News‎ > ‎MLB‎ > ‎

What The Fuck Is Wrong With Dontrelle Willis?

posted Mar 30, 2009, 2:10 PM by Steven Seagal   [ updated Mar 30, 2009, 2:55 PM ]
After reading about the D-train going off the D-eep end yesterday and today in multiple reports, I began to wonder what the fuck is going on with this guy.  Fortunately, I logged into Ramon Hernandez Put Down the Gun and found out (he's gone completely sideways.)  However, some questions still remain.
I read a story (if I were a good journalist I would cite where and link to it, but I closed the window awhile ago and I don't really know where to look - so fuck off) that hinted at some sort of conspiracy.  Basically, Willis is quoted as saying the doctors discovered his "anxiety disorder" through blood tests.  Leading psychiatrists are crying foul, saying that anxiety disorders don't show up in blood tests.  As a scientist, this has the ring of truth to me.  Also, Willis says he "feels good," both on and off the mound.  You would expect someone with an anxiety disorder to have unusual amounts of, well, anxiety, and not describing his condition as "feeling good."  Willis also apparently has no idea what an anxiety disorder is - his confusion belied by this quote:
"I have no idea, but (the doctors) didn't like what they saw in the blood.  This is not something where I'm too amped up and I don't know where I'm at, and I'm running sprints up and down the parking lot."
So, according to Willis, common symptoms of anxiety disorders are not knowing where you are and sprinting up and down the parking lot.  I'm not a psychiatrist, but that doesn't seem quite right to me.  Anyway, take it at face value.  That's what he thinks an anxiety disorder is, but he doesn't feel that way.
So, to recap, Willis is suffering from a mysterious ailment that is sending him to the disabled list.  He thinks an anxiety disorder is a cross between ADHD and Alzheimer's.  He is experiencing symptoms of neither - on the contrary, he feels good.  So what would cause the Tigers to run blood tests on him?  If you feel fine, what are you getting tested for?  And finally, why are doctors saying that blood test results point to an anxiety disorder?  It seems akin to saying a prostrate exam determined you were HIV positive.
Willis' 2008 pitching line provides some clues:
Exhibit 1:
W    L    ERA    INN    H    R    ER    HR    HBP    BB    SO
0     2    9.38    24.0   18  25   25        4    1         35    18
"Holy Shit!  Did he really give up more runs than innings pitched,"  You say?  Yes.  And 35 walks in 24 innings.  Nice.
Perhaps most damning of all, he hasn't shown any signs of improvement.  Which brings us to exhibit 2.
Exhibit 2:
Guaranteed money due to Dontrelle Willis from the Detroit Tigers for the remainder of his contract:
2009: $10M
2010: $12M
"Well, sucks for the Tigers," you say.  Yes, it does.  Anyone who owed $22M to a guy who couldn't pitch would look to ameliorate that loss to the greatest extent possible. 
Exhibit 3:
Portion of Dontrelle Willis' contract covered by insurance:  I'm not sure anyone knows for sure, but it's estimated at approximately half.   Who knows, even if it's a quarter, that's over $5M bones... or clams... or whatever you call them.
So am I saying that D-train agreed to take his money and let his club recoup half of it via insurance while he lingers on the DL with a mysterious but unverifiable disorder in exchange for not having to bear the embarassment of breaking his last year's career high ERA and shoot for the double digits?  Yes.  I am.
Also, I feel it important to note here that I'm writing this post in my office with nobody but the cleaning lady who just farted loudly and unapologetically.
I'm not sure I believe my own conspiracy, though, because D-train doesn't seem to have that "take the money and run" personality.  He was always described as a hard worker (by teammates and coaches) as well as a big goofy bastard (by me.)  I don't know, though - something just doesn't add up.  And if he lost faith in himself, would he agree to fade quietly into the night in the hopes of avoiding a Knoblauchian embarassment?  I'm not sure.  Hard working and goofy is one thing, but he probably also has pride.
Alls I'm sayin' is, that's alls I'm sayin.
I suppose the real evidence will be to see how and if he comes back from this ailment.  It won't prove anything if he never returns, but I'd be awfully suspicious.  On the other hand, if he comes back in a couple of weeks and makes a go of it - regardless of whether he is successful - I'd have to recant my conspiracy theory.  And I will.