"I need help."
The ability to utter that simple phrase can sometimes be the difference between life and death. It most certainly is the most important first step on the road to recovery for someone struggling with a problem with alcohol or drugs.
According to New York Yankees manager Joe Girardi, those are the first words Yankee pitcher C.C. Sabathia said when he walked into Girardi's office on Oct. 6 during the team's lost weekend in Baltimore.
"I was shocked," Girardi said.
Maybe he was; maybe he wasn't. It certainly wasn't the kind of news Girardi needed to hear after watching his team play listlessly in losing three games to the Baltimore Orioles. The Yankees were supposed to be getting ready for the playoffs, but looked more like they were getting ready to take the rest of the year off. Now, here was one of the pitchers who Girardi was counting on to pitch in the playoffs telling him he was entering an alcohol rehab immediately and would not be available to the team for the rest of the year.
The timing could not have been worse ... for the Yankees. For Sabathia, it was apparently perfect. Indeed, for an alcoholic looking for help, timing is everything.