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From news of the day to news of the weird, John Fay provides a glimpse of what it’s like to cover the Cincinnati Reds

John Fay
John Fay has been the Reds beat writer for the Enquirer since 2001. Prior to that, he served in a variety of roles for the Enquirer: backup Reds writer, UC beat writer, backup Bengals writer and as a general assignment reporter. He is a Cincinnati native and a graduate of Elder High School and the University of Dayton.

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Monday, February 19, 2007

On Josh Hamilton

Josh Hamilton's press conference was about as captivating as those things get. It lasted 45 minutes. Hamilton told the story of his slide into the darkness of drug addiction. About 20 members of the media showed up.

I'm in midst of writing my tome. I hope I do it justice.

From a baseball standpoint, the question is: Can Hamilton still play?

The Reds are guessing yes.

“I don’t think there’s anybody here (in Reds camp) with the combination of power and speed and throwing arm,” Reds manager Jerry Narron said. “But it’s a very, very difficult game to play. He hasn’t been able to play the last couple of years. There’s some rust there. We’ll see how close he is.”

Pete Mackanin, the Reds major league advance scout, was fairly effusive after throwing Hamitlon batting practice:

"When you throw BP to these guys, there’s a certain zone they have over the plate, where they hit with more authority. The thing that impressed me the most is he didn’t have one. Anywhere you threw it – up and in, low and away – he handled it and stayed on top of the ball.

"His approach was outstanding. Having never seen him before, I was extremely impressed with what I saw. I know it’s only one day in spring training.

“I hate to get excited in the spring. But, boy oh boy, you have to like what I saw."

The Reds have a support system set up for Hamilton, namely Johnny Narron, who's known Hamilton since he was 8.

You've got to root for the guy. If you catch video of the press conference, you'll see a warm, engaging person -- albeit with quite a history.


41 Comments:

at 5:55 PM Anonymous Anonymous said...

Man, this is gonna sound bad, but:

Why is it when it's a white baseball player who struggled with addiction, it's a heartwarming story and we're all rooting for him to do well; but when it's a black athlete (Chris Henry) with little/no family support system struggling with addiction and bad choices, he's a thug, a symbol of everything that's wrong with society and should be cast aside as soon as humanly possible?

When I read this post, that's the first thing I thought of.

 
at 7:12 PM Anonymous Anonymous said...

See you are not looking at this right. With Chris Henry you haven't heard him say that he has a problem or at least I haven't. Once someone says I need help that is when people change the way the feel about other people.

 
at 7:19 PM Anonymous Anonymous said...

I would guess it's because Chris Henry has shown absolutely NOTHING to show he's trying to better himself. If he started making strides in the public eye to be a better human being I would think it would be widely accepted. Look at Ray Lewis.

 
at 7:24 PM Anonymous Anonymous said...

If you were to find commentary on Hamilton from 2 years ago, I think you would see some pretty harsh rhetoric. He was called out as a bust and waste of talent, a drug-addict who threw away his talent. Hamilton was given every chance to overcome his demons, as I would hope the Bengals are doing with Henry. What makes Hamilton's story 'heartwarming' at this point is the ground he has travelled over the last 2 years. I'm sure that race colors the response to these type of stories a fair amount of the time- I don't think it affected this one though.

 
at 7:28 PM Anonymous Anonymous said...

The difference between Chris Henry and Hamilton has nothing to do with their respective races. It is simply that Hamilton has spent two years suspended from the game he loves, he admits he has a problem and is seemingly trying in earnest to stay clean and do things right. Chris Henry hasn't realized or won't admit he has made any mistakes. as far as I can tell and he has jokingly been suspended for a couple of games, so far for those actions. If Chris Henry admits to a serious problem with his actions and the choices he has made so far and shows a genuine effort to learn from his mistakes than I think most people are more than willing to give him another chance.

 
at 7:30 PM Anonymous Anonymous said...

