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THE CURSE OF BIGNESS
S.L. PRICE
June 11, 2012
Josh Hamilton has outsized talents and grand plans for the free-agent windfall coming his way. But the Rangers' centerfielder also feels pressure to be larger than life. Through his faith, his family and a more studious approach to the game, he's learning bigger isn't always better
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June 11, 2012

The Curse Of Bigness

Josh Hamilton has outsized talents and grand plans for the free-agent windfall coming his way. But the Rangers' centerfielder also feels pressure to be larger than life. Through his faith, his family and a more studious approach to the game, he's learning bigger isn't always better

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Hamilton says he had three or four drinks; then, with the restaurant closing, Kinsler drove them to a nearby bar and grill, where they stayed for about a half hour. As Kinsler was dropping Hamilton back at his car, he sensed something awry and asked if he planned on going back out. "No," Hamilton responded. "I'm good."

Kinsler left. Josh went back to the bar and drank more. Anonymous witnesses soon related accounts online of raucous doings in a bathroom. Hamilton never publicly addressed those rumors, saying only at his press conference, "Things happened that me, personally, I'm not proud of after I drank, and they are personal and being handled as that."

As his buzz kicked in, Hamilton didn't consider the fact that he, one of America's most famous substance abusers, was abusing in a public place. Again. "You know how, when you first start doing it, the switch flips to get there?" he says. "When you're in it, the switch flips again and you're like, What the crap? Why am I here? How did I get here? I can't believe I'm doing this again...."

He thought he could keep the con going later that night, when he returned to his home in Westlake. He deflected Katie's questions, but "I can tell," she says. "I can always tell." The next morning Hamilton fessed up. Even after all their history, she was stunned. "It's just so hard for me to wrap my mind around," Katie says. "That's how I know that he's totally not thinking [during a relapse]. Because he's smarter than that.

"That's not to say that I was any less irate. People that don't know me probably think I have some kind of codependence issue, like I get my value in helping him. Absolutely not. I fully expect him to be the man and husband that God has called him to be. I should never have to assist him in this. I do assist when God has allowed me to, but I did not assist him—not one bit—this last relapse. I let my husband man up and assist me. I let him do what he was supposed to do."

There was a time, not long ago, when Josh Hamilton didn't know what he was doing on a baseball field. This hit Rangers coach Gary Pettis one night early in 2008, during Hamilton's first season as an everyday player, as Pettis watched him race across the Metrodome in Minneapolis for a line drive. Hamilton misjudged everything: his jump, his route, the ball coming fast out of the lights. It flew right past him. When Hamilton jogged in at the end of the inning, Pettis met him at the dugout's top step.

"You got to catch that ball," he said. "Keep doing that, and you'll cost us a game."

"Well," Hamilton replied, "I tried ..."

"You tried?" Pettis snapped. "I can get somebody out of the f------ stands to try! This is the major leagues: You got to do it!"

By then Hamilton had broken to a start nearly as impressive as this year's. In August 2008 he became the first American League player in 107 years to be intentionally walked with the bases loaded; in all he drove in 130 runs in 156 games. His name would've been in the Rangers' lineup every day if Hamilton had decided to play outfield blindfolded. "Yes, and no one'd notice," Washington says. "So he overthrows the cutoff man? No big deal.

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