Saturday, February 13, 2016

For CC Sabathia, the great optimism of February can only be one-day-at-a-time

CC Sabathia says he feels great.

The knees: Great! The elbow, great, the shoulder, great, everything, great. He's thinking clearly, and smiling. We should all feel great - for now.

Sabathia is a great Yankee. Six years ago, he pitched us to a World Series. Thus, he has a leg up on Beltran, Ellsbury, McCann et al, - and frankly, that might never change. Right now, he seems to have kicked his alcoholism. But warm days and meaningless games in February will be easy. It will be the grind of July and August that brings the test. It will be the night after he's knocked out in the third. It will be the morning when his arm hurts. It won't happen in the sunshine of Tampa. But in a rain delay in Boston... well, let's keep our fingers crossed.

One thing Sabathia has been saying - and it's good to hear - is that he recognizes the battle ahead: He will be fighting this war for the rest of his life.

I can't remember the last time a Yankee star came to camp so nakedly with a substance abuse problem. Well - actually - I can: I just wanted to block it out.

It was Steve Howe. The late Steve Howe. One of the great could-have-beens of his generation.

Over 17 years in baseball, Howe was suspended seven times for drug violations. But his teammates loved him. The Yankees stood by him, again and again - even when his recurring suspensions became an unfunny joke - that is, when it became clear he was not going to win the fight. Howe retired in 1997, leaving the Sioux Falls Canaries in an indie league. Nine years later, he rolled his truck - he worked in construction - and died. An autopsy showed meth in his blood. Gone at age 48.

So this year it's Sabathia, and nobody needs me to tell them what it could mean to the Yankees if he returned to 2009 form. He's 36. Today, everything feels great. The skies are sunny, and the outlook is for seventies and soda. This time of year, the world always looks great in Florida. Let's just hope...


John M said...

We have a lot of good-looking ballplayers going into the season, and if Pepi and Tresh can get back on track, I think we'll win our share of games.

Anonymous said...