I think that if Hamilton gets busted for league violations or breaking the law, he will be suspended, just the same as any other pro athlete. Henry has a current pattern of "bad choices" on multiple counts. Hamilton, as far as we know, currently does not. Why does this have to be a race issue, when in fact it's a issue of personal responsibility? It's amazing that no one can take personal blame in this day and age for anything. Just a thought.

 
at 7:35 PM Anonymous Anonymous said...

You're crazy...

The Bengals have done nothing but give Chris chance after chance to get right... Quit making this out to be a racial issue when it's not. Best of luck to both Chris and Josh!!!

 
at 7:39 PM Anonymous Anonymous said...

well i kind of agree with anonymous' comment about henry but the difference is we are going through henry's problem with him, hamiltons has past....i believe if he were as red during his troubles in the past, the press and fans would be saying the same thing they're saying now....i may be wrong...

 
at 7:54 PM Anonymous Anonymous said...

Let me get this straight. Your comparing a man who has an addiction, to a THUG who was carrying a gun at a night club while wearing his Bengals jersey and who gave alcohol to minors in order to have sex with one of them. Sounds like a thug to me!!!

 
at 8:03 PM Anonymous Anonymous said...

Because when its a person that is not a thug, got hooked on drugs and is trying to make himself better by staying clean for himself and family. Its not a heartwarming story because he got arrested like Henry did and for what it seems hasn't tried to make himself a better person yet. Its a heartwarming story because he's trying to put his past behind him which is obvious by trying to stay clean and for what it seems he's doing a good job.

 
at 8:09 PM Anonymous Anonymous said...

Are you kidding me? Why would anyone turn this into racism. That is completely absurd to try and say that a white athlete is getting better treatment than a black athlete. Right now, this is a heart warming story because he has overcome his problems by staying off drugs for over a year and a half. Henry has not been sober for a week and a half. This is not racism...this is facing the facts. Hamilton has turned his life around and Henry continues to screw up.

 
at 8:13 PM Anonymous Anonymous said...

These are two completely different stories. You simply cannot compare Josh Hamilton & Chris Henry. Josh Hamilton has not been a member of this team. He has not been an embarrasment to this team, his teammates & fans. He has not been a distraction to this team, and lost playing time due to his mistakes while with the Reds. My guess is if you see Josh Hamilton get arrested three times this season, there will be no opportunity for a 4th. He will be gone and a distant memory.

Anonymous, this has nothing to do with race. Henry has been a thug while with his current team, Hamilton has not. If Henry was white, and Hamilton black, would you have even brought this up?

Really bad comparison.

 
at 8:21 PM Anonymous Anonymous said...

Its not a black or white issue its a recovery issue, and there is one thing wrong with your statement above. Hamilton has addmited his problem and is making a conserted effort to get well while Henry seems to be right where he left off minus any recent arrest. I being a person who is in recovery from addiction knows the first and most important part is addmiting there is a problem. So kudos to the Reds for giving Hamilton a second chance, I hope it pays off for them and as for Henry, I hope that he can realize the problem that he has and what he will need to do in order to get his life back togather, he would be a terrific talent to waste.

 
at 8:23 PM Anonymous Anonymous said...

It didn't sound good, but:

Nobody tried to throw Henry out with the bath water. How many bad choices (Crimes) can a person of his exposure make and still be given more chances? He is a great player, but a poor role model. Does Cincinnati want to be remembered as team with lots of crimnals (UC in the past) with winning teams or one of middle America with values that will win out in the long run?

 
at 8:28 PM Blogger Chris said...

I agree. And its the same phenomenon where a basketball brawl is about the worst thing in the world but a basebrawl is just good ol' fun. Farnsworth didn't get 15 games thats for sure.

 
at 8:42 PM Anonymous Anonymous said...

I think it's the exact opposite! Every time I watch ESPN now they are doing a story about a black guy who was into drugs, gangs, etc. and now he's worked out of it and how heartwarming it is. It gets a little old. Hamilton is the only "white" exception I've seen. But, I don't see anywhere in this post where they spin the whole "heartwarming" story. It just says that he's still good at baseball.

