Chicago Cubs: Shining the light on something larger than baseball

(Photo by Jon Durr/Getty Images)
(Photo by Jon Durr/Getty Images) /

Baseball brings people together. No matter the fan base (Chicago Cubs in this case), strangers fill stadiums across the league, interacting with one another while cheering on their beloved team. It’s a beautiful thing.

Before we begin, let’s applaud Jon Lester and the Chicago Cubs on an outstanding start to the month of June. After a dominating outing by the veteran southpaw, Chicago now sits neck-and-neck with the Milwaukee Brewers at the top of the division.

Now, they’ll have the opportunity to sweep the Pittsburgh Pirates as right-hander Kyle Hendricks takes the mound opposite Ivan Nova. Hopefully, our boys will end the weekend in first place.

So, let’s get down to why we, or you, are reading this article. Honestly, I sat here for a few hours wondering what exactly I was going to say. I wasn’t sure if I should even do this, to begin with, but felt it needed to be done.

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If you’ve been paying attention to the news outside of sports, you heard about designer Kate Spade and chef/author Anthony Bourdain. Before them, stars such as Chris Cornell, Chester Bennington, Avicii, Robin Williams, etc. all passed away.

One thing they all have in common? Suicide. A sensitive subject that doesn’t necessarily get the attention it needs unless it’s too late. A problem, mental illness, that needs to be addressed in every way possible.

Getting personal, again

Warning, if you were not expecting to read about this topic, then feel free to move on. I nearly put a disclaimer header above the article but felt as if this needed to be read by every one of all ages.

I’m not even sure if anything this personal has ever been published on a FanSided website. If you’ve followed this page long enough, then you know who I am. You’ve read personal articles that I have published, mostly about my love for this organization and its roots with my family.

But what most of you don’t know is that I was diagnosed with bipolar disorder. As a child, I spent some time attending therapy. For as long as I could remember, it has always been a battle inside my head.

I’m 30 years old and I’ve contemplated suicide several times in my life.

The shocking truth

According to the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention website, suicide is the 10th-leading cause of death in the United States. In addition, there are nearly 45,000 deaths by suicide each year.

Each year.

Personally, I’ve had multiple friends take their own lives. It’s terrifying. Yet, when our brain tries to tell us that we are alone in our fight, we aren’t. You aren’t. And by we, I’m referring to those who have to deal with similar issues. Literally, millions of people.

Surely, some are reading this article right now. Did you know that at a young age, Ken Griffey Jr. attempted suicide? Or that Zack Greinke missed time due to depression and anxiety, in which he would later be diagnosed with?

Other athletes dealing or had dealt with mental illness include Kevin Love, Brandon Marshall, Mike Tyson, Joey Votto, Kenny McKinley, Ricky Williams, Amanda Beard and Delonte West – just to name a few. Even combat sports play-by-play man Mauro Ranallo. Check out his Bipolar Rock N Roller documentary on Showtime when you have the opportunity.

There are others out there.

Reach out

For me, baseball has served as both therapy and medicine. It’s more than just a “game” and the Chicago Cubs are more than a team in a city where it’s a sin to put ketchup on a dog.

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Every base hit, home run, RBI, routine defensive play, diving stop, play at the plate, bullpen visit, no-hitter, strikeout, walk, balk, win, even a loss is a dose of medication that keeps me going.

Year in and year out. Baseball is one of a few things that has saved my life. If you or anyone you know is having an issue with mental health, please reach out.

*** National Suicide Prevention Lifeline 1-800-273-8255