I have no idea how Zack Greinke feels about New York City. The word used to be that he did not want to pitch here — because, it was usually implied, all the stress and pressure of New York would be hard on someone dealing with social anxiety disorder and depression, as Greinke famously has. Then came word that someone was saying maybe Greinke actually likes New York after all; followed quickly by word that the Yankees aren’t buying it.
Earlier today, Craig Calcaterra wrote that “our speculation about what Zack Greinke may or may not be able to handle in light of his anxiety disorder is ignorant, silly and in some ways irresponsible,” and “the only ones who know for certain about whether Greinke wants to be in New York and whether his anxiety issues would be triggered by playing there are Zack Greinke and his doctor.” I agree with that, mostly. Practicing amateur psychiatry on someone you’ve never met is rarely an effective practice.
Craig then continues, “To suggest we know better is to suggest that we know the first thing about how anxiety disorder works and how it’s operating in a specific patient. I think I know a lot of stuff, but I don’t believe I know that. Do you?” To which I say, well, yes to the former, though no to the latter. I know extremely little about Greinke, certainly not the specifics of his psychiatric makeup. But I do know quite a bit about depression and anxiety disorder, as both run in my family — to paraphrase Cary Grant in Arsenic and Old Lace, they practically gallop.
The idea that New York would be especially bad for someone with Social Anxiety Disorder seems to me completely unfounded. Depression and anxiety are internal matters; they may be triggered to a greater or lesser extent by external factors, but an otherwise healthy person isn’t likely to become clinically depressed because New York features a lot of media attention, while S.A.D. is a disorder precisely because its feelings of anxiety are not reflective of reality. Greinke might find New York stressful or he might not, might like it or not, but it’s unlikely that external factors would determine his mental health. I know plenty of people who deal with anxiety and depression and who find New York much easier to thrive in than their smaller hometowns.
Besides — though this may less true among athletes and sports fans than in the city’s larger culture — few places on earth are more accepting of psychiatry. Not to turn this post into a Woody Allen riff, but our shrink per capita ratio is off the charts, and New Yorkers talk about their therapists about as frequently as they discuss the weather (granted my view is probably a little warped from working in publishing and journalism, where psychotherapy is essentially mandatory).
It’s fun to speculate about Zack Greinke becoming available via trade – really, it’s either that or read more about Derek Jeter’s negotiations, or Brian Cashman’s decision to rappel down a building in an elf costume. (Is anybody else getting a little worried about that guy?). But even aside from the inappropriateness and inutility of attempting to psychoanalyze Greinke, it seems to me too many people have bought into the idea that New York is inherently stressful, therefore someone with anxiety should not come here. On the contrary. This city accepts anxious migrants from all over the world.