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Thursday, February 22, 2007

Greinke trying to bounce back from personal problems

Greinke last season’s emotional collapse.

“I thought that was why I hated baseball. I thought it was because I wanted to hit.

“It would be at least once a month that I’d be crying to myself while I’m going to bed with a bat in my hand, just swinging it. It’s stupid. That doesn’t happen anymore.”

...

“When Ricky Williams quit (the NFL), and everybody was giving him a hard time,” Greinke said, “I was thinking, ‘That’s going to be me tomorrow.’ His situation was a little different, I guess. But I understood.”

Zach Posted: February 22, 2007 at 02:51 PM | 31 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
  Tags: royals

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   1. MSI Posted: February 22, 2007 at 04:55 PM (#2301784)
I think that he's partly a really private person. Baseball is probably filled with extroverts and what not...if a team could accomodate him by giving him more privacy or freedom somehow, and he pitched in a small market (like Tampa or KC), then I think he could thrive because he's really talented. But if he starts feeling fearful on the baseball field again, he should not go back. I was thinking that a trade to the Devil Rays would be good since they need pitching and there's a grand total of 4 people in the stands, but then he'd face all the big hitters of the AL East...Maybe a small market NL club could transform him into an ace, some team like Pittsburgh.
   2. More Dewey is Always Good Posted: February 22, 2007 at 05:01 PM (#2301790)
He's lucky that he has a job that provides such a good support network. Most people with his problems aren't so lucky.
   3. MSI Posted: February 22, 2007 at 05:04 PM (#2301795)
I don't agree with that. Usually an industry like baseball is going to make you fodder pretty fast. It's just that he has skill. It's all "what (can) you do for me lately." In the other parts of the world, people are most likely attempted to be well looked after, unless they are reckless.

Is the poster of this article actually Greinke? That would be cool. It said he's a thinker, after all.
   4. RoyalsRetro (AG#1F) Posted: February 22, 2007 at 05:23 PM (#2301807)
I was thinking that a trade to the Devil Rays would be good since they need pitching and there's a grand total of 4 people in the stands

How is this different from his current situation? KC doesn't have just four fans, but its not like its sellouts every night.

I think this should put to bed the notion that the Royals don't develop pitching prospects because they "rush them." If you're talented, you're talented. Rushing a player may stunt his development, but I don't think it will turn an All-Star quality player into a career minor leaguer.

The Royals just sucked at identifying and developing pitching talent. To say they rushed pitchers is kind of a cop out in my opinion.
   5. Jose Molina wants a nickname like "A-Rod" Posted: February 22, 2007 at 05:36 PM (#2301822)
"Baseball is probably filled with extroverts and what not"

Why do you think baseball would have a different ratio of extroverts to introverts than society as a whole?

"Usually an industry like baseball is going to make you fodder pretty fast."

A company that invests thousands to millions in each of its employees, is going to do all it can to help them get better. I'm positive that on the whole that teams as employers takes care of their premium employees (i.e. players) far better than the average employer.

And there's no need to speculate anymore on whether he's a private person or whatever. The article made pretty clear it's a chemical issue. As long as he's on his meds, he should be fine.
   6. Kyle S Posted: February 22, 2007 at 05:47 PM (#2301832)
i doubt that baseball teams take better care of their employees than studios do to their movie stars, or even wall street firms to their top hitters. it's all about revenue generation. starbucks isn't going to spend thousands of dollars on the mental health of a barista when they could hire a replacement for $7 an hour off the street. it's sad, but true.
   7. Bring Me the Head of Alfredo Griffin (Vlad) Posted: February 22, 2007 at 05:49 PM (#2301836)
"The Royals just sucked at identifying and developing pitching talent. To say they rushed pitchers is kind of a cop out in my opinion."

I think it's a little from column A, a little from column B. I mean, it's hard to make the case that Leo Nunez wasn't rushed, just to pull a name out of a hat.
   8. Bring Me the Head of Alfredo Griffin (Vlad) Posted: February 22, 2007 at 05:54 PM (#2301840)
Also, the article itself is pretty solid. My sympathies are with Greinke; that's a tough path to walk.
   9. MSI Posted: February 22, 2007 at 06:14 PM (#2301853)
How is this different from his current situation?


