Saturday, September 17, 2011

Before and After

A few nights ago, I watched Dodgers outfielder Juan Rivera running all-out in his approach of a foul ball near the right-field stands. As he approached the ball, he ran uphill on the opponent's bullpen mound. As the ball dropped strangely with the wind, I yelled out, "Watch out!" while my friend yelled out, "Dive!"

A bit embarassed, I looked away from my friend, his gaze on me, and I clapped for the catch, an awkward one where at least Juan didn't get hurt by that darn pitching rubber that could so easily end a season or a career...

A partial list of things that are different after my injury: airport announcements asking for a wheelchair or volunteers to wheel a passenger around are listened to with greater concentration; an increased awareness of, and head nod/smile for, fellow airport crutch carriers and people in wheelchairs. An involuntary cringing watching Shaq's highlight films in which his 330+ lb. body goes flying into the stands (cringing for him and the fans); noticing more acutely the difference between a football player down with a cramp or a temporary pain and the player who's not getting up without help from another person or stretcher; recognizing the telltale hand wave that shows a teammate's sense of urgency for the trainers to check on his fallen comrade. Noting Rafa Nadal's constant changes of direction on the tennis court, his near-splits when reaching for a short volley. An even stronger sense that the shelf life of a boxer (Bernard Hopkins and George Foreman aside) and a running back--the Niners recently expressed satisfaction that Frank Gore will "retire a 49er" after signing a contract that ends at age 32-and a tennis Zeus (Federer) is very short in relative terms.

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