File this one under "What's Your Point," "Shaky Theses," and "What Is With The Pathological Urge To Retroactively Absolve Chuck LaMar and Vince Naimoli For Past Mistakes." Marking the 10th Anniversary since Tampa's landmark decision to choose Josh Hamilton over Josh Beckett (who doesn't remember where they were when they heard the news?), The St. Pete Times would like you all to believe that maybe, just maybe, it could turn out to be the right move.
Not for the Rays, of course, they haven't had Hamilton on their roster since 2006. But you know, DONT BE SO HARD ON THE OLD REGIME. You gotta read the whole thing to get a feel for how ridiculous it is, but here are some choice excerpts.
On the outside, he was noncommittal. Secretly, general manager Chuck LaMar was leaning toward Beckett.
This was early in the process, long before a decision would have to be made. LaMar wanted to keep it to himself because he did not want anyone else in the organization to be influenced by what the boss was thinking.
This is right after the lede. Chuck LaMar saying that he knew that Beckett was the right choice but didn't want to step on anyone's toes. Yeah, you wouldn't wanna overstep your bounds AS GENERAL MANAGER and make your thoughts known.
"(Hamilton) was not only a baseball player in every sense but he carried himself extremely well," said LaMar, now an assistant GM with the Phillies. "When you're making this kind of investment, you do the background check. And it showed he was anything but a problem. There was no hint you would ever have a problem with him."
Beckett, on the other hand, was different. Not a bad kid, just different.
He was cocky to the point of arrogant. He had no trouble explaining how good he was, and was not shy about tossing his name around with Roger Clemens or Nolan Ryan or any other hard-throwing Texan.
For years, the word around the Rays' offices was that owner Vince Naimoli was turned off by Beckett's attitude during a home visit. The teenager slouched on the couch and acted as if he would be doing the Rays a favor by allowing them to make him a millionaire.
Can you believe that!? This kid just compared himself to Nolan Ryan! What's next, is he going to tell us he feels healthy and believes in his stuff? Slouching? On the COUCH? I suppose next you're going to tell me this kid has a skateboard in his garage! That's it. Deal's off.
And of course, all of this is prefaced by the reiteration of what a solid kid Josh Hamilton was out of high school. Far be it from me to say anyone should be able to predict future trouble or substance abuse from a player, but going out of the way to juxtapose Hamilton's Beaver Cleaverness with Beckett's half smirk cockiness doesn't help to endorse the decision. It just reinforces that they were using subjective and meaningless criteria to make their pick. Throw stats/potential/team need out the window, Hamilton has better posture.
Josh Beckett or Josh Hamilton? For the past 10 years, the answer should have been Beckett. For the next 10 years, I'm not so sure.
The columnist that wrote this, John Romano, seems to be working from the assumption that in the 8 years between Hamilton being drafted and getting to the majors he was in some sort of suspended animation and that they won't count against his career. When asking the question "Was Josh Hamilton a better pick that Josh Beckett" you cannot remove ten years of on field performance and aging from the equation and say "Ok, the clock starts now." Just like every other piece of revisionist Tampa fluff we've read, it tries to magically erase 10-15 years of team, league and world history. It's inane.
At the end of the day, the story that Josh Hamilton turned out to be a great hitter. But he still lost, and despite what Romano thinks he can't get back, a huge chunk of his career. You can't just tack that onto the end. Both the Rays and Hamilton found success later on. Leave it at that and stop handing out needless pardons.
And don't ever cross a man with a crush on Josh Beckett.