Back in March, I cast a brief vote in favor of a talented guy with a problem. The guy was a former #1 draft pick of the Tampa Bay Devil Rays. The problem: life-threatening substance abuse. My vote of confidence: I selected the undrafted outfielder to my fantasy baseball team, but my selection reflects more than mere enthusiasm for his skills. It is a modest prayer on my part in favor of the possibility of redemption.

As I type this, in a major-league career spanning 132 games, the 26-year-old, addiction-plagued Josh Hamilton is hitting exactly .300 with 29 HR and 96 RBI over 470 at-bats. And it hasn’t even gotten that hot in Arlington. There’s been only one day so far where the high there hit the 90's (May 10th). As someone whose parents live a quarter-mile away from the Rangers facility, believe me, in July, in August, the ball is going to carry. As a fan, I like Hamilton's chances as a hitter.

Sobriety is the issue. Hamilton has been clean for nearly three years now. But all of this can come unraveled at any time. I loved the man in the orange jump suit, Ken Caminiti. He was a man's man, an incredible teammate, and a professing Christian---and he's dead now.

Eric Show was a brilliant, accomplished fellow: the Padres all-time winningest starting pitcher, the holder of a degree in physics, an accomplished jazz guitarist----and he's dead, too. Don't kid yourself: drug addiction can wreck your life, no matter how smart you are, no matter how much you're loved by others. Wine is a mocker, strong drink is raging, and the cocktail of addiction mixes even less well with the high that attends celebrity.

Still, as I follow Hamilton from afar, I'm rooting for him. Not so much that he would have another multi-homer game, but that he would have one more day of sobriety. And then another. And then another. Every day that happens, he's an All-Star in my book.

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