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Josh Hamilton reveals “mystery issue” is chewing tobacco

Aug 3, 2012, 4:00 PM EDT

Josh Hamilton AP AP

Josh Hamilton has yet to reveal the nature of the mystery issue he’s repeatedly made cryptic comments about for the past week, but Jon Heyman of reports that the former MVP’s inability to quit chewing tobacco is the source.

Hamilton unsuccessfully tried to quit last year and then went public with a follow-up effort last month, but apparently it didn’t take.

Considering how open he’s been about the chewing tobacco habit in the past it seems a little odd that he’d be so cryptic about the situation this time around, particularly since his comments led to speculation about a variety of potential off-field issues and caused both manager Ron Washington and general manager Jon Daniels to address the situation.

Here’s the initial Hamilton comments that started all the rumors and speculation last week:

I’ve been shown a lot of things over the past week. There’s disobedience and there’s obedience to God. I’ve been being disobedient. It may be a small thing to you, but it’s a big thing to him. There’s consequences. It’s like a father and a kid. There are disciplines. You guys can chew on that and think about it.

I suppose “you guys can chew on that” was a hint. Or maybe not. And then last night Hamilton declined to reveal any details, saying “people are not going to understand” and “it’s nobody’s business.”

Hamilton has been in an extended slump at the plate, going from the best player in baseball early this season to hitting just .201 with 59 strikeouts and a .674 OPS in 49 games since June 1 and .178 since July 1. He’s shown some signs of life recently, going 2-for-5 with four RBIs last night and 6-for-19 (.316) with three extra-base hits in his last four games.

UPDATE: Hamilton issued the following statement:

Due to the speculation that occurred from my recent comments, I felt it was important to clarify what the “issue” was to which I was referring–both personally and professionally. The issue is “discipline.” Professionally, it’s been plate discipline. Personally, it’s been being obedient to the Lord in quitting chewing tobacco. I was hesitant to address the tobacco once again, because it’s an area that I’ve struggled with trying to quit in the past. I wanted to have some time of success “under my belt” before addressing again publicly, but feel I haven’t been given that option with all of the speculating out there as to what the “mystery issue” was. But there you have it. Discipline. Hebrews 12:4-5 and John 3:30.

  1. stex52 - Aug 3, 2012 at 4:03 PM

    Great! I guess. Depends on how much it is messing with his mind. I wouldn’t chew tobacco myself, but as sins go it’s probably forgiveable.

  2. kranepool - Aug 3, 2012 at 4:05 PM

    Pete Harnisch had a real bad reaction when he quit dip

    • sabatimus - Aug 3, 2012 at 6:06 PM

      Holy crap I didn’t know a reaction could be that bad. Another reason not to quit cold–the body gets used to stuff in the system, and when it’s not there it freaks out.

  3. kpow55 - Aug 3, 2012 at 4:07 PM

    Maybe not a great image for young fans but forgivable in the big picture… He made it sound like he was touching his naughty bits and the Mrs. caught him or something.

    • Marty - Aug 4, 2012 at 6:12 PM

      That’s because he’s obviously an attention whore.

  4. Slim Charles - Aug 3, 2012 at 4:09 PM

    Who cares, the guy beat drug addiction, let him have a dip if he wants.

    • mattyflex - Aug 3, 2012 at 4:33 PM

      The thumbs down here are interesting, because I saw a gentleman get blasted in the comments section for stating that he did not condone ballplayers using marijuana recreationally. It seemed few or none agreed with his statements, which were said quite eloquently without bashing anyone who uses marijuana, yet here we have people disagreeing with letting a ball player use chewing tobacco.

      • sabatimus - Aug 3, 2012 at 6:09 PM

        The down thumbs might be about the fact that Hamilton himself wants to beat dip (hence the “who cares” comment might seem insensitive), and Hamilton has not in fact beaten drug addiction–he’s had relapses, and Hamilton’s pretty hard on himself about relapsing.

    • Glenn - Aug 3, 2012 at 5:52 PM

      That’s the problem with nicotine addiction – it isn’t immediately destructive like the alcohol and hard drugs Hamilton had problems with so it is easy to slide back into it. Anyone who has dealt with dip or smoking addiction knows what I am saying. I don’t see how that causes a batting slump, just makes one really grumpy to be around when they are waffling back and forth using and quitting.

