Red Sox Should Have Open Mind On Zack Greinke


It’s no secret that a professional athlete needs a strong mind as well as a healthy body in order to perform at the pinnacle of potential. Some of the best-trained specimens have fallen short because their mental toughness was not only questioned but cracked like a walnut.

However, when an athlete is slighted because of a mental health issue without proper cause for concern, that’s when the conversation can turn nasty. Such is the case of free agent starting pitcher Zack Greinke and his well-documented doubters.

When you have a chance, please take a look at a daring article by Christopher Smith of, who courageously put out a great argument against the immense amount of media that has spewed the sentiment that Greinke does not belong with the Boston Red Sox because the market would be too tough for his mental health issues. Smith states, “Greinke has dealt with social anxiety disorder and depression, but he also has managed it effectively with the medication Zoloft […]  I’ve never met Greinke. So I can’t attest to his personality. But from everything I read about him, he’s the exact opposite of what so many Red Sox fans and Boston radio personalities think about him.”

Smith goes on to state that “Greinke also is hardly afraid to tell it like it is — which indicates he’s not afraid what people think about him. That was clear when he admitted he signed with the Dodgers before the 2013 season because they offered the most money.” Smith proceeds to debunk a number of notions about Greinke’s game to prove that he can easily handle situations that would be thrown at him if he were to sign with the Red Sox.

While each of his points are worth the read, Smith’s argument against the notion that Greinke’s mental health would be an issue highlights the key problem with society, regardless of the profession.

Being mentally weak and having a mental illness are completely different issues. In fact, some people with mental health problems are some of the most mentally strong people whom you will ever meet. Joey Votto, one of the best hitters in the game for the past number of years, has had to deal with depression and anxiety attacks. For pitchers, Chris Haft of reported that Harvey Dorfman, a sports psychologist, used to counsel “top pitchers such as Roy Halladay, Greg Maddux and Brad Lidge.”

Go ahead, tell those guys, Hall-of-Famers and future Hall-of-Famers alike, that they would never have been able to handle the pressure cooker that is Fenway Park.

If anything, mental health issues force professional athletes to prepare even better than the ones without them. They are sticklers to schedules, never missing a workout or a practice. Many of them have what’s called hyperfocus, where even the athletes with ADD will keep their minds centered on one thing that they enjoy and will not allow for any distractions. Considering that they love baseball, their focus is going nowhere but on the game and the preparation for it. They find support to keep them organized, and they are constantly practicing their memory and social skills in order to keep them on the right path.

Many professional athletes without mental disorders can’t stay out of trouble with the law, let alone staying out of trouble with the fans.

With Greinke, that isn’t even an issue at all. Smith also points out that The Wall Street Journal called Greinke “Baseball’s most obsessively prepared pitcher.” Based on his results, Greinke’s recent team benefited from that obsession, big time.

The man just earned second place for the National League Cy Young Award in 2015, after going 19-3 with a 1.66 ERA and 200 strikeouts in 222.2 innings. He was able to do this performance while playing for the Los Angeles Dodgers, one of the biggest baseball market teams in the majors, alongside Clayton Kershaw, whom Greinke was constantly compared against.

Sure, Greinke’s got anxiety. Does anyone care if he hates big crowds of people? Many of us hate big crowds of people, too. We don’t all have social anxiety. We don’t all strike out 200 opposing batters, either. How about everyone drop the hate on mental health issues and the people they inflict. Let us, instead, judge performances and statistics without having to bring prejudice into the mix.