Lately, there have been a boatload of major leaguers reporting to the disabled list with “anxiety issues.” Some of those have been publicly discussed before the issue is at hand, like Zack Greinke of the Royals. He was a top prospect and solid rookie who completely fell apart and turned into one of the league’s worst starters a few years back. He took time off to meet with a psychologist, marry his girl, get his head right, and look at him now – he’s literally pwning the entire American League on his own – and even the National League during Interleague Play.
That being said, the disabled list in the majors, especially for pitchers, has always been shady. Any time a pitcher struggles, teams will come up with a fake injury like a “tired arm” or a “strained somethin-or-other” in order to give them some rest and bring up a AAA pitcher for a few starts. It’s not like MLB teams we’re getting called out for it, but the new go-to injury/issue has been the aforementioned “anxiety.” To the general public, it looks like the same ol’ mythological crap that gives teams an advantage and deceives opponents.
In the last month or so, Khalil Greene of the Cardinals and Dontrelle Willis of the Tigers (second time for him) have been sent to the DL with anxiety issues. Now there’s a chance they are suffering from legitimate issues but I haven’t heard it. To me, it sounds like they were playing poorly and that bugged their entitled sense of awesomeness. In a sport where the great hitters are successful three times of 10, you’re bound to fail. Especially when you know you’re among the best in the world, a bad stretch shouldn’t knock you down this much emotionally. I’m not a guy who solves every problem by pushing it under the rug and drinking it away or something like that, but you still have to be tougher than that. When Reds 1B Joey Votto went on the disabled list a few weeks ago because of recurring dizziness and anxiety issues, it had a small tinge of weird to it. The thing is, Votto wasn’t struggling. He was hitting .360 or so and leading the NL in hitting. After sitting out an extended period of time, he returned to the team yesterday – and gave his first extended interviews.
It was then that Votto clarified the situation, doing something athletes rarely do. He took more than five uninterrupted minutes to explain that he finally crashed emotionally after the passing of his father from last August. He put it behind him when it happened and finished the season. Over the winter, he struggled a little, but simply looked forward to the 2009 season. But once he sat out awhile with an injury this year, he was completely alone. And he cracked – suffering from panic attacks, calling 911 at 4am and “wanting to die.”. The people who knock him for this are complete jackasses and need to step back. I personally don’t know a thing about suffering from depression or panic attacks, but I don’t care if you’re a factory worker or an entitled millionaire – it ain’t easy.
Steps down from soapbox.
Votto is back to terrorize the NL, and here’s to hoping he can save the Reds from their ongoing mini-free fall that has dropped them to 34-35 and fourth place in the rough-and-tumble NL Central.