      • sabatimus - Aug 3, 2012 at 6:11 PM

        Hamilton seems fairly high-strung when dealing with himself and his addictions–when he drank in Dallas and texted Kinsler, he wanted to be found, and when he was discovered he seemed very judgmental of himself. If this is true, it could easily affect his game.

      • historiophiliac - Aug 3, 2012 at 11:33 PM

        One the one hand, I feel sorry for the guy because he seems sooooo tightly wound — and maybe that’s why he drank/did drugs (to numb/self-medicate). That’s tough. But, on the other hand, sometimes I just feel like he’s a total drama king. Maybe he should worry a little less about sinning and instead “let go and let God” as they say, you know?

  5. shawndc04 - Aug 3, 2012 at 4:10 PM

    I’m pulling for you Josh, but you can’t be perfect. Health reasons aside, I don’t think that God is going to punish you for dipping some snuff.

    • warpd - Aug 3, 2012 at 5:44 PM

      Thank goodness, I thought he was eating bacon again. We know how God feels about that.

      • God - Aug 3, 2012 at 6:02 PM

        Meh, I’m cool with it.

      • Gamera the Brave - Aug 8, 2012 at 3:10 PM

        Dear God,
        You made me spit Diet Coke through my nose.

  6. skerney - Aug 3, 2012 at 4:10 PM

    Dip is so tough to quit.

    • 18thstreet - Aug 3, 2012 at 4:54 PM

      Just think of everything he’s been able to overcome, but nicotine is beating him.

  7. mJankiewicz - Aug 3, 2012 at 4:14 PM

    I like Josh Hamilton, a lot. These stories are getting to be a little nutty though.

  8. cowboys8819 - Aug 3, 2012 at 4:14 PM

    I’m addicted to snuff myself and wish I could quit! It is extremely hard!

    • hadley25 - Aug 3, 2012 at 4:46 PM

      I am also addicted to chewing. Have been since college, 13 years, and have tried to quit many times. Its not easy!!!

      • Marty - Aug 4, 2012 at 6:15 PM

        God probably hates you then.

  9. icanspeel - Aug 3, 2012 at 4:19 PM

    He should probably try to quit in the off-season, I have heard it could put a big strain on you physically/emotionally quitting in itself. Also he should talk to Tony Gwynn about it since he has gone through a lot from his chewing days up until now.

  10. willclarkgameface - Aug 3, 2012 at 4:21 PM

    That’s it? I thought he was busy cheating on his pregnant wife (if she even is pregnant…just makes the story more juicy) with a stripper all the while drinking shots of whiskey AND chewing tobacco.

    This shit is just boring and a non-story.

    He didn’t even need to bring this up.

    Just shut up and hit the ball Josh.

    • churchoftheperpetuallyoutraged - Aug 3, 2012 at 4:31 PM

      Yes, its entirely Hamiltons fault that a comment he made about why he was struggling was blown up by the media and the blogosphere. Yes Josh, shame on you for something happening that was entirely beyond your control.

      /sarcasm off

      And being serious for a moment, if he’s trying to quit tobacco/chew, I’d bet the side effects of the addiction could have a serious affect on an individual. Sorry it wasn’t some cheesy romance novel type scandal…

      • Marty - Aug 4, 2012 at 6:17 PM

        Josh elevated it himself with all the god talk.

    • skerney - Aug 3, 2012 at 5:11 PM

      If these kinds of stories rile you up in this fashion, you should most likely steer clear of this site, and 99% of the internet for that matter. No one is making you read this.

    • sabatimus - Aug 3, 2012 at 6:12 PM

      You say all that cheating crap like you wish it was happening.

  11. yahmule - Aug 3, 2012 at 4:22 PM

    Well, that was anticlimactic.

    • baseballisboring - Aug 4, 2012 at 4:29 AM

      Yeah. I mean, thankfully. I guess it looks worse in print than it probably sounded in real life, given the “I’ll let you guys figure it out” part. Just alluding to tobacco and nothing worse, I suppose. Any tobacco product is insanely unhealthy, but at least it doesn’t derail your life (in the short term anyway). They let you smoke/dip at rehab centers, even.

      Good luck, Josh. As a 23 year old pack a day smoker who already breathes like a 78 year old man, I sincerely wish you the best. If you figure out the secret please tell me.