Well the only reason being that the Rays are thin on pitching as well and could use him...if he can't find a spot on the Royals. Actually, I think its the Nats I was thinking of. While the Devil Rays have no pitching behind Kazmir, the Nats REALLY have no pitching. Like at all. He would be guaranteed a spot.
   10. Sexy Lizard Posted: February 22, 2007 at 06:15 PM (#2301854)
I wonder if Greinke's somewhere on the high functioning end of the autistic spectrum (ie, Asperger's). He's intelligent and analytical (at least as a pitcher), he certainly has the social anxiety aspect down, Buck's comments ("Normally, I’d be able to talk to him about golf or something.") don't make him sound really skilled at small talk, and swinging a bat over and over for comfort is classic repetitive autostimming. Add to that that he doesn't really have any idea what was going on, which fits in with typical self-awareness problems. This is the part that clinches it for me:

I used to be so into not talking to people,” he said. “I wouldn’t talk to people because I would think that they don’t want to talk to me. I mean, I didn’t want them to talk to me, so why would they want me to talk to them?"

“Now, I can see that people actually do want to talk to people. I’m sure the medication has something to do with it. Right now, it’s early, but it’s good. I just know I enjoy it.”


Not knowing that people actually like to talk to each other shows a profound inability to intuit social relations. A mere introvert will know that people like to talk to each other, he just won't want to do it himself; a high-functioning autistic simply won't know it. He can learn it, but intellectually, because someone explained it to him or from reading it in a book, not through just being around people.

Anyway, I really hope Greinke gets it worked out. He's on antidepressants, but you get the feeling that his depression comes from other problems and is not the problem itself, which means that it's only papered over. I really worry about the guy.
   11. RoyalsRetro (AG#1F) Posted: February 22, 2007 at 06:21 PM (#2301863)
I think it's a little from column A, a little from column B. I mean, it's hard to make the case that Leo Nunez wasn't rushed, just to pull a name out of a hat.

Right, but Leo Nunez's career isn't over yet. I think he was rushed, but I don't think it will destroy his career.

I'm not saying the Royals haven't rushed guys - they obviously have. I just don't think that's the reason guys like Jeff Austin, Jim Pittsley, Chad Durbin, Chris George, Mike Stodolka, etc. have flopped.
   12. rombuu Posted: February 22, 2007 at 06:23 PM (#2301865)
Not to ignore Greinke's problems or anything, but did the Royals not talk to anyone about this kid before they drafted him? It sounds like the guy has had a history of mental issues for a long time, but somehow no one noticed any warning signs?
   13. MSI Posted: February 22, 2007 at 06:23 PM (#2301866)
Forgon the conclusion....

The 1000 or so players in MLB are likely not an even distribution of the normal population in the slightest bit. These guys grew up, were likely acculturated, and were selected talent-wise out of thousands of players to lead to probably less introverts. And I'm not talking like Ted Lilly type introverts. There are people with agorophobia and what not, probably something similar to what Greinke has, that can't go into social envionrments.

I wasn't comparing to a Barrista at Starbucks. That is more of a job than a career. Baseball is purely about the talent involved.

Plus, it's never just chemical and that will never completely fix it.
   14. DCA Posted: February 22, 2007 at 06:29 PM (#2301872)
starbucks isn't going to spend thousands of dollars on the mental health of a barista when they could hire a replacement for $7 an hour off the street. it's sad, but true.

They might, actually. Every Starbucks employee gets health insurance (I'm not sure what the insurance buys, though), which is actually quite impressive for a large employer of low-wage unskilled workers. They're not McDonalds or Wal-Mart.
   15. birdlives is one crazy ninja Posted: February 22, 2007 at 06:42 PM (#2301885)
Not knowing that people actually like to talk to each other shows a profound inability to intuit social relations. A mere introvert will know that people like to talk to each other, he just won't want to do it himself; a high-functioning autistic simply won't know it. He can learn it, but intellectually, because someone explained it to him or from reading it in a book, not through just being around people.

