by Michael Reistetter

What happens when the wealthiest and most physically imposing fig ure in Major league Baseball, must invite others onto the mound with him, to tackle his biggest challenge yet?

In the final week of the 2015 season, the former-ace of the New York  Yankees pitching staff returned to vintage form, beating their crosstown rival, The New York Mets, and the longtime divisional nemesis, The Boston Redsox, in the process. However, the intimidatingly large, 6’7’’, 290 lb., Carsten Charles “CC” Sabathia has been dealt an even tougher enemy to battle.

On Mon. Oct. 5, a day before his team was set to face off in a “winner-take-all” Wild Card playoff game against the Houston Astros, Sabathia, 35, announced he would be checking himself into an alcohol rehabilitation center, effectively ending his season.

“It hurts me deeply to do this now, but I owe it to myself and to my family to get myself right,” said Sabathia. “I want to take control of my disease, and I want to be a better man, father and player.”

The six-time all star and 2007 CY Young Award-winner is currently the highest paid pitcher in Major League Baseball.

In his very first season as a Yankee, in 2009, Sabathia carried the Yankees through the playoffs. He was named the ALCS MVP, and helped bring a World Series title back to the Bronx for the first time in nine years.

CC finished his disastrous 2015 season strong, posting a respectable 3.80 ERA in August and a whopping 2.17 ERA in September, all while sporting a new knee brace after a brief DL stint. He ended his season with an improved line of a 6-10 win-loss record, accompanied be an overall ERA of a 4.73.

“CC has demonstrated a great deal of courage in trying to tackle this problem,” said Yankees general manager Brian Cashman, who signed Sabathia back in 2008. “Time and place have no bearing. There is something here that needs to be taken care of, and I applaud him.”

His victory in his final game of the season against the Red Sox on Oct. 1st turned out to be the postseason clincher for the Yankees, earning them their first trip to the playoffs since 2012.

It is not known at this time if events transpiring during the post-game celebration for the clincher against the Red Sox could have possibly factored in Sabathia’s decision. Sabathia claimed his battle with alcoholism has been a “long one,” so although the likelihood of the post-game celebration being the sole, inciting incident is improbable, it could very well have sent him over the edge, serving as a “final straw” of some sorts.

Yankees manager Joe Girardi told reporters he saw no prior “warning signs” pointing to Sabathia’s issues with alcohol. Girardi stated he was just as surprised as anyone when CC entered his office before the final game of the regular season, in Baltimore, informing him of his decision to finally treat his disease.

“I give CC a lot of credit because it takes a lot of courage for someone, a man, to step up and say, ‘I need help,’ ” Girardi said.

“Could we have used him [In the postseason]? Of course we could have used him,” said Cashman. “But none of that stuff matters given the circumstances that he’s dealing with. What CC is dealing with is a life issue. It is bigger than the game.”