Did anyone else out there just happen to watch the post-game show after the St. Louis Cardinals game last night? Well, I did, and I saw something that just about broke my heart.
No, I'm not going to go off on yet another rant about one of Tony La Russa's insane lineups or equally insane explanations for said lineup. Ha! See, you thought you knew what I was going to complain about, didn't you? Well, I suppose I showed you, now didn't I?
What I saw that really upset me was the short interview that Chris Carpenter conducted with members of the media. I have to say, it hurt to watch. There was a tremble in Carp's voice as he talked about how frustrating it was to be stuck in limbo, in between opinions and options, as his various physicians each take their respective cracks at deciphering the codex of Carpenter's right shoulder. When pressed for details, Carpenter nearly threw up his hands in frustration and instructed everyone to ask Doc George Paletta, who will address the media on Friday afternoon.
So often we see athletes only as their performances on the field. We look no further than their three strikeout night and we criticize. Doesn't matter what a player might be going through elsewhere in his life; his job is to perform every night, no matter what. Unfortunately, that often leads us to look as these athletes, these people, as no more than robots that play a game for our enjoyment.
If I'm going to be truthful, I have to admit that I didn't much like seeing Chris Carpenter like that. I didn't enjoy seeing him exposed that way. He was just in his street clothes, without the uniform and the rooting interest that it brings. He looked almost naked. He looked just like any other guy you might see on the street.
I didn't like the complications. I want Chris Carpenter to be utterly robotic, to not ever have to think of his family or his friends when he's out on the mound. If he goes down with another injury, I only want to think about what this means for my team, not have to worry about Carpenter the human being, the man who's fighting to do what he loves to do. Screw that. This is my fantasy world. Don't you bring real life into it.
I wonder what it says about me, or anyone else, when we allow ourselves to think like this? Are we bad people because we do look at these individuals as merely numbers on a board, images on a screen? Does it say anything at all?
I have no idea what it says about us. What I do know, though, is that I want Chris Carpenter to get well as soon as possible. I want him to get healthy again for his own sake. Not for the team, but just so that he can live his life and do what he loves to do. I honestly don't care if he ever pitches another inning for the Cardinals, so long as he can get through this and be whole again. No one should ever wear the look that Chris Carpenter had on his face last night as he tried to answer questions that he had yet to get his own answers to.
And then, when he's healthy, I want Carp to go back out there on the mound and pitch, and allow me to go back to ignoring his essential humanity.
What, you expected me to learn something?