Coppola: Zack Greinke – A Very Special Man

Sometimes baseball teaches us about life. How exhilarating it can be and also how life is not always fare. Case in point: This week MLB’s Anthony Castrovince wrote a story about Houston starter Zack Greinke’s press conference in St Petersburg Florida prior to his game three start against the Tampa Bay Rays in game three of the best of five ALDS series.

Castrovince went on to say: “From the moment he sits at the podium, it becomes clear that, for Greinke, this is a Marshawn Lynch-esque “I’m just here so I won’t get fined” formality. The man who has dealt with social anxiety disorder and rarely been one to let reporters into his magnificent baseball mind leans back in his chair, the microphone two to three feet from his face.” On and on Castrovince’s story went, mocking Greinke.

When I first read and later saw the press conference I was thinking, this player is a real jerk and showed those hard working reporters no respect. What an uncomfortable experience it must have been for Dave Haller Director of Communications for the Rays. I believe Dave did a very good job in handling a very awkward situation. I was thinking, “Ok another spoiled rich baseball player.”

Later that day, I was at my favorite Baseball pub Foley’s in the city with some friends to watch the four playoff games when I asked if anyone had read or seen the Greinke presser and what they thought of him. One of my good friends told me that he was extremely disappointed with Castrovince’s mocking of Zack in his story.

He went on to talk about Greinke’s problems with depression and that he should not be made fun of. I could feel my heart sink as a rush of guilt came over me. I too had mocked him in talking to others without a thought to how difficult it must be for people who have to deal with a disease that they never asked for.

In 2015 Greinke was diagnosed with having a social anxiety disorder which is a deep-seated fear of social situations often associated with clinical depression. He was prescribed Zoloft, a commonly used anti-depressant to help him get through the day.

I began to think, how the heck does this guy do it? How can he deal with the pressure of pitching on the biggest stage in front of thousands of fans, being asked for autographs and being bombarded with questions from reporters trying to do their job when all of that causes pain? Why can’t they have him answer those questions in writing without the circus atmosphere of a press conference?

What he does on the field is extraordinary in itself but to then have to try to act as if nothing is hurting inside? People, including myself, need to be more sensitive to these diseases that people we are around everyday have to deal with. In this new society where everyday we hear and see the people around us angry and hurtful to one another, we need to look in the mirror and make a conscious effort to be more civil to one another and more aware of the struggles others may be going through.

We live in a world where the leaders of our country are bullies, foulmouthed, make fun of people of color, people with disabilities and anyone that is not like them. A country where it’s not about winning or losing, it’s about winning, at any cost. We need to get our civility back in this world. Enough is enough.

It took a baseball story today to remind me that life is not always pretty beds of flowers and candy and that there are other things we must be aware of before we criticize others.

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