Tuesday, October 06, 2015

Good on C.C.

There's a famous story, possibly apocryphal, about hard-drinking former Yankees pitcher Ryne Duren. Supposedly, on a road trip, Duren staggered back to the team hotel well after curfew and well and truly pickled. He got on the elevator with a Yankees exec who, used to Duren's drinking but not a fan of it, sniffed, "Drunk again." Duran just smiled and said, "Me, too!"

Some versions of the story have the Yankees exec as GM George Weiss. Others say it's Casey Stengel. Honestly, it doesn't matter.

It's a funny story, except that it ain't, not with what we know about alcoholism. Duren, for his part, eventually dried out but not until after he'd been knocked out of the game, not until after he'd parked his car on railroad tracks and waited for a train to come along and finish the job American League hitters started when his 100 mile per hour fastball suddenly got hittable.

So kudos to Yankees pitcher C.C. Sabathia for checking himself into an alcohol rehab center and getting himself the help that he feels he needs. As for those who questions timing, doing so on the cusp of the Yankees' wild card game against Houston, well, I would suggest there's no real way to schedule when you need to save your own life. In the hideously macho world of professional sports, for an athlete of Sabathia's standing to do so in a market like New York at a time like this takes a great deal more courage than putting it off, saying "I'll go tomorrow", and hiding behind "the team needs me". 

The team needs him alive, and healthy, and in a good place with himself more than it needs him pitching right now, even in a playoff game the Yanks, bluntly, don't have great chances of winning. And anyone who says differently, who's so blinded by the notion of "For the team!" that they see this as selfish rather than life-saving, well, the hell with them. Let's just hope they don't ever need to make a similar call in their own lives some day.

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