Mancuso: This Is About CC

(Neil Miller/Sportsday Wire)

This is not about baseball when it comes to the situation regarding Yankees pitcher CC Sabathia. Of course it is about the person, his family, and hopes that this talented and giving athlete will recover from his battle of alcohol abuse. As Sabathia said, “I don’t want to run and hide,” and that speaks volumes.

Because we as a society tend to bypass that the world of sports called “fun and games” is supposed to be a diversion of the everyday difficulties, the latest setback to CC Sabathia does hold significance. And as much as Sabathia’s teammates look to continue their season tomorrow night in the Bronx with an elimination baseball game, what is more important is Sabathia is in rehab and will recover.

The game or the individual? For Sabathia, obvious the game means nothing at this point and for that there can only be hope that this shocking revelation of alcohol abuse will be overcome and lead to continued success for CC Sabathia.

This is not about baseball. And it has nothing to do with rooting against the Yankees and the anti Yankees fans, as they said on social media, “Good for the Yankees. Good it was them and not us.” No, the proper attitude at this point is that CC Sabathia gets through this and overcomes the adversity.

From a baseball perspective, and for the Yankees and their loyal fans, this one stings. If the Yankees advance in their Al wild card elimination game against the Houston Astros tomorrow night in the Bronx, Sabathia was in the plan to get the start in game two of the ALDS. He has been pitching like the ace again in his past four starts with an improved and well structured knee brace.

And through all of this, as we know now, Sabathia has been battling a bigger fight with his addiction to alcohol. In that Yankees locker room playoff spot celebration this past Thursday night, Sabathia was the first to speak. He was one of the first to pour the bubbly over the heads of jubilant teammates, the first to have a sip of one or more beers that were a part of the entire post game victory party.

But that is always a part of a Major League Baseball team victory celebration, the bubbly and the beer, except this revelation by Sabathia Monday afternoon brings up a question. Coincidence, or was CC Sabathia during a time of his addiction out of line? That is a matter of Sabathia answering for himself, and for the time being he only asks that we all respect the privacy of himself, and his family as Sabathia’s biggest victory is yet to come.

Overcoming his addiction is far more important right now than throwing a shutout on the mound or helping lead his team to another championship.

“We will miss him of course but this is more important,” GM Brian Cashman said to the media Monday afternoon. There was concern etched on his face and it had nothing to do with a big game against the Astros Tuesday night.

We forget that the manager, Joe Girardi has to deal with more adversity. Never mind the significance of that game tomorrow night or that Sabathia would not be available for the postseason should the Yankees advance. Girardi has a challenge ahead, but CC Sabathia has a bigger one.

“He came to me before the game yesterday and said he needed help,” Girardi said. Those words were coming from a pitcher with a multi million dollar contract who was crying for help, and not about an important game. Girardi knew it was more important than Sabathia once again trying to become the ace if this postseason has a long life.

But it is the life after baseball for CC Sabathia, and not the goal of winning another championship now for the New York Yankees. As difficult as that may sound, it is that old and same story about these mega million ballplayers fighting the same demons that are an unfortunate part of society.

“Give him credit,” Girardi said. “ I give him like I said a lot of courage to step up when he did. He knew his family and his children were first. When he came in yesterday I was no longer a manager. I wanted to make sure the first core of action was taken.”

That was yesterday as the Yankees finished their season on a losing note. This was the last thing Girardi or his team wanted to hear, but those who have been through the adversity of a friend, family member or colleague dealing with this addiction can understand the emotions that are going on with Girardi and the Yankees.

They are a family, as every baseball team seems to know through February until the games are over.

“I love baseball and I love my teammates,” Sabathia said in a statement. “And I am also fully aware that I am leaving at a time when we should all be coming together for one last push toward the World Series.” Now that push will be for the full recovery of CC Sabathia.

Girardi said, “We have a wonderful clubhouse. Everyone loves CC like a brother. We call ourselves a family. Players have other distractions… I tell players to deal with them and CC did.” And he said, CC has always been a competitor as we are all aware.

Yes this is another distraction for the Yankees, in a season of many. More so a baseball game tomorrow night does not seem as important and the consensus is those teammates of Sabathia have a similar feeling.

Comment Rich Mancuso: [email protected] Twitter@Ring786 Mancuso

About the Author

Rich Mancuso

Rich Mancuso is a regular contributor at NY Sports Day, covering countless New York Mets, Yankees, and MLB teams along with some of the greatest boxing matches over the years. He is an award winning sports journalist and previously worked for The Associated Press, New York Daily News, Gannett, and, in a career that spans almost 40 years.

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