‘I’m proof that hope is never lost’

ESPN – Mag: Josh Hamilton’s story, in his words – MLB

Not that long ago, there were nights I went to sleep in strange places praying I wouldn’t wake up. After another night of bad decisions, I’d lie down with my heart speeding inside my chest like it was about to burst through the skin. My thinking was clouded, and my talent was one day closer to being totally wasted.

I prayed to be spared another day of guilt and depression and addiction. I couldn’t continue living the life of a crack addict, and I couldn’t stop, either. It was a horrible downward spiral that I had to pull out of, or die. I lay there — in a hot and dirty trailer in the North Carolina countryside, in a stranger’s house, in the cab of my pickup — and prayed the Lord would take me away from the nightmare my life had become.

When I think of those terrible times, there’s one memory that stands out. I was walking down the double-yellow of a two-lane country highway outside Raleigh when I woke up out of a trance.

I was so out of it I had lost consciousness, but my body had kept going, down the middle of the road, cars whizzing by on either side. I had run out of gas on my way to a drug dealer’s house, and from there I left the truck and started walking. I had taken Klonopin, a prescription antianxiety drug, along with whatever else I was using at the time, and the combination had put me over the edge. It’s the perfect example of what I was: a dead man walking.

And now, as I stand on the green grass of a major league outfield or walk to the batter’s box with people cheering for me, I repeatedly ask myself one simple question: How did I get here from there?

I’ve been in the big leagues as a member of the Cincinnati Reds for half a season, but I still find myself taking off my cap between pitches and taking a good look around. The uniform, the ballparks, the fans — it doesn’t seem real. How am I here? It makes no sense to anybody, and I feel almost guilty when I have to tell people, over and over, that I can’t answer that one simple question.

I go to sleep every night with a clear mind and a clear conscience. Every day, I walk into an immaculate clubhouse with 10 TVs and all the food I can eat, a far cry from the rat-infested hellholes of my user past. I walk to my locker and change into a perfectly clean and pressed uniform that someone else hung up for me. I grab a bat and a glove and walk onto a beautifully manicured field to play a game for a living.

How am I here? I can only shrug and say, “It’s a God thing.” It’s the only possible explanation.

Definitely read this article, even if you’re not a baseball fan. Josh Hamilton, center fielder for the Cincinnati Reds, details his life as a crack addict, how he overcame it and what it’s like playing major league baseball as a recovering addict. Very inspirational.

Hat Tip: Baseball Think Factory

Researchers: Greenland really was green!

Researchers: Greenland really was green! – CNN.com

Ice-covered Greenland really was green a half-million or so years ago, covered with forests in a climate much like that of Sweden and eastern Canada today.

“These findings allow us to make a more accurate environmental reconstruction of the time period from which these samples were taken, and what we’ve learned is that this part of the world was significantly warmer than most people thought,” Martin Sharp, a glaciologist at the University of Alberta, Canada, and a co-author of the paper, said in a statement.

But any suggestion that warming is caused by anything other than American industry is simply anti-scientific political crap.

Study: Reduce Assisted Suicide by Treatment for Depression

Study Finds Patients’ Suicide Requests Lowered After Depression Treatment

A new study finds that the number of requests for suicides declines when patients are successfully treated for depression. The research could have a significant impact on the assisted suicide debate as pro-life advocates have long said patients mostly seek help killing themselves when coping with severe depression.

Group Health researchers conducted the study by examining more than 100,000 patients treated for depression and found that suicide attempts declined during the first month of treatment.

Suicide attempts were most likely the month before the start of treatment and fell by at least 50 percent the month after treatment. Suicide requests steadily declined as time progressed following treatment.

This study shows that many who might choose to seek assisted suicide will choose to continue living if they receive treatment. Doctors and other health care providers need to remember that their primary goal is to save lives; even if their patient wants to end their own life, they have a responsibility to protect life. Treatment for depression seems like a simple step to take.

The Three True Outcomes

Who needs fielders when Ryan Howard’s at the plate? (Full article only available by subscription)

Ryan Howard has hit 10 balls this month that actually landed on that big old field in front of him (two singles, two doubles and six balls that got caught by those people with mitts on). Now that might seem practically, well, normal. But if you were following the Howard events that preceded this outburst, you’d know different.

As loyal reader Michael Milici reports, Howard somehow went 20 straight trips to the plate (June 24-29) without the ball ever coming down on the field (two homers, five walks, 13 strikeouts). So either the ball never left the batter’s box, or it came down in somebody’s nacho tray. But those guys playing defense might as well have gone out for a cheese steak when he was up.

Well, you definitely don’t see that much. Our official Useless Info streak guru, Trent McCotter, went back to 1968, trying to find somebody — anybody — who could match this streak. Couldn’t do it. Not Adam Dunn. Not Rob Deer. Not even a pitcher. Here are the next-longest streaks he found over the last 40 seasons:

16: Jim Hannan 7/24-8/13/1968
16: Vida Blue 8/13-9/29/1972
15: Mike Thurman 7/24-9/5/1998

14: Gorman Thomas 7/27-7/29/1975
14: Jack Clark 7/23-7/26/1987
14: Mark McGwire 8/8-8/10/1998
14: Travis Hafner 9/21-9/23/2005

Amazing. Oh, and one more thing: McCotter also found the last man to make 13 straight outs via whiffage — Manny Ramirez, during the first two weeks of his Red Sox career (April 6-13, 2001).

It’s useless facts like this that make Jayson Stark’s columns fun.

Read more about the Three True Outcomes. (So named because they’re the only three outcomes in baseball that depend solely on the batter versus the pitcher, without involvement from any other fielder.)