Hurts so dumb, take 2
(Reprinted from March 12, 2009)
Once again, it’s time to be amused by other people’s misery.
Now before everyone starts thinking I’m some sort of sadistic creep, let me remind you that I have no intention of laughing at genuine misfortune. Real folks with real problems deserve sympathy, assistance or whatever else we can offer that will make their plight a bit more bearable.
However, professional athletes are a different story altogether. Sure, there are ones who’ve dealt with serious family matters involving their children — Cubs first baseman Derrek Lee and Bears defensive back Peanut Tillman immediately come to mind — and they, too, should be treated with compassion.
What I’m referencing is those jocks who, through their own carelessness or stupidity, have brought physical injury upon themselves.
About two months ago, I chronicled the tales of roughly a dozen highly paid sports-world individuals who got hurt not during competition, but because of some bizarre maneuver they pulled off the field of play. The list was by no means a complete one, and after some dogged research done by others, I’ve compiled an update.
One thing I noticed is that golf is a very dangerous undertaking. It’s always been physically taxing, particularly for those 120-pound teenaged caddies toting 100 pounds’ worth of golf bags for businessmen whose post-round tips consist of stock-purchasing advice for the youngsters, who have no money to invest because they’ve just been stiffed.
But in the case of athletes, I’m talking real injuries. Amazingly, none was suffered during actual play.
Hockey player Erik Johnson, for example, incurred a knee injury after getting his foot caught between the brake and accelerator of a golf cart during a St. Louis Blues team outing. (And you thought hockey was rough.)
Another Johnson, auto racer Jimmie, broke his wrist after falling off the roof of a golf cart. (And we trust this man to handle a machine that goes 200 miles per hour? You’d think a guy who drives for a living would understand the concept of sitting in and not on top of a vehicle.)
And just to prove that old adage of how things happen in threes, NBA player Jason Collins injured his elbow after his golf cart skidded and tipped over. (No wonder PGA players are made to walk instead of ride.)
Those maladies are just the tip of the iceberg. Here a few others to mull over:
• Do you wonder why the Detroit Tigers ranked as baseball’s biggest underachievers in 2008? The team’s collective IQ would seem to be working against it, at least if Brandon Inge and Joel Zumaya are illustrative of the squad’s membership.
Inge and Zumaya missed games for two decidedly non-baseball reasons: Inge hurt himself as he was moving a large pillow for his child, while Zumaya strained his arm by playing “Guitar Hero 2” a little too vigorously. And Zumaya isn’t the only person to take ersatz play beyond reasonable standards — cyclist Mark Cavendish’s Wii snowboarding adventure ultimately became a misadventure when he injured his calf muscle.
• Cavendish has nothing on skier Lindsey Vonn, who required four stitches in her thumb after failing in an attempt to open a champagne bottle without incident. Vonn was planning to celebrate a victory, but the bubbly wound up being the perfect way to deaden the pain of injury and embarrassment.
• Let’s not ignore the strange tribulations of three baseball players: Bret Barberie, Steve Sparks and Kevin Mitchell.
As if once being married to air-headed TV personality Jillian Barberie wasn’t enough of a source for ridicule, Bret Barberie added to his woes by forcing himself out of the Florida Marlins’ lineup years ago because of an unfortunate episode involving chili juice.
Hey Bret, it goes in your mouth, not your eyes.
While the not-so-bright Sparks didn’t hurt his eyes, he also didn’t use his head when he tried to duplicate the strongman feat demonstrated by a group of motivational speakers, which consisted of ripping a phone book in half. The stunt caused the former Milwaukee Brewers pitcher to dislocate his shoulder.
The next time you contemplate that sort of thing, Steve, you might want to downsize. Why not practice with a copy of your major-league travel itinerary?
On second thought, the phone books would be smaller.
As for Mitchell, — well, let’s just say I’ve saved the best of the worsts for last. The longtime journeyman once vomited his way onto the disabled list by straining rib muscles during the up-chuck period and, another time, was a late arrival to spring training because he hurt himself eating a microwaved doughnut.
ESPN.com claimed the latter really happened. Who am I to argue, especially since I run the risk of straining something if I do so too vociferously?