But Mr. Jeff Pearlman goes a bit far protecting Hamilton where I think other players (*cough Elijah Dukes cough*) would not get the same treatment.
He also manages to paint many baseball fans as dumb frat dudes, but enough of my words.
"When there is nothing better to do with their time -- when the keg of Piels has been floated, the last Camel has been snuffed and the "Girls Gone Wild: Girls on Girls" DVD has been played to exhaustion -- the dolts of this country turn to a new hobby: Mocking the recovering drug addict.
First of all, please, Pabst Blue Ribbon is my beer of choice whilst heckling. And I prefer the "Wildest Bars in America" GGW tape, thank you very much.
Seriously though, if you want to criticize idiotic fans, don't paint them with a wide, insulting and stupid brush - it belittles your argument.
And mocking addicts is not a new hobby.
In other words, here is what Texas Rangers center fielder Josh Hamilton, a 26-year-old saint of a man, will hear, oh, 1,000 times this season:"
"Saint of a man?" Joshius Hamiltonian, patron saint of ... drug recovery?
You do know he threw away a number of years playing professional baseball and probably millions of dollars for drugs, right?
Look, we all love a comeback story, but what Hamilton did was dumb. Plain and simple. What he did to bounce back is amazing, inspiring and uplifting. But no one kidnapped him and forced him to take drugs, he did it himself. I love the guy, he's helping my fantasy team and is a joy to watch. But I am sure he wants to put this whole thing behind him.
Ballplayers can be booed. Ballplayers can be slammed.
Ballplayers can be bombarded with venom for laziness, for indifference, for ignoring the fans, for heartless play.
They shouldn't be, however, for addiction. No way.
Didn't you read the "Making fun of opposing baseball players: Volume II?" This is right from page 32, paragraph five.
But addiction is the funniest thing to harass them about! Favre = painkiller addict. Eckersley = alchy. Jordan = gambler. Wilt = man-whore.
Let me say something to Pearlman that may blow his mind. Fans are assholes. Especially when they are at the ballpark, drunk, with buddies and/or their team is losing. If an opposing player has anything going on in their life, on or off the field, it is fair game for fans.
Paul Pierce heard stabbing jokes a few years back. Jason Kidd got it from the fans for wife-beating (a heckler favorite). Kobe still hears it in Colorado for that rape case.
Fans/hecklers have no morals when they enter the stadium. Everything is fair game. Everything. Mental illness, family troubles, legal battles - it's all been done before. The only thing I think (most) fans stay away from is death in the family-type stuff. That's just plain mean.
Athletes are elite human beings that make insane amounts of money playing a game that children play. They date super models, have fancy cars, gamble more money away than most of will see in our lives and are generally pretty rad dudes that any of us would trade places with. When they have problems that us normal folk have, we are obligated to make fun of it.
I doubt Hamilton, or any other athlete for that matter, will lose any sleep on his bed of 100-dollar bills with a movie star on each arm over what some drunk jackass yelled at him. Hamilton recovered from drugs. I doubt any chants of "snort that line!" (Pearlman's line, which is awesome, by the way) will get to him in any way.
Do we watch sports for the joy of the game?
Or do we watch sports for the joy of humiliation? For the joy of hate?
From the hecklers prospectus:
"Hamilton, Josh - Start each inning off by offering him a type of drug, the strength of the drug getting progressively stronger as the game goes on. By the 9th inning, he'll be off the wagon."