the middle of Black History Month and there is no better time to ask an uncomfortable question: Does Josh Hamilton inspire, generate sympathy and are people largely accepting and supportive simply because of the color of his skin, and to heck with the content of his character?

It’s a tired argument because it assumes all manner of things about the nature of punishment. There’s actual punishment, of which he should receive none because, no matter what his past is, it’s not illegal for him to have had some beers.

There’s also public opinion punishment, which I don’t think anyone can have a firm grasp on, in terms of either its nature among those who hold it or the person whose opinion is being opined upon. At least not now.  And of course there are the feelings of the person in question. Maybe Hamilton is going through hell and we just don’t know about it nor can we, be he black or white.

But I do know this much: Josh Hamilton’s manager, Ron Washington — who, as you probably know, is black — tested positive for cocaine a couple of years ago.  And he kept his job. And got no small amount of support from everyone with the Rangers and in the baseball community at large. He then won awards, pennants and got a contract extension.

Why? Because (a) he’s a good man who people like; (b) he was contrite and vowed to do better in the future; and (c) he did, in fact, do better and validated everyone who cut him some slack.

So, call me crazy, but yes, I think that Josh Hamilton — who is also someone who is well-liked and has shown contrition and has promised to do better — would likely get the same shake if he were black.

  1. proudlycanadian - Feb 16, 2012 at 5:09 PM

    He drank beer and it is the reason for dumb stories? Can’t wait for spring training to begin and to have some real baseball stories.

  2. WhenMattStairsIsKing - Feb 16, 2012 at 5:12 PM

    Ugh. Stupid journalism makes my head hurt.

  3. nategearhart - Feb 16, 2012 at 5:13 PM

    “The race card may be an easy out for a column…”
    I always laugh whenever I see things like that in a column. If, while you are writing your column, you state right in the middle of said column that the subject matter is probably shite, and you can’t actually REFUTE the statement….then stop writing the shite column.

  4. adeedothatswho - Feb 16, 2012 at 5:13 PM

    Look, I think it’s a stupid idea, too. And I’m black. But all the guy did was ask a question. We can’t fault him too bad for that. He didn’t attack Hamilton or anything else, just asked a question. Tomorrow, we’ll all have forgotten about it. Everyone wants to get paid, let them write their odd articles….

    • baseballisboring - Feb 16, 2012 at 5:55 PM

      Well yeah. I don’t think anyone’s angry about it, cause it wasn’t offensive. But he could’ve written something…you know, good.

    • chedberg88 - Feb 16, 2012 at 9:47 PM

      I gave you a “thumbs down” but not because you state that you are black.

      Josh Hamilton is not being ex-communicated because he stood up in front of the media, nothing pre-written (especially by his handlers and/or agent) and said “Hey, I made a mistake and here I am to own it. Any questions?”

    • chedberg88 - Feb 16, 2012 at 9:48 PM

      I gave you a “thumbs down,” but not because you state that you are black.

      Josh Hamilton is not being ex-communicated because he stood up in front of the media, nothing pre-written (especially by his handlers and/or agent) and said “Hey, I made a mistake and here I am to own it. Any questions?”

  5. stlouis1baseball - Feb 16, 2012 at 5:24 PM

    Yep…it’s all a big consipiracy.

  6. WhenMattStairsIsKing - Feb 16, 2012 at 5:27 PM

    I’m waiting for the journalist that smartly remarks that Josh probably got off easy because he has curly hair.

    • hammyofdoom - Feb 16, 2012 at 6:22 PM

      No no no its his blue eyes. Cant hit a curve ball in the daylight and also makes him just too adorable to punish

      • Francisco (FC) - Feb 17, 2012 at 1:11 PM

        So you’re saying Josh is the equivalent of the Puss in Boots?

  7. joewcu67 - Feb 16, 2012 at 5:32 PM

    Becuz Miguel Cabrera go hammered for his drunken escapades

    • hammyofdoom - Feb 16, 2012 at 6:20 PM

      Well YEAH he was drunk driving. If Josh had this relapse and got behind the wheel of a car I know I’d have a way different perspective than I currently do. If you have a screw up in your personal life, that sucks but its not really a matter for (at least in my mind) us to really say anything about. But if he got sloshed and started to drive around, he would DESERVE to get torn to bits by the media in my mind because its one of the stupidest one can do as well as easiest to avoid. Apples and oranges

    • larryboodry - Feb 16, 2012 at 7:05 PM

      Miguel got hammered, all right, then got behind the wheel, which was both illegal and morally reprehensible…What Josh Hamilton did was neither.