  12. butchhuskey - Aug 3, 2012 at 4:24 PM

    Josh Hamilton is pretty hard on himself – it’s good that he wants to quit dip but there are far worse things he could have done. Hopefully he can stop chewing ( easier said than done, I’m sure) and sends a positive message to young fans (do the Big League Chew, that stuff is the best!)

  13. throughthewickets - Aug 3, 2012 at 4:27 PM

    There’s something to chew on.

    • kopy - Aug 3, 2012 at 4:29 PM

      I was so excited there were 12 comments that didn’t reference the pun, and then I was beaten by seconds.

  14. kopy - Aug 3, 2012 at 4:28 PM

    Ha! “chew on that!” Very punny, Mr. Hamilton.

  15. turdfurgerson68 - Aug 3, 2012 at 4:31 PM

    Maybe, to break his snuff addiction, he should turn to drugs and alcohol??

    Kidding!….I’m just kidding!

    • churchoftheperpetuallyoutraged - Aug 3, 2012 at 4:32 PM

      Mr. Reynolds, what happened to your podium?

      • mattyflex - Aug 3, 2012 at 4:35 PM

        I found this hat backstage. It’s funny because it’s big.

      • mJankiewicz - Aug 3, 2012 at 4:35 PM


      • churchoftheperpetuallyoutraged - Aug 3, 2012 at 4:40 PM

        Alex Trebek: That’s not the right answer. [ Reynolds buzzes in ] Burt Reynolds.

        Burt Reynolds: That’s not my name.

        Alex Trebek: Okay. Turd Ferguson.

        Burt Reynolds: [ laughs ] Yeah, what do ya want?

        Alex Trebek: You buzzed in!

        Burt Reynolds: No I didn’t.

        Alex Trebek: Yes you did!

        Burt Reynolds: Yeah, well, that’s your opinion.

        Alex Trebek: I hate my job. The answer was “mustard”. Mustard is made from mustard seeds. Mr. Reynolds, it’s still your board.

        Burt Reynolds: Yeah well, why don’t you give me, ah.. why don’tcha give me Ape Tit for $200.

        Alex Trebek: It’s not “Ape Tit.” It’s A Petit.. [ shakes head ] ..never mind! Let’s just go to “Animal Sounds” for $600. This is the sound a doggy makes. [ Connery buzzes in ] Mr. Connery.

        Sean Connery: Moo. [ buzzer sounds ]

        Alex Trebek: No.

        Sean Connery: Well, that’s the sound your mother made last night! [ laughs ]

  16. ratflop - Aug 3, 2012 at 4:34 PM

    That was anti-climatic, but all things considered – that’a a good thing. I want Josh to do well.

    I have to admit to taking a great interest in what this would end up being, for whatever reason it reminded me of the anticipation of the identity of the ‘scab’ player who crossed the picket lines when the players went on strike in 1995. Everyone was expecting a ‘name’ player, just like I’m sure everyone was fearing the worst with Josh. Turned out it was the long retired Pedro Borbon.

    RIP Pedro Borbon – two time World Series champ for the Reds. Member of Reds Hall of Fame.

    • mybrunoblog - Aug 3, 2012 at 4:40 PM

      Pinch hitting for Pedro Borbon…..Manny Mota….Mota…Mota…..

      • ratflop - Aug 3, 2012 at 5:05 PM

        Nicely done Sir!

    • sabatimus - Aug 3, 2012 at 6:14 PM


  17. stabonerichard - Aug 3, 2012 at 4:35 PM

    Dip in & of itself isn’t a huge deal, as obviously tons of people–baseball players in particular–partake in the nasty habit. But in regard to Josh Hamilton, it’s more about what the dip habit represents. Addiction has been a personal demon thru his entire adult life. It nearly killed him, and has continued to threaten his career, marriage/family, etc. That will probably never change, until he’s laid to rest.

    So for Josh to be unable to conquer the dip addiction, even if dip itself is relatively tame compared to some of what he’s dealt with, it’s gotta be a scary notion that he’s still too weak to overcome a substance he’s tried desperately to kick. Josh, with his perceived boost from a higher power, wants to be in control of his body & actions and dip represents an obvious chink in his armor. It’s a reminder that he’s still at the mercy of his personal demon, which has gotta be a frustrating & somewhat hopeless feeling.

    • sabatimus - Aug 3, 2012 at 6:15 PM

      Exactly. Hence why it’s affecting his on-field performance.

