Just over a month ago, just as the Yankees were about to face off against the Astros in the American League Wild Card Game, starting pitching CC Sabathia announced that he was entering alcohol rehab. He left the team for a facility in Connecticut and entered radio silence.
He’s out now, and he’s making media rounds today, giving interviews for newspapers and TV about his struggle with alcoholism. The Daily News has an extended interview with him here.
Sabathaia describes himself as a “functioning alcoholic,” who, for the most part, would go on binges alone in hotel rooms while on the road. He says that while he would often be hungover at the ballpark the next day, on non-pitching days, he did not drink on nights before he pitched and did not show up drunk to the ballpark. Indeed, he says the thing that made him realize he had such a big problem with alcohol was the manner in which he planned his binges ahead of time in order to not have it interfere with his pitching. The tail wagged the dog.
Of course, it’s probably too much to say that it had no effect on his pitching whatsoever. If you’re not 100% on your off-days you’re not going to approach your prep work, be it mentally or physically, as well as you can. And of course excessive drinking has overall physical tolls associated with it. In the short term, however, rehab has had its own physical toll: Sabathia says he ate too much while drying out and has gained weight. He vows to spend the offseason working out and getting back in shape.
Every addict’s story is slightly different. And Sabathia’s could have been much, much worse. But it was no doubt serious and scary to him and inspired him to get help. Here’s hoping the help he got and will continue to get will ensure his sobriety and health going forward. For the sake of both his baseball career and his life.