Spent the weekend hanging out with my sister and her new fiance in Calistoga, away from computers and once again away from warm weather. Seriously, what gives with this crappy summer? I know San Francisco weather is generally windy, cold and pretty crappy, but this is getting ridiculous. After living in Livermore for four years, I kind of got used to breaking a sweat in July simply by feeling the blast of heat from opening my car door during the daytime. While we had a fun weekend and still forced the action by going to the creek even though it was probably about 68 degrees (I swam anyway, which I guess means I’m still 8-years-old).
So it ended up being kind of an unplugged weekend besides a little Giants baseball on television and the radio, including listening to most of the marathon Marty Lurie postgame show last night as some weird guard-rail incident on 101-South made traversing through Petaluma an hour-long excursion. One of the times my butt was firmly planted on the couch in front of my sister’s glowing Insignia television was when Eugenio Velez got hit in the head while drinking Gatorade (now THAT’S G).
Or, as the broadcasters and beat writers made it seem like through vague if not borderline sensational reporting: the time Velez pretty much almost died.
Honestly, I thought there was a good chance he passed away. He got drilled by a foul ball right in the temple and went down like he got taken out by a sniper. The words used by Duane Kuiper and Mike Krukow included “grave,” and “pray for him.” The only things the replays showed were Velez going down, a group of horrified players, coaches and medical personnel gathered around him, and players turning away as they couldn’t bear to look. Then we see a view of Velez on a stretcher, neck restrained, carried out of the dugout. Was that Velez’s elbow we saw for a split-second over that guy’s shoulder? My sister has no DVR so I had no way of telling.
So I grabbed my sister’s fiance’s computer and went to the old Twitter page. The lack of information was frightening. Schulman and Baggs said to think good thoughts for him. That’s it? I know there’s a game going on, but if Velez passes away in the dugout I don’t know how the season can even go on…
I thought about Velez, how it almost made tragic sense that if someone were to perish in a freak accident it had to be him. The guy who, due to the rise of advanced statistics and his own propensity to make flamboyant errors in the field and on the basepaths (and his own lack of requisite facial reactions to his own dumbassery has never helped his cause — he doesn’t smile after failure like Monta Ellis, but he often looks like he isn’t quite aware he did something wrong) have caused him to be the most hated Giant since Armando Benitez.
It’s a hatred I never shared. While many Giants fans have taken the existence of Velez to be some kind of personal affront, I’ve always had a soft spot for the guy. People complain about how the Giants are so slow, unathletic. Velez is fast, and powerful for his frame. True, he swings at dookie and isn’t young enough to be considered a player with major upside, but even if he never wore a Giants uniform the franchise would still be in the middle of a 5-year playoff drought and John Bowker would still be in Fresno. I reserve my baseball hatred for who deserves it: A-Rod, Kevin Brown, Casey Blake and Vicente Padilla. Rooting for anything other than success for Velez, or booing anybody on your favorite team for that matter, means you take this stuff a little too seriously or you’re supremely unhappy in your personal life. Just sayin’.
The Velez injury was perhaps the toughest injury to endure as a TV viewer I can ever remember. When a football player gets knocked out or suffers a severe neck injury, he ends up lying on the field for several minutes and his stretcher ride to the locker room is long, slow and televised. If he gives the thumbs-up or he’s talking to someone, you know he’s alive. Unless you had absolute eagle eyes, the only way to know Velez never lost consciousness was to either be in uniform that night or you were following MattMorrisonCSN.
Which brings us to the TV crew and the beat writers covering Saturday night’s Giants/D-Backs game. I KNOW that I’m expecting too much. That the instant headline feed Twitter makes the expectations that much higher and the job of reporting that much harder. But in a situation where fans were left to wonder whether Velez suffered brain damage or worse, couldn’t one of the three main beat writers (Schulman, Baggs and Haft) run down to the clubhouse and sought out any doctor, coach or player who knew whether Velez had his eyes open? Why was Morrison the only guy who knew and/or felt like updating us? Would this have been handled the same way if the guy hit in the temple was Tim Lincecum or Buster Posey, a player who’s beloved? Hopefully we’ll never find out.