Back in 2012, when the Angels signed Josh Hamilton and everyone loved each other, Bill Shaikin of the Los Angeles Times tweeted this:
Arte Moreno: Hamilton contract contains no special language protecting #Angels from relapse, aside from usual MLB drug policy language.
— Bill Shaikin (@BillShaikin) December 15, 2012
Today, Shaikin tweeted this:
Moreno says Angels have separate language in Hamilton’s contract vs relapse and they may try to enforce it. — Bill Shaikin (@BillShaikin) April 11, 2015
As keen observers will note, those are opposites. Assuming that Shaikin did not make a mistake in his reporting either time — and it seems highly unlikely that such a well-respected reporter would mess up a point as important as whether a recovering drug addict has drug clauses in his $125 million contract — Arte Moreno is a liar.
The main question now is: when was he lying? Do the Angels have special drug language in Hamilton’s contract or not?
The only logical reason why Moreno would have lied in 2012 would be if they did put language in but did not want that information made public, but a version of “no comment” would probably be more effective than a bald-faced lie.
But present-day Moreno, the disappointed owner who once said of Hamilton, “We’re in love with the player, we like the person” … well, Moreno the spurned lover has plenty of reasons to lie, including the fact that he’s a blustering billionaire who is not used to not getting his way. Add in the fact that there is $75 million on the line and sure, it’s easy to imagine Moreno saying whatever he thinks might help him keep that money in his pocket.
But how lying about the contract can help Moreno now is unclear. After leaking the news of Hamilton’s relapse didn’t do the trick — and it is almost certain that it was the Angels who leaked it — perhaps we’ve reached the “throw everything at the wall and see what sticks” phase of the drama.
Maybe Moreno just wants to damage his relationship with Hamilton so badly that Hamilton will decide to retire. Maybe Moreno is a rich sociopath who actually believes that the act of saying a contract has a particular clause actually goes back in time and inserts that clause.
For all the things that are unclear, one thing is abundantly clear: Moreno has told two opposite stories, so his credibility is shot.
UPDATE: Ken Rosenthal passed along a statement from the MLBPA via Twitter:
Statement from players’ association on Arte Moreno’s comments tonight: “The MLBPA emphatically denies Los… http://t.co/2V6Japeeh7
— Ken Rosenthal (@Ken_Rosenthal) April 11, 2015
The full statement reads:
“The MLBPA emphatically denies Los Angeles Angels owner Arte Moreno’s assertions from earlier today that the Angels had requested and received the approval of the Union to insert language into Josh Hamilton’s contract that would supersede the provisions of the Joint Drug Agreement and/or the Basic Agreement. To the contrary, the collectively bargained provisions of the JDA and the Basic Agreement supersede all other player contract provisions and explicitly prevent Clubs from exactly the type of action Mr. Moreno alluded to in his press comments today.”
Also, a source familiar with Hamilton’s contract told Craig Calcaterra of NBC’s Hardball Talk that the contract indeed does not have any such language.