From Comcast SportsNetBALTIMORE (AP) -- Josh Hamilton expects it will take some time before he realizes the significance of becoming the 16th player in baseball history to hit four home runs in a game.He does, however, appreciate how fortunate he was to be playing baseball at Camden Yards on Tuesday night as a member of the Texas Rangers. Because, before his epic performance against the Baltimore Orioles, Hamilton had to do something even harder than launching a quartet of two-run homers.He needed to save himself from personal ruin.Hamilton went from first-round draft pick by Tampa Bay in 1999 to out of baseball altogether because of drug and alcohol addiction.He recovered and returned to the majors in 2007 with Cincinnati, and was traded to the Texas, where he has become a star -- the AL MVP in 2010 -- while still battling his addiction. He had a relapse before this season, but is off to a torrid start.After going 5 for 5 with a career-high eight RBIs and setting an AL record with 18 total bases in the Rangers' 10-3 win, Hamilton reflected on what his life was like before this unforgettable night."I think about what God's done in my life, everything I did to mess it up," he said. "To finally surrender everything and pursue that relationship with Christ on a daily basis and understanding when I don't pursue it, I end up messing up. Understanding that what I'm doing and what God's allowed me to do, coming back from everything I went through and allowing me to play the game at the level I play it, it's pretty amazing to think about."Few players in the game today are playing at Hamilton's level. He's batting .406 and leads the majors with 13 homers and 36 RBIs.That's impressive, but not as mind-blowing as his heroics against the Orioles.Hamilton homered off Jake Arrieta in the first and third innings, added another off Zach Phillips in the seventh and topped it off with a one-for-the-books shot against Darren O'Day. During the last at-bat, Hamilton took a mighty hack and missed, lined a foul into right-field seats and then sent an 0-2 pitch over the center-field wall."Amazing," Texas manager Ron Washington said. "Josh came out tonight, and he wasn't going to be denied. I know he can't do it every night, but what you saw tonight, he's capable of it."As he spoke to the media afterward, Hamilton wore a blue T-shirt emblazoned with "BEAST MODE."On this night, he was a beast with the bat."It's like anything else -- you do something good or something incredible happens, it takes a little bit for it to sink in," Hamilton said. "I think when I get away from everybody and I have some time to myself, I think it might then."The last player to hit four home runs in a game was Carlos Delgado on Sept. 25, 2003, for Toronto against Tampa Bay. Two of the 16 players to hit four homers in a game did it before 1900."History was witnessed tonight," Washington said.As he walked to the plate in the eighth inning, Hamilton felt a sense of calm. He had never hit more than two home runs in a game, and he already had three."I just went up like it was any other at-bat because if I don't hit one," Hamilton reasoned, "I've still had a really good night."It got even better after he was circling the bases."I can say that was the worst pitch of my life," O'Day said. "Worst pitch of my career, not of my life. Guy's already got three bombs and I had him 0-2 and I throw it right over the middle. I couldn't have soft-tossed it any better to him. I'd like that pitch back for sure. You can't say enough about the day he had."Nor could Hamilton."Obviously it's, other than being in the World Series, the highlight of my big league career," he said. "I was saying after I hit two I've never hit three in a game before, and what a blessing that was. Then to hit four is just an awesome feeling, to see how excited my teammates got."It reminds you of when you're in Little League and a little kid, and just the excitement and why we play the game. Things like that. You never know what can happen. It was just an absolute blessing."So is his career. Hamilton will become a free agent after this season, but that's something he won't deal with until the proper time."God gives me peace, man. I pray a lot. I want to be where he wants me to be," Hamilton said. "If that's Texas, I love it in Texas. And you know, I take it as far as day-to-day life, a one-day-at-a-time mentality not only for a recovering addict, but that should be for everybody. It's one day at a time really because tomorrow is not promised and yesterday's gone."
JJ Stankevitz is joined by New Orleans Advocate/Times-Picayune Saints beat writer Luke Johnson to preview Sunday's game at Soldier Field, starting with why the Saints have been able to keep winning without Drew Brees (1:29). JJ runs his concerns about the Bears' offense going against the Saints' defense by Luke (4:28) before getting into how New Orleans is viewing Matt Nagy, Mitch Trubisky and Chicago's lagging offense (8:17). Luke then explains the impact of Alvin Kamara's absence (10:40) and why Teddy Bridgewater has been so effective since tagging in for Brees (14:55).
Listen here or via the embedded player below:
When reflecting on the 2017 NFL draft, the Shakespearean quote, “what’s past is prologue” comes to mind — a concept suggesting that previous events set the stage for what is happening in the present. During that 2017 draft, the decisions made by both the Bears and Saints helped reshape each franchise. Chicago’s bold moves shook the branches of the NFL tree, and the Saints, albeit indirectly, benefited greatly, as well. Another chess piece involved in the framing of this drafting drama was the San Francisco 49ers, as they were able to ride a wave of additional picks to revitalize a depleted, listless organization with talent and depth.
The 49ers aside, this Sunday matches two teams that garnered the most from the 2017 draft, Chicago and New Orleans. Using P.A.W.S. (Predictive Analysis With Stats), let’s examine the impact of the Bears’ draft day machinations.
The Browns, 49ers and Bears were the first three teams slotted to make selections in 2017. Once Cleveland chose DE Myles Garrett with the first pick (and not a quarterback) Bears GM Ryan Pace made his move. Despite San Francisco being a spot ahead of Chicago, Pace was determined to choose the next player. Aggressively, he swapped the Bears’ third overall pick with the 49ers second spot to select QB Mitchell Trubisky, while also sending the Bears’ 67th and 111th picks, and a 2018 3rd rounder (70th) to San Francisco.
