Friday, June 20, 2008

Ask Shyster

Reader Charles Kitchen writes in with an ethical dilemma:
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.


Jason said...

Thanks for the props, Craig. And yes, there will be alot more on this subject early next week. That's all the tease I can muster. Tune in, as the announcer-types say!

I say you can still cheer Hamilton. In my opinion, coming back from the depths he reached is more important and a better lesson to discuss with kids than his agent situation. Now, I think the way and reason he dumped his agent is more than unseemly. But, I did post this Hamilton quote and I think it is still worth doing:

Let the following be posted in every lockerroom, in every school, stadium, fieldhouse:
"When I first got into drinking and using drugs," he says, "it was because of where I was hanging out, it was who I was hanging out with. You might not do it at first, but eventually, if you keep hanging around long enough, you're going to start doing what they're doing."

That's a better lesson than "don't dump your agent due to religion right before you sign a big contract".

Chris Needham said...

I say you boo ALL of the team-thieving bums!

Craig Calcaterra said...

Chris -- it's funny because just this morning I mentioned the Twins-Nats as being something of a rivalry thing given what happened to the original Senators. I'm sensing sarcasm here, but seriously: are there people in DC still worked up over the Rangers? I figured that was all forgotten when Povich died.

Pete Toms said...

I don't care who Hamilton's agent is nor do I care that he is a drug addict ( once an addict?...)

Having said that he is one of the most talented players I have ever seen. Really, he is that good.

As for Bradley, I saw him play a lot here in AAA. Believe it or not once upon a time there was debate in the Expos' organization as to whom their CF of the future was, Peter Bergeron or Bradley. I liked Bradley here and he came with the rep. The one thing I notice since he left is how much bigger he is. All that to say, roid rage?

Chris Needham said...

The man-children on one of the big message boards are having a debate over whether it's proper to boo, so, yeah, for a certain segment of the population, these games mean something.

for most of us transplants, it's a chance to beat up on* another lousy AL West team

* defined as losing the game by less than 14 runs

Ken Dynamo said...


Boo that man, i say.

the whole 'would you like if someone came to where you work and boo'd YOU when you had a bad day' is what us non lawyers like to call, REDUCTO AD ABSURDUM. its also a NON SEQUITER. thats right craig, i countered your argument with latin. latin, from the ROMANS. unless you play some other professional sport fo a living YOU CANT COMPARE YOUR JOB TO A BASEBALL PLAYERS.

okay, sorry for shouting. anyway, i'll see you at the games, chuckie, as now that Paul Lo Duca is back from the DL i have a lot of booing to make up for.

Craig Calcaterra said...

Ken -- I'm not as up on my Latin as I should be, but I remember something in a Latin dialect:

uckfay ouyay!


By the way, could you forward me your office address again? I heard you didn't contribute to the coffee fund last month and I want to make my displeasure known . . .

Ken Dynamo said...

hey, i put in my five dollars for the birthday sheet cakes EVERY time HR asks. every uckingfay time odgay ammitday.

Daniel said...

Wasn't "Booing My Religion" a song by REM? Or am I thinking of something else?

That's me at the plate
That's me in the batter's box
You're booing my religion
Trying to make up insults...

I took some syllabic liberties there, but I've got a lot of real work to do today, so what're you gonna do.

Ironic Goat said...

The Latin was pretty convincing, but I suppose I wont boo.

Also, reading IIATMS, I learned that he had not been Hamiltons agent pre Cincy, so that made it a bit less disturbing, although I still think it is intolerant.

Thanks for all the free advice.

John Peterson said...

Hey, Charles Kitchen! I know that guy! I went to school with that guy!

My advice to you, sir, is not to boo players for complex off-the-field stuff that has little to do with the game of baseball. Nobody knows what you're booing about, and it's like heckling a player with a long and complicated argument. If you can't effectively heckle a guy about what you don't like, then don't boo him. That's my rule of thumb.

Anonymous said...

At Spring Training in Surprise this year, the Giants blew off my kids, age 9 & 11 when they went autograph hunting on Easter Sunday after the Giants/Rangers played. Josh Hamilton watched it happen, then ran over to where my kids were, introduced himself and signed baseballs, caps, bats and tickets until everyone left in the park had an autograph. He asked kids what positions they played, acted interested when they answered and probably saved my vacation trip by connecting with kids. When we see Josh on TV now, we cheer - and you should too.