The Five Stages of Baseball Grief
Submitted by Dr. Joseph Hecht on Mon, 10/08/2007 - 12:01pm
Swiss born psychiatrist, Elisabeth Kübler-Ross, M.D., published her groundbreaking book on the five stages of grief in 1969. It's been a model for those who have to deal with grief, to understand why we react the way we do and therefore to adapt to what life has thrown our way with some insight. Here they are and feel free to post where you are at this point: Denial, Bargaining, Anger, Depression, Acceptance. Cubs fans will most definitively recognize many of the 5 stages over the decades and for the most senior of us remaining, over the century. Here are a few of my thoughts regarding the events surrounding some of our lasting experiences with grief. It is appropriate that the work came out in 1969 as that season was my first experience with baseball grief. Sweet swinging Billy Williams, Mr. Cub, Ace Fergie Jenkins, Ronnie Santo clicking his heels, Dick Selma working the left field bleacher bums into a frenzy, The black cat at Shea Stadium and Leo the Lip, Lou Brock as a Cardinal, Seaver, Koosman and Al Weis?---they all were burned into my memories and the pain of not going to the World Series still lingers. 1984 style grief was symbolized by a ground ball going under Leon Durham's legs during game 5 of the NLCS, but Rick Sutcliffe, Ryne Sandberg and the Men is Blue are to this day a part of my heart and heartache. 1989 was represented by rookie leadoff star Jerome Walton and his 30 game hitting streak, a young Greg Maddux and Mark Grace, Ryne Sandberg in his prime, a great but gimpy Hawk/Andre Dawson and a Giants team that was subjected to an earthquake as their payback to have the audacity to beat the Cubs in the playoffs. 1998 images include rookie Kerry Wood blazing strikeouts into our hearts, Rod Beck rollercoaster riding us with over 50 saves and Slammin Sammy at his homer happy best. Getting beaten in game 3 of the NLDS by Greg Maddux, now that's what I'm talking about. The Cubs history is littered with examples where they have experienced pain, futility and grief that bites us in the butt. Here is a prime example in all it's vindictive anguish. 2003. Alex Gonzales, Mark Prior, Moises Alou, Joe Borowski and Sammy. Enough, I get it and it still hurts. Dr. Kübler-Ross' work noted that the stages don't always happen in a strict order, nor do the subjects experience all the stages (but at least two). The five Stages 2007 style: 1. Denial: Sunday, October 7th. Listening to WGN radio's mid-day post mortem and hearing Ronnie Santo say he's going to be free to attend his JDRF fundraiser the following weekend rather than broadcasting the NLCS. Oh, Ronnie, tell me it's not so. 2. Bargaining: 5th inning, game 3 of the NLDS. Sitting in my section 213 seat, bases loaded, DeRosa 3-1 pitch. I guess the transaction I requested will never happen. 3. Anger: Ted Lilly and me (by my TV), simultaneously windmilling our gloves (I'm a lefty too) to the ground after immediately giving up our only lead in the NLDS. 4. Depression: Soriano led the majors in first inning/leadoff homers. Does that mean anything in the playoffs? We get a dose of our own medicine when the first pitch by Rich Hill is blasted into the LF bleachers in NLDS game 3. That strange whooshing sound was the slow letting of air out of our baseball balloon. 5. Acceptance: The General Managers meetings start November 3rd. Here's to Hendry and Lou being prepared to cope with a century of grief.