By Keysha Hogan
This past Monday, Ranger’s outfielder and hometown favorite, Josh Hamilton appeared on an episode of Jimmy Kimmel Live and on the very next day removed himself from the lineup after suffering from blurred vision due to possible sinus issues. Critics from across the web began chastising Hamilton for his decision and stated he lacked “mental toughness.” To those who are rushing to pass judgment, I respectfully offer a WTF.
It seems that people are still submersed in the idea of the indestructible strong man. And often it’s players that are perpetuating this viewpoint. Just a few weeks ago we witnessed Cowboys’ tight end, Jason Witten, fight his way back onto the field after suffering a lacerated spleen during a preseason game. Every clip of him showed doctors and trainers wringing their hands as Witten paced before them making his case. Thankfully he healed up before being cleared to play because a tear in the spleen can cause a deadly amount of internal blood loss.
And remember a few years ago when the workhorse of the Cowboys’ was Marion “The Barbarian” Barber? I loved watching him play, but it was obvious that there was limit to punishment that his body could withstand. He left Dallas for Chicago after being plagued by injuries and only lasted one season.
With these kinds of players in the forefront it makes Tony Romo’s hand injury and Hamilton’s sinus problems seem like nothing. And I already know you’re thinking that I am comparing the demands of two very different sports. But the point is that I trust the longevity and acumen of players that are smart enough to take their health seriously.
Sitting out a few games for a battery of tests is worrisome for an organization and fans, but it must be the most painful of purgatories for the athlete. Vision problems are a serious safety hazard and directly affect game-time performance. Even Coach Ron Washington said, “He took a ground ball, catch and spin, and lost his balance. We’re not messing with that.”
Anyone who honestly thinks Hamilton lacks toughness must have forgotten that he battled through last year’s post-season while the abductor muscle group in his inner left thigh had almost completely detached. He has tried to live up to the ideal, and after all these years it’s getting tougher to keep going.
Or is it possible that this is all just bluster from why Hamilton appeared on Jimmy Kimmel in the middle of a push to the playoffs? Or could it be that fans are just anxious because he’ll be entering free agency quicker than any of us care to acknowledge? No matter how fierce a fan you are, you must realize that these players have dedicated their lives and bodies to games of luck and chance. Bad things will happen and evaluations must be made, but that will never excuse doubting the tenacity or grit of an athlete that pushes the limits to bring you home a championship.