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CC Sabathia’s Great Career Comes To A Heartbreaking And Fitting End

CC Sabathia has had a truly great career; a career which is arguably Hall of Fame caliber. With him announcing his retirement, we knew his career would potentially end in the ALCS, but not like this.

Sabathia has pitched 19 years in the majors. What made that career truly remarkable is he almost lasted all 19 years without a shoulder or elbow problem which required season ending surgery. This made him a rubber armed and durable starter.

Sabathia always took the ball. That was no more evident than when he was traded to the Milwaukee Brewers in 2008. After that trade, the Brewers rode him hard to an almost unethical point.

Sabathia was a 27 year old in his prime set to cash-in in free agency, and the Brewers were not going to be in a position to sign him. Despite that, he’d make four consecutive starts on three days rest. Where we’ve seen other pitchers contemplate their careers, Sabathia took the ball, and he’d pitch the Brewers into the postseason.

Sabathia was rewarded with a massive contract with the Yankees, and he’d help pitch that Yankees team to the 2009 World Series.

With that World Series title, a Cy Young, six All Star appearances, and 3,093 strikeouts (third most by a LHP all-time), he arguably had a Hall of Fame career. However, just because he had a great career, it doesn’t always mean it was a charmed one.

Throughout his career, Sabathia has battled weight issues. He’s been battling knee problems for nearly a decade now, which is roughly half his career.

In 2015, Sabathia had his most difficult battle. Late in that year as the Yankees were readying themselves for the Wild Card Game, he admitted he had a problem, and his season would end as he sought treatment for his alcoholism.

Sabathia got the treatment he needed, and he persevered. He’d even have a bit of a renaissance two years later going 14-5 with a 3.69 ERA for the 2017 Yankees.

That did not mean Sabathia was free and clear of all medical issues. In fact, Sabathia would need a stent put in his heart in December 2018. Seeing that, it should come as no surprise the 38 year old Sabathia would announce the 2019 season would be his last.

What was remarkable was despite the knee and heart issues, Sabathia would find his way onto the ALCS roster. He’d contribute too as a LOOGY getting Michael Brantley out in the 10th inning of Game 2. He appeared for a second time, tonight, in Game 4.

Given how Game 4 was unfolding with balls eating up DJ LeMahieu and Gleyber Torres, you could see things were going to end badly, but you never expected it to end this badly. With a 2-1 count to George Springer, something happened, and the rubber arm of Sabathia’s finally broke.

When the great ones go, you want to see them end it on their own terms. You want them to walk off the field. The very last thing you want to see is them leaving due to injury, but that’s what happened to Sabathia.

That’s how it ends to one of the best left-handed pitchers of all time. That’s how things end for a man who used his platform to give so much back through his PitCCh In Foundation. After all CC Sabathia has overcome, he left with an injury instead of leaving the field after recording that last big out.

Seeing this is the way it ends for Sabathia is heartbreaking. He and his storied career deserved better than that.

Hopefully, Sabathia can take solace in the fact he literally gave all he could give, and there was nothing else he could do. There is no room for second guessing himself because he undoubtedly gave everything he could.

Perhaps, while heartbreaking, it is a fitting end. After all, time and again, Sabathia took the ball. He always took the ball until he finally could not take it anymore.

As he departed, he received an ovation from the fans and the players on the field. He left with the admiration of millions of baseball fans in New York, Cleveland, Milwaukee, and the entire world.

This is the end for Sabathia. While he likely wanted a better end, an end befitting of a great career on and off the field, he can hold his head high. He gave his all to this game, and he received back all the respect he showed it.

Congratulations to CC Sabathia on a great career.

One thought on “CC Sabathia’s Great Career Comes To A Heartbreaking And Fitting End”

  1. Blair M. Schirmer says:

    A fine career. Surprisingly similar to Andy Pettitte’s, and characterized more by longevity than by peak seasons.
    I’m not so sure I’d put him in the Hall, but he’s obviously close.

    Going by WAR7, Sabathia’s 7 best seasons sum to 39.7 bWAR. That’s 100th, all-time. Not quite HOF caliber.
    The Cy Young award helps, of course. The 116 ERA+, though, just 16% better than a league average pitcher–not so much.
    For a HOFer you’d like an ERA+ around 125 over 3000 IP. Sabathia’s got 116 over 3577 IP. If you go with longevity over peak, maybe he’s your guy, whereas I tend to cast my nonexistent Hall vote for peak players.

    There’s only one pitcher with a career ERA+ of 116 who’s in the Hall–Dennis Eckersley, and he’s not in there for his starting pitching.
    An ERA+ of 116 puts Sabathia tied for 186th, all time, in MLB. That’s extremely low for a HOFer. He’s tied with a lot of modest talents. Good pitchers, but not guys of whom we’re wondering if leaving them out of the Hall was a mistake:

    Johnny Antonelli, Joaquin Benoit, Chris Carpenter, Wilbur Cooper, Curt Davis, Dave Dravecky, Dennis Eckersley, Bob Ewing, Wes Ferrell, Terry Forster, Sonny Gray, Eddie Lopat, Firpo Marberry, Doc McJames, Preacher Roe, Steve Rogers, CC Sabathia, Frank Sullivan, Bucky Walters.

    It also took CC a long time to get going, about 5 seasons to find his way, and he was only really elite from 2006 through 2012. Before that he was more Chris Archer, with only 1 season above average in his first 5. The last third of his career, he was actually below average, with an ERA+ of 97. Only the middle of his career, those 1600 innings sandwiched between durable mediocrity, stands out.

    (One of CC’s ‘most comparable pitchers’ by career is the great Charlie Buffinton. A tip of the hat to anyone who knows who Buff played for.) As for how his career ended, hey, few get to pick the manner of their death. Particularly if you want to keep pitching while in poor health, you’ve got to figure it won’t end well. I suppose it comes down to what you want–to keep playing because it’s fun, because you want one more shot at the brass ring, because you love the cameraderie and friendship and the grass that always looks brighter and greener than anywhere else, and because of that risk going out with a busted wing over a snapped knee.

    It’s not over for CC. His team’s still on the field. He’s still got a shot.
    In any case, he’ll have the rest of his life to enjoy what he’s accomplished, when he can focus on the ending moment of his career, or on everything else. He’ll probably make the wise choice.

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