Tuesday, July 15, 2008


I thought a lot about redemption while I was watching Josh Hamilton tear Yankee Stadium a new a****** last night. Redemption is a powerful thing; it that can drive a man like a train without a master. Atonement fundamentally underpins the Hamilton story. He’s paid the price for his sins against the game. Now, he’s returned to reap.

While I watched a Ranger receive a standing ovation at Yankee Stadium for breaking a Yankee’s record (ahem, Abreu, 24), I thought about the creation of myth, and how Hamilton’s redemption song feeds the folklore that surrounds him. It gives the Hamilton story extra meaning, extra poignance, that he comfortably inhabits the penthouse of the baseball world because we know he once cleaned the toilets. Shucks, he probably still does.

My favorite: Josh Hamilton is so talented he could spend three years away from the game and step into the Major Leagues to hit 40 home runs in his first 183 games. Whatever your statistical poison, Hamilton wasted it for three years.

While I pondered getting flames tattooed on my forearms, I considered the power of despair in building legend. Were Josh Hamilton’s 28 home runs more impressive than, say, 28 home runs hit by Lance Berkman? Does Josh Hamilton represent whatever meager potential we’ve yet to tap? Does Fat Elvis?

Josh Hamilton’s script is so hackneyed even the least jaundiced producer would reject.

But what I saw on the espens was a genuine, Malamudian Natural. Josh Hamilton set the Bronx ablaze last night; he was “Now.”

That wasn’t just a baseball player getting a standing-o at Yankee Stadium last night.

That was a crackhead become legend

(maybe there’s hope for us yet).

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