Could This Work?

From The Onion:

"You said there would be no baseball," said Ortiz, refusing to leave
the car. "I hate baseball. I can't hit the baseball. You know that. If
you care so much about me and baseball, why you leave me? Why you leave
me by myself in Boston, Manny? Why you do that? Why you act so bad?
Boston's a good place."

"You need to deal with that, man. You need to come to terms,"
Ramirez said. "I never going back to Boston. But, man, look at these
kids. This is baseball, man. Little kids having fun and not injecting
themselves with steroids and women pills and just stepping up there and
hitting the ball. You gotta face it, man. We gotta face it together."

"Everybody's left me, you know?" Ortiz responded, tears streaming
down his face. "You left me, Pedro left me. The only one who doesn't
leave is Jason [Varitek], and he don't talk to me. He don't talk to
anyone."

28 comments… add one
  • hehe, the onion never disappoints, but i still have to ask:
    uh, does papi realize that varitek tried to leave, and the only reason he stayed was because nobody else wanted him?

    dc June 7, 2009, 9:16 am
  • The best part is that the conversation “takes place” at the hometown of my alma mater. They were probably at the Frontier Texas! museum, or maybe catching a show at the Paramount.

    Paul SF June 7, 2009, 5:30 pm
  • This:
    http://sports.espn.go.com/mlb/news/story?id=4240565
    doesn’t sound like an innocent party to me. More like someone slowly, very slowly, coming around to a confession. The question is whether that comes before he’s pushed from Boston.
    Meanwhile, what does this mean, in context, if not as a true slip as to his real problem:
    “But this guy [Bay], he’s got no fear. He might be the biggest reason I haven’t fallen apart.”

    Rob June 8, 2009, 10:45 am
  • i dunno rob…i’m not so sure it sounds like anything more than a frustrated man who struggled in his prior job [twins], then was on top, the toast of boston for a couple of years, and is now faced with the reality that with age, his massive body is now beginning to fail him…he seems more like a guy who feels like he’s letting his teammates and fans down…i understand the speculation giving his career track, but he gets my benefit of the doubt until proven otherwise…the quote you selected suggests to me that what started as a physical breakdown is now in his head…

    dc June 8, 2009, 11:11 am
  • But he has “fallen apart” and yet he’s still not quite admitting it even as he’s talking about himself in reference to “fear”. To me, this is far beyond the physical and mental parts of the game and well into the emotional.
    Seems like the stages of grief to me:
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/K%C3%BCbler-Ross_model

    Rob June 8, 2009, 11:40 am
  • Wow, Rob, that’s a really ridiculous stretch. What Papi is saying is that Bay has shielded him from being blamed for the entire team doing terribly. Since Bay is mashing, the team is succeeding, Ortiz’ struggles are not so front and center in terms of the team’s performance, and he’s not being blamed for a failing team since the team isn’t failing. This in large part because of Bay.
    In other words, if Bay wasn’t performing then Ortiz might not have as much rope from the fans as he has, and Ortiz might be also blaming himself for the team failing. But since the team isn’t failing (at least not yet!), he at least is spared that burden.

    SF June 8, 2009, 11:45 am
  • Sure, sure, I get all that….but what does any of that have to do with Papi “falling” apart relative to where he is right now. He’d be a .300 OPS hitter otherwise?
    Emotionally, of course he feels better that the team is still doing well without him. I just don’t see how his situation could be any worse if they weren’t playing well…except for his own guilt AND the fans letting him have it.
    I just though it was some weird constructions. He’s screwed up but it goes way beyond his performance. That’s my reading any ways.

    Rob June 8, 2009, 11:50 am
  • I just though it was some weird constructions.
    Come on, these guys aren’t Milton scholars. He’s also speaking in his second language. Yeesh.

    SF June 8, 2009, 11:52 am
  • It’s about context too. If the quote is accurate, he’s goes from Bay’s lack of fear to his own deepest fear – falling apart – in one quick beat.
    The mind works in mysterious ways. But language often belies what’s really on someone’s mind.

    Rob June 8, 2009, 11:58 am
  • Since 2003, David Ortiz has been one of the top 3 most feared hitters in all of baseball. To suddenly be playing this poorly, to have such a steep decline, is undoubtedly wreaking havoc on this man’s mental state. He’s angry, he’s frustrated, he’s probably getting depressed over it. Those are all raw, uncontrollable emotions, and it takes a big leap of logic to go say “these statements hint that he’s guilty of cheating.”
    Like SF says, that’s a ridiculous stretch.

    Atheose June 8, 2009, 12:57 pm
  • Really? Seriously?
    Rob’s having a funny on all of us.

