Now that the career of CC Sabathia, future Hall of Famer, is officially over, we decided to write a thank you letter to the big man himself.
I haven’t cried during a Yankee game in a long time. But seeing CC Sabathia walk off that mound after a failed warm-up pitch, and seeing that big man cry, sent me over the edge. CC had been a staple in New York for 11 years. I don’t know where this team would be right now without the help of CC. This article is a big thank you to our big man.
Before I get into the big part of the story, let us take a look at what CC did for the Yankees in his 11 seasons with the team. In those years with the Yankees, he was 134-88 with a 3.81 ERA and struck out 1700 batters. What makes this really impressive is that CC had to become a brand new pitcher mid-way through his contract. He had to ditch the power fastball and move to the cutter. That isn’t easy at all, but you did it and we thank you. These are just some thoughts that the writers at Unhinged Yankees have to say about you.
Thank you CC, for showing us what it means to be a Yankee. You are one tough man. Throughout this entire season, we got to learn a lot more about what type of pain you went through each day in that knee. You said that the pain was at an 8/10 daily, and you pitched with that. You said in your recent R2C2 episode that it took you about 2.5 hours just to get yourself on the mound to pitch for us. You very well could have just quit like many people would have in your situation, but you didn’t, and we thank you for not giving up. This season you said that the pain often reached 10/10 levels. But you still pitched a few innings with that. Thank you for not quitting when you almost died this offseason. But to me what really stood out was what you did in ALCS game 4 this year. You dislocated your shoulder, tore your labrum, tore your rotator cuff, and tore your bicep tendon. Now, I’ve torn my labrum pitching in a game, and I just like you, somehow found the strength to throw more pitches after that. But my injury doesn’t come close to yours. You threw three more pitches with your shoulder all messed up and when Stevie comes out to check on you, you could have come out of the game. But you didn’t. You threw the most hyped up practice of all time. With 50,000 fans cheering you on, you threw one last pitch off the mound and had to be taken off the field when we all know you wanted to at least get Springer out. You pitched until your body couldn’t take it anymore, which is the most perfect way for you to go out. You left it all on the field. We love you CC and we will miss you.
I was in attendance for Game 4 of the ALCS when CC threw his last career pitch before exiting due to injury. Watching CC walk off the field for the very last time is perhaps my most profound memory from any of the dozens upon dozens of Yankees games I’ve attended in my lifetime. I started following the team when I was 8 or 9 years old, right around 2010-2011. While I understood the importance of Derek Jeter and Mariano Rivera’s retirements due to their significant places in baseball history, CC’s retirement hit me in a different type of way. I watched Jeter and Rivera basically only towards the end of their careers- with CC, I followed him through the ups and downs of it all, essentially through his whole Yankees tenure. I remember his dominance in 2011 and 2012, and also remember his struggles both on the field and off of it from around 2013-2016, when he failed to produce on the field and even had to check himself into rehab after recognizing that he couldn’t allow his alcoholism to get the best of him. CC’s career resurgence is one of the things I’ll always remember about the amazing 2017 Yankees season, rekindling my love of my very first favorite Yankees pitcher.
There’s no shortage of ways to describe CC- legendary, historic, charitable, fierce, the list is endless- but the one word that will always come to mind when I think of CC is warrior. Pitching through an exorbitant amount of injuries, especially the knee pain CC put up with, is something that a lot of players would (understandably) take as a sign that it was time to retire and say goodbye to the game they loved. To know that CC’s shoulder got completely torn apart in ALCS Game 4 but he continued to pitch through it and literally had to taken off the field by the trainer is certainly a sad finish to his career, but in a way it perfectly exemplifies CC as a player and as a person. He loved baseball, the Yankees and the city of New York so much that he refused to give in and take himself out of the game, even though his body was already in significant pain. That, above all, is what I’ll always remember CC for. Hats off to CC on a remarkable career, and I wish him nothing but the best in retirement.