  18. hittfamily - Aug 3, 2012 at 4:36 PM

    What an asshole. He had a lot of his fans worried and praying for him because of the ominous warnings he gave about the deal between him and god. It turns out, he scared the shit out of people who genuinely care about him…..because he can’t quit dipping.

    I guess those starving kids in Ethiopa will have to wait for their prayers, because Josh Hamilton is hoarding the prayers of baseball fans worldwide. I would hate to be a teammate….even know someone…. who talks so darkly, says he broke a deal with god, then it turns out to be an everyday problem.

    “Son, I am suffering a great deal of pain. I don’t want to get you worried, but I don’t know how much longer I will be around”

    “Turns out I clipped my fingernails a little too close. All is well.”

  19. deathmonkey41 - Aug 3, 2012 at 4:39 PM

    Yeah, that’s pretty stupid to quit being so dependent on one thing and just replace it with a completely new addiction…oh, I was talking about religion- not the chewing tobacco.

    • stabonerichard - Aug 3, 2012 at 4:49 PM

      I don’t share Josh’s theological beliefs, but for Josh Hamilton it seems to have had a positive impact in his life. Good for Josh.

      He’s been outspoken about his own personal experiences, and his perception of a higher power aiding him along the way, without being pushy or judgemental towards others (as far as I know). So I don’t really understand why people get worked up about this stuff… whether simply poking fun or lashing out in a downright mean & negative manner.

      • deathmonkey41 - Aug 3, 2012 at 5:00 PM

        Like I said- I find it dangerous to replace one additiction with another. He should be trying to get to the root of his problems- not covering them up with a fairy tale.

      • Gobias Industries - Aug 3, 2012 at 6:11 PM

        Wow, deathmonkey, you’re so provacative. I bet you roll your cigarette pack up in your sleeve, you lil’ rebel.

    • stabonerichard - Aug 3, 2012 at 5:13 PM

      So you’re suggesting Josh’s belief system precludes him from getting to the root of his issues, as if the two are mutually exclusive? Your bias against religion seems to be trumping logic.

      • deathmonkey41 - Aug 3, 2012 at 7:21 PM

        “Let’s stop praying for someone to save us and start saving ourselves”

      • Marty - Aug 4, 2012 at 6:22 PM

        I agree, deathmonkey. I am an atheist and I still quit smoking. Imagine that.

        Still, millions of alcoholics can’t quit without succumbing to a higher power. It’s a rule- fairy tales are required for recovery.

  20. eshine76 - Aug 3, 2012 at 4:39 PM

    Maybe in his mind, an addiction is an addiction, and he fears that chewing tobacco is just a gateway to slip back into drugs & alcohol. I have no idea, but perhaps that’s why he’s so hard on himself, if this story is true.

  21. tfbuckfutter - Aug 3, 2012 at 4:40 PM

    I wouldn’t be too eager to admit I was tanking my contract year over something that stupid either.

    Quit in the offseason, dummy.

  22. JB (the original) - Aug 3, 2012 at 4:40 PM

    **Speculation Alert**
    Who knows, maybe he’s got an oral tumor (that he hasn’t mentioned publicly) or something and is seeing that as the “consequence” or “discipline” for not quitting the chew….

  23. potatochips76 - Aug 3, 2012 at 4:53 PM

    There’s nothing silly about trying to quit chewing tobacco. It was one of the most difficult things I ever did, and I can totally believe it would make for a tough couple weeks.

    • 18thstreet - Aug 3, 2012 at 4:56 PM

      No, no. It’s something worth mocking.

      Get with the program.

    • deathmonkey41 - Aug 3, 2012 at 5:04 PM

      I have quit tabacco myself- mutliple times in fact. Never really starting making vague statements about disappointing God though…mainly thought about how great it was to smoke and the taste of that sweet, sweet tabacco…

  24. keithbangedyermom - Aug 3, 2012 at 4:55 PM

    It’s good news…but that is one tough habit to kick. I had a seven year addiction to it. Good luck Josh…chew lots of gum.

  25. thefalcon123 - Aug 3, 2012 at 5:09 PM

    Well…that was anticlimactic.

    I mean, it’s great that it’s nothing worse, and quitting tobacco sucks big time and I wish him all the luck and all…

    …but I thought he had murdered a hooker or something.

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