07/16/08 — OPINION - Hamilton's performance incredible

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OPINION - Hamilton's performance incredible

By Andreew Stevens
Published in Sports on July 16, 2008 1:46 PM

In a stadium known for its historic moments, a guy with a storybook tale of his own etched yet another memorable chapter on Monday night.

Josh Hamilton's performance in the Home Run Derby at Yankee Stadium left fans chanting his name, big leaguers in awe and the lasting impression that circumstances are no match for determination and resiliency.

In without question the greatest Home Run Derby performance ever witnessed, Hamilton -- with the aid of 71-year-old pitching coach Clay Council -- hit 35 tape-measure homers, including a record 28 in the first round.

Three of those home runs measured over 500 feet with the deepest reaching 518. In a field that featured a former MVP and a handful of rising stars, Hamilton cranked out 13 homers in a row at one point, leaving competitors feeling like former NBA guys must have felt going against Jordan or Dominique in a dunk contest.

Sure, Hamilton didn't walk away with the Home Run Derby trophy on Monday night. But this wasn't about numbers, this was about the experience.

This was about a guy who's been to drug rehab eight times and survived three suicide attempts.

This was about an actual dream Hamilton had in the winter of 2006 of competing in a Home Run Derby becoming a reality. As if Hamilton's story weren't unbelievable enough, that aforementioned dream came while he was out of baseball, a status he didn't expect to change.

Hamilton doesn't need trophies, money, fame or anything else to be a winner. By clinging to his faith and his family while climbing the mountain from rock bottom to role model, he's already won more than this world could ever offer.

Other musings:

* I love watching Brett Favre play as much as the next guy. Maybe the sentimentalist in me longs to see the Packers gunslinger ride off into the sunset with one more memorable season.

Heck, the guy proved last season he can still play by passing for over 4,000 yards.

I'm also probably as sick as the next guy of not being able to turn on the television day after day without being bombarded with updates on what Favre had for breakfast, and countless 'he said, she said' reports.

I think I speak for everyone outside Wisconsin when I say until the Packers and Favre make a decision once and for all, spare us from the wall-to-wall coverage.

* Playing sports, particularly when you advance past the 'everyone plays' mentality in Little League, is a privilege that is earned and not just expected.

With that privilege comes the responsibility of embodying the word teammate in every imaginable sense. Taking plays off and making stops by the concession stand during the game shows more concern with the name on the back of one's jersey than it does for the name on the front.

* Winning national championships no longer entails just trophies, T-shirts with your school's name on the front and more media coverage than a sports information director knows what to do with.

Since winning the NCAA Division II College World Series baseball title, Mount Olive has seen its recruiting ventures soar to new heights.

Head coach Carl Lancaster is receiving e-mails from inquiring high school players all over the country. Once dependent on junior college transfers and a handful of high school products, the Trojans are now becoming a household name and a legitimate contender in the recruiting game.