    Paul SF June 8, 2009, 3:27 pm
  • No, not trying to be funny. All I know is:
    a) Ortiz is experiencing a never-before-seen-in-the history-of baseball collapse, especially relative to where he was just last year at this time (13 HRs at the end of May).
    b) Every player goes through slumps. This is no mere slump. It’s the complete unraveling of a player.
    c) Two players, by all accounts “friendly” with Ortiz, have been caught in the last three months having used PEDs.
    d) Ortiz is now saying all sorts of weird things about falling apart, and “letting” him come back, and not being able to sleep.
    This is obviously a touchy subject. Still, for the sake of argument again, if Ortiz is guilty, how can he possibly come clean? My point was only to indicate how his language is now falling behind even his awful play. It’s sad to see someone come so completely undone. And yet he’s still in denial.

    Rob June 8, 2009, 5:02 pm
  • Those are all raw, uncontrollable emotions, and it takes a big leap of logic to go say “these statements hint that he’s guilty of cheating.”
    Except that players of his caliber don’t get depressed. They have enough faith in their abilities that they know, no matter how bad it gets, they’ll pull through…unless they doubt whether they were really responsible for their successes. That’s a huge psychological burden for which there really isn’t a fix. If Ortiz was only successful with PEDs, then I could certainly see why he’s coming so completely undone. There’s nothing to fall back on.
    I’m going to drop this now. I know this is a tough topic and I really am sorry you guys are going through it as fans. I’ll let those be my last words on the topic until events dictate otherwise.

    Rob June 8, 2009, 5:08 pm
  • Except that players of his caliber don’t get depressed
    Please. You have no f*cking clue what players of his caliber go through.

    SF June 8, 2009, 5:24 pm
  • Seriously, you think successful major league ballplayers deal with mental illness at the same rate as regular schmoes? I highly doubt that. As it is these anxiety disorders are a new phenomenon (probably because there are some performance enhancing aspects). But clinical depression? Yeah, I can just imagine a chain-smoking Papi coming to the plate in one month.
    I’m sorry it troubles you guys. But this is no ordinary slump. Far from it.

    Rob June 8, 2009, 5:40 pm
  • All I know is:
    a.) Nothing.
    b.) Nothing.
    c.) Nothing.
    d.) Nothing.
    I think whoever wrote these twos entences was on to something, but he was too busy picking a fight to even notice it:
    Ortiz is experiencing a never-before-seen-in-the history-of baseball collapse … Ortiz is now saying all sorts of weird things about falling apart, and “letting” him come back, and not being able to sleep.
    Makes perfect sense to me.

    Paul SF June 8, 2009, 5:41 pm
  • Makes perfect sense to me.
    Except you haven’t explained why he’s experiencing that never seen collapse.
    I’ve offered one possible explanation. That’s one more than you. Other players age. Other players go through slumps. No one has ever gone through this. Why?
    How many players have made their name solely on the back of PEDs?
    If Papi never comes back (which has to be a question you’re asking yourselves), how are you guys going to explain it to your kids? You’re really going to say he just got old faster than anyone ever has? Really?

    Rob June 8, 2009, 5:55 pm
  • Back away from the troll… Do not engage… I have two baseball fanatic kids and I have no problem explaining any of this to them…

    rootbeerfloat June 8, 2009, 5:59 pm
  • Instead of calling me names, please tell me what you tell your kids. It’s really as simple as explaining that players get old fast? Or are you being more honest than that?

    Rob June 8, 2009, 6:17 pm
  • “a) Ortiz is experiencing a never-before-seen-in-the history-of baseball collapse, especially relative to where he was just last year at this time (13 HRs at the end of May).”
    Is this true? The never-before-seen-in-history part that is? How unprecedented is this? I remember Mike Lowell having a putrid season right before he got to the Sox (remember how he was supposed to be a burden Boston had to assume?) and I know Torre suffered through an awful year right after his MVP campaign. I’m intrigued about how historic Ortiz’s collapse (so far) is.

    Nick-YF June 8, 2009, 6:32 pm
  • Me too. The two cases you mention though – in context:
    Torre – 1972 – age 31 – 122 OPS+
    Lowell – 2001 – age 31 – 77 OPS+
    Ortiz – 2009 – age 33 – 53 OPS+
    I’d be very happy to be proven wrong, but I don’t see how any one else has fallen as as as fast.

    Rob June 8, 2009, 7:00 pm
  • I don’t think his decline has been ‘unprecedented’. Look at Travis Hafner, an even younger DH who was once one of the most feared hitters in the league.
    Travis is also evidence that Ortiz might not be completely gone, although Travis’ terrible season was more due to injury than Ortiz’s (as far as we know…Ortiz’s wrist could be not completely healed but we don’t know about it).