According to Pace, “...when you have conviction on a guy you can’t sit on your hands.” Either emboldened by his selection of Trubisky, or because of the surrendered picks needed to acquire him, Pace continued making trades to widen his draft options. The Bears traded their second (36th overall) and seventh (221st overall) round picks that year to the Cardinals for their second (45th overall), fourth (119th overall) and sixth (197th) round selections, and a 2018 fourth round pick (115th overall), to boot.
In addition to those moves, Pace shipped out his 117th and 197th overall picks in a trade with the Rams to move up to the 112th spot (fourth round). When the dust settled, Chicago possessed one pick in the second round (45th overall) and two picks in the fourth round (112th and 119th overall), along with their original 5th-round selection (147th overall). The key players taken from these moves were QB Mitchell Trubisky (with the No. 2 pick), TE Adam Shaheen (45th), S Eddie Jackson (112th), and RB Tarik Cohen (119th).
Initially, because the Bears relinquished several mid-round picks to move up just one spot (arguably for a player that may have still been available), the general consensus was that Pace got fleeced by 49ers rookie GM John Lynch. Perhaps to support a colleague, Lynch stated afterward, “Kudos to the Bears, they saw a player they wanted at a really important position.”
Clearly, the 2017 draft for Pace and the Bears was about securing a franchise quarterback to build around. But in the process, Pace landed two all-pro talents in Jackson and Cohen, as each made their first Pro Bowl in 2018, with Trubisky making the trip as an alternate. No “fleecing” here!
Ironically, Pace’s 2017 draft moves created a “butterfly effect” — when a small localized change in a complex system can have large effects elsewhere — by strengthening his former employers, the New Orleans Saints. When the 49ers traded away the 67th overall pick they received from the Bears to the Saints, New Orleans used that spot to select RB Alvin Kamara. Kamara went on to become the NFL’s Offensive Rookie of the Year in 2017 and has already garnered two Pro Bowl selections early in his career. New Orleans had two first round selections that year, choosing CB Marshon Lattimore (11th) and OT Ryan Ramczyk (32nd). Both players have been starters since being drafted, and in 2017, Lattimore was named NFL Defensive Rookie of the Year. Another significant draft-day selection was S Marcus Williams at the 42nd spot. Williams, too, has been a starter from the very beginning of his pro career. Undoubtedly, these core four players fortified the Saints’ roster infrastructure and propelled them to division championships each of the past two seasons.
However, buried within the trade minutia between the Bears and 49ers is another move that may have saved the Saints from themselves: San Francisco traded their 34th pick and the 111th pick (formerly the Bears’ selection) to the Seahawks for Seattle’s first round choice (31st overall) and drafted LB Reuben Foster. The Saints had the very next pick at No. 32, and needed serious help on their defense, having finished dead last the previous season.
The Saints, in need of a pass rusher, were eyeing DE Takkarist McKinley, but the Falcons traded up and drafted him. Reuben Foster’s stock was dropping, due to off-the-field concerns, but his talent was too hard to ignore. So the Saints primed themselves to select him, until the 49ers moved up (armed with Chicago’s fourth round pick ) and grabbed Foster. Having both defensive interests taken ahead of them, New Orleans ‘settled’ on the next best talent off their draft board, OT Ryan Ramczyk. Well, Foster was released by the 49ers in just his second year and is currently on IR with Washington. Ramczyk, on the other hand, has been an anchor for an offensive line that pass blocks for Drew Brees and run blocks for Alvin Kamara. Thanks, Chicago! Sure, it’s great to speculate on what-ifs… If the Bears don’t make that trade with San Francisco, do they possibly take Kamara at 67th instead of Cohen at 119th? Or, could another team have shot up to the second overall pick to take Trubisky instead of Chicago, leaving the Bears ‘settle’ on QB Deshaun Watson? Could the Bears have had a backfield of Trubisky and Kamara... or Watson and Kamara?
Regardless, the Bears did a good job in 2017, which paved a path towards an even more successful 2018 campaign, as evidenced by a division title, playoff appearance and multiple postseason accolades. Yet, this season the Saints are thriving at 5-1 without Drew Brees, while Chicago hovers precariously with a 3-2 record. Why is that? Talent! The Saints (with Chicago’s unwitting aid) drafted better in 2017. There is a metric (AV — approximate value) that gives a numeric rating to players, approximating their value to their own teams. A player’s AV can be influenced by the number of starts they have, big plays they’ve made, awards they’ve won, etc.
The Saints’ players taken in the 2017 draft have significantly higher AVs than do the Bears’ selections. Taking the top 4 players’ AVs from each squad, we see:
Saints - Marshon Lattimore (14) Ryan Ramczyk (25), Marcus Williams (12), Alvin Kamara (30);
Bears - Mitch Trubisky (20), Adam Shaheen (1), Eddie Jackson (20), Tarik Cohen (16).
Despite the Bears’ immediate concerns at quarterback, the offensive line, and a banged-up defensive front, Chicago still has a dominant defense and is coming off a bye week. The
Saints are faced with injury issues beyond Drew Brees, and Alvin Kamara not playing greatly improves Chicago’s chances of winning at home. Chicago is getting back 20 AV with the return of Trubisky from injury, whereas the Saints lose 30 AV with Kamara sitting on Sunday.
So, this weekend’s game may actually be won by the most talented roster on the field after all.Click here to download the new MyTeams App by NBC Sports! Receive comprehensive coverage of the Bears.