“Great Players Don’t Need a Psychiatrist”

“Great players don’t need a psychiatrist,” [Ozzie] Guillen said. “I didn’t see Pete Rose talking with any psychiatrist, Paul Molitor or all those guys.”

“I was from an era in baseball when Budweiser and vodka took care of the psychiatric things.” … “You fail, you get drunk and you come back the next day to see how good it feels. The psycho guys—the doctors—they never played this game. They never wore the uniform. They never came out of a slump. They’re not used to it, so how are they going to help?”

Sporting News, 6/23/12

You know who else doesn’t need a doctor? Pitchers with torn ligaments. Great players don’t need orthopedic surgeons. I didn’t see Walter Johnson talking with any orthopedic surgeon, Christy Mathewson, Satchel Paige, any of those guys.

I was from an era in baseball when tobacco juice and peanut shells took care of the anatomical things. You break your arm, you stick some gum in there, wrap it with newspaper, and go out and pitch the next day. Nine innings, ten innings, however many innings it takes. You switch arms if you need to. Throw the ball with your feet, whatever you have to do. The Dr. Jobes of the world, the guys with the fancy educations and medical instruments and all that, they never wore the uniform, they never struck anybody out, they don’t even wear a cup, what do they know about winning games?

I went to a doctor once, I said, “you want to be my doctor, you better put on a glove.” And then he gets these sissy little rubber things and puts them on his hands, like that’s gonna catch a fly ball, let alone a hundred-mile-an-hour fastball. I don’t know who’s even selling little dainty gloves with little dainty fingers like that. My doctor should be wearing a catcher’s mitt and a face mask, and if I spit out a tooth or my brain comes out my nose, he’s there, ready to go.

And now I hear players telling me they see dentists too. Soft. Real soft. And, I tell you, Ty Cobb never went to an obstemetrician like some of these guys today. They say it’s for their wives, but I don’t even understand what they’re talking about. My wife, when she had a baby, she didn’t even need to tell me. She went into the kitchen, cut the umbilical cord with our cake knife, and then went back to cleaning my cleats like I told her to. Now players need days off when they have kids? They’re spoiled. The only reason you should ever have a day off is if you’re too drunk to play, or you get arrested for assaulting a haughty PhD student.

I tell you, I never saw Babe Ruth talking to a psychiatrist. He wouldn’t have talked to him anyway. Crippling social anxiety. Undiagnosed depression. Schizophrenia. Multiple personalities. The man could barely get out of bed. If only there was some sort of treatment for any of that stuff. Someone who was trained to deal with those problems. Whatever, I told him to just throw dirt in his head and walk it off.

Jeremy Blachman is the author of Anonymous Lawyer, a satirical novel that should make people who didn't go to law school feel good about their life choices. Read more at McSweeney's or elsewhere. He likes e-mail.

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10 years ago

Yogi Berra apparently felt that a psychiatrist could help.