Flattland - "OUCH!"

.NET's Trav Flatt reaches out to those athletes who have injured themselves under the oddest of circumstances. After all, he really does feel their pain...

The life of a serious professional journalist is a difficult one, filled with days of diligently discovering and reporting “facts”. There are long hours of painstaking research, controversial Events to cover, arduous interviews to conduct, and a paycheck which requires one make severe sacrifices in life such as drinking “Meister Brau”.

The life of a Humor Columnist is not so different! Granted, there are no events, interviews, research, facts, nor diligence necessarily involved (Or “paychecks”), but it is still a lifestyle fraught with hardship and peril. For instance, late at night prior to a deadline whilst scouring the work of actual journalists in search of that ONE great headline which would require no actual creative input from the writer to make funny (Like, for instance, “Giant Radioactive Death Ferrets Demolish Hobby Lobby”), a columnist is in very real danger of spilling his or her beer on the keyboard.

My personal vocational hazards have been amplified by the addition of a new kitten (Favorite games include, “Lacerating Facial Features of Sleeping Persons” and “Knocking Over the Beer onto the Keyboard”). I was very sternly against the addition of this family member, indicating that I have absolutely no influence whatsoever on any given individual in my household. My wife elected to call this new creature, “Spunky”. Children cat naming submissions, from youngest to eldest, included, “Yu-Gi-Oh”, “Skippy”, and “Skanky”. What the cat’s actual name is at this point, none of us really know. We have adopted a loose context-based naming convention for the creature beginning with ‘S’ and ending in ‘Y’.

“Mom, Sparky’s chewing on the extension cord!”

“Dad, Sneaky got outside!”

I’ve personally gravitated toward “Stinky” due to the little guy’s grim determination to prove for a scientific fact that cat flatulence IS, after all, a serious contributor to Global Warming. My son and I, however, will address the cat by upwards of twenty different names over the space of five minutes in the interest of irritating Mom. Sporky is unlikely to experience severe psychological trauma as an end result, due to the documented fact that felines are physiologically unable to hear human voices as evidenced by their lack of reaction to such oft-repeated phrases as, “No!”, and “Ouch, damnit!”

None of this has anything to do with my actual point, which I have forgotten. In light of my absentmindedness a new point shall be attacked at this…er, point.

A trend in sports journalism is as follows: Athlete says or does something stupid or inappropriate, writers and reporters attack until they get bored or ANOTHER athlete says or does something stupid. Stripped down to this basic level, sports journalism is really not so different than political journalism. In fact, I’m starting to think the athletes handle themselves better. Considering that trend, as well as the fact that this is Wednesday and I’m already sick of hearing about it, I’m going to assume that by the time you get this on Friday that you have absolutely no interest in hearing anything about Kevin Garnett. I do, however, want to give a hearty nod in the direction of one Former Seattle Athlete, Randy Johnson.

The Big Unit became the eldest player to pitch a perfect game earlier this week. Prior to Johnson’s accomplishment at age 40, the previous record holder was Cy Young Himself at the age of 37. Ironically enough, Cy Young was never awarded the Cy Young Award. I imagine that this tragic slight was highly distressing for the man.

An accomplishment of this magnitude at the age of forty is a testament to the Unit’s durability. It is heartening to see this display of fortitude in an age when athletes can, and have, become severely injured by celebrating a field goal or sneezing too hard. Actually, this whole concept of Bizarre Sports Injuries has so caught my attention that I’m going to scrap all of the week’s research I have done on the formerly fascinating topic of ‘Exceptionally Stupid Sports’. In the event that I do not revisit said topic, let it be known that, “Gurning”, “Squirrel Fishing”, “Ferret Racing”, and “Mountain Bike Bog Snorkeling” are all actual sports.

Bizarre Sports Injuries
The most recent and already referenced incident involved, of course, Sammy Sosa. Sosa is out for “probably a couple of weeks” after sustaining a back injury by: Violent Sneezing. Yes. I can’t wait to see the next series of Allegra ads (“This could happen to YOU: Aaaachoo! GAAAWWWK! Thud.”).

One of my all-time favorites is still back in 1997 when Washington Redskins’ Quarterback Gus Frerotte exhibited his zest for the game by administering a celebratory head-butt into a concrete wall. Actually, my “favorite” aspect of that particular injury is that Gus never seemed to take himself at all seriously regarding the incident, displaying an ability to laugh at himself and agree that it probably wasn’t the best decision of his career.

