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Josh Hamilton is back on chewing tobacco

Jul 3, 2013, 8:25 AM EDT

josh hamilton getty Getty Images

Last year Josh Hamilton famously struggled with quitting chewing tobacco, which led to cryptic comments about “personal issues” and coincided with struggles at the plate. Nolan Ryan criticized Hamilton for trying to quit during the season. Hamilton himself characterized it as a struggle to maintain “obedience to the Lord,” which presumably means Hamilton views chewing tobacco, or not, as a matter that goes to his very soul.

So this, from Mike DiGiovanna of the L.A. Times, is interesting:

Josh Hamilton finished a workout with the team’s strength and conditioning coach Tuesday afternoon, went into the Angels’ dugout for some water, took a small wad of chewing tobacco out of his mouth and flung it to the floor.

Asked if he had resumed chewing tobacco after quitting last July — a move that led to withdrawal symptoms and may have contributed to his second-half slump with Texas — Hamilton said, “No comment.”

He later tried to downplay the issue to DiGiovanna, asking “is this really a story?” Normally, probably not. But given that Hamilton has decided this is an issue of his faith and his sobriety — and given how explicit Hamilton has been that his faith and his sobriety are an essential part of his baseball career —  yes, it is kind of an issue when he’s the guy dipping.

I don’t think anyone on the planet besides Hamilton and his family truly cares if he uses tobacco. Most just want him to hit the ball, some probably want him to be content, healthy and happy, and some probably want him to be a good role model. But this was something Hamilton considered important. It’ll be interesting to see if he’s able to be OK making the reasonable distinction between a dip on the diamond and the other threats to his faith and sobriety that so many others are but with which he has had so many problems.

  1. drewsylvania - Jul 3, 2013 at 8:43 AM

    Strong analysis, Craig. I think this is spot on.

  2. aceshigh11 - Jul 3, 2013 at 8:48 AM

    Hit home runs now.

    Battle mouth cancer later.

    • polonelmeagrejr - Jul 3, 2013 at 10:43 AM

      WHo the hell does Dr. Nolan Ryan think he is to tell Josh Hamilton not to quie this cancerous habit during the BASEBALL SEASON??????? I’ve often found times of stress are actually an opportunity to make necessay lifestyle changes.

  3. philswfc08 - Jul 3, 2013 at 8:51 AM

    he’s getting desperate…trying to convince himself this is the cause of his slump.

  4. sdelmonte - Jul 3, 2013 at 8:54 AM

    I will note that a lot of people do care if any pro athlete uses chewing tobacco for the same reason they care if the athlete smokes. Which is a separate issue.

    I don’t know anything about addiction or addictive behaviors. But I suspect there are experts who could say whether returning to one addictive behavior (albeit one with less immediate risk than drinking or drugs) is a gateway or a stopgap or neither. Strictly from a medical PoV, it’s a fascinating question.

    • nbjays - Jul 3, 2013 at 12:36 PM

      I kind of wish he’d become addicted to hitting home runs, a la Miggy, or even doubles, a la Manny.

  5. Norcross - Jul 3, 2013 at 9:04 AM

    I’ve been sober for almost 10 years, and I still haven’t been able to quit smoking. my most recent attempt lasted 5 days before I was downright homicidal.

    in fact, many people in recovery are encouraged *not* to quit tobacco too soon after drugs & alcohol, as the body can mistake one craving for another.

    • yahmule - Jul 3, 2013 at 1:03 PM

      Congratulations on your sobriety.

  6. therealbigben - Jul 3, 2013 at 9:07 AM

    I read Josh’s autobiography a couple weeks ago at work because it was in my office’s library and I had nothing to do. Pretty interesting tale, aside from the crap when he finds god. But he never once mentions tobacco. He just talks about drinking and doing cocaine together for the first time with the guys who did his ink.Sounds like tattooing was addiction #1 then he went crazy from there.

    I can imagine tobacco could be a trigger for him. I can sympathize with Josh. Sometimes I go right from pizza to ice cream to beer. It’s a slippery slope, my friend. Stay thirsty Josh.

  7. bringbackkosar - Jul 3, 2013 at 9:07 AM

    Hell, let him get a few more tats as well and maybe he’ll hit .230

  8. gothapotamus90210 - Jul 3, 2013 at 9:08 AM

    I’ve found quitting nicotine is harder than quitting booze. I quit dipping in October 2011 and started chewing Nicorette in an effort to ween myself off of nicotine. Currently, I’m still chewing Nicorette, with efforts to cut back having failed. I can empathize why he went back to dipping.

    • historiophiliac - Jul 3, 2013 at 10:24 AM

      They’ve upped the amount of nicotine in cigarettes in the last few years, so I wonder if they’ve done the same with chew.

  9. psuorioles - Jul 3, 2013 at 9:12 AM

    Hamilton was right when he asked… is this really a story?

  10. ras1tafari - Jul 3, 2013 at 9:30 AM

    I find this story more interesting for the fact that a grown man can’t handle his own s–t. Of course he needs religion, just like all the other sheep who can’t deal with reality.

    Put all your decisions and life choices into a basket and throw up in the air. Maybe jesus will give you unbeilievable bat speed, or maybe not.

  11. historiophiliac - Jul 3, 2013 at 9:51 AM

    Can you imagine being in his head? It must be sooooo noisy in there. I kinda feel sorry for him. He is wound tight.

    • thebadguyswon - Jul 3, 2013 at 10:24 AM

      Man I guess so.

  12. stex52 - Jul 3, 2013 at 10:53 AM

    It wouldn’t have been a story at all if Hamilton hadn’t made it one with his adventures in 2012. There does seem to be a need for drama in his life. Maybe we will see quieter times now. I respected his battles to beat addiction. But I bet they would go better if he took them out of the public domain.

    • beefytrout - Jul 3, 2013 at 11:23 AM

      This guy clearly has no ability to foresee consequences to any of his actions. Trying to quit tobacco in the middle of a season? Making cryptic statements about it? Explaining your statements with religious undertones? Calling out the fans you played in front of for five years? Bringing your family to your first game in front of the fans you insulted?

      If this dude would take a moment to metaphorically look before he leaped, he’d have a much easier time going through life.

  13. footballfan01 - Jul 3, 2013 at 11:03 AM

    Uh oh. God’s not gonna like this one bit.

  14. valarmorghuliss - Jul 3, 2013 at 11:53 AM

    Listen Josh. You have to consider the possibility that God does not like you. He never wanted you. In all probability, he hates you.

  15. sffan75 - Jul 3, 2013 at 12:08 PM

    I think the real problem here is that he just threw his dip onto the floor. That’s disgusting. I wouldn’t want to be the one cleaning that up.

    • yahmule - Jul 3, 2013 at 1:10 PM

      It was the floor of the dugout, not the clubhouse.

  16. runteddyrun - Jul 3, 2013 at 12:10 PM

    some times you just have to throw in a fatty

  17. uscoach - Jul 3, 2013 at 12:56 PM

    He threw it on the floor? What a punk

  18. crosscheckingmisconduct - Jul 3, 2013 at 6:06 PM

    I’d never advocate using any substance that can be harmful to health, but if it’s working, why stop? Just make it a baseball thing. It’s more of a head thing than anything, IMO. I hope he’d be able to quit and produce, but whatever he finds peace in works.

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