Clint Frazier is a troubled young man who happens to be a New York Yankee. I put the two together because they cannot be separated…
In Clint Frazier, the New York Yankees have an extremely talented ballplayer, as witnessed by the majestic two-run home run he hit in last night’s loss up in Toronto. The Yankees, while Frazier is under contract, are responsible for all of his medical issues and care, as witnessed by the team’s intensive interest and care of Frazier during his battle with a severe concussion last season.
On the surface and at the moment, Clint Frazier is not being treated for any medical issues, as witnessed by the 40+ games he has played this season. But perhaps there is an underlying illness seldom recognized by our society despite the fact that it affects one in five of all American Adults – yes – it’s mental illness I’m talking about.
And if you use that same ratio and translate it to the 25 Yankees who will dress for tonight’s game, five of them will be suffering from some form of mental illness. Unless, of course, you believe major league ballplayers are super-human and immune from such frailties…
Clint Frazier: A Troubled Person Since Grade School
Now before you go off the deep end, hear me out. I’m not a psychiatrist or a psychologist. But I do know this, if it walks like a duck, and talks like a duck, any layperson can be pretty sure it is a duck. Clint Frazier’s staredown with a YES reporter last night, along with his own words to the New York Post, should give pause for all, and especially the New York Yankees, to be concerned about this troubled young man.
In the compelling story written by George King III for the Post, Frazier details a lifelong inability to “fit in”, saying at one point, “I’ve always kind of been different. I’ve struggled to fit in because people perceive me a certain way.”
Frazier calls Sunday night “the most difficult game of my professional career in the outfield.’’. Later Clint Frazier adds, “It’s difficult because the way that I’m perceived by people is not how I think I really am, stories that shouldn’t have been stories have been stories.”
Even eerier, perhaps, is this quote secured by Ken Davidoff for the New York Post. It’s from anonymous sentiments of another team’s front-office executive (probably during Frazier’s time with the Cleveland Indians) who knew Frazier well:
As it’s turning out, how inciteful is that?
The Unintentional Harm In What We Do
As fans, I believe that all too often we see these “entertainers” (that’s what they are) on a ballfield and we tend to put them in little boxes to suit our needs. Noah Syndergaard is “Thor”. Aaron Judge is the “Face Of The Yankees”, Paul O’Neill is the “Yankee Warrior” who never saw a water cooler that didn’t need smashing. And so on.
In effect and without realizing it, because deep down our intentions are good, the result is we dehumanize these men who play baseball for a living. We forget, for example, that Gio Urshela has family living in the strife-torn nation of Colombia he makes daily calls to.
Or that CC Sabathia lives with the pain of a torn-up knee, struggling to help bring a Championship to New York before he undergoes knee replacement surgery after retirement in October.
Clint Frazier, like many of us, is not able to “block out the noise” that allows us to pursue our daily lives. He takes everything to heart, which is probably why he’s still “hung up” on the treatment he received over getting a stupid haircut way back when.
And why he can’t let go of the incident regarding his request to wear No. 7, the uniform number of Yankees legend, Mickey Mantle. To this day, Frazier denies he ever said anything like that.
In the earlier days of my writing, I wrote a piece titled “Opening The Door On Mental Illness In Baseball”, which according to Google has earned more than 5,000 reads. How little do we know (or in some cases care) about the battles players like Zack Greinke and David Freese have waged to be able to play the game they love? Look at them now.
The Yankees are trying to help Clint Frazier in the only way they know how. But Frazier needs more than (always) kind words from Aaron Boone or an arm around the shoulder from Brett Gardner. He might even need a change of scenery that chalks him up as just another player who couldn’t “handle” New York and playing for the Yankees. He deserves more than that.
“I’m Trying To Be Myself In Here – It’s Been Hard”
Again, listen to the words from the man himself, “I know I don’t fit the mold of what some of the past and current Yankees are like, and that may be why it’s a little bit harder for me to navigate every day,” Frazier said. “I’m trying to be myself in here, and sometimes it feels like people have an issue with me being myself. It’s been difficult. It’s been hard.” (Ken Davidoff)
As far as a change of scenery though, Clint Frazier may have shot himself in the foot with the attention he’s gotten in the past few days. Finding a suitor who will overlook his deficiencies defensively, plus all of the above, is a challenge even Brian Cashman may not be able to overcome.
Beyond the Yankees, Frazier’s family, from what I can gather is still intact and he has one older sister. His girlfriend is Elizabeth Faith Jewkes. They live together but have no immediate plans for marriage. (heightline.com)
Is all this making a mountain out of a molehill? You tell me.
I do know this much. The Yankees have made it all this way with no disharmony and distractions. With all their injuries, the team has enough to deal with besides what can quickly become the Clint Frazier Circus if not met head-on in ways that can help both the player and the team.
Two-run home runs from a talented ballplayer are nice, but we shouldn’t forget the fact Clint Frazier is also a person, with all his faults and idiosyncrasies, just like you and me.