A few weeks ago, Jacob deGrom captured the National League Cy Young Award. As a Mets fan, I was very excited to have him win this well-deserved honor. However, deGrom ruined a perfect moment with the following statement.
“I want to thank the Baseball Writers for this honor. I’m extremely humbled to win this award along with some other great former Mets such as Tom Seaver, Dwight Gooden and R.A. Dickey. I’d especially like to thank my teammates, coaching staff and my family.”
This statement shows that deGrom is just another in a long line of athletes who do not know the meaning of the word “humbled”, and frankly I am sick of it. Tom Seaver is one of the greatest pitchers of all time; Dwight Gooden won a Cy Young Award in one of the greatest single seasons by any pitcher; and R.A. Dickey was beloved by Mets fans. Thus, there are many words to describe how I would feel if I joined that esteemed list:
“Flattered”, “honored”, “amazing”, “The Man”, The Sh!t” are the first five things that come to mind. “Humbled” falls at Spot #1,948,345 in the list of ways I would feel if I won the Cy Young Award and were put on that list of great pitchers. The top synonyms for “humbled” are “defeated”, “beaten”, “crushed”, “humiliated”, “degraded”, and “shamed”. If you win the Cy Young Award and feel any of those six emotions, please seek a mental-health professional help immediately because you should be feeling your best at a time of such high honor.
Unfortunately, deGrom is just one of many athletes who misuse the word “humbled”. We hear it all the time. NBA players are humbled when they are compared to Larry Bird or Magic Johnson, and quarterback are humbled when they are compared to Joe Montana and Tom Brady. Stop it. Some people absolutely need to be able to used the word “humbled”, and the word does not work if others are using the word inappropriately. Here are two athletes who reserve the right to say “humbled”:
- Matt Harvey: The guy was “The Dark Knight” and was being discussed along the lines of Tom Seaver and Dwight Gooden. He was sleeping with supermodels and was the big man about town in New York City. Then, a few minutes later; the guy was pitching to an ERA near 7, then pitching out of the bullpen; and then pitching in Cincinnati. Three years ago, he thought he would someday earn the biggest contract in history for an MLB pitcher. Now, he is hoping to earn a contract of any kind. Now, that is humbling.
- Aaron Williams (7 Days in Hell): The guy was the top tennis player in the world. An announcer stated during Williams’s prime, “There is no one in the world who does not want to have sex with Aaron Williams.” The guy was unbeatable on the court until an unfortunate day at Wimbledon. On that day, he accidentally killed a spectator with a serve before shoving a member of the English royal family. This started a downward spiral that ultimately ended up with Williams serving time in a Swedish prison. Again, that is humbling. (Bonus points: Andy Samberg’s character in Popstar debuted a song called “Humble” in which he appropriately yet ironically uses the word “humble”.)
Thus, Jacob deGrom, you have not been humbled. If you go out there next year and pitch to an ERA of 5.00, you may say that you are humbled. If you get knocked out of a game after allowing 10 runs in the first inning, you may say that you are humbled. If your agent-turned-GM refuses you a long-term extension and compares you to 2017 Tyler Clippard, 2005 Carl Pavano, and 1998 Mel Rojas; you may say that you are humbled. Lastly, if your wife leaves you for the bass player from Nickelback on the same day that your dog sets your house on fire, you may say that you are humbled.
However, 2018 National League Cy Young Award Winner, Jacob deGrom, as we stand here today, you have not been humbled. Congratulations though. It was an absolute delight to watch one of the most incredible pitching seasons I have ever seen.