I loved Josh Hamilton. I loved the story, loved the struggle, loved the triumph. And then this stuff with the agent came out, most of which I saw at ShysterBall. Now, I am going to see all three Texas games this weekend in D.C. and I had been planning on putting my Nationals fandom aside and cheering for him. However, I now think I should boo him. So, the question is: boo, cheer, or ambivalent silence?Charles, you have done the right thing by writing in to me, because if there's one thing I do well, it's telling people what to do.
But first allow me to say that whatever I have written about Josh Hamilton's agent issues -- you'll recall that he recently dumped agent Matt Sosnick just as it became clear that a big payday was in the offing because, he claimed, he wanted to go with "Christian representation" -- it has only been derivative. The real work on that has been by Jason over at It IS About the Money, Stupid, who has written more about it than anyone and has even spoken with Sosnick about the situation (note: you're gonna wanna check out IIATMS early next week for much, much more on this, so bookmark it now). Now, on to your question:
I say you don't boo Hamilton. I don't know what you do for a living, Charles, but I'm sure that in the course of an employee evaluation, a company picnic, or a conversation with a coworker, you've done and said things you weren't particularly proud of. Still, you've managed to make the sales or deliver the packages, or fabricate the widgets, or cure the sick or whatever it is you do with aplomb, haven't you? Do you want people judging you based on your backroom or off-hour shenanigans? Of course not, so unless we find out that Hamilton is actually a bad person to his very core -- and I really don't think we will -- let's not judge him too harshly on this.
A more practical reason not to boo is that someone is going to ask you why you're booing him, and in my book, if you can't explain that in a couple of shouted words like "because he's a bum!" or "wife beater!" or something like that, you're probably dealing with a situation in which the player's character is too ethically complicated and nuanced to justify your scorn. What's more, if you try to explain this one quickly -- "bum dumped his agent because he wasn't a Christian!" you're robbing the fact pattern of a couple of the key facts -- like the timing and Hamilton's background -- which, in this case, are what actually make it seem unseemly. What if the guy in the seat in front of you is himself a devout Christian? He's going to think you're booing his religion. Next thing you know his nacho cheese "accidentally" finds its way into your beer. And given what he knows about it all, that wouldn't necessarily be unjustified.
Finally, let us remember that no matter how interesting the off-the-field business can be, it should be left behind when you go to the ballpark. The game still rules, and Hamilton is really, really good at this game. That doesn't change, and he certainly remains an inspiring story regardless of this instance of his somewhat questionable interpersonal skills. So my verdict is no, do not boo Josh Hamilton, and if you can't bring yourself to cheer, do no more than sit on your hands.
Besides, Milton Bradley plays for the Rangers, and as everyone knows, he's the real manifestation of true evil, so save your boos for him.
Shyster is a syndicated advice columnist whose regular column, Ask Shyster, is featured in over 250 newspapers nationwide.