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Josh Hamilton Gets the Kid Glove Treatment: No Suspension

To the surprise of nearly all, an arbitrator appointed by the MLB to decide Josh Hamilton's fate on the issue of violating his agreed-upon treatment program has decided that Hamilton has not violated it, and is therefore subject to no disciplinary action. Both the Commissioner and GM Jerry Dipoto have since released statements signaling that they disagree with the decision.

From the Commissioner's office:

"The issue of whether Josh Hamilton violated his treatment program was submitted to the Treatment Board established under Major League Baseball’s Joint Drug Prevention and Treatment Program. The MLB representatives and the Players Association representatives on the Treatment Board deadlocked on that issue, with MLB taking the position that Hamilton violated his treatment program and is subject to discipline by the Commissioner. Under the procedures of the Program, an outside arbitrator was appointed to break the tie, and the arbitrator ruled that Josh Hamilton’s conduct did not violate his treatment program. As a result of that decision, the Office of the Commissioner is not permitted to suspend or impose any discipline on Hamilton. The Office of the Commissioner disagrees with the decision, and will seek to address deficiencies in the manner in which drugs of abuse are addressed under the Program in the collective bargaining process."

Speaking for the Angels, General Manager Jerry Dipoto released the following statement:

"The Office of the Commissioner informed the Angels that an arbitrator determined Josh Hamilton's recent conduct did not violate his treatment program under MLB's Joint Drug Prevention and Treatment Program, and therefore the Commissioner is not permitted to suspend or otherwise discipline Hamilton. The club had no involvement in the proceeding or the ruling.

"The Angels have serious concerns about Josh's conduct, health and behavior and we are disappointed that he has broken an important commitment which he made to himself, his family, his teammates and our fans. We are going to do everything possible to assure he receives proper help for himself and for the well-being of his family."

As we begin to debate the relative merits or scandal of the arbitrator's ruling, it's worth reviewing the reported details of this case. After a fight with his wife, a participant in the series "Real Housewives of Orange County," Hamilton wrote a check (as he is not allowed to carry cash or credit), went to a strip club, and coked it up to kill the blues.

We can debate whether this is a regrettable relapse within a serious pattern of addiction, or an inconvenient lifestyle choice from a coddled celebrity with a nine-figure bank account who is afforded a wide berth from both law enforcement and professional baseball for activities that would land less privileged souls in jail or a compulsory treatment program. But the fact is, whatever your take, Josh got the lightest sentence possible for his transgressions.

Begin the discussion here. Much more to come from the Halo's Heaven commentariat on what is sure to be a very controversial ruling....

UPDATE (11:40am)

Angels' president John Carpino weighs in with:

"It defies logic that Josh's reported behavior is not a violation of his current program."

Following the responses to Alden Gonzalez's tweet above, seems like the sympathies of the Angels' Twitter fanbase are with the player rather than the front office. But the opinion here on Halo's Heaven is far more skeptical of Hamilton to this point. Clearly more to come.