Dealing with Pressure

By Lloyd Graff

Joey Votto is a great young hitter who plays first base for the Cincinnati Reds. Many students of baseball think he will eventually win a batting championship. He’s that good—left-handed, beautiful inside-out stroke to hit the ball to left center, and the snap to yank the ball out to right.

But it may not be this year, because Votto is sidelined indefinitely with an anxiety disorder that makes his life so miserable he has to take a time out from Major League Baseball, even though he’s killing the ball.

On the flip side, Zack Greinke of the Kansas City Royals is the favorite to win the Cy Young Award (best pitcher in the league designation). Greinke has great stuff, brilliant command and amazing moxie for a kid in his early twenties. This young pitcher looks like a faster Greg Maddux. Yet a couple of years ago Greinke had to leave the team for the 2006 season because he just could not deal with the pressure of the Big Leagues.

For many people there still is a sense of shame in looking for help with emotional pain. These are such tough economic times that more people than usual are suffering daily mental wounds on top of the emotional indigestion that most people endure every day.

My heart goes out to Joey Votto, and I share the joy of Zack Greinke. I hope the two guys will talk. It helps. I’ve been there myself.

Cincinnati Reds' Joey Votto (19) is congratulated by Edwin Encarnacion, right, and Adam Dunn, left, after Votto hit a three-run home run off Milwaukee Brewers pitcher Jeff Suppan in the second inning of a baseball game Saturday, Sept. 8, 2007, in Cincinnati. (AP Photo/David Kohl)

Cincinnati Reds' Joey Votto (19) is congratulated by Edwin Encarnacion, right, and Adam Dunn, left, after Votto hit a three-run home run off Milwaukee Brewers pitcher Jeff Suppan in the second inning of a baseball game Saturday, Sept. 8, 2007, in Cincinnati. (AP Photo/David Kohl)

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