A year ago I wrote my first Reflections column about Josh Hamilton’s relapse and recovery as an alcoholic. In January of 2009 he had taken a drink, which led to another and another. The end result was an embarrassing bar scene caught on cell phone video. Hamilton immediately confessed his relapse to his wife and family and to the Rangers management. When it became public nine months later, he confessed to everyone. Ian Kinsler spoke for the team during that episode. He said, “We don’t need an apology. That’s his battle. We’re here to be his friend and love him as a teammate.”
A year later, Hamilton is being touted for the MVP in the American League with a season batting average of 359 and 32 home runs. When the Rangers clinched the playoffs against the Oakland A’s on September twenty-fifth, Hamilton excused himself from the traditional champagne celebration. Instead, he showered and headed back to the stadium to speak to fans regarding his faith as part of Faith Day Oakland. The next day he said, "I'm excited and what happened yesterday as far as the guys celebrating in here, that's part of it. It's not for me. I'm not saying that I wouldn't have liked to have been in here with them. I just felt like it was in my best interest if I didn't participate. But it's amazing that it just so happened to work out that we clinched the same day they are having Faith Day and I'm speaking out there."
Last week, the Rangers won their first division title against the Tampa Bay Rays. Having watched their teammate struggle with his addictions the Rangers team did something that has never been done before in major league baseball. Putting action to Ian Kinsler’s words of a year before, the team decided to put aside the champagne and beer. Instead, they celebrated their historic win with Ginger Ale so that Josh Hamilton could be included.
Writing about the event, sports columnist Matt Friedman wrote, “In today’s sports world, it’s rare to see athletes that go out of their way to make a classy gesture. But we have seen it … tonight, the Rangers sacrificed their booze for a teammate. It wasn’t going to be difficult to cheer for the Rangers to beat the Yankees in the ALCS, but now they have given me a true reason to pull for them.”
The Apostle Paul gave us a principle that is illustrated by the Rangers actions regarding Josh Hamilton. He taught that we should each consider the impact our actions and decisions make upon others. He wrote, “Therefore let us not judge one another anymore, but rather determine this--not to put an obstacle or a stumbling block in a brother's way. … It is good not to eat meat or to drink wine, or to do anything by which your brother stumbles.”