Tuesday, July 15, 2008

God loves former heroin addicts ...

... but hates to see them win the Home Run Derby. Unfortunately Firejoemorgan.com has really stolen my thunder. I knew, knew, knew that they were going to blog about this topic. Damn them!

In any event, Josh Hamilton's profuse praise of God/Jesus/Magic Sky Fairies who purified his devil-infected blood was a bit much. Moronic broadcasters saying "it's a bad day for atheists" was much worse. First off, it's always a bad day to be an atheist in the United States. You have a better chance of avoiding social ostracism if you fall into just about any other minority group (of any notable size). Secondly, what the fuck? Josh Hamilton hits some home runs and suddenly we have confirmation of a higher power at work? What about all the people who don't have signing bonuses, multiple chances at million dollar careers, and who struggle with addictions just like his? Or how about the people who didn't piss away for year after year Hamilton's gifts simply because they didn't win the genetic lottery and don't have them? What do they symbolize?

I kept hoping Hamilton would thank his family, friends, the organizations who believed in him, hell even Major League Baseball for giving him a .... ninth? .... chance when it would have been understandable if they didn't. Hamilton seems like a decent enough guy (now), and I bear him no ill will. It's a nice story and one that hopefully will inspire others to turn their lives around. But the credit for his turnaround goes to those who helped him and himself. And that's it.

Unless, of course, Odin/Shiva/Jehovah/Jack Bauer/Allah became angry at Hamilton's presumption that an all-powerful deity didn't have better shit to do than help him succeed at baseball, and made sure the Morneau tortoise won the race.


David said...

Mr. Bock, I think it's appropriate to give Hamilton some leeway here. He has come a long way. His faith is important to him. But for his faith, it is quite possible that he never would have turned his life around or, at the very least, not fallen back into his former habit. If he wants to talk about it, who are we to tell him he can't?

As for Hamilton not thanking his family, I believe I did hear him thank them during an interview right after he hit the twenty-eight home runs.

As for the announcers, some of the things they say are stupid. Last night was no exception. But is that really news to anyone?

I think your comment about athiests being the most ostracized minority group is a tad extreme. Athiests don't get special attention at airports. Nor have I ever heard of athiest profiling procedures by police. There has never been a United States Supreme Court opinion declaring athiests to be chattel. Nor did athiests need three amendments to the Constitution to be considered legal persons. Now that's not to imply athiests have been welcomed with open arms, but I think your characterization was wide of the mark.

davemei said...

I disagree. While it seemed innocent enough that Josh Hamilton attributed his turn-around and success to his god, it is absolutely selfish and arrogant. God, should one exist, is not around to help guys hit the ball farther or run faster. He should have more important things to do...like healing the sick and preventing "natural" disasters.

And I didn't recall hearing him thank his family.

And regarding atheists as the most ostracized group in America is not extreme. Ostracized may not mean what you think it means. In a country where 85% of the people believe in a god, being an atheist is being a part of the minority. Parts of the country is fighting to teach creationism and ID in schools, wants to bring school prayers back, and wants God in all aspects of our lives. When you look at how much influence the church has in our society, you will surely understand what atheist stand against.

Russ said...

i'm here to read your take on baseball.

start a blog without the seams running up the side if you want to do social commentary.

David said...

Davemei, if we accept arguendo that God exists, who are you to impose your own subjective value system onto what God "should" or should not be doing? If God did help Josh Hamilton, who cares? If Josh Hamilton wants to believe that God helped him, who cares? He has a Constitutional right to believe what he wants. It seems implicit in your comment that you cannot accept the idea that someone can reasonably conceive of a notion of God different than yours.

