Don't Root For Injuries. In Game Five of the 1988 NLCS at Shea, Kirk Gibson slid into second and came up in obvious pain. Mets fans cheered. There, I thought, that's it, we're screwed. Be a human being about these things. Wish no pain on anyone. Wish they enjoy a pain-free three-month stay on the DL instead.
—The Greg Commandments, handed down unto Mets fans, July 14, 2005
I blame myself, but I was provoked.
You put a Molina in front of me, it's bound to set something off. Something very, very dark.
There was Bengie Molina, batting cleanup for the Giants on Tuesday night. A Molina…not the loathsome one, but close enough for bile. Bengie Molina homered off Ollie Perez in the top of the first. After an eventful evening that would wind twelve innings and nearly four hours, culminating in jubilation, I more or less forgot about him.
But I remembered his brother Yadier. He's never altogether far from my thoughts.
Yadier Fucking Molina.
Fucking Yadier Molina.
However you say it, it's appropriate. But my behavior wasn't.
Wednesday night, I'm watching the beginning of the telecast, the part where Gary gives us the news and notes from around baseball. His first newsy note arrives by way of St. Louis, word that Yadier Fuckface Molina will be out four to six weeks with a fractured left wrist.
“HA! YES! FUCK HIM! FUCK YADIER MOLINA! GOOD! GOOD! HA!”
It just burst out of me, y'know? It happens. “Don't Root For Injuries” is among the hardest Commandments to keep because the easiest route to Mets success, intuitively, is for a Higher Power to smite all our enemies. For example, John Smoltz has been allegedly injured about twenty times this year. I say “allegedly” because for all the pinkies he is reported to aggravate, he's always right back out there on the mound, pitching seven scoreless innings, particularly against us. When I hear that Smoltz or one his teammates is hurting, my initial reaction is to call a caterer and plan a party. But then I catch myself, reminding myself that we don't do that. Not even for Braves do we root for injuries. If I take it back quickly enough, I feel I have violated no Commandment.
But I didn't take it back on Yadier Fuckall Molina. Yadfuckier Molina ruined everything last October. So did Jeff Suppan and So Taguchi and Scott Spiezio and take your pick, but nobody held and plunged the dagger through our hearts like Yadier Mofuckinglina. Maybe, I thought fleetingly, that I shouldn't be happy over a player's injury, not even a Cardinal's injury, not even this Cardinal's injury, but it was a very fleeting thought.
So what happens the next night? In the very first inning? One of our most irreplaceable players, Carlos Beltran, runs into Rich Aurilia and suffers a contusion to his right knee. Contusion…bruise…unholy mark…whatever you call it, it was enough to chase him from the game after he toughed it out long enough to score on David Wright's double.
Carlos Beltran is always doing something to himself racing toward first base, usually disturbing his quads. He's like a graceful Mike Piazza in his ability to hurt himself doing something so routine. Can't we just build him a transporter for those ninety feet?
I tried not to think about life without Beltran even as our powerhouse outfield of Alou-Beltran-Green became Johnson-Gomez-Chavez. One guy goes down, we can live with it. Two guys go down, we can live with it because Endy Chavez is the equivalent of any two mortal men. But all three starting outfielders out, including the one who's actually athletic and strong and capable of doing everything?
El Duque took my mind off Carlos B for the balance of Thursday night (how does he ever lose?), but going online and reading the ESPN recap reminded me of what I may have wrought. Carlos will have an MRI and maybe need do no more than rest a day or two. A bruise doesn't sound so bad. But how many injuries have you witnessed that don't sound so bad, that will only require a day or two off, become DL stays of indeterminate length? Do you really want to find out?
Why Carlos? Could it be because I was so gleeful upon hearing of Yadifuck Molina's misfortune? Was it the Irony Dept. of Baseball Gods Inc. messing with me? I cheer pain sustained by he who took Aaron Heilman deep in Game Seven, I am reprimanded with pain for he who was caught looking by Adam Wainwright minutes later.
I'm just thankful it never occurred to me to stick pins in that David Eckstein voodoo doll I keep under the bed. Let's leave the shortstops out of this.
Long before My Name Is Earl made it fashionable, I took great care to Abide By Karma. It's the Commandment right after the one about the injuries. I wouldn't even lick my chops over ex-Giant Armando Benitez entering Tuesday night's trap door so conscious am I of not getting greedy with the gods. Well, my name is mud at least in my book if Beltran is out more than a weekend and change. Things were going so well — still are going so well by the light of the standings — but that killer June schedule has arrived and we need every top cat we've got under contract to be on the prowl. What have we gained by the presumed near-returns of Moises and Valentin if we're down a superstud? CB hasn't been ripping the cover off the ball of late, but he's still Carlos Beltran. He's our No. 3 hitter and the league's leading All-Star vote-getter for a reason. He's very great. We'd miss him very much.
So here goes…
Gosh, I'm sorry that Yadier Fu…I mean Yadier Molina is hurt. I sure wish him a pain-free recovery. He's quite the competitor and the game is better off with all its players intact. And while we're at it, much happiness to Armando Benitez upon his return to the Marlins whom we play ten more times in 2007.
Now if you'll excuse me, I'm off to say three Hail Endys and scream into my pillow.