I am Justin Smoak’s sense of helplessness

I have never broken one single bone. Not one. I’ve sprained my ankle twice, but in all the skiing, playing in ditches, horseback riding, long-distance bicycling, and some really stupid stuff I’ve done with my car, not one broken piece of bone. I consider myself lucky, but if you talk about the time you broke your shoulder riding BMX, or busted up your knee skateboarding, there is nothing for me to relate to.  I imagine it probably hurt you a lot, but “a lot” is not really quantifyable for me, simply because I have no experience with a breakage.

But I have tempted fate. About a year ago, I was deep-cleaning the house for New Year’s. Part of that involved cleaning the fireplace, which is never pleasant under normal circumstances, but when you’re trying to make otherwise black brick return to its ruddy bricky color, all the spraying of Simple Green and subsequent scrubbing of the floor, the wall, the sweeping, everything it takes to make a well-used fireplace look remotely shiny and new, well it sucks. It’s difficult, and I was not happy about having set the task for myself, and I was thinking about everything else I had to do…and I stood up. Right into the mantle.  The right side of my face caught the corner of the mantle, and there was a loud *crack!* that sounded not unlike dropping a beer bottle on a tile floor. I suddenly couldn’t see, and for a moment thought that I had somehow managed to remove my own eye from its socket. But it wasn’t for a few fractions of a second that I then realized that the corner of the mantle had hit me square in the bridge of the nose, and it was sheer pain that was making everything so white. For one of the few times in my adult life, I cried over physical pain. Only for a few moments, but there were tears, and I was quickly checking my face for what surely must be a massive gush of face-blood, because head injuries have the tendency to bleed, even when the damage is not that great.

But nothing.

And after feeling that pain in my face, a searing, literally blinding agony that resulted in only a small blue-ish bruise about the size of a dime on my nose, the lack of blood was actually a shock. And I had to sit down.

I had to be careful washing my face for a few days, and all that was mainly hurt was my ego, after having done something so stupid and brutal to myself while cleaning the house (because who doesn’t want that sort of information on their tombstone?), but I maintained my so-far lifelong record of no broken bones, and all eventually was well with the world. I can wash my face just fine now.

During last night’s game against the Red Sox, Justin Smoak took a hopper to the face while trying to field a Jarrod Saltalamacchia grounder. The replay made me cringe, while my mother (my parents are in town for our annual family game this weekend) voiced her concern over where Saltalamacchia’s family name might come from. As Smoak was tended to by staff, given a towel, and gently lifted off the field to the dugout, I found myself not only wondering if it was possible that the nose was broken (it is), but also going over the current roster in my head, trying to figure out who they were going to put where for the next few games, and knowing that we would miss Smoak’s glove and bat for a while, because you probably don’t feel like doing much when your nose is broken…

Today, I just feel really awful for him. First of all, he’s got to deal with my aforementioned unquantifyable level of pain, but he was also just coming back from being out for over a week’s worth of games while nursing a sore thumb. I know these guys are probably raring to go, just because that’s the way baseball players are, and because the team has been slowly trying to pull itself out of the nose dive it had gone into during July. I can’t help but feel miserable for Smoak, because there’s nothing he can do to help the team until his nose heals, and DID I MENTION THE PAIN?!? Get better soon, Justin; and don’t be too bummed about not being able to play – there’s nothing you could have done.

After work today, I’m meeting my folks down at the Safe, wading through Sounders fans (possibly drunk) and Red Sox fans (absolutely drunk) to show my parents, brother, and brother’s girlfriend the improvements at the park since last year. I’ll have a beer with my dad, make jokes with my brother, and answer all of my mom’s questions (“Why are they booing him?” “They’re not booing him, mom, they’re saying “Yooooouuk”. His last name is Youkilis.” Mark my words, this is a discussion that will happen) about the game, the players, and everything else. It’s going to be a good night.

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