I disagree with your reasoning regarding the ostracization of athiests in America. You state that there are "[p]arts of the country... fighting to teach creationism." Undeniably, this is true. However, you extrapolate this to mean that athiests, as a demographic, are ostracized. By your reasoning, because there are segments of society promoting their own perspectives, anyone who holds contrary perspectives is ostracized. This reasoning can be taken and applied the other way, however. Undeniably, there are also segments of society promoting athiesm and seeking to remove all vestiges of religion from public view. (See, e.g., Elk Grove Unified School District v. Newdow; Freedom From Religion Foundation, Inc.) Thus, by your own reasoning, anyone who claims to believe in God can also rightfully claim to be ostracized. Just because a large number of Americans hold religious beliefs, as opposed to those who do not, does not meant that athiests are ostracized or oppressed. No athiest has ever been asked to sit at the back of a bus. No athiest has ever been required to drink from a separate water fountain. If Josh Hamilton wants to make a public profession of what he believes, he is entitled to do so.

Tom said...

"First off, it's always a bad day to be an atheist in the United States."

Right, where you suffer from the constant persecution of... no one.

peterV said...

he DID thank his family.
he DID thank his coaches.
he DID thank his teammates.

but hey, when you are more concerned with pseudo-sarcastic (yet sharply written) banter about your take on a fellow human being then I guess it's only fitting for you to rip apart his personal beliefs that harm you in 0%...

-He could have thanked a corporate sponsor (hamilton the sell out!),
-He could have thanked some herbal therapy guru (hamilton the hippie!),
-He could have thanked the girl from the boys&girls club that was forced to wear his teams helmet and root for him(hamilton the forced "hero" of inner-city children who are forced to sit at big$$$ sporting events?!)
but he didn't -

and thankfully we can visit this site and not receive more than a grain of salt's worth of appreciation of an awesome baseball display that ROCKED yankee stadium and helped shed positive light onto this sport.

anyways, facts aside, (since your blogging world doesn't thrive off of them to begin with)
let's just keep it hidden that he didn't thank anyone but that one God that you enjoy chirping about in your post, you'll get more hits and will feel better for it...

waters96 said...


I'm here to prop you up. I thought what you wrote was brilliant and if people don't like it, they don't have to read your blog. It's not like there is anything baseball related going on the next few days, just some stupid all star game which is a big waste of time, unless one of your players gets injured, in which case, it sucks.

My only Josh Hamilton comment is that boy sure can hit the ball a long freaking way, whoever it is that turned him around. And those sure are some damn ugly tattoos. Maybe god can figure out a way to help him get rid of them because they make my eyes hurt every time I look at thim

waters96 said...

See, his tattoos hurt my eyes so much, they make me have typos just thinking about them.

Ben Lea, staff blogger said...

Gentles, let us take a step back for a moment to realize something.

The "It's a lousy night to be an atheist" line was uttered by Rick Reilly.

Yes, Rick Reilly.

Not someone who we've come to respect and appreciate for his even-handed, measured, thoughtful commentary on the world of sports. Frank Deford didn't say it.

Not someone who's impressed us with his insider knowledge of the workings of front offices. Peter Gammons didn't say it.

Not someone who's played the game and maintains a detail-oriented appreciation for the finer points of throwing a 3-1 backdoor slider for a strike. Orel Hershiser didn't say it.

No. Rick Reilly did.

All I'm saying here is: if you expected something wise to escape his mouth, then I envy your optimism.

Anonymous said...

Every time Hamilton gets a hit,
Every time K-Rod throws a strike,
Every time Papi scores a run,
God is watching with his loving eyes and blessing these men above all others.

Excellent piece today, one of the finest in all sports blogdom. The same God that gave Hamilton his will to survive also gave Lou Gehrig a fatal disease - so I guess Lou deserved it, right? Pro Athletes might as well thank Satan for their skills and victories, it makes a lot more sense to be so absurdly ignorant.

In fact I'm changing my FBB team name to HAIL SATAN right now....

Bob Taylor said...

I just want to know if God will be to blame when Hamilton's home-run swing now inevitably goes to shit, a la Bobby Abreu.

Something tells me, however, that Josh's red-state fans will find a way to blame the Democrats for that.

david said...

