Joey Votto Returns

Joey Votto is back. And we had no idea how far back he had to come:

The 25-year-old Votto revealed publicly that he was battling depression, anxiety attacks and issues that finally came to the surface several months after the sudden death of his 52-year-old father, Joseph, in August. Those issues led to some panicky moments and two hospital stays.

“They were overwhelming me to the point where I needed to go to the hospital on two separate occasions — once in San Diego and once that nobody had been told about, I went to the hospital in Cincinnati when the team was on the road [in early June],” Votto explained. “It was a very, very scary and crazy night where I had to call 911 at three or four in the morning. It was probably the scariest moment I ever had dealt with in my life, and I went to the hospital that night . . . There were nights that I couldn’t be alone,” Votto said. “The one night I was alone, the very first night I was alone, was when I went to the hospital. I couldn’t take it. It just got to the point where I felt I was going to die, really.”

Earlier this month I noted how impressed I was with the way Dusty Baker handled Votto’s absence. My admiration for him in this has only increased upon reading this article. It probably goes without saying, though, that I am even more impressed with Votto. Partially for the way he has fought back to some semblance of normalcy, but just as much for the honest and open way he has confronted this issue.

How easy it would have been for him to close off the world. How much better he’ll likely be for not having done that.

In related news, Khalil Greene is on the way back from similar issues. You can read his story — written somewhat from afar, but illumination all the same — here.

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  1. Jim said...

    Makes me even more ticked off at the Dontrelle Willis social anxiety disorder crap which really cheapens the diagnosis for people with very real and serious issues to deal with such as Votto.

  2. Beanster said...

    Craig, totally agree with your comments.  Votto’s candor and humanity is refreshing, especially on a sensitive topic that affects so many people.  Amazingly, he continued to mash the ball even in his pinch hit appearances.  Glad to see him back.

  3. Aaron Moreno said...

    Most of us who suffered from depression have enough trouble getting out of bed. Hitting at all is amazing.

  4. Paul said...

    With Votto joining Greinke as well as Greene and Dontrelle (say what you want about its legitimacy – it’s still publicity nonetheless) with anxiety issues, it seems like psychology is making a steady push into baseball – beyond the scope of traditional sports psychology. Cool.

  5. J.W. said...

    Dusty Baker deserves a tremendous amount of credit for his handling of this situation. For many, one of the most difficult aspects of depression and anxiety is the sense of shame that can accompany it. Society has taken great steps forward in recent years, but psychological disorders remain poorly understood. There is still a large part of the population that takes a sort of “get over it” stance when it comes to these issues. Professional sports has long been an arena where discussion of emotions is frowned upon. “We’re men,” the thinking went (and still may go), “we don’t talk about these things.” Votto had the courage to admit publicly that he had trouble being alone and sleeping at night. He admitted calling 911 because of a panic attack. These are brave steps, and hopefully will be helpful for Mr. Votto’s recovery. The fact that he was able to come forward and talk about these issues will hopefully serve as an example to others suffering with depression, grief, and anxiety that it is possible, appropriate and helpful to discuss these issues. Now we just have to wait and see the response from other players and from fans. Will there be some heartless jerks in the stands who shout things like “Hey, Joey, you miss your daddy?” or other such offensive jibes? I’d like to think that such an action would be inconceivable, but it is sadly all too likely. Which brings us back to Mr. Baker. By taking the lead and handling this all with sensitivity, Mr. Baker—a well-respected, “old-school” style figure—will hopefully be the model that others in and around the sport follow. I know that the manager of the year award has more to do with wins and losses than anything else, but how about awarding it to someone who has shown humanity, compassion, and true leadership? If those are the traits we wish to reward, we need look no further than Mr. Baker.

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