    • djpostl - Feb 19, 2012 at 2:24 PM

      Miggy’s latest involved him sitting behind the wheel of a car WHILST takin’ tugs from a whiskey bottle as the cop pulled up. Hamilton had some beers and took a cab home.

      Not even close to being the same thing.

      (Never mind the drinkin till 6 a.n. then stinking the joint up in a must-win-to-get-in Game 163 a few years back.)

  8. woodenulykteneau - Feb 16, 2012 at 5:38 PM

    Always remember: Be suspicious of those who have “found Jesus” when no one else would have them.

  9. billymc75 - Feb 16, 2012 at 5:47 PM

    The man showed up at his pressed wearing jeans, a tshirt and a backwards hat and took no questions. Forget black if he’s Romo he’s treated different .

  10. bgrubb - Feb 16, 2012 at 5:55 PM

    Shocking that this article was NOT written by Jason Whitlock…

    • Bryz - Feb 16, 2012 at 9:03 PM

      Agreed, I was expecting Whitlock as well.

    • chedberg88 - Feb 16, 2012 at 9:49 PM

      Myself was thinking Whitlock as the page loaded.

  11. hammyofdoom - Feb 16, 2012 at 6:07 PM

    His coach, who happens to be black, was caught having done cocaine just a few years ago. What was his excuse for getting off easy?

    • baseballisboring - Feb 16, 2012 at 6:20 PM

      “‘He happens to be black’. Like it’s a fuckin accident?

      ‘He had two black parents.’ ‘Yes, yes he did.’

      ‘And they fucked.’ ‘Yes, yes they did.”

      • hammyofdoom - Feb 16, 2012 at 6:28 PM

        The only reason you arent thumbed up by a billion is because this site wont let me

      • baseballisboring - Feb 16, 2012 at 6:42 PM

        Hahaha glad you caught the reference.

  12. baseballisboring - Feb 16, 2012 at 6:12 PM

    Not to be a dork and suck up to Craig, but I tend to agree with the vast majority of what you write, and this post is a prime example of you being able to articulate opinions that I just can’t. I get about 60% of the way there, then I hit this wall of stupidity that I can’t quite get over, and then I go do something else. Thanks for explaining my thoughts on this subject in detail to me.

    • larryboodry - Feb 16, 2012 at 6:58 PM

      Craig wrote a fine piece, the place where Mac Engel was born is missing its idiot.

  13. bouwel92 - Feb 16, 2012 at 6:49 PM

    ok people should really stop pullin the race card its gettin really effin old and aint nothin but a cry for attention o hes white or hes black red yellow or watever every race gets in trouble and gets off the hook at some point plus you caint punish him cuz he was drinkin yes he has a problem and shouldnt be drinkin in the first point but its legal so he caint get in trouble itd be different if he was doin drugs or somethin but he aint plus at least he was man enough to admit wat hes done he didnt try to hide it so enough with the dam race card thing

  14. Jonny 5 - Feb 16, 2012 at 7:02 PM

    That article is a fine example of pure laziness, and lack of interest in ones job. He should have just written ”F#&k it, I don’t feel like working today.”

  15. canowack - Feb 16, 2012 at 8:16 PM

    What a joke some of the media is. He went and had a few drinks. Is he doing it every day or racking up DUI’s? No! Give him a break…he seems to be an outstanding guy now that his past is behind him and he has handled himself better than most ever could under so much pressure.

  16. kinggw - Feb 16, 2012 at 8:29 PM

    Why is it such a big deal to discuss race? Why is it so unreasonable to some that people are treated different because the color of their skin? It happens every day but many people on these boards swear up and down it doesnt.

    Personally, I don’t think Hamilton is getting off easy because he’s white. He didnt do anything wrong. In fact I think he’s an idiot for making a spectacle of himself. He relapsed, he’s getting help, lets move on.

    I do think it was chicken shit of Calcaterra to bring Washington’s cocaine use into this story. Washington unlike Hamilton, doesnt have a history of addiction. Washington has never had his drug use affect his job. Washington didnt get fired, even though he offered to resign because it was his first offense and he helped to turn the Rangers around. Im sure if the Rangers were in the basement he would have been gone. Long story short, there is nothing wrong with posing questions about race. Writers like Calcaterra and white men in general dont have to get defensive and be totally dismissive when the questions are raised. Because of juvenile reactions like the one Calcaterra provided, its difficult to have an adult conversation about race and how it affects our society.

    • jdillydawg - Feb 17, 2012 at 1:52 AM

      I dunno. It seems every conversation about race these days starts with, “Yeah, well if he’d been (insert color here), do you think they’d be so easy?” It’s a stale argument. If you want to talk race, let’s start by asking questions that haven’t been asked a million times and don’t actually have an answer.

