CC Sabathia at age 35 isn't the stud hoss top-of-the-rotation pitcher he once was, but he still led the Yankees in starts and innings pitched this year. He was going to be part of their postseason rotation.
Note the past tense. On Monday Sabathia announced he was out for the postseason and checked into inpatient rehab for alcoholism.
It is to the Yankees credit that both Brian Cashman and Joe Girardi are vocally supporting Sabathia in this. The cynic in me whispers that they might not be so accepting if Sabathia's ERA were 2.73 rather than 4.73, but I am telling my inner cynic to shut up. This is the way workplaces ought to deal with illness, and alcoholism is an illness.
The timing is interesting, however. I will seldom -- I am tempted to say never -- question the competitive desire of a professional athlete, and particularly one who has the track record of Sabathia. Yet, for whatever reason, he has chosen the start of the postseason to enter treatment. This suggests to me that he's hit some sort of crisis point.
I don't know what that would be. There has been no revelation of some sort of trauma -- a DUI, a domestic call, a barroom brawl -- that might trigger a sudden acceptance of a problem.
Whatever happened to prompt Monday's announcement, I wish Sabathia well in dealing with his problem. This is different from wishing him, or the Yankees, well on the field. There I hope, always, that they lose.