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Nobody knows Zack Greinke

Dec 17, 2010, 8:32 AM EDT

Zack Greinke

I’ve written a lot recently about how no one can simply assume that Zack Greinke’s history with anxiety disorder makes him unsuitable for pitching in New York. Indeed, it could easily be the opposite — he’s at his best when he’s successful and at his worst when facing adversity — and thus the winning and the pressure of winning with the Yankees could actually be better for him than losing in Kansas City. Ask yourself: wouldn’t having Brett Gardner chasing down the flies you gave up to left field make you feel better than having Melky Cabrera do it next season?

The point is, we have no idea what makes Zack Greinke tick, and to the extent you read about someone who sounds absolutely certain that he couldn’t hack it in New York, you can be assured that they’re just guessing.

Joe Posnanski has been around and written more about Zack Greinke than just about anyone, and last night he posted a story that illustrates just how wild the guesses truly are.  And no, Joe doesn’t think he knows anything more about what makes Greinke tick than anyone else. That’s the takeaway:

Chauncey Gardiner from the movie “Being There” was the simple gardner of a rich man who wandered into the world and found people eager to infuse their own hopes and ideas and thoughts into his childlike words. Greinke is not simple, and his words are not childlike, but here he is, America’s Most Wanted Pitcher, and everybody seems to know what he wants, where he’d succeed, where he’d fail. So you know Krylov in Russian, do you? Some may be right. Some certainly are wrong. But if there’s one thing I have learned about Zack Greinke that I feel confident in saying it is this: Nobody really knows.

I know I say this a lot about his stuff, but Joe’s story is an absolute must-read. Certainly a must-read for Yankees fans and anyone who is interested in where Greinke might be traded.

  1. BC - Dec 17, 2010 at 8:53 AM

    Speaking as someone who has dealt with clinical depression for years, the only person that knows you is yourself. Even a therapist has to use all of the tricks of his or her trade to figure out a way to help you cope. And medication is a very tricky thing too. No one knows what Greinke deals with day to day and no one should – it’s his business. If he thinks he can handle pitching in New York, or Texas, or Zaire, its up to him.

    • churchoftheperpetuallyoutraged - Dec 17, 2010 at 9:04 AM

      If he thinks he can handle pitching in New York, or Texas, or Zaire, its up to him.

      QFT. And from what I’ve read, he’s never come out and said, himself, that he wouldn’t want to pitch there. It’s always “sources close to Grienke” or “Greinke’s friends say”.

      Also, with regards to his S.A.D., we don’t know what triggers it. Maybe when he’s pitching he can block out all the crowds, but it’s the reporters after the game that bother him (a la Ricky Williams doing interviews with his helmet on)? Maybe being in NY would be a good thing, since no one would recognize him, and it’s the only city of 10M plus people (living and commuters) that you can feel isolated in.

  2. Old Gator - Dec 17, 2010 at 9:35 AM

    Reading these stupid articles, especially after Cliff Lee blew off the Borg, I get the feeling that they’re just pre-emptive excuses for why he won’t go to some particular city. No Crawford, No Lee. Next, no Greinke. Oh, well, you know Nyorc. If someone doesn’t want to be there, there must be a pathology involved. Funny thing is, I’ve never spoken to a Nyorcan who gave a crap one way or another about whether someone wanted to be there or not. It’s just the sportswriters and sports radio hosts who get apoplectic about this stuff anyway, and a few dumb sheep who swallow the line.

    • BC - Dec 17, 2010 at 9:44 AM

      Greinke’s medical condition is documented. I have no idea whether that plays any role in where he wants to pitch or feels that he can pitch, because I’m not him. There’s a lot of things I joke about and act moronic about on this blog, but anxiety disorder or depression ain’t one of them (well, two of them, technically). It’s just a personal day to day thing that no one from the outside can pretend to know about.

      • Old Gator - Dec 17, 2010 at 12:31 PM

        Wel-l-l, I won’t go back through the last year or two and tally up all your Nardil punchlines, but I do accept that one may joke about onesself and invite others to share in the irony and find humor in one’s own condition whereas it’s not up to anyone else to presume to have fun at another’s expense unbidden. As far as acting moronic on this blog, if we can’t do it here, where can we do it? My first wife made it clear that she wouldn’t tolerate it in the kitchen, even if she never seemed to mind it much in bed.

      • BC - Dec 17, 2010 at 12:50 PM

        I make fun of myself because:
        1. It generally pre-empts others from doing it, since I’m an easy target
        2. It’s a coping mechanism
        3. I generally think it’s pretty funny
        I wouldn’t kid about someone else’s condition given that there’s no way to know what the person is or has been going through.
        PS. My ex-wife wouldn’t tolerate my moron-itude either. (Is that a word? It should be.)

    • sportsdrenched - Dec 17, 2010 at 9:55 AM

      Except JoePas is NOT a NY apoligist.

      I enjoyed his stuff when worked for the KC Star, and I enjoy his stuff now.