      Unless we paint Josh black and buy him a beer and see what happens…

      Calc’s response was spot on.

    • Jonny 5 - Feb 17, 2012 at 8:21 AM

      Kinggw, You must be new around here if you think Calcaterra wouldn’t point out cases of racial disparity and privilege at any time it presents itself. I’d like to ask you. How do you know Washington doesn’t have a history of addiction? Just because it isn’t plastered all over the media? How do you know he never let it effect his job? The article was ridiculous, as you almost admit it so yourself. That was the point of the matter. Now C.C. and white men in general aren’t allowed to have an opinion when race is inserted in the conversation? That seems like a pretty chicken shit way to “have an adult conversation about race”, to me anyway.

  17. spytdi - Feb 16, 2012 at 8:36 PM

    Yep! Hail whitey.

  18. dukemaster - Feb 16, 2012 at 10:01 PM

    I don’t care what color you are. I believe as humans we have an innate tendency to support someone going through turmoil. Case in point, we all know what Whitney Houston’s lifestyle has been the last 10 years but it doesn’t change our opinion of what an incredible waste of talent it was. Josh Hamilton, should the relapses continue would be an incredible waste of talent. We, as Americans, ache for redemption. We rely on it. And we hope Josh Hamilton provides that for us. We need that as a nation.

    • JBerardi - Feb 16, 2012 at 11:41 PM

      Case in point, indeed:

      • Old Gator - Feb 17, 2012 at 1:00 AM

        Fox news audience. What did you expect?

    • jdillydawg - Feb 17, 2012 at 1:47 AM

      I’m still waiting on Tiger Woods…

  19. jdillydawg - Feb 17, 2012 at 1:44 AM

    Personally, I don’t care what color Hamilton is or what kind of beer he drinks, either. I just wanna know what makes a guy with talent like he has want to piss it all away in a bottle? What demons is he fighting?

  20. humanexcrement - Feb 17, 2012 at 3:50 AM

    I’m sick of this shit. The guy has a problem, okay, I get it. But honestly, who out there has never had to go pick up a friend from a bar who’s had too many, or actually been the guy a friend has had to come rescue? Most of us, like me, have been both at one time or another. Don’t give me that crap that he’s only getting another chance because he’s white. Several other teams gave up on him. And guys like Doc Gooden and Daryl Strawberry got more than one chance. They stopped getting chances when their abuse began to effect their performance to the point that they couldn’t play anymore. And seriously, how many white guys have been busted for steroids? We’ve seen McGwire, Clemens, Bonds, ARod, and others have their reputations destroyed. Is there a racial link here? No, it’s a link between people using and not using ilegal substances. Guess what–if you’re clean, they can’t bust you for drugs, can they? If you get popped, it’s because you used drugs, not because of your race. And if you’r a good player, someone out there will offer you another contract.

  21. deathmonkey41 - Feb 17, 2012 at 9:10 AM

    Some of my best friends are white people!

  22. stex52 - Feb 17, 2012 at 9:50 AM

    Article is too stupid to put this much energy into. Next thread.

  23. greej1938l - Feb 17, 2012 at 10:44 AM

    Craig….gotta ask. Are you white or black!!!??

    • phillyphreak - Feb 17, 2012 at 11:02 AM

  24. vangup - Feb 17, 2012 at 12:20 PM

    Craig: why do assholes like you have to play the race card whenever it is convenient?

    You probably don’t recall but Miguel Cabrera went through the same thing with his alcohol addiction and nobody played the race card. By the way Babrera is a Latino.

    • Old Gator - Feb 17, 2012 at 8:14 PM

      vangup, why do idiots like you have to get things so backasswards? Craig didn’t “play the race card,” he reported that it had been played by another writer and attempted to un-play it. Read what’s in front of your nose and respond to that, instead of to the constellation of sound bites you’ve already assembled inside your head.

    • djpostl - Feb 19, 2012 at 2:31 PM

      Well, clearly your reading comprehension is absolute shit. He didn’t play it moron, he reported about someone else writing a lazy column (while playing it in the process).

      Miggy did catch a ton of hell fo his stuff and I don’t really remember anyone crying foul about race being an issue, so on that I think you are correct.

      But Miggy also stayed out all night before a Game 163 play-in game then did nothing to help his team as they lost. He followed that up with a DUI that saw him takin’ tugs off a whiskey bottle as the officer walked up to his car window.

      Not the same as “I had some beers and took a cab home”

      Not even close. So Miggy should have caught more hell for his.

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