Pablo S. Torre has an article in the current Sports Illustrated [June 21, 2010] about a number of baseball players who have recently “come out” about their struggles with mental illness. The article, entitled “A Light in the Darkness,” delves into why baseball in particular seems suited to mental illness, and how Major League Baseball has taken the lead among professional sports in acknowledging and addressing emotional problems. One of the players profiled, Cincinnati Reds first baseman Joey Votto, was hospitalized twice last summer for major depression and anxiety attacks. He has since opened up about his recovery, acknowledging that “the stuff I was dealing with finally seeped its way onto the game.” Torre cites several factors at play for baseball players, notably the rate of failure ( “Start with the sheer difficulty of trying to connect with a spheroid less than three inches in diameter that’s moving at 95 mph”) and the solitude of eighty-one games a year on the road. There’s also the more leisurely pace, which allows “pitchers and hitters alike [to] have an enormous amount of time to sit and stew in their mistakes.”
On a separate baseball note, the Pittsburgh Pirates fired twenty-four-year-old Andrew Kurtz, one of their trusty pierogi mascots, for posting a critical comment about upper management on Facebook. As someone who thoroughly enjoyed the between-innings pierogi races at PNC Park, I don’t think management can afford to be so flippant with veteran talent.