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Feast of Wohlers the Very Anxious

Today, January 23rd, we celebrate the life of Mark Wohlers as part of our on-again, but mostly off-again, feast-day series.

Wohlers the Very Anxious

Life: Drafted by Atlanta in 1988 out of Holyoke (MA) High School, Wohlers developed into an excellent high-leverage pitcher, averaging just under 12 strikeouts per nine innings at the height of his career, from 1994 to -97, and posting the highest WAR among major-league relievers during that same span. In 1998, however, Wohlers developed a condition that greatly affected his command, prompting him to walk 13 of 25 batters faced during late July and early August, after which he was placed on the disabled list for “inability to pitch.” Wohlers was traded to Cincinnati the following season, disabled immediately, and treated for anxiety (while also undergoing Tommy John surgery at a later date). He finished his career throwing 139 roughly league-average innings in 2001-02, the latter just his age-32 season, although was never as dominant as in his peak.

Wohlers Defeated
Entirely and defeated are two words you might consider using.

Spiritual Exercise: Consider, for a moment, the activity at which you are most talented and, in the midst of which, you feel most like yourself. Now imagine that your expertise and self-assuredness in this endeavor is snatched away from you without notice. Also, for some reason, you’re probably naked.

A Prayer for Mark Wohlers

Mark Wohlers!
You demonstrated,
contrary to what
certain U.S. presidents
would have us believe,
that there’s considerably
more to fear
than fear itself —
but not limited to,
that very pastime
by which one might have,
for example,
defined his identity

In your case,
it was pitching;
in another’s,
hypothetically speaking,
the composition
of lightest possible verse
in celebration
of marginal baseballing talents.


A Quatrain for Mark Wohlers, With Two Lines Stolen Directly from Eliot

“I should have been a pair of ragged claws,”
you once told Bobby Cox in a moment of fragility.
“Mark Wohlers,” Cox later told the press,
“cannot bear very much reality.”