The Good: The 2008 baseball season is in the books and the feel good story of the season is Josh Hamilton of the Texas Rangers. Hamilton was the first player selected in the 1999 draft by Tampa Bay. He was considered to have been one of the most talented high school players ever to put on a uniform. Five years later he was out of baseball. Drug addiction not only ruined his career and his marriage but put his very life in danger. He did not play a game from 2004-2006.
A lot happened in 2006 for Josh Hamilton. First he got clean and has remained so. Second he reconciled with his wife. Third he signed with the Chicago Cubs who immediately traded him to The Reds. 2007 found him playing the outfield for Cincinnati and having a good season but the Reds needed pitching and so he was traded to the Rangers before the 2008 season.
Today Josh Hamilton is recognized as one of the best players in baseball. Thirty-two home runs, 130 runs batted in and a .304 batting average have made him a contender for the American League Most Valuable Player award. He was voted a starting outfielder on the American League all Star team. Hamilton just takes it one day at a time. Sometimes good things happen to good people who work hard and persevere.
The Bad: The New York Yankees just finished spending $208 million not to make the playoffs. They won 89 games which works out to just over $2.3 million per victory but fell six games short and were never really in contention. Their string of 13 consecutive playoff appearances ended. The closing of the legendary baseball cathedral Yankee Stadium was supposed to have occurred in the postseason and if there was any justice, by hosting the World Series. Instead the Stadium ended its life with a meaningless game against the Baltimore Orioles. Any season in which the Yankees fail to reach the playoffs is a bad one. The Yankees let former manager Joe Torre and his four World Series rings slip away from them last year. But Torre had the last laugh as he is now managing the Dodgers who did make the postseason.
Life may not get much better for the Yankees. Jason Giambi and Bobby Abreu are free agents. Andy Pettitte has also concluded his contract. Relief pitcher extraordinaire Mariano Rivera is having shoulder surgery within the next few weeks. Young and counted upon pitchers Phil Hughes and Ian Kennedy were failures. The list of problems goes on and on. The Yankees can always make a play for free agent pitcher CC Sabathia which would probably cost in the area of $20 million a year. Right now life is not good for George Steinbrenner and sons and when they are not happy, that is very bad indeed.
The Ugly: The Tour Championship ended last weekend in the PGA. Golf is not a contact sport and prides itself in the closeness of the fans to the action. Anthony Kim is a rising professional golf star but last Saturday was not a memorable day for Kim. He almost missed his tee time and was wild with his drives all day. David Whitfield of Atlanta is a golf fan and thought he had found the perfect place to watch the tournament on the ninth hole fairway. As Kim teed off, he and Whitfield’s lives were about to meet in a most ugly way.
Kim’s first shot hit Whitfield squarely in the head. The ball left a deep impression in his skull and blood was seeping through the towel wrapped around his head. Kim said afterward, “I thought that I had killed him.” Whitfield was taken to the hospital and would survive to watch golf another day.
We don’t usually think of golf as a dangerous sport but watch a professional tournament closely and see the narrow alleys, surrounded by people, through which the pros must hit their very hard and potentially deadly golf balls. An ugly accident did not prove fatal this time, but when will the law of average catch up with someone?
The Bonus: The following story did not really fit in with any of my categories. Foolish or the insane maybe but not good, bad, or ugly. I do know that you should not try this at home. Many people have swum across the English Channel but only Yves Rossy has crossed the channel strapped to a single wing jet. Yes he was wearing a helmet. On September 26, Rossy jumped out of an airplane at 8000 feet somewhere over France and while in freefall opened his wing and turned on his jet engines. He then traveled at 125 miles an hour across the 22 mile English Channel. It took him all of 25 minutes. Before parachuting to the ground at the end of his journey he performed a loop. Rossy is now known as Jet Man. The only reason he is not my ugly story of the week is because he landed safely. That having been said, it was kind of cool!