Saturday, April 04, 2015

On Hamilton

On a police procedural television show, they usually establish the suspect's guilt by laying down motive and opportunity.

In the case of the ongoing leaks - which, incidentally, are in direct violation of the MLB labor agreement - about Josh Hamilton's apparent relapse this winter, the Angels have motive. They have opportunity. And if they were any more cartoonish about this, Fred and Daphne would be pulling a rubber head off Arte Moreno and shouting "Old Man Smithers!"

The motive is obvious: get Hamilton suspended without pay, and they're off the hook for his gargantuan salary, a salary which they negotiated with full awareness of his ongoing struggles. The opportunity? Well, the parties who would have had access to the results include MLB, the Angels, the MLBPA, and Hamilton's camp. There's no percentage in Hamilton leaking this. The MLBPA  has been, rightfully, outraged the way stuff that was negotiated to be confidential has been consistently leaked to reporters in what are clearly transparent PR efforts. MLB's pulled this kind of stunt before, but they don't get much out of this PR-wise; there's no clamor out there to clean up casual drug use in the game the way there was in the 80s. So that leaves the Angels, reinforced by the fact that the confidential info keeps coming out in Los Angeles, which is to say local, media.

Look, on a certain level I get it. The Angels had a window of a couple of years when they could have taken LA away from the Dodgers while the latter were in late-stage Frank McCourt clown show. So they went all in, signing expensive name vets and doing a ridiculous name change, didn't work. The Dodgers got real owners with real money, and they're the city's team again. Meanwhile, the Angels are talking about moving to the booming metropolis of Tustin, where the third-rated attraction on TripAdvisor is Fresca's Mexican Grill. So of course they're going to want to seize the opportunity to get out from under a monster contract that's not paying off. If leaking info to rile up the fan base to demand this miscreant is punished is what it takes to do that, then make with the leaks. Get the fans angry. Make them demand that their ticket dollars aren't going to Druggy McDrugpants, who Sets A Bad Example For Our Youth. Suspend that sumbitch. Oh, and make sure you do it without pay.

[side note: the original board put together by MLB, as per the agreement, to decide whether Hamilton should be suspended voted 2-2. The two board members appointed by the owners voted for punishment, the two appointed by the players voted against. Put that in your pipe and smoke it.]

Conjecture? Sure. But when the team president says "It defies logic that Josh's reported behavior is not a violation of his current program," and the GM says "The Angels have serious concerns about Josh’s conduct, health and behavior...", it's pretty clear what kind of outcome they were rooting for. This is their own guy they'll be getting back, a guy who, even when he's having a down year, is one of the better hitters in their lineup. And yet here they are rooting in public for the guy to get suspended. 

It almost makes you think they're not entirely concerned about winning ballgames. 
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