By Jason Keidel
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In the interest of candor and clarity, my family tree was watered by booze. Three of my four grandparents were alcoholics. Both my parents suffered from substance abuse. Some got sober. Some died from it.READ MORE: Strome, Panarin Lead Rangers To Win Over Blackhawks
Still, I was going to let this CC Sabathia thing go. Despite the sarcasm and the squalor of Twitter and the sordid echo chamber of social media all sniping from a safe distance. Let it go. Let the trolls take their gratuitous shots at a man who’s enduring a supreme hardship.
But we bite back. It’s what New Yorkers do.
Bank on this. Someone you know is addicted to liquor, or narcotics, or both. Someone at work. Your pal from college. Your brother. Your father. Even if said person doesn’t know it or admit it. And when word trickles down to you, you’ll say, “Not him!”
That’s the rub with addiction. It’s the rare ailment that must first be diagnosed by the afflicted. You don’t have to take my word, or Brian Cashman’s word or Joe Girardi’s word. The American Medical Association has branded it a disease.
At least 10 percent of Americans abuse booze or hard drugs. That’s about 30 million people, including that guy or gal you swore had it all together.
So, if CC broke his leg, or were diagnosed with another malady, would you be so quick to judge? When Darryl Strawberry missed the 1998 World Series with colon cancer, the city swathed him in prayer. Yet back when he and Doc Gooden were squatting in red-eyed agony in the Shea Stadium dugout, they were coddled drunks, just kids abusing their blessed limbs with impunity.
Of course, we all morph into medics and shrinks and career counselors when someone else is hurting. Especially when it comes to mental illness, which we weaponize for our own aggrandizement. He’s weak. He’s letting his team down. Why now, when they need him most? Selfish.READ MORE: New York Weather: CBS2’s 12/5 Sunday Morning Forecast
Boomer Esiason said it best this morning. We have an insatiable desire to see others fail, especially someone making over $20 million a year to throw a baseball. In the dumbed-down, Kardashian world of social media, everyone has been deputized by their laptop. We flash our symbolic badges every time we blog from the comfort of the cubicle.
You hear the same doomsday cliches over suicide. Chump. Coward. Narcissist. Imagine the pain that makes someone raise a gun to their temple and pull the trigger, or makes them drive to the GWB to leap from those frightening heights. Don’t you think they would rather do anything else if they felt any hope?
We have a galling habit of judging other people’s pain because we don’t have it. The depressed doesn’t understand the alcoholic, who doesn’t understand the workaholic, who doesn’t understand the gambler, who doesn’t understand the obese, who doesn’t understand the thief…
We pay endless lip service to tolerance, yet there’s so little of it. If we don’t suffer from certain maladies, then no one should, and thus we perpetuate this cycle of ignorance, confusing illness for weakness. And rather than sympathize, we analyze with the objective hardness of a mortician.
CC Sabathia, a proven team guy and tireless worker who pitched on a perilous string of three days’ rest before he got his money, was in such soul-snatching pain that he left his brothers at the moment they needed him most. Don’t you think he knows this?
Only a fool would question the timing. Sabathia, a playoff monolith, made his name and game in October. He’s well aware of the irony. But if you can squeeze a cute quip into 140 characters, you might get a chuckle from a fellow misanthrope.
I promise you, You, who’s giggling now, pounding your keyboard with a clever retort, have a bag of bones in your past, and a dark corner in your soul that still paws at you today.
So before you bang on Sabathia, swing open your closet doors and allow millions of us a peek. Maybe you’ll reconsider before you jam the send button again.MORE NEWS: LaVine, DeRozan Lead Bulls To Win Over Nets
Follow Jason on Twitter at @JasonKeidel