Justin Duchscherer’s depression is pretty damn serious

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Those of us who haven’t had mental illness touch our lives can’t really relate to it too well.  I understand, intellectually, what clinical depression is, but I don’t understand it practically. And so when I hear things like “Justin Duchscherer suffers from clinical depression” — as I did in late 2009 — I didn’t really understand the depths of it, nor could I.

But Duchscherer sat for an interview with Men’s Journal recently (the link goes to an excerpt; the article hits the newsstands today) in which he talks about his depression, what it has and still does do to him and how he deals. Eye-opening stuff:

“My problem is I’m a soft guy in a profession of hard guys,” Duchscherer tells the publication. “I’d prefer to be playing tennis.

“People think if you’re rich, you must be happy. They can’t understand why you’re not. I feel guilty making so much money playing a game. If I pitch a shutout, it doesn’t make me happy. I think of the guys I struck out, how they’re going home, depressed, to their families.”

It’s serious business when what ails you does more than merely drag you down but, rather, makes a full frontal assault on the job you’re supposed to be doing.  I can’t imagine how someone functions like that. Especially Duchscherer, who goes on to talk about how he doesn’t like and doesn’t take medication.

Red Sox owner: “spending money helps”

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The other day Rob Manfred said, as he and other owners have said often in the past, that there is no correlation between payroll and winning. He said that defensively, in response to criticism of the slow free agent market of the past two offseasons.

As we have noted in the past, Manfred is not being honest about that. While, yes, in any given year there can be wild variation between payroll and win total — the Giants stunk last year, the A’s won 97 games — common sense dictates otherwise. What’s more, a recent study has shown that there is a pretty strong correlation between winning and payroll over time. Yes, you can fluke into a big season with a low payroll — Deadspin compared it to a cold snap occurring during a time of climate change — but if you want that “sustained success” teams claim they want, the best way to ensure it is to spend more money over time.

If you know anything about baseball labor history, though, you know well that the Commissioner and the owners will continue to mischaracterize the dynamics of the business as it suits them. Mostly because — present lefty sportswriters notwithstanding — very few people push back on their narratives. Fans tend to parrot ownership’s line on this stuff and, more often than not, baseball media acts as stenographer for ownership as opposed to critic. That gives owners a far greater ability to shape the narrative about all of this than most institutions.

Which makes this all the more awkward. From David Schoenfield of ESPN:

In apparent contradiction to his own commissioner, Boston Red Sox owner John Henry said Monday that, while there is not a perfect correlation between a bigger payroll and winning, “spending more money helps.”

Which is right. The correlation is not perfect — teams can spend a lot of money on a bad team if given the chance and a low payroll team like the Rays can bullpen their way to 90 wins — but you’re way more likely to win year-in, year-out if you’re spending than if you go cheap all the time and hope for a miracle season.

Which is not to say that Henry is some labor activist owner. He and his fellow front office officials have a long history of backing the league office on just about everything that matters and will no doubt do so with labor matters in the runup to the next CBA negotiation. The owners tend not to have a solidarity problem.

But Henry does seem to draw the line at peddling baloney, which is a shockingly necessary thing when the league and the union’s relationship turns acrimonious.