I'm going to delay the game thread for a bit tonight (don't worry, it will be up by game time), because I want to post some of what Joey Votto said today. This is all from John Fay, and I encourage you to go read it in its entirety. These are Votto's words:
As some of you know, my father passed away last August. The first day back I kind of put that all on back burner and just played baseball all the way to the end of September. I don’t want to use the word suppress because he was in my thoughts and I was dealing with it on a daily basis. But, as powerful a moment that is to lose your father so young in a way I did suppress it. From August to beginning of spring training, I was pretty severely depressed. I was dealing with the anxiety of grief and sadness and fear. Every emotion you can imagine that everyone goes through.
I spoke to some doctors. They came to the conclusion I was dealing with obviously being depressed and anxiety and panic attacks. They were overwhelming to point where I had to go to the hospital on two separated occasions. Once in San Diego and once – nobody had been told about – but I went to the hospital once in Cincinnati when the team was on the road.
"It was very, very scary and crazy night. I had to call 911 at 3 or 4 in the morning. It was probably the scariest moment I ever dealt with in my life. I went to the hospital that night.
"I’ve been talking and seeing some doctors. They’ve been a great help. And speaking to people in general – I spoke to my team last week – and letting people know what I’ve dealing and how difficult this grieving process has been. My father was young, and I’m a young man. I really wish I hadn’t lost my father so young. I’m the oldest brother. I feel like I’m responsible for my family. Maybe I have proclivity for depression or whatever it is.
"But I was dealing with some pretty abnormal circumstances – the combination of being a major league ballplayer, a young ballplayer and also dealing with my father and my family."
These words really spoke to me. As most of you know, my mother passed away in January and it has been one of the hardest things I've had to deal with emotionally. I can't imagine having to perform in front of thousands of people on a nightly basis with that weighing on my mind. Professionally athletes learn very early to block out distractions while performing, but I'm sure if you try to do that with something that really matters to you, it's going to come to a head eventually. It appears that this is what happened to Votto.
Hopefully Joey has been able to get some help and truly can improve on his outlook. In situations like these, if you don't deal with the pain it will eat you alive when you least expect it. I wish him nothing but the best as he continues to try to make sense of it all.