It’s Thursday, which is a day of the week. That means there’s some sort of bizarre controversy coming out of Padres-land this morning, and this time it’s courtesy of Padres CEO Tom Garfinkel. If you missed it, Jeff Passan posted a piece documenting Tom Garfinkel’s thoughts from a recent Padres Season…uh, Member event. Where he likened Greinke to “Rain Man”, I can assure you that having social anxiety disorder and being an autistic savant aren’t even in the same ballpark.
Zack Greinke suffers from and manages social anxiety disorder and depression, as do I. So do a lot of people, including several other Padres fans you probably know. As a young man, where I wish I was counting cards and worrying about getting to a television to watch The People’s Court, I was instead dropping out of college because I felt like I was having a heart attack in the middle of lectures. I don’t know when it started, exactly…but it did. I don’t want to make any assumptions, but I’m sure something similar happened to Zack Greinke. For some people, this is the beginning of a massive downward spiral that, without treatment, can lead to deep depression and, potentially the following attempts to cope with an animal you had no idea you’d ever be forced to deal with: alcoholism, drug abuse, or suicide. This isn’t an easy thing to discuss openly. My heart rate is increasing just writing this; it’s something you hopefully get help for and learn how to manage, but never truly goes away.
That is precisely why I’m a fan of Zack Greinke. He’s successfully battled was can be an incredibly debilitating disorder, after missing almost all of 2006 to start tackling the issue. In and of itself, a major accomplishment. Especially in the narrow-minded world of sports, where everyone is a man (or else), it’s difficult to overcome your anxiety just to admit it exists and seek help. Grienke came back and has been a 29.5 fWAR pitcher since 2006. He came back from something that very well could have ended his career and has since become the second-highest paid pitcher of all-time. Right here at home, we saw how easily social anxiety disorder and depression can derail a career, with Khalil Greene. If it were his elbow that was fucked up, and not his brain, he’d be a hero.
Fans have been quick to scold the person who recorded Garfinkel at the event, and to a certain extent I agree. We met Tom a few weeks back at the preview night, and found him to be a friendly, intelligent guy. What I think a lot of fans and bloggers are railing against right now is that Garf is candid in small groups, like these season ticket holder events. I’m sure they see this as ruining things for everybody, going forward. I don’t like the idea of secretly recording someone, hoping they slip up. That’s where I take issue with the whole thing. As for the rest? If Garfinkel chooses his words a bit more carefully in the future (and he’s a smart guy, so I’m sure he will), I don’t see how this has to change anything for any of us.
On the other hand, what he said is offensive. It’s not a compliment, it’s not a joke, or any other rationalization I’ve seen this morning. It was wrong, plain and simple. I also believe he’s being contrite in response. I’m just trying to add the perspective of someone who really doesn’t care where his underwear is bought, as long as it isn’t K-Mart.
9:30 a.m. edit: Listen to the audio in the linked article, don’t just read the rundown. Judge for yourself based on that, not what others are telling you to think/feel.
PM edit: Tom Garfinkel was on Darren Smith’s show this morning to discuss the controversy. You can (and should) listen to that interview here. All told, Tom sounds upset and genuinely apologetic for his comments. While some fans have tried to blame the person who recorded Garfinkel (and I had a few words about it myself, above), Tom said it doesn’t matter and that he may have offended ST holders in the meeting, just the same. He gets it.
Speaking of the leaked audio, John Gennaro has the full story and the full audio right here. If you haven’t read that, you really should.