Dozer, the bulldog

Dozer, the bulldog
Dozer: He was the best dog on the planet.

Bonding

Bonding
The author of Mark's Work with Ellie Mae

Guess who's coming for dinner

Guess who's coming for dinner
Blue heron, sitting on the dock of our pond

HappyDay Farms bees are happy bees.

HappyDay Farms bees are happy bees.
Air-borne bees

BFF's forever

BFF's forever
Margie and Ellie Mae

Tomatoes and peppers are us.

Tomatoes and peppers are us.
Spicy salsa with roasted peppers, here at HappyDay Farms

Much love, John-Bryan

Much love, John-Bryan
Eric at 26 on the left, and John-Bryan in January of 1973.

Halloween fun

Halloween fun
SmallBoy and Dancing Girl

Our house

Our house
The snow season approaches...

Mahlon Masling Blue

Mahlon Masling Blue
My friend and brother.

Mark's E-mail address

bellspringsmark@gmail.com

Thursday, August 18, 2011

San Francisco Giants Baseball # 18: The Poster Boy

The Poster Boy
I have heard many references to spoiled, overpaid athletes.  I have never agreed that major league ball players are overpaid; they are entertainers, and in our culture, who else gets paid as much for as little as three hours' work?

I can’t fault the salary, because players do something I can’t do, besides hitting a hard slider.  They must be willing to leave home and family for prolonged periods of time, and they must be willing to put their careers ahead of everything else in their lives.
They must also be willing to take a lot of abuse for their teammates, especially if they fill the catcher’s slot.  Not a game goes by that the catcher does not take a ball off the mask, or into his body, at speeds exceeding a racing Michael Bourne.  Last night Matt Cain threw an off-speed pitch that bounced six feet or more in front of the plate.  Eli Whiteside simply threw his body in front of it, as it ricocheted off the gravelly turf and into his chest protector.  
Catchers have to be so savage.  Last night I saw an example of a catcher being as tough as my ninth grade physical science teacher, who doubled as a nun.  I saw something that I have never seen before, when Eli Whiteside slid head first into second base, and did a classic face plant, inadvertently grinding his face into the dirt, which isn’t really dirt, as much as it is tiny pieces of rock.  
I have seen players do that before, but never to the extent that a hamburger face extended from forehead down through chin, including nose, upper lip, and lower lip.  The camera focused on Eli’s face, as he gritted his teeth, and set himself for the trainer to apply something directly to the sandpapered flesh.  Eli’s body positively jolted, as that ointment hit the raw spots.
The astonishing thing is that seconds later, he had to jam that catcher’s mask on over those burns, and hustle out to the plate.  When you consider what happened to the first guy the Giants had behind the plate, and how those ankle ligaments got separated from the bone, it’s amazing that Eli could still trot out there as though it were all in a day’s work.
The face plant is not all in a day’s work.  If I were Eli, I would have wanted to say, “That should have happened to someone other than me.”  But catchers don’t whine, because they can’t whine.  Says so in the catcher’s manual.  If you don’t believe that catchers don’t whine, just watch that film clip of Eli’s face being tended to.  Someone who would suggest that Eli Whiteside can’t take pain, needs to back the truck up, and take a second look.  And if that doesn’t convince you, have your next door neighbor/carpenter buddy, run a belt sander over your face, and we’ll review the question.
That picture of Eli should be the poster picture for the Giants‘ soon-to-be-coming hot streak.  Though writhing inwardly from pain, Eli gets the blood wiped off, and crams the mask over his abrasions.  Likewise, the Giants, though writhing inwardly at the injuries which have wracked them, wipe the collective blood off their wounds and square off against their opponents.
No Giants player will use injuries as an excuse; no true baseball fan will use injuries as an excuse.  Indeed, Bruce Bochy would never use injuries as an excuse.  However, and I am treading on shaky ground here, the Giants might just possibly use injuries as an explanation.  There’s a difference, but not one that Eli would understand.   
All Eli knows is that there is no way in Turner Field Stadium, that he is coming out of the game.  There is only one backup, and Bochy can’t take the chance that Chris Stewart might sustain a serious enough knock to have to be removed.  That would mean the Panda would probably assume the catching duties.  
With the way the injury dog is snapping at the Giants’ heels (or throats), there is no way we want to see Pablo Sandoval behind the plate.  So suck it up, Eli, and remember next time that the subject comes up, that you are nothing but a "spoiled, overpaid athlete."  But remember also, that you are our catcher, and we also felt that pain and, as always, along with pain, comes gain.  I have an image of a Giant who won't admit that anything can get in the way of forward progress.  How do I measure forward progress?  The final score of last night's game was Giants 7, Braves 5.  This could be the start of something sweet.  Thanks, Eli.


[Eli Whiteside was removed from the game in the seventh inning, more than two full frames later, when dizziness forced him to exit.]

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