Right now, the Los Angeles Angels look ridiculous for their treatment of Josh Hamilton.
For one thing, Arte Moreno is apparently lying his ass off about what’s in Hamilton’s contract concerning his history of drug abuse. An arbitrator has already ruled that Hamilton can’t be punished for his relapse, yet the Angels (seemingly, at least) continue to make moves to try and whitewash him from their roster and his presence from anything to do with the franchise.
One can understand that Moreno and the Angels are suffering from buyer’s remorse with regards to Hamilton; his performance the last few years has been below expectations, and his substance relapse only adds fuel to that fire. But addicts slip up now and then; everyone knows that, and the Angels certainly should have known that going in when they signed Hamilton to his current contract. The right thing to do would be to help him get treatment so he can get back out on the field for them. How else is Hamilton supposed to give Moreno value for his money if he doesn’t come through with runs, homers and RBIs in an Angels uniform? How is kicking him out the door helping the team reach its goals? And what if Hamilton comes back—fully sober in the immediate aftermath of rehab—and starts tearing it up for another AL team? Texas is already having injury issues; would having a newly free and sober Hamilton signing with his old team help LA get where they’re hoping to go?
Beyond Los Angeles, this scene is also making new commissioner Rob Manfred look bad. As far as public comment is concerned, Manfred has been nothing but a figment on this situation. Worse still may be what the private, behind closed doors view says about the commissioner: if Manfred is advising Moreno to go this route, he seems to be pushing one of his owners (read: employers) into a legal situation where he’s likely to lose in court. Worst of all, Manfred may be giving the opposite advice…and seeing his advice ignored. What would that situation say about how much influence the commissioner has over the sport he’s been hired to govern? Bud Selig, for all his loathsomeness, certainly had influence as a former owner; Manfred is just a lawyer who, apparently, does not have much pull with the magnates who form the sport’s true governing body.
If the commissioner’s office is now occupied by someone who’s just a figurehead, who has little to no real power to influence the game, things might get ‘interesting’ (in the Chinese sense of the word) throughout the MLB landscape in the very near future.