Besides I think there's a difference between getting high (only hurting yourself) and waiving guns in public, driving drunk, and having sex with under age prostitues (like Henry did).

Geez fellow Cincinnatians, lay off the race issue. Why does it have to be a white guy or a black guy? I'm sick of ALL the heartwarming stories of bad athletes turned good. What about the good guys who were always good guys?

 
at 8:51 PM Anonymous Anonymous said...

It does sound bad, namely because your comparison is akin to comparing apples and oranges. In his previous stints with other MLB organization, Josh Hamilton had numerous arrests and suspensions related to drug use, but none of those have transpired while a member of the Reds. By all accounts, he is clean now, and I highly suspect that the Reds laid out to him the consequences of any relapse or other legal issues before signing his contract. As long as he stays clean, his past drug problems are a non-issue in terms of being and staying a member of the team On the other hand, while these were hints of character issues before being drafted, most of Chris Henry's arrests and drug transgressions (and certainly the most public) occurred while a member of the team. People are upset that he continues to run afoul of the law and make the Bengals organization look bad, and are calling for him to be “cast aside” as you say to protect the team from the bad press that it has been the subject of numerous times in the recent past. While no one wishes this by any means, if Hamilton should relapse or be arrested once (not the multitude of times like Henry) I’m sure that we will hear the same calls for his release, and most likely the Reds would undertake that action themselves. Only if his relapses are met with indifference can you compare this situation with that of Chris Henry.

 
at 8:54 PM Anonymous Anonymous said...

This is not a racial issue. It is an issue of one man who is looking for help (Hamilton), and one who is continually making bad decisions with no apparent show of regret (Henry). No family support system? Maybe he should consult the coaches and elder members of the team.

 
at 9:16 PM Anonymous Anonymous said...

I think the difference between the two is the admission by Mr.Hamilton that he is a recovering addict. (has a problem) Mr. Henrys drug and alcohol use are local and national headlines. He is villified by the press, and court of public opinion. Alcoholism and Addiction are diseases, recognized as such by the American Medical Association.
They cause a lot of harm to others, thus the public outcry.
As a recovering alcoholic I understand the battles of first admitting you have a problem (asking for help), then staying in recovery. No one can call Mr. Henry an addict or alcoholic but Mr. Henry. That is the first step in recovery. If that is Mr. Henry's problem, it is for him to seek help.

 
at 9:16 PM Anonymous Anonymous said...

You know the sad thing is that I believe that "5:55 PM Anonymous" might be right. However, I think the big difference here is that it appears that Josh is really trying to change his life. Chris Henry lacks the intelligence to change his life, or worse, he doesn't care to (which is why some perceive him to be a thug).

 
at 9:16 PM Anonymous Anonymous said...

I disagree. When Hamilton was going thru his troubles he was bashed right and left. now its heartwarming b/c he struggled with drug addiction and has, for the time, defeated it. Henry suffers from stupidity and arrogance, its not addiction related and he has made no attempt to reconcile himself. It not black and white, its someone who hit bottom and fought his way back v/s someone who has similar gifts but is still in a downward spiral.

 
at 9:30 PM Anonymous Anonymous said...

that's exactly what the tampa bay devil rays did with hamilton. maybe the bengals should take some notes and let another team take a chance on henry.

 
at 9:38 PM Anonymous Anonymous said...

thanks anon for speaking the cold truth...the same way this city's media railroads the black players of the Bengals, they call for the rebirth a white player who has had possibly deeper personal troubles affecting his professional career. The Bengals arrests are guys already in the League who are making poor choices. Hamilton has never even seen the Majors because of his off-field problems. To no surprise, nobody's ripping Krivsky or Narron for taking a chance on a "character risk" like Cincy media and the Enquirer rip Marvin Lewis for his decisions. If you're going to take the so-called moral high road (which Cincinnati LOVES), be indiscriminate in your ridicule.

 
at 10:31 PM Anonymous Anonymous said...

You're right , your comments sound bad, and entirely ignorant. If the only difference you see between Josh Hamilton and Chris Henry is the color of their skin, then you are a fool.

 
at 10:33 PM Anonymous Anonymous said...