Low self-esteem might explain his perception that nobody wants to talk to him. He sort of talking at two different levels in the two quoted sentences (i.e. the self and people in general).
   16. Jorge Luis Bourjos (Walewander) Posted: February 22, 2007 at 06:53 PM (#2301892)

They might, actually. Every Starbucks employee gets health insurance (I'm not sure what the insurance buys, though), which is actually quite impressive for a large employer of low-wage unskilled workers. They're not McDonalds or Wal-Mart.


Well, that depends on reaching weekly hours numbers that they take care to ensure that few employees actually reach. The situation is better at the 5-6 unionized Vancouver Starbucks.
   17. DTS Posted: February 22, 2007 at 07:13 PM (#2301910)
It's strange that the word "poise" was always attached to him coming up. Inside, he was the opposite of poise. I wish him well and hope he gives me a reason to make it to the K a few times this summer.
   18. Cooper Teenoh Posted: February 22, 2007 at 07:22 PM (#2301917)
I wonder if Greinke's somewhere on the high functioning end of the autistic spectrum (ie, Asperger's).

I've got two kids with autistic spectrum disorders (one of whom has Asperger's), and (as my kids doctor likes to say), I've got "a lot of tendencies" in that direction. I can see what you are talking about. Until the last half-decade or so, most people at that end of the spectrum didn't get diagnosed until adolescence, because that was when it became really clear that they weren't handling social situations like their peers. Perhaps Greinke had a social system that was small enough and simple enough that things didn't really come to a head until this time.

Whatever it is, I hope that the work he's done over the last year helps.
   19. Crispix Attacksel Rios Posted: February 22, 2007 at 07:39 PM (#2301928)
Maybe Greinke would be less misunderstood if sportswriters started referring to him with the lovable nickname "Rube".
   20. Bring Me the Head of Alfredo Griffin (Vlad) Posted: February 22, 2007 at 07:44 PM (#2301933)
How do you know whether you are, or aren't? Most of the descriptions I've seen are maddeningly vague.
   21. J. Michael Neal Posted: February 22, 2007 at 07:55 PM (#2301940)
It's strange that the word "poise" was always attached to him coming up.

It doesn't seem sttrange to me, but I'm kind of the same way. I'm able to talk about my problems with people, but not any problems I'm having right then. I just shut up, keep doing my job, and no one notices. I don't give them a chance to see that I'm in a lot of pain. I think that it's obvious in my facial expressions, but no one around me does. I just go blank, which is easy to mistake for poise.

Another thing that impresses me is that trying to describe depression to someone who doesn't suffer from it is so incredibly difficult. A broken foot is something you can tell people about that they will understand. A pit in your stomach that you are endlessly falling into doesn't make as much sense to them. One of my symptoms is that I chew off my fingernails. I don't mean down to the quick; I mean that I have three different ones that I have pulled out by the roots, though by that time I'm using tweezers rather than my teeth. When people ask, "Doesn't that hurt?" the answer is, "Of course it does. That's the point." That's not something most people can get their head around.

I'm rooting really hard for Zach Greinke because he sounds so much like myself. I'm not jealous seeing someone for whom medication has done a lot more than it has for me. I'm happy for him. It makes me feel a little bit less bitter at the world to know that it works out for some people.
   22. Barry`s_Lazy_Boy Posted: February 22, 2007 at 08:00 PM (#2301943)
Why is it that BTF attracts a larger portion of social rejects than the population at large?*

*I kid cuz I include myself.
   23. Jose Molina wants a nickname like "A-Rod" Posted: February 22, 2007 at 08:03 PM (#2301945)
"i doubt that baseball teams take better care of their employees than studios do to their movie stars, or even wall street firms to their top hitters."

Quite possibly. But I wouldn't classify the above as average employers either. My reasoning was the same as yours - revenue generation informs how much they'll spend.

"These guys grew up, were likely acculturated, and were selected talent-wise out of thousands of players to lead to probably less introverts."

Parse please. But if you're saying what I think you're trying to say, the conclusion simply doesn't follow.

"Plus, it's never just chemical and that will never completely fix it."

