And so, baseball. Padres pitchers and catchers report to Peoria on Sunday. Once again I have been suckered into a fantasy baseball league by quaffing one drink too many in the company of bad men.
Major League Baseball is a collection of genetically mutated primates who are able to bat, pitch, and throw a 5¼-ounce sphere better then 99.999 percent of their brothers and sisters. For these esoteric skills, players enjoy an average yearly salary of $3.3 million. Along with money come better hotels, better parties, better booze, better clothes, travel, housing...all that betterness topped off by a gratifying collective gasp the moment a room full of strangers realize you’ve walked through the door.
The gap between players and the rest of us is so wide you might think there are no intersection points, especially after confronting the reality of your crummy dreary house, crummy dreary car, and crummy dreary job you have to go to every crummy dreary Monday morning.
That’s simply not true, Hoss. We share something more than mere material things with our baseball heroes. Ours is a spiritual connection. To wit: we share the same stupid injuries. Indeed, we are brothers in pain and stupidity.
With thanks to master chef Peter Moore, follows is a tiny sample, just a few of the injuries we have in common with MLB players.
A class favorite is Nolan Ryan, pitcher, 27 seasons in the bigs, played for four teams, Hall of Fame guy. According to the Los Angeles Times, “Ryan was bitten by a coyote on his left hand...” The idiot reached into a dog pen that housed three coyotes. Why coyotes in a dog pen? Why three coyotes and not four? Where were the dogs? Was Ryan drunk?
John Smoltz (pitcher, 21 seasons, 4 teams), scalded himself while ironing a shirt he was wearing.
Joel Zumaya (pitcher, 5 seasons, 1 team), hurt his wrist playing Guitar Hero. His team, Detroit, was battling in the postseason, and he sat out three games.
Kevin Mitchell (LF, 3B, 13 seasons, 9 teams), strained a muscle while vomiting.
Clint Barmes (SS, 2B, 9 seasons, 2 teams), broke his collarbone while carrying deer meat up a flight of stairs. He lost his balance, fell, and since he was cradling a package of venison, did nothing to break his fall.
Glenallen Hill (OF, 13 seasons, 7 teams), crashed into a glass table while having a nightmare about being covered in spiders.
Adam Eaton (pitcher, 10 seasons, 6 teams), stabbed himself in the stomach with a paring knife while trying to cut the plastic wrapper off a DVD case.
Sammy Sosa (RF, 18 seasons, 4 teams), took a 15-day DL after spraining a ligament in his back by sneezing.
Roger Craig (pitcher, 12 seasons, 5 teams), cut his hand while undoing a bra strap.
Marty Cordova (LF, 9 seasons, 4 teams), made the disabled list after burning his face in a tanning bed.
Cal Ripken Jr. (SS, 3B, 21 seasons, 1 team), broke his nose while posing for an All-Star Team photo.
Jeff Juden (pitcher, 8 seasons, 8 teams), was out for a week because his tattoo got infected.
And, quickly, Larry Anderson strained a rib muscle getting out of a Jacuzzi, Charlie Hough broke a pinkie while pinkie shaking, Tom Glavine broke a rib vomiting airplane food, Rich Harden strained his shoulder setting his alarm clock, Mark Smith hurt his pitching hand by sticking it in an air conditioner, Ricky Bones picked up a finger injury by changing the TV channel, and Phil Niekro broke his hand shaking hands.
Finally, Bob Ojeda (pitcher, 15 seasons, 5 teams), cut his middle finger off while gardening with an electric trimmer. Said finger had previously been ensconced on his pitching hand. Doctors were able to reattach the digit, though baseball experts say he was never the same. Lost some spunk, they said.
Let’s finish with a Bob Ojeda bonus round. Then with Los Angeles, Ojeda offered this explanation for his lousy pitching during a 1991 game against the N.Y. Mets (Dodgers were crushed, 9-4). Ojeda blamed his poor performance on voodoo. He told reporters that his ex-wife had been sticking pins in a voodoo doll that had Ojeda’s face on it.
The Mets will do anything to win.