    AndrewYF June 8, 2009, 7:01 pm
  • Sure, but they shut Hafner down. If there was any hint of injury, wouldn’t they already have done the same to Papi? And wouldn’t he be willing to admit it by now?

    Rob June 8, 2009, 7:19 pm
  • Seriously, you think successful major league ballplayers deal with mental illness at the same rate as regular schmoes?
    This is a statement that borders on ignorant. Professional athletes are human beings. Human beings suffer from depression. It can be a genetic illness, as you must know. The idea that pro ballplayers are somehow superior in their immunity to depression or other mental illnesses is really quite a stupid one.

    SF June 8, 2009, 7:26 pm
  • So you’re going to call an argument “stupid” without any evidence, or even a counter-argument, to back it up? Calling players “human beings” is like saying they don’t have to worry about menstrual cycles. You’ve added nothing.
    My point is based more on the pragmatics of becoming, and sustaining, a career in major league baseball. Yeah, crazy me!, I think serious mental illness does not lend itself to success in professional sports. That’s not to say that no professional athletes deal with these problems. Of course some do. But I wouldn’t be shocked to find that the numbers are a vast minority of what we find in the general population. Playing, and excelling, professionally selects for the very best and depression, at least, just doesn’t fit. If a player is clinically depressed they’re going to have a very difficult time of it – lethargy, self-defeating thoughts, etc. Other conditions – borderline personality and OCD e.g. – would probably be less problematic but they could be more manageable.
    We’re hearing more and more about anxiety disorders. But it should be noted that anti-anxiety medication has performance enhancing benefits – besides treating the anxiety they also help increase energy. I also think that some people have failed out of professional sports because of mental illnesses but they weren’t treated as such.
    Now maybe Ortiz is clinically depressed. But playing isn’t going to solve that.

    Rob June 8, 2009, 8:02 pm
  • Herschel Walker, Terry Bradshaw, Jimmy PIersall, are very famous examples of players who suffered from mental illness, two of those players were certifiably great (Walker moreso as an amateur), and these are instantly recalled. The simple fact is that many players, and just as many percentage-wise as are in the general public, may suffer from some form of mental illness. The more complicated fact is that professional sports may cause players to either reject their illnesses, fail to recognize them, or simply hide them from either their teammates or their employers, for fear of ruining a reputation or endangering their earning power. Warrick Dunn is another who has spoken out quite forcefully about this issue.
    Depression and excelling at a professional level, how are these dependent, or independent? Again, this makes no sense to me at all. Are there depressed world-class violinists? Do they need to perform with great concentration and exactitude? Are there fewer depressed violinists since they need to share the stage with other professionals and perform at elite levels? What about figure skaters? Or decathletes? I don’t see any reason, nor have I seen any studies that show that baseball players (or anyone who is an elite in their given field, athletic or non-athletic), particularly professional elites, are any more likely to be able to avoid depression (which is only one of many mental illnesses, your original catch-all phrase).

    SF June 8, 2009, 8:33 pm
  • I can’t say I’ve thought a lot about this issue (it isn’t even close to my area). But there are, at least, two separate issues here. One, as you indicate, is the likelihood of being treated. I agree there and I didn’t mean to suggest, or minimize, whatever problems anyone faces in having a mental illness treated.
    The other issue is the likelihood of actual incidence. I’m sorry, but I just don’t see how the pressure and time commitments, to say nothing of the cultural factors in discrimination, could lend itself to a professional sports career. That’s not to say some athletes don’t overcome their less helpful genes. But I think many more fail, or quit, before they reach the highest stages.
    I didn’t mean to be specific to depression (Atheose brought that up) or baseball. But like I’ve said, I think some phenotypes are probably less harmful for certain professions, and sports, than others. Bipolar disorder, and severe depression, might be more manageable for artists and writers – to a point – but less so for baseball players. If you’re in a severe depressive stage, for instance, I don’t see how that’s going to help hit, or throw, a baseball. Medications can help, but that assumes proper diagnosis and treatment without interrupting competition. That last part is the highly suspect one in baseball. Sure talent trumps all. But talent can often be hidden by the catchall “outside issues”. How many kids fall away because of mental illness? Your guess is as good as mine.
    Of course, there’s the other problem that exercise sometimes helps ameliorate some symptoms in depression. These issues are complicated – no doubt. If it helps, I’ll take back what I said – Ortiz could be very well be suffering from some mental illness. But I have to think the team has asked the appropriate questions. More problematic, mental illness, no matter the form, can’t be treated by continuing to play through it.

    Rob June 8, 2009, 9:00 pm
  • This sums up my response pretty much. If you’ve ever known someone who is clinically depressed Rob then you know that it’s not a logical disease.

    Atheose June 9, 2009, 7:20 am

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