And you know this how?
   24. The Keith Law Blog Blah Blah (battlekow) Posted: February 22, 2007 at 09:07 PM (#2301978)
My psychologist friend's take on Greinke:

"This guy sounds exactly like what he reported, i.e., having depression and anxiety problems. The guy's statement about 'not wanting to talk to them' is ambiguous - that is why it could be interpreted as autistic. If the guy has a wife, is close to his family, has a friend or two, taking him at his word is much more likely than autism. Plus, he had some insight, and usually people with autism would not. The fact that he was doing something he didn't want to do (pitching instead of hitting) suggests he cares about what other people think, social responsibility, which also fits more with anxiety than autism."
   25. Jimmy P Posted: February 22, 2007 at 09:17 PM (#2301985)
Anxiety and depression can be tough to separate, and one can lead to another. I know I'm going through that. I get anxious about something, it makes me panic, and then I get depressed about the situation. When I get depressed, I don't talk to anyone. It is crippling, and you really can't grasp it. Awareness doesn't help either, you know you shouldn't be acting like you are, yet you can't stop.

I think Greinke's really lucky the Royals are treating him so well. Sports are way behind the spectrum on mental health issues. Athletes are supposed to be tough and gut through it. Why would a guy be depressed? He's got millions of dollars and plays a game for a living. That doesn't matter. Look at how celebrities that have admitted they have depression and anxiety are treated: Rickey Williams is mocked. Nick Saban made a player on the Dolphins cry in front of his team. When Mandy Moore admitted she has a slight case of depression, there were a lot of "Yeah, I feel sorry for her, look at how she looks." None of that matters to a depressed person.
   26. Martin Hemner Posted: February 22, 2007 at 10:05 PM (#2302010)
"This guy sounds exactly like what he reported, i.e., having depression and anxiety problems. The guy's statement about 'not wanting to talk to them' is ambiguous - that is why it could be interpreted as autistic. If the guy has a wife, is close to his family, has a friend or two, taking him at his word is much more likely than autism. Plus, he had some insight, and usually people with autism would not. The fact that he was doing something he didn't want to do (pitching instead of hitting) suggests he cares about what other people think, social responsibility, which also fits more with anxiety than autism."

As a psychologist who specializes in treating Aspergers, I have to tell you that this explanation is really inadequate. I have no idea about Zack Greinke, but individuals with Aspergers process information differently than the general population. As a result, this causes social anxiety and depression when unmanaged. There is absolutely no reason that an individual with Aspergers cannot have friends or a wife. The trick comes from not allowing these otherwise bright individuals to underachieve and use their distorted thinking processes to keep them from reaching their potential. To address the last sentence, individuals with Aspergers often care deeply about what others think, and in fact, are more sensitive. Aspergers children are often tortured at school by bullies because of this.

Sorry, hit a nerve. Back to baseball...
   27. Barry`s_Lazy_Boy Posted: February 22, 2007 at 10:08 PM (#2302011)
I hate when a real psychologist who specializes in the topic at hand comes in here and tells us baseball fans that they know better than we do.
   28. Zach Posted: February 23, 2007 at 12:33 AM (#2302092)
Is the poster of this article actually Greinke? That would be cool. It said he's a thinker, after all.

No, just me.

I think this article shows more of Greinke's personality than just the depression. The text of the article is that Greinke didn't like playing baseball, quit the team, saw a psychiatrist, etc. The subtext is that Greinke says all of this in his own words with remarkably little shading just because he felt people deserved to know. There's an admirable quality to somebody who can tell embarassing truths like that.

I've always liked that Greinke is a little bit of an odd duck, and I wish the best for him.
   29. RoyalsRetro (AG#1F) Posted: February 23, 2007 at 12:42 AM (#2302098)
There's an admirable quality to somebody who can tell embarassing truths like that.

Agreed. I don't think I could tell my best man that I cried for hours, much less the greater Kansas City metropolitan area. Kudos to Zack. I've always been a fan of his because he is different and I'll be pulling for him harder this year.
   30. CONservative governMENt Posted: February 23, 2007 at 01:51 AM (#2302116)
I hate when a real psychologist who specializes in the topic at hand comes in here and tells us baseball fans that they know better than we do.
Are Primeys still given out?
   31. Dan The Mediocre is one of "the rest" Posted: February 23, 2007 at 06:28 AM (#2302201)
I wonder if the percentage of people with Aspergers Syndrome is higher than the general population, and if it is by a significant amount.

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