Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Last night I saw a documentary about a man with an incredible inspiring story that is what sports should be about. Sports today are mainly caught in the media as cheating, with steriods and money and videotaping, there have been no feel good stories that are awe inspiring. Baseball history was full of these moments which added to why it is considered a national pastime for our country. In light of all these steriod admitions and HGH lies, there is one player who had to get off the junk in order to play and is far better than anyone in baseball today.
Josh Hamilton is an amazing story that was covered in the local news down here when he first began is rise back into baseball as he is from Raleigh, NC. I have alot of similarities with this man as my only loves growing up were baseball and chemicals. I was good at baseball, better than alot not as great as some, but nowhere near Josh Hamilton's ability to play the game. When he made the opening day roster for the Cinncinatti Reds in 2007 fans in North Carolina were buzzing with joy for this man as well as the "he's my cousin" or "he's my nephews neighbor's friend, yeah, we go way back" type stuff, something was special about all of this. I had the chance that season in July to see Josh play in Cinncinatti against the Giants and the advocating doper himself Barry Bonds. Josh hit a home run and Bonds did not. There are many other comparisons that can be made there but Bonds is a waste of my time.
This past summer during all of the hoop-la surrounding the last season at Yankee Stadium was a kid from Raleigh and his 70-year old pitching coach. You would have to been under a rock for a week to not have heard or seen how amazing that evening was where at the home run derby Josh hit 28 HR's in one round and the majority were to places that nobody had hit the ball including two off the back wall of the stadium. Amazingly enough he gave it all to God.

I am incredibly grateful for a player like Mr. Hamilton in all that he has been through and accomplished to this day. His is a story of redemption on a scale that reaches thousands of people and sheds light on addiction and what it can do to people but that there is a way out, there is hope. With all of the celebrities that go to rehab to jump start their careers and shows like celebrity rehab were they make dramatizations of real life a real story of hope and addiction was needed and to be on this grand of a scale hopefully gives hope to families with addicts, parents, and kids in general. That here is a guy who didnt use roids, came clean, got honest, showed what temptation will do to your dreams and what you can accomplish when you put down the dope. In his case it was an amazing gift.

I quit baseball when I was in high school because I would rather party and do some dope than play the game that I loved so much as a kid. I have memories of baseball year round when I was a kid as well as substances year round. Ultimately I chose drugs and today I am sober trying to help others get and stay off drugs. Today I love baseball, I play some softball, but I try to be around baseball as much as I can. It reminds me of those days as well as the simplicity of life. In some ways Josh Hamilton is living out my dream of being in the MLB and I will cheer him on as long as its not against the Yankees. He said that when he was at Yankee stadium two weeks prior to the All-Star game the fans in the bleachers were chanting "Josh smokes crack", and then he said two weeks later at the All-Star game they were chanting "Ham-il-ton" showing how far he truely had come.

The best part about all this is that he is completely open and gives it all to God. When I was a kid my idols were Daryl Strawberry, Dwight Gooden, and Lawerence Taylor all of whom had long battles with substances. They were not like this. They didnt talk about it or change it for years and years. To hear Josh speak and give it all back as a ballplayer is very amazing to see. Ballplayers today are millionaires and snobs. He stays and signs autographs enough said. There was a great story about him in sports illustrated last year.

Last season Josh hit .304 with 32 HR's and 130 RBI's in his second season. He will have a huge year this year and will continue to become a superstar in baseball. This is one of those stories that people will tell their kids someday, this is an example of overcoming all odds, this is legend, he has a part of Yankee Stadium history, and for this legend its about the next person to help. "The Natural".

Monday, March 30, 2009

The Beast in me

The other night while lying in bed with alot on my mind Johnny Cash started playing on the tv. Johnny Cash, like Bob Dylan is one of my all time favorite artists and person that I admire. I read his book some time ago and like John Cusack says in High Fidelity, my favorite book would have to be Cash by Johnny Cash. The other night the song that got me was "The Beast in me". One of his best but not as popular songs, as he did sing a great many. The lyrics are:

The beast in me Is caged by frail and fragile bars Restless by day And by night rants and rages at the stars God help the beast in me

The beast in me Has had to learn to live with pain And how to shelter from the rain And in the twinkling of an eye Might have to be restrained God help the beast in me

Sometimes it tries to kid me That it's just a teddy bear And even somehow manage to vanish in the air And that is when I must beware Of the beast in me that everybody knows They've seen him out dressed in my clothes Patently unclear If it's New York or New Year God help the beast in me

The beast in me

I felt that song wash a calm all over me and I slept great. Another reminder that change is good but its a constant struggle. What you put into things is truely what you get out on the other end. Sometimes all you can do is just keep moving. There is this part of me, this "beast" and all that comes with it. Sometimes I feel it but rarely does it manifest itself today as it used to. Another description I appreciate was James Frey's in A Million Little Pieces, as flawed as it was, described that "fury" in him that was just automatic. This is not an increased heart rate or something like that, its a burning rage, a beast in a cage, ready to break and we dont give into that day after day. I felt that beast the other day at the grocery store looking at the prices of cigarettes and I wanted one, I felt the intensity, the desire so filled with rage...quickly I remembered why I quit, Oh yeah it will kill me, and calmed down, but looking at me or talking to me you would have had no idea that my emotions had just won me over. That used to be my life. There is nothing else in the world like that feeling. If I could have that feeling and funnel it to something other than chemicals I could be a millionaire. Back when I would rob, steal, cheat, fight, hurt, anything to get that desire met with no control..like it wasnt me...like someone else was wearing my clothes and controlling my movements.
I was calmed by the reminding of this by someone like Johnny Cash. Johnny Cash was a badass, there is no other way around that but on the other end he was the other extreme of complete humilty, faith and sharing of God's words. Seeing that was something I needed to see as I am trying to balance the bad part of my life with the good and carry that positive message to others.
Cash by Johnny Cash was like any other book a thousand times better than the movie, even though the acting was great. What I havent developed in my life which I completely repsect and admire about a person like Johnny Cash is a unquestionable core foundation of religious belief. I have had my doubts, my skepticism, my varied interests, my feelings hurt, throughout the religions. I seem to like bits and peices of different things that way they dont dissappoint me and in a way I have some control. I dont question that there is a God and that I am loved and here for a purpose. I beleive in love, forgiveness, heaven, hell, and Jesus. There is a part of me that wishes to be as hardcore as someone like Johnny Cash or as disciplined as a buddhist monk, or as in touch as a samari. When I read Johnny Cash's book I was coming out of one of the worst places in my life and beginning the best and I related and was inspired to do more. I realize that there is only so much a person can do at once, one thing at a time, first things first, but time is always slipping into the future.
I have big goals and big dreams and I love my life and all that comes with it. Like a typical junkie I always want more and always want to take it to another level. Like Johnny Cash's words, "The beast in me Has had to learn to live with pain And how to shelter from the rain And in the twinkling of an eye Might have to be restrained God help the beast in me", it all comes back to God and why we are here in the first place. I believe I have been forgiven for the things that I have done and that I am still here to do something. I hope I live up to that.
And by the way, if you havent read that book, its well worth the read. The man can quote some scripture and talk about some dope with the best of them with a humility and ease that is inspiring.