One of the most dominant pitchers in the last two decades has finally taken his last steps off the mound. After a Hall of Fame career for the hefty lefty C.C. Sabathia, all of the injuries had finally caught up to him. A name that has been so loved, supported, and admired by all MLB fans for years has made its final exit.
Throughout C.C.’s whole career, he was cursed with a body that couldn’t quite stay healthy. From knee injury, to hip injury, to heart problems, and now the most recent left shoulder injury that finally put the nail in the coffin on Sabathia’s 19 season career.
Over the past couple of years, Sabathia has become very familiar with the Injured Reserved list due to a right knee injury he has had his whole career. Sabathia underwent surgery on his knee after the 2010 season, July of 2014, and after the 2016 and 2018 seasons. C.C. has been wearing a bulky brace for years now and also receives injections to help decrease the pain.
A knee injury that C.C. has been aware of for years now and learned how to fight through that pain as well as discovering methods to take stress off that particular area. A tolerable injury that C.C. had struggled with but figured out how to control and deal with. C.C. was not exactly ready for the next curveball he would be thrown regarding his lengthy list of injuries.
Sabathia was able to make it back from the injured list (right knee) towards the end of September. Now coming out of the bullpen to relieve some stress from pain afflicted areas and allow Sabathia to contribute to the team any way he could.
During his first appearance back as a reliever, C.C. quickly returned to the IR with left shoulder soreness. Once the playoffs hit, the Yankees thought it was best to leave C.C. off the 25-man roster in the American League Division Series against the Minnesota Twins. A series in which the Yankees swept the Twins in dominating fashion with a 23 to 7 run differential.
Heading into the American League Championship Series against the red hot Houston Astros, C.C. and the Yanks agreed that Sabathia’s shoulder had improved enough to earn him a spot on the 25-man roster in the ALCS.
Sabathia entered into game 4 against the Astros in the eighth inning just as the wheels began to fall off and the Astros started to pour it on. After two back to back rare errors by the Yankees middle infield, C.C.’s night should have already been over. He then walked the next batter, which loaded them up before forcing two straight fly outs to Aaron Judge for the first two outs of the inning.
As C.C. looked to stop the bleeding and close the door on the eighth inning, in stepped George Springer. Yankee’s Stadium echoed with “C.C.” chants as Sabathia worked the count to one and one. Delivering the third pitch of the at-bat C.C. threw a cutter to Springer that reached 89 MPH on the inside half for ball two. Sabathia then gave an awkward motion after the pitch and went behind the mound to gather himself. Yankee’s trainer, Steve Donohue was the first one out there to check on his pitcher he’s treated since 2009. Followed by Yankee’s manager, Aaron Boone, who watched with Donohue as C.C. threw a warm up pitch to see if he was able to finish out the inning.
With the Yankee’s crowd roaring, C.C. stood up and threw what would be his last pitch in the MLB. He quickly knew something was wrong and began to walk off the field with Donohue, sobbing in his glove after only 20 pitches. The Yankee’s fans then realized this was the last time they will ever see Sabathia walk off the field.
Both Yankee’s and Astro’s fan stood up to give C.C. Sabathia the proper standing ovation for such an incredible career riddled with World Series trophies, CY Young awards, and many, many All- Star game appearances. Once C.C. reached the dug out, Donohue guided him down the steps where C.C. then took a seat to gather his emotions after exiting his final game. The Yankee’s then got out of the eighth inning but lost the game four, 8 to 3.
On Friday morning, the Yankee’s announced that C.C. suffered from a left shoulder subluxation (dislocation), and replaced him on the 25-man roster, making him ineligible for the World Series if they were to make it. These series of events ended not only Sabathia’s season, but career as a whole. With his left arm propped up in a sling on Friday, Sabathia spoke to the media. “Arm’s been feeling fresh, everything’s been feeling good. Just that last pitch to Diaz when he popped up, I just felt when I released the ball, my shoulder kind of went with it.” A sad thing to hear after all Sabathia has battled through.
Everyone thought this was C.C.’s last season as he is almost 40 now, until he spoke after the shoulder injury on “R2-C2”, a podcast that he co-hosts with Ryan Ruocco. C.C. was asked about his retirement and injury status, where he confirmed he will not be returning to the MLB, but would have if he hadn’t suffered from the left should injury. During the podcast Sabathia was quoted saying “Oh, next summer I would have been coming back, for sure — 1,000 percent. If I didn’t do that with the shoulder, I would have been coming back.”
He even went as far to say he would play with any team, not just return with the Yankee’s if they wanted to re-sign him. C.C. was so confident in his return for next season he claimed he’d go anywhere just to pitch. “This is how wild it was, I started even thinking, ‘[expletive] man, I’ll go to Minnesota, I’ll go wherever. Like, I can still pitch. That’s how serious it was, I wasn’t even tripping … like … man, I’ll go to the A’s and get three people out, you know what I’m saying?”
Watching Hall of Fame pitchers careers cut short due to injury will always upset the common fan. Especially with a class act guy like C.C., who has been through hardships and battled adversity his whole career in the MLB, to cut his career short like that should be considered a crime. An unbelievable pitcher that made such an impact on the game each of his 19 seasons and whose legacy will live on forever in the MLB. A name that will never be forgotten, especially in the Bronx.