The timing couldn’t be worse.
On the eve of the New York Yankees’ Wild Card playoff game against the Houston Astros at Yankee Stadium on Tuesday night, CC Sabathia dropped a bombshell.
The team announced that Sabathia, the veteran lefty who had pitched well in the final month of the season and gave the Yankees hope for a long postseason run, checked himself into a alcohol rehab center, hence ruling the pitcher out for the entire postseason. So instead of helping his team pursue another World Series championship, Sabathia will be receiving help instead.
Some will detest the timing and wish that Sabathia could have waited until after the playoffs. After all, the postseason is the only thing that matters right? Wrong. Dead wrong.
Sabathia, 35, did the right thing. The brave thing.
One of the hardest things in life isn’t hitting a 100 mph fastball barreling straight down on you, but admitting you have a problem and asking for help.
The right time to do that is when you can’t take it anymore and you’re on the verge of putting your life in jeopardy.
Life isn’t a ballgame. Life is reality, real deal no turning back. Life doesn’t stop after 162 games and playoffs, if you’re lucky. It’s all day, every day. And many crack under the pressures of it.
Sabathia wasn’t going to allow that to happen, even if it meant disappointing his teammates and Yankees’ fans.
“I love baseball and I love my teammates like brothers, and I am fully aware that I am leaving at a time when we should all be coming together for one last push toward the World Series,” Sabathia said in a heartfelt statement. “It hurts me deeply to do this now, but I owe it to myself and to my family to get myself right.
“I want to take control of my disease and I want to be a better man, father and player.”
Sabathia could have tried to continued to conceal this problem, not wanting to damage his public reputation. The well-liked and respected veteran probably would have been able to pull it off too. Sabathia was always a class act and a go-to guy for the media because of his intelligence and insight to the game.
“As difficult as this decision is to share publicly, I don’t want to run and hide,” he said.
One great thing about Sabathia is that he always knew how important his actions were with the kids. He understood many looked up to him. When you’re great at your trade and make millions of dollars, it’s hard for kids not to want to be like you. As Peter Parker’s Uncle Ben told him “With great power comes great responsibility.”
Sabathia embraced it, never ran from it. Even in this trying time in his life, he didn’t fail to talk about it in his statement.
“Being an adult means being accountable,” he said. “Being a baseball player means that others look up to you.
“I want my kids – and others who may have become fans of mine over the years – to know that I am not too big of a man to ask for help. I want to hold my head up high, have a full heart and be the type of person again that I can be proud of. And that’s exactly what I am going to do.”
This is not the end of Sabathia. You can believe that.
He’s a fighter, a worker, someone who has overcome already in his career. He had to overcome a right knee injury that made him miss almost the entire 2014 season. He fought his way back this season and finished with a 6-10 record and an ERA of 4.73 in 29 starts.
“I am looking forward to being back on the field with my team next season playing the game that brings me so much happiness,” said Sabathia, who is scheduled to make $25 million next season.
It’s impossible not to want to root for Sabathia during the playoffs, even though he won’t be in them this time around.