As today wore on and news continued to become available on the tragic passing of Mike Flanagan, I realized the importance of a few things.
According to multiple sources, and confirmed by the Baltimore Sun, Mike Flanagan took his own life yesterday at the age of 59. I sincerely doubt that anyone will ever know the full reason or reasons behind his decision to do such a thing.
Baltimore's sports talk radio station had reported that Flanagan was despondent in recent weeks/months due to the poor play of the Orioles and the public perception that (as Executive Vice President from 2002 to 2008) it was his fault. I have not seen any other reports which confirm this theory, however, ESPN's Tim Kirkjian, who was close to Flanagan, stated in this article that Flanagan's demeanor has not been what it once was before he was dismissed in 2008.
I don't doubt that he was disappointed that he couldn't help return the franchise to its past glory, but it seems to me (and I'm no doctor) that he was battling depression and the perception of the job that he did as GM was only the tip of the iceberg. Further reports on the Baltimore Sun's webpage say that Flanagan was dealing with financial issues and they are citing those issues as the reason behind his passing.
Before I learned about the financial aspect of the situation, I thought long and hard about the first scenario. Yeah, on the surface, it sounded kind of ridiculous that someone would take their own life because of the poor play of a baseball team, but when it is your job to make that team a winner and you put your heart and soul into that job, I think I can understand maybe a little bit why someone would feel that way.
Something else I thought about, too, was that I notice many times when I read blogs and forums based on things such as sports, etc, it is really easy for people to sit behind keyboards behind anonymous online handles and avatars and criticize the people who do these things for a living. Trust me, I'm guilty, too. Last week I was screaming at my computer, praying for the Orioles to release Kevin Gregg because he was terrible and seemingly cost the Orioles a chance at a much needed win.
One tends to forget the human element behind these things. These players, coaches, managers, executives all are human beings. They have feelings, families, friends who all love and care about them. When you go on these forums and read the things some online 'trolls' post day after day, week after week about some of these people, I can see how it could get under someone's skin.
One of my favorite places to catch Orioles news is Roch Kubatko's blog over at MASNSports.com. I've actually met Roch in person and he is an amazing guy. Really cool and down to earth. I don't know how he deals with some of the just mean and nasty people who post on there, seemingly only to get their names in print on the internet.
I'm glad I wasn't one of those people who cowered in their mother's basement and hid anonymously behind some screen name and blasted every member of the Orioles' front office. I have been critical of them, and as a passionate Orioles fan, my emotions have gotten the better of me at times and I have called for people to get fired. Not once, though, did I ever call for Flanny to get fired. I did believe that he lacked the experience to have been named GM (or Co-GM, as it was when he was there), but I felt that he did the best he could in a hard situation.
Sometimes the best you can do is all you can do.
Another point, coming from someone who has known people who have both committed suicide and others who have attempted it, is that we all need to try to do our part to help others. Depression is a nasty thing. A lot of people suffer from it and they don't even know it. If you see someone who you think needs your help, please help them. If it is a compliment, a pat on the back, a kind word, etc, try to do your part to make someone's day better. Sometimes that's all it takes. Tell your friends and family that you love them and do it often. It isn't 'weird' to do this. Let someone know that you care about them. If you know someone who has been going through a tough time; maybe the economy forced them out of a job, maybe their grandmother died, maybe they had a stroke of bad luck; do what you can to try to make them feel better. That's the best you can do. You can't save everyone, but sometimes the best you can do is all you can do.
Finally, if someone tells you that they are considering suicide, please get them help.
Thanks everyone for reading and giving me a place to vent about a terrible situation revolving around a player who is a legend for the team that I have loved for a long time. I wrote it based solely on emotion, so if it doesn't read clearly or make a whole lot of sense, I apologize, but I wanted to write something unrehearsed and from the heart.