You're right it does sound bad it sounds like your playing the race card. And it seems to me Henry hasn't gone through near as much as Hamilton has gone through. When Josh was doing bad things he wasn't being praised. Hes being praised after what he has overcome. What has Henry overcome? Nothing b/c he still is out getting in trouble....Don't get me wrong I'm a huge Chris Henry fan, but you can't even compare the two.

 
at 10:36 PM Anonymous Anonymous said...

"Got to love playing the race card." Contrary to your Chris Henry analogy, Hamilton was 'treated' worse than Chris....he was completely kicked out of baseball!!!! He didn't have anyone holding his hand (like Chris) and he didn't have chance after chance. He was shut out and he had to get clean on his own. Now that he has turned things around after dropping to the bottom of the barrell, so to speak, he is getting another chance and it costs the Reds practically nothing from an investment standpoint. Josh had an addiction, Chris Henry doesn't...he has a thug attitude problem, which in many respects is more difficult to deal with. Bottom line, race has nothing to do with it....but its nice to see that the victimization and racism cop-out still persists.

 
at 10:46 PM Anonymous Anonymous said...

Man, this is gonna sound like a refutation, but:

1. Is Josh struggling with drug addiction, or was he struggling in the past and now is on the better side of it?

2. When did Chris Henry own up to the fact that he has a problem?

3. When did Josh slide out the side door of a jail with a smirk on his face?

When I read your post, these are the first three things I thought of.

 
at 10:47 PM Anonymous Anonymous said...

Well Mr. Anonymous let's see here, Chris Henry waived a handgun at a police Officer. That seems to me like a thug. I am not advocating drug addicts here, but what Chris Henry has been doing which also includes DUI and giving alcohol to underage girls, as in teenage girls, seems to be more serious and yes, more thug like. I am also sick of people playing the race card, so stop it already. when Hamilton waives a handgun at the police, and we still call him "heart warming", then and only then may you play the race card. Otherwise, you look very silly and racist yourself.

 
at 10:48 PM Anonymous Anonymous said...

First of all, I think it's a heartwarming story because as far as we know, Henry hasn't fallen nearly as far in life. Did he completely fall out of the NFL due to his problems? Have his "addictions" (underage girls and booze?)led to him trying to commit suicide on multiple occasions?
Secondly, when Chris Henry takes it upon himself to change, I'm sure the heartfelt stories will come his way. That's the difference, Hamilton is trying to step up to the plate and change his life, Henry has done nothing of the sort. I'd say professional sports is where color matters the least in this country. That's why it's a little suprising that is the first thing you thought of, unless of course you're a black apologist, a liberal looking for votes, or the Rev. Jesse James himself.

 
at 11:15 PM Anonymous Anonymous said...

What exactly is Chris Henry addicted to again? Hamilton recognized a problem and is fixing it. Henry let the courts do that for him. It's not a black/white thing...Not only that but I'm pretty sure Henry has a strong family background seeing as he brought all of them up from Louisiana when Katrina hit to live in N.Ky. I'm not sure if Hamilton was ever arrested four times in a span of 13 months either. These are two totally different things. Maybe we need a better example here...

 
at 11:38 PM Anonymous Anonymous said...

the obvious difference to me is that we're seeing hamilton a year or two removed from his problems trying to come back and we've dealt with henry in the middle of his problems. i think in a year or two if we see chris henry putting his troubles behind him and showing up to work hard then the same type of things will be said about him. at least i will.

 
at 12:01 AM Anonymous steve said...

Anonymous why does it have to be black or white. The two situations are completely different. One hit rock bottom and is trying to pick himself up and the other has been slapped on the wrist and continuted to make bad choices. How about some personal responsibility.

 
at 12:19 AM Anonymous Anonymous said...

chris henry has done nothing to show anybody that he wants to change and wants the happiness of just living a normal life...if chris henry was white he would be a thug...

 
at 12:40 AM Anonymous Anonymous said...