Mr. Taylor, your hypothetical about red-state fans blaming Democrats is no more logical than some commenters' blaming of God for everything wrong in the world. If Josh Hamilton wants to thank God for his success, let him. What is it to you? Do you have such antipathy toward religious belief that you can't help but criticize someone who makes his known?

Mr. Bock wrote, "But the credit for his turnaround goes to those who helped him and himself. And that's it." That very well may be the case. But if Josh Hamilton wants to accredit a higher power for his success, who are you to judge him? Do you just think your own world-view is superior to his, or did God descend from the cosmos and tell you he wasn't at Yankee Stadium last night?

Occam's Laser said...

I met Josh Hamilton, shortly after he was drafted and signed with the then-Tampa Bay "Devil Rays" organization, playing for my local minor league team, the Hudson Valley Renegades. At the time, I had him autograph my "lucky bat," and mentioned to him that it cost Tampa Bay $3.4 million for his autograph on a contract, while he signed my lucky bat for free. He only hit about a buck fifty for us (that's a .150 batting average) but when he hit 'em, they stayed hit. I distinctly remember him hitting a home run to right field that got out of Dutchess Stadium quicker than any ball I've ever seen. The guy's huge, and strong like a mule. I think he also gunned down a runner at home from deep in right field with a throw like a laser beam. He was described as a "six-tool player" - that's a joke; the expression "five-tool player" refers to someone who can hit for average, run, hit for power, throw, and field; Hamilton was also anticipated to be an expert at a sixth tool which hadn't even yet been defined.

After that great year (for the 'Gades, not necessarily for Hamilton), he became a literal monster. The claim is that most of the $3.4 million signing bonus was spent on drugs, but that's almost an understatement. He fell in with some very disreputable crime characters, hit bottom, and crashed through the floor. A fellow season ticket holder and friend of mine is an extremely right-wing local cop, and I bait him by telling him that a good percentage of our season ticket prices which went to Hamilton's bonus may have found its way into the darkest drug deals in the area - that would piss him off every time. To this day, the HVR organization doesn't have any official comment on his professional days with the club, even for the recent Sports Illustrated cover story.

That being said...

Forget the backstory about his original promised ability, his fall from grace, his redemption from a life of hard drugs. Forget the testimonies of his commitment to Jesus Christ as his Lord and Savior, who evidently was on line at the concession stand while Hamilton fizzled out in the final round. Jesus was also nowhere to be found to help Hamilton with his stated goal based on a vision he had in a dream: to be the first player to hit a fair ball out of Yankee Stadium.

That being said, this guy can flat out hit.

The Fox super-slo-mo cam showing some of his at bats reveal that his timing is near-perfect and he's turning his left wrist at just the proper instant to jack the ball incredibly long distances. He hit three balls longer than five hundred feet, which were three among the eight longest balls ever hit in the 15-year history of the event. The ESPN article on him today was going on about how many home runs in a row he hit, etc. Not lost in the hoopla is the fact that his pitcher was 71 years old, lobbing in batting-practice pitches from several feet in front of the mound.

After Bobby Abreu hit two dozen balls out of the park in the first round in 2005, and ended up with a total of 40, he was really not the same for the rest of the season. If I remember correctly, after that Home Run Derby barrage, he hit only one home run in a regular game over the next six weeks. It will be interesting to see if Hamilton finds himself in a similar rut, being perfectly suited to belt five-hundred-foot home runs as long as the pitcher is 71 years old and throwing maybe 40 or 45 miles per hour.

(Also posted at richarddawkins.net, where this blog was noted and credited.)

Mike Bock said...

Thanks for all the comments. I appreciate the interest.

Russ: It's home run derby day. Cut me some slack.

Perhaps Hamilton did thank his family/friends/non-deities at some point. If so, I honestly missed it. It's possible that I missed parts of his post-game interview.

waters96 said...

