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Hot Stone League

Larry Stone gives his take on a wide array of baseball issues and weighs in about the Mariners, too.

August 10, 2009 at 11:08 AM

Josh Hamilton falls off the wagon and other MLB happenings

Well, a lot happened while I spent an enjoyable weekend in Yakima at a reunion of the first newspaper that employed me, the Yakima Herald-Republic. (More on that later, including some photos of an outing to see the Yakima Bears take on the Boise Hawks in a Northwest League thriller).

  • Josh Hamilton didn’t have a good week. His inspiring story of overcoming drug addiction and alcoholism was shattered with news (and salacious photos) of a drunken binge at a Tempe, Ariz., bar in January. I won’t post the photos, because this is a family blog (more or less), but they’re readily available on the internet.

    This is a distraction the Rangers hardly need as they find themselves in the heart of the pennant race, having just taken two of three from the Angels to pull within 3 1/2 games of first place in the AL West while moving into a tie for the wild-card lead.

    But this is deeper than just a baseball story with pennant-race ramifications. It’s a man’s life at stake, a man with a family that has suffered with him before. I can’t help but feel empathy for him, and for them.

    Hamilton seems to have handled this latest incident in an upfront and properly contrite manner, and I have no problem with the Rangers’ decision to give him another chance. But it’s another reminder of the insidious nature of addictions, and how even a feel-good story like that of Hamilton, who wrote a book chronicling how he overcame his addictions, is always just one temptation away from a relapse.

  • White Sox manager Ozzie Guillen came out with same inflammatory comments about having his pitchers retaliate for White Sox hitters getting plunked with pitches.

    “Around the league, be careful because we’re going to hit people,” he said. “I don’t care if I get suspended because I need to protect my players.”

    And also: “If I see someone hit my player, and I know they hit him on purpose it’s two guys going down. I don’t care if I get suspended.”

    So guess who’s in town tonight to open a three-game series against the Mariners? Why, Ozzie Guillen’s out-for-redemption White Sox. Should be interesting to see if anyone gets hit.

  • The Mariners are hoping that a change of scenery helps Ian Snell. Perhaps that will be the case with Wladimir Balentien, who has been very impressive in his brief time with the Reds.

    Yes, I know it’s a very small sample size, but in nine games with Cincinnati, Balentien is 8-for-20 (.400) with a homer and five RBI, a .520 on-base percentage and .600 slugging percentage (for a 1.120 OPS). He’s driven in five runs in 25 plate appearances after having 13 RBI in 170 plate appearances this year with the Mariners, for whom he hit .213 with a .271 on-base percentage and .355 slugging percentage.

    Let’s check back in a month and see where he stands.

  • The Dodgers are contemplating signing John Smoltz or Vicente Padilla, both of whom were recently designated for assignment. Despite his poor showing with the Red Sox, Smoltz appears to be in demand.

  • You can’t stop the Nationals. You can only hope to contain them.

  • As reader Stevie T. points out, the Phillies have come to a decision on their overcrowded rotation, which has six pitchers for five spots. Martinez will start Wednesday against the Cubs at Wrigley Field, and Jamie Moyer is going to the bullpen. I’ll be interested to read Jamie’s quotes about this move. He can’t be happy.

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