Comparing Hamilton and Henry is apples and oranges. The difference is taking responsibility. Hamiliton has recognized, admitted, and continues to work against his addiction. What's not to root for? Henry has made excuses and blamed others for his mistakes. Were Henry to own up and start over with a clean slate, there would be a lot of people wishing him the best. It isn't about skin color; it's about ownership of your mistakes.

 
at 1:08 AM Anonymous Anonymous said...

In this case, I believe it's a little different because if I'm not mistaken, Hamilton was in a wreck (??) or something else that caused him to get hooked on pain killers then onto illegal drugs. Henry is considered a "thug" case because he was drinking and partying with minors and carrying an unregistered gun. An addiction is different than idiocy.

 
at 1:46 AM Anonymous Anonymous said...

One major difference in the Chris Henry story and the Josh Hamilton story is that Josh Hamilton and the Reds have made it very public that he is changing his ways and Josh has admitted to his mistakes. Unless I missed it, I dont recall Chris Henry ever apologizing or admitting he messed up, although i do remember him being in fights/arguments with teammates. Its not just about what the athelete does wrong but what he does to try and change afterward. Its much easier to forgive a guy that publicly owns up to his mistakes and admits he has a problem rather than a guy thats been arrested multiple times and has shown no signs of changing.

 
at 7:51 AM Blogger Leo said...

to anonymous... it never ceases to amaze me how some people always look at every situation in terms of black and white. The problem with your comparison is simply that Josh Hamilton has cleaned himself up and is trying to start over fresh, whereas Chris Henry is still knee deep in his own mess with little remorse or acknowledgment of responsibility.


Maybe that was the first thing you thought of because that's what you chose to see.

 
at 12:14 PM Anonymous Anonymous said...

John Fay -- Great piece in today's Enquirer. It's just my opinion, but I think you did his story justice. Good work.

I wish Josh the best...and I hope he has a great spring with the Reds...that turns into a great summer with the Reds. This will be an intriguing story to watch.

 
at 1:10 PM Anonymous CincyFan said...

Didn't know Jesse Jackson got on blogs as an Anonymous poster!!! He gets his name out there any way he can.....Just like this guy. If you weren't black and feeling sorry for yourself, then you would realize that what you are saying is rediculous. Here's a thought....... I'm white (and NOT a high priced athlete i might add), but if it were i that were arrested for the same exact things that Chris Henry has done, do actually think i would even be walking the streets? I think not....Would be rotting away for 10-15 yrs. Is your racism comment starting to sink yet??? Let me know when it comes afloat and we can discuss this further.

 
at 7:05 PM Anonymous Anonymous said...

I live in the greater Cincinnati area. Henry: still out of control. Hamilton: Straight. That's the difference between the two. It's not about color at all. And I am pulling for Hamilton all the way. I hope one day people will point to the Reds taking a chance on him as the best baseball decision of the century. It's possible. Hey, maybe Chris Henry and some other Bengals will look a couple blocks east of Paul Brown Stadium to Great American Ballpark and find a role model that will enable them to turn their lives around as Josh Hamilton is in the process of doing!!!

 
at 3:38 AM Anonymous Anonymous said...

First of all, Josh Hamilton is a No. 1 pick...Chris Henry is not, but is a good enough athlete to skate by and make it to the NFL...He is a thug and the problem is that he's probably proud of being a thug in the Niffle...Maybe Hamilton got in a little (or a lot) too deep...Henry can obviously control his behavior enough to not f#@* up his career(until now)...If Henry is a real competitor like NFL players should be, he will realize it's time to tighten up...I have no problem with him trying to beat the system and live his own way til now b/c that's fine if you can pull it off...Now he should know that his way doesn't work...if he wants to keep being an idiot he can take his couple mil and invest in some crack...Otherwise, he should become a real man and take some pride in how far he has made it...tell some kids not to get caught up in what he has (not necessarily addictions but habits and ways of life) and how to learn your way out...He's been lucky to make it this far...about time he realizes, like Hamilton apparently has(hopefully), that it's about more that himself

 
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