Mike, it's interesting how all these "deciders" of morality who NEVER have anything to say about anything else Mike writes have such strong opinions about this.

My suggestion to them is if they're so upset about your comments that they should form their own blogs and they can all get together and talk about how great it is the "higher power" allowed Josh to win the first round, yet lose in the finals.

C'mon, give Mike a break. He's hilarious and has great baseball takes. If you want people who think just like you, why don't you just go to some redstate.com website and chatter amongst yourselves there.

david said...

I love Fantasy Hurler. For my two cents, it's the best fantasy baseball blog around. However, I am going to speak up when I feel that someone gets thrown under the metaphorical bus for professing his religious beliefs. Personally, I think trying to tell someone not to believe in God is just as erroneous as trying to tell someone they should. Neither myself, nor Josh Hamilton are asking anyone to adopt his religious views. But, at the very least, I think he is entitled to a modicum of respect for them.

Anonymous said...

David - The same people who thank god for their successes should also blame god for their failures. otherwise, they deserved to be mocked for their phony and wholly self-absorbed beliefs. I want to see K-Rod point to the sky after giving up a walk-off home run, for example. The tiresome god-thanking is not a reflection of devoutness or belief, but a vain and callow expression of low self esteem.

Bob Taylor said...

Hey, Occam,

Can you post the link to where your post is at Dawkins' site?

Bob Taylor said...

Hey, Russ,

We already started a blog where we can write about fantasy baseball OR anything else we see fit. It's the one you're looking at. You don't like it? Move along.

Bob Taylor said...

Hey, David,

You ask: Do you just think your own world-view is superior to his?

I can't speak for Mike, but personally, I think my world-view is VASTLY superior to everyone else's. That's why Bock can't make me believe that B.J. Upton was a better pick than Brandon Phillips this year!

Burn in (metaphorical) hell, Bock! My world-view reigns supreme (especially when it comes to fantasy second basemen).

Mike Bock said...

You'll get your comeuppance! Jose Reyes and Upton win you a "hard to fill" category while delivering solid to great performances (for their positions) in HR, RBI, Runs, and Avg!

This is TRUTH!

Bob Taylor said...

Hey, you don't need to sell me on Jose Reyes, who I have been accused of, uh, worshipping on more than one occasion.

Why is HE not in the All-Star Game tonight? Is it the crazy handshakes?!

Occam's Laser said...

Link on rd.net is here:


Not many posts in this thread on rd.net, which is surprising considering the anti-atheism crack from Reilly.

Speaking of B.J. Upton, I was pretty amused to find out his real name: Melvin Emmanuel Upton. No kidding. His dad was called B.J., and they ended up calling him B.J.

Bob Taylor said...

Thanks, Occam. And I did not know that about B.J. -- and now I don't think I'll ever forget.

jimhalberg said...

He's no Kurt Warner.

Big Cat said...

All I need to know about David is that he keeps calling you Mr. Bock.

G-A-Y you ain't got no alibi.

david said...

Big Cat, with a name like that you shouldn't be accusing anyone of latent homosexuality.

Big Cat said...

That's Mr. Cat to you, David!

Bob Taylor said...

I assumed he was a Galarraga fan, not an ABBA fan. Oh, shit, wait -- I'm the one who likes ABBA.

Anonymous said...

All you clowns obviously have never looked into, been a part of, or had a family member involved with a 12 step program of any kind. The whole program is based wholly on credo's of how the higher power is basically the reason you can stand up and change your life.

There is a lot of other steps involved, (12 of them)you people should check into it before you judge. I read somewhere that Hamilton does not even go out for supper, or for a walk without a "buddy". Who he has accompany him to make sure that he makes all the correct decisions.

That being said, we are obviously talking about an extraordinary individual, who is taking on a comeback in professional sports while he is in the premature stages of addiction recovery.

Him thanking God is an instant reaction that I think any recovering addict at his stage would make, if given the opportunity.