CC Sabathia last played for the Cleveland Indians in 2008. That did not make it any easier to see his career come to an end Thursday night.
But Cleveland is where he got his start and where his star began to grow. That is why watching him walk off the mound in pain was tough not only for baseball fans in general, but Indians fans in particular.
Thursday night marked Sabathia’s final outing as 2019 was declared to be his farewell season. He wasn’t going quietly, though, as he was on the mound in the ALCS. Then he walked off the mound in visible pain and frustration.
It turns out that was more than warranted.
It takes some insane pain tolerance to do what he did. Alas, he could eventually take no more.
I found myself watching with an odd feeling in my mind. Sabathia was never my favorite player but he has been a fixture in the league for over half my life. He was someone I grew up rooting for and just became a normal name to hear year in and year out.
Now he walks off into retirement, potentially with another World Series ring as a nice prize if the New York Yankees mount a comeback against the Houston Astros and reach that grand stage.
Sabathia retires as a Hall of Famer in my book and my guess is that he will make it in within the decade. His 251 wins and 3,093 strikeouts will stand out to voters, as will his 2007 Cy Young Award and six All-Star appearances.
For Indians fans he will forever be the kid who broke onto the scene in 2001 with a 17-5 record along with a win in the ALDS. He then guided the staff through some rebuilding years until the climax of his tenure when the Indians were one win away from the World Series in 2007.
He didn’t exactly do great in the 2007 ALCS but it does not take away from his time with the Indians. If anyone is still mad about that I don’t even know what to say.
Being a sports fan is an odd practice. You give all your emotions over to the players on your favorite team. Eventually those players leave either for retirement or to go join another team. Do those emotional attachments fade immediately out of existence?
Sometimes they do if the player leaves on a bad note. But most of the time there is still some cheering left to be done. You will be hard pressed to find an Indians fan who is rooting for the Yankees right now. Yet throughout the past 11 seasons it was nice to see Sabathia continue to succeed after his time in Cleveland.
Seeing him leave for good was an odd sight for sure.