After posting one of the absolute worst month-of-June offensive performances with runners on base of any hitter in baseball (42 PA, .118/.214/.176), Josh Hamilton finally delivered in a couple of key scoring situations last night, as he plated two second-inning runs with a single through the right side against C.J. Wilson, and crushed yet another Angels lefty (Hisanori Takahashi) with a long two-out, two-run double in the seventh inning that effectively put last night's game on ice.
It wasn't Hamilton at his absolute greatest, but he produced in several key situations and was a contributing factor in a big Rangers win, and, from that standpoint, it was an encouraging night -- the kind of night that leads you to believe that maybe, just maybe, he actually is right on the verge of turning the corner.
After the game, though, Hamilton decided to address the secret behind his success on the night, as well as that other little thing that has left everyone hopelessly confused:
"Basically I just said, 'You know what?' Stop thinking about it, stop listening to everybody, everybody has something to say, and just go up there and play," Hamilton said. "React. Try to slow the game down again and it worked. It's just about trusting myself."
Hamilton said he is enjoying the game more the past few days, but wasn't ready to reveal the reasons behind his cryptic comments last week.
"People are not going to understand, I'll share more later," Hamilton said. "It's out there that my marriage is falling apart and people are trying to figure out what's going on. ... But it's nobody's business. When I let you know, I'll let you know."
There has been a lot of speculation and conjecture over the last week within the blogosphere and the Twittersphere about what, exactly, is going on with Hamilton, which began when he issued some cryptic remarks last weekend about how he had been disobedient to God but couldn't tell the media what was going on as of yet. And, of course, that speculation intensified earlier this week when Ron Washington indicated that he was aware of Hamilton's "problem," but felt Hamilton needed to be the one to put an end to the speculation and divulge the nature of his situation: "Josh is the one that made the statement and got all the inquiries going, and I think Josh is the one that has to put a rest to the inquiries, not Ron Washington. I can just tell you one thing: It is not because he's hurt."
And my Clubhouse post relaying Washington's comments on the Ben & Skin show ended up triggering another firestorm of commenter guesses and speculation, with that speculation being referenced on NBC Sports' Hardball Talk blog, and then being further referenced yesterday morning when the Musers on the Ticket attributed that speculation to "the blog Baseball Time in Arlington." It's funny how that works.
To be clear, I have no interest in publicly guessing at what, exactly, is going on with Hamilton. I think it's dangerous to baselessly speculate upon his situation -- especially when we have so little information to go off of. The story will likely come out at some point, and we can have a more informed, productive conversation about it when that point arrives, but as of right now, there's really nothing here beyond a collection of ambiguous remarks and our own hyperactive imaginations.
With all that said, however, I do want to address one particular bit of speculation, and make one further comment on this very pecuiliar situation, and then, hopefully, we can somewhat move on from this:
(1) Randy Galloway apparently said yesterday that Josh's mystery problem was that he had resumed dipping again, a habit which he apparently attempted to kick by way of the cold-turkey method over the weekend of June 23-24th; from the beginning of that weekend to present, Hamilton has batted just .198/.281/.387 over 139 plate appearances, and that, in turn, has given rise to some thought that he picked a terrible time to attempt to stop dipping, that doing so exacerbated his slump, and so forth.
The thing about that, though, is that Hamilton batted .206/.286/.381 from the outset of June up until that weekend, with an identical .677 OPS. He was slumping hard both before and after he initiated his effort to quit dipping, and slumping with pretty identical numbers on both sides of that weekend, and so I don't know that there's really any meaningful correlation between his offensive problems and his dipping habits (or lack thereof).
(2) Jason Cole and David Newbury engaged in an interesting back-and-forth on this last night on Twitter, and I think it's a point worth bringing up here: Hamilton says that this matter of his is "nobody's business," and, you know, he's kind of right -- but isn't he the one who started the speculative ball rolling in the first place? Isn't he the one who volunteered this information about his problem in the first place? What, exactly, did he think was going to happen? Did he not think that issuing cryptic remarks about his "disobedience to God" would catalyze a whole wave of speculation and alarm? I mean, I hope this is really nothing of great significance in the larger scope of things, and that everything is okay with him, but I guess I just don't understand his thought process.
2:30 p.m. CDT Update: For what this is worth, CBSSports.com's Jon Heyman just published a post indicating that, per sources, "[Josh's] recent inability to kick [his] chewing tobacco habit" is what this is all about, and "possibly a little bit about his disappointment in not being as disciplined at the plate in recent weeks, too." Heyman also says that Hamilton is expected to address this issue in conjunction with the team later this afternoon, and notes that the Rangers don't consider his tobacco issue to be a "serious concern."
4:00 p.m. CDT Update: Hamilton has issued a formal statement with respect to his comments over the past week, which reads as follows (per the Fort Worth Star-Telegram):
"Due to the speculation that occurred from my recent comments, I felt it was important to clarify what the "issue" was to which I was referring- both personally and professionally. The issue is 'discipline.' Professionally, it's been plate discipline. Personally, it's been being obedient to the Lord in quitting chewing tabacco. I was hesitant to address the tobacco once again, because it's an area that I've struggled with trying to quit in the past. I wanted to have some time of success 'under my belt' before addressing again publicly, but feel I haven't been given that option with all of the speculating out there as to what the 'mystery issue' was. But there you have it -- discipline. Hebrews 12:4-5 and John 3:30."