CC Sabathia: Fans should invest in his redemption story


Early last month, when CC Sabathia made the conscience decision to step away from baseball and check himself into rehab (for an alcohol problem) the world of baseball was turned on its head. Here we were, one day before the New York Yankees were set to host the American League Wildcard game against the Houston Astros, and you had Sabathia, arguably the heart and soul of the team that won it all in the 2009 World Series, stepping away from the game to face his alcohol problem head on.

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In a game occasionally ruled by egotistical players such as Barry Bonds and Alex Rodriguez, such an act as the one decided by Sabathia, is rarely seen, if ever. This wasn’t about a player taking time away to mourn the death of a family member. This wasn’t about a player taking time away to heal an injury. This was about a player investing in his and his family’s future. Not on the playing field, but the future that comes after a player has taken off his uniform for the final time.

CC Sabathia was commended for his decision, and rightly so.

You often hear about the players that have alcohol problems, and think “hey, it’s no big deal, it’s only an alcohol problem.” However, alcohol problems, at least in severe cases, can lead to death. My favorite Yankee of all-time (although I didn’t see him play) is Mickey Mantle. Mantle died of cancer in 1995. The culprit was years of heavy drinking.

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So when you think about Sabathia and his decision, one can’t help but be proud of his decision, and the fact that he chose his long-term health and relationship with his family over playing a game that will still be here long after Sabathia has left this world.

That’s the part that fans struggle to understand. Why would CC leave the Yankees when they needed him most? Sabathia understands why people would be upset, but that didn’t factor into any decision he made.

“I understand where, you know, fans would be upset and people would not understand,” said Sabathia to “Good Morning America” anchor Robin Roberts (transcribed by the New York Post). “If it was my knee or if it was anything else, then people wouldn’t have a problem with it.”

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I’ve never understood why fans applaud athletes for playing with a partially torn ACL but criticize athletes for taking time away from the game to correct an ongoing issue such as alcoholism. But such is life, where a hero is classified as an individual that shows disregard for his or her body, while having regard for everyone else.

Again, Sabathia (credit to him for being able to) understands why people were bothered by his decision.

Sabathia checked out of rehab last Friday and is eager to rejoin the Yankees.

“Just getting back with my teammates, being back in Yankee Stadium, enjoying the fans and, you know, pitching,” said Sabathia to Roberts.

When the time comes, and as is often the case, the New York fans will fully embrace Sabathia.

Who doesn’t love the story of the Prodigal Son?

*Sabathia’s interview on “Good Morning America” airs on Friday morning.*