No one knows what Austin Meadows is dealing with, and he needs support

Wins are less a priority when it comes to Austin's health.

As the 2009 season wore on, Tiger fans' patience with Magglio Ordonez was wearing thin. Two years removed from an MVP-caliber season in which he hit .363 with 28 home runs, Magglio was not producing as we had come to expect.

Although he was on his way to a perfectly respectable .310 batting average, Magglio's power numbers were way down, and he ended up that season with only nine homers and 50 RBIs.

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Fans weren't happy and they let him know it. Loudly. Frequently. Magglio just kept battling and said nothing.

Late in the season, we learned that his wife Dagly had been battling cancer the entire season, and it weighed on Magglio's mind every day.

Some fans felt bad for being so rough on him. Others probably figured, “I pay my money and he makes millions! I have the right to yell!”

Austin Meadows Detroit Tigers

No one knows what Meadows is going through

No one knows for sure what Austin Meadows is dealing with as he returns to the injured list with more anxiety issues. Obviously, everyone hoped that he had dealt with the issue in the offseason and that we could count on the sort of season from him that he regularly gave the Tampa Bay Rays when he played for them.

Maybe he still will. Maybe his absence will be short.

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But mental health is not to be taken lightly. No one who has ever dealt with serious anxiety (and I'm raising my hand here) can fail to understand what such a struggle can lead to if it isn't dealt with.

I'm reluctant to mention the most disturbing examples, and I'm certainly not asking anyone to expect Austin Meadows to go down roads that dark. Many people who struggle with anxiety and other mental health issues are able to successfully deal with them through therapy, and return to their lives healthy and productive.

Some of the comments I've seen today on social media are beyond contempt. There's a meanness in our society – and I'm afraid to say it's heightened in the world of sports fans – that wants to call anyone who has a problem like this “soft” along with some far more objectionable pejoratives.

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Anyone making such comments deserves to be rebuked decisively. Austin Meadows deserves our support.

Baseball vs. a Man's life

Look, I understand how frustrating this is. When the Tigers traded Isaac Paredes for Meadows, we thought we were getting a 25-to-30-home run hitter and a major run producer. So far Meadows has hardly played and has hit no home runs. That's tough to take for fans of a team that are still struggling to score just about any runs at all – and generates very little power.

But this is a man's life we're talking about. You will understand if you've ever struggled with a time in your life and needed someone's patience and compassion. Maybe you were the employer who was asked to provide that patience and compassion. If you did, you recognize what a difference it surely made.

Or maybe you're just a guy who's pissed off at all the losing and you're influenced by the idea that people should just suck it up because no one has time to worry about their feelings.

Don't be a jerk, at least not out loud

I am going to pray for Austin Meadows – for deliverance from whatever is vexing him, for a full recovery… and then for the successful resumption of his baseball career.

If you're not inclined to share that compassionate perspective, please, do everyone a favor, and keep it to yourself.

You'll be doing yourself the biggest favor of all. You really don't need everyone else knowing what a jerk you are.

System of support

Here's another question to consider: Why was Meadows able to manage this issue so much better in Tampa than he has here? In his public statement last year, he indicated that he had an excellent support system in Tampa, and when he was traded to the Tigers, he felt a bit lost without it. That, he indicated, contributed to the struggles he had last year.

Does he still not have the support system he needs? And if not, why not? The Tigers said all the right things about supporting him while he deals with this, but are they actually providing him with the support he needs?

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