  3. Jonny 5 - Dec 17, 2010 at 9:40 AM

    I don’t have an Anxiety Disorder. My wife does. And it’s completely up to the idividual what it is that triggers the Anxiety. 10,000 different people with Anxiety issues will give you 30,000 different triggers for their issues. I help by talking about it, how fine, and/or easy said situation will be. It seems to be a battle of brain vs. instinct where if you push the right buttons the brain wins to me. All I’m trying to say is, I think Greinke can basically do what Greinke decides to do, be it by himself or with the help of people close to him. So yeah Jo Po is dead on. Would you expect less?

    But I have to add.

    As I said, I don’t have anxiety issues. But the thought of moving to NYC gives me immediate irritable bowel syndrome. Maybe even some light Anxiety. I can’t enjoy myself feeling like a rat in an overcrowded cage, rubbing elbows with everyone and their cooties and stuff. It’s just not fun to me, or a good way to live. No offense, I’m not knocking how you live, it’s just not for me. I’d rather live in central Canada.

    • BC - Dec 17, 2010 at 10:30 AM

      The housing market in Edmonton is actually very good these days.

      • Jonny 5 - Dec 17, 2010 at 10:42 AM

        Ha!! No, I’m very content in south J.

      • heiniemanush - Dec 17, 2010 at 10:46 AM

        Bring a parka, a few pairs of long underwear and a hockey stick.

      • Jonny 5 - Dec 17, 2010 at 11:12 AM

        Beer?? C’mon man. You can’t live up there without beer.

      • Utley's Hair - Dec 17, 2010 at 12:35 PM

        You’d have to give up the Yuengling, Jonny—I don’t think it’s worth it.

      • Jonny 5 - Dec 17, 2010 at 1:57 PM

        HA!!! I can always long for it though… Actually I like other beer too, but it’s kinda pricey. Yuengling is my favorite “cheap beer”. And that Porter is mmm mmm Good.

      • Utley's Hair - Dec 17, 2010 at 4:07 PM

        Mmmm…black and tan…. But don’t forget about the Lord Chesterfield, either. That’s good sh!t.

    • wonkypenguin - Dec 17, 2010 at 10:44 AM

      I have avoided NYC for the same reason. Too much input at all times, too many people, not enough oxygen. Oh and an irrational hatred of how many movies take place in New York. :-)

  4. wonkypenguin - Dec 17, 2010 at 10:43 AM

    As a therapist, I concur that whatever works for someone is what works for them and then structuring their environment to that is paramount to successful coping with their symptoms. I have worked with a number of patients who moved from a big city to a smaller city and their anxiety worsened considerably simply due to the environment shift. So yeah, I think the anxiety-based speculation is a dartboard of “What makes him tick?”

    That said, I think Minneapolis would be an excellent city for Mr. Greinke’s employment. No psychological reasons other than my own personal happiness.


    • WhenMattStairsIsKing - Dec 17, 2010 at 5:40 PM

      As an anxiety disorder patient myself, I couldn’t agree with you more.

  5. yankeesfanlen - Dec 17, 2010 at 10:54 AM

    Jonny, he isn’t going to pitch in the middle of Times Square where 40,000 people are jammed in 2 blocks doing 120,000 different things. A baseball park is almost a tranquil, controlled place by that measure.
    AND with the quantity of money most Yankees make he can buy 5 acres in Westchester and grow corn if he wants.
    Suppose 3 beat writers cover the Royals and he doesn’t feel comfortable with one of them? That avoidance might be more pressing than having 50 after you post-game.(Of course, the 3 now have Frenchie to smooze with)
    Even getting to the ballpark isn’t particularly an issue- there’s plenty of limos for hire, though it seems like most drive one of their half-dozen FAST cars in. Once saw Giambi drive down NJ208 in a buck and a quarter Mercedes.
    So Zack, come on down!

    • Jonny 5 - Dec 17, 2010 at 11:06 AM

      I agree 100%. And I’m never going to pretend I know what it’s like to be Zack G or how he feels or thinks. I know he won’t be subjected to normal NYC life either. I just figured I’d let people know how I feel, and personally, if i were him, I’d like a smaller city myself. And i’m sure plenty of baseball players may just feel the same way. But yeah, I wouldn’t be suprised in the least bit if he did end up in NYC. Of course, I totally pictured Lee going to NYC wayyyyyy before I pictured Greinke. Further proof, we can only speculate the inner workings of a person’s mind.

    • Utley's Hair - Dec 17, 2010 at 12:37 PM

      Frenchie schmooze? That just sounds dirty—and not in a good way.

    • Rosenthals Speling Instrukter - Dec 17, 2010 at 1:38 PM

      That would be cool. They should play a game there.

      • Utley's Hair - Dec 17, 2010 at 3:06 PM

        A $500 million game of stickball

  6. bradwins - Dec 17, 2010 at 1:16 PM

    Everything Posnanski writes is must-read. He is the best in the business, at the moment.

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