In 1985, speedster stolen base master Vince Coleman of the St. Louis Cardinals was overtaken when the stadium's automated tarp machine apparently attempted to eat him. While this is bizarre enough on its own, the incident was elevated in status due to the fact that the injury caused Coleman to miss the World Series.

Broncos/Dolphins QB Brian Griese, not satisfied with the number of times he had been sacked on the field OR the number of times he had fallen on his face in teammates’ driveways (Terrell Davis’ house, knocked himself unconscious), was knocked down his own stairs by the family dog and sprained his ankle.

In more recent memory, Jacksonville Jaguars punter Chris Hanson made use of an inspirational axe placed in the team locker room to chop his own foot. No stranger to horrible luck, Hanson had severely burned himself the year prior whilst attempting to make fondue.

Now, of course, the only reason I can comfortably laugh at these people is through a brief sharing of some…

Bizarre Personal Injuries
Getting hurt in stupid ways is, as far as I can tell, a universal human experience. Athletes are by no means exempt, nor are they more prone to such injuries…they just get more media coverage. So, in order to better relate to these stalwart individuals, here’s a smattering of personal stupid injuries over the years:

Age 5: After an extended vacation in which I experienced an apparently unnoticed growth spurt, I attempted to continue my former practice of running directly underneath the corner of the breakfast counter. Having acquired an inch or so of height, this resulted in a high-speed collision. In addition to the head injury, contact with the floor caused an impacted incisor which later required surgery.

Age 8: Mild concussion (head trauma theme begins to take shape) caused by sprinting into the corner of a doorframe whilst being chased by West Highland Terrier.

Age 9: Experienced electrocution when a portion of farm electric fence became caught in my ear while I was attempting to escape from a very aggressive chicken (Shut up).

Age 10: Hairline fracture and impressive scar resulted from daring my friend to hit me in the head with a large rock.

Age 11: Shoulder injury as a direct result of being drug through the Valencia County Fair show ring trying to hold on to a Dairy Goat (I –said-, Shut UP).

Age 12: Removed from baseball game prior to first at bat while on deck when previous batter, upon drawing a walk, threw his bat and hit me directly in the face.

Age 14: During fielding practice, was playing catcher for coach hitting fly balls to outfielders. Whilst adjusting my cup, I failed to notice that the coach had tipped the ball straight up into the air. My attention was drawn by a great deal of shouting and pointing, which I did not fully comprehend until the ball came back down directly on top of my head and knocked me unconscious. Missed game.

Age 16: Knee injury as a direct result of a Tarantula Hawk wasp flying into my helmet while I was dirt bike riding. Screamed. Drove dirt bike into ditch.

Age 19 (aka Age 21, year 2): While filming a live music show at a local bar, I was dancing suggestively whilst playing the guitar and singing a Generic Country Song. Lack of actual stage space caused a fall resulting in aggravated old knee injury. Caught on film, nice. Drummer commentary, “I especially like the part where you fell on your face.”

Age 22: Martial Arts Instructor, while using me as an object lesson as to how you should always trust your one-step sparring partner to exhibit proper control, breaks two of my ribs. “Oops”, was the Master's Comment.

Age 23: Another Music Gig, this time at County Fair in Cuba, NM. The show happened to be outside, underneath a tarp, on a flatbed trailer. Also, the show happened to be in the rain. Upon attempting to sing, a jolt of electricity went from my guitar strings through my fingers through my body out my front tooth and into the microphone. Emitted a “Bzrt” sound and fell down. Band members highly amused.

Age 25: Late-night game of “Duckball” with roommate, involving the repeated kicking of a small stuffed duck, resulted in aggravation of pesky knee injury.

Age 26: Another door-related incident: While walking into, yes, a meeting at work, I tripped on my way through the door (over, impressively, my own foot). In a desperate attempt to catch my balance, I grabbed the door handle. This resulted in my managing to slam myself shut IN the door as my weight pulled (of course) the door shut. Knee, again.

Age 29: Impressive scar, profuse face bleeding, and missing eyebrow sector results from catching the door I was trying to open against my foot and walking face-first into door corner while arguing with my wife. Wife highly impressed.

Age 30: Severe carpal tunnel syndrome develops as a direct result of trying to come up with a way to end rambling column. Hell with it.

Fire off your scintillating insights, inquiries, and lack of surprise at writer’s history with head trauma to trav@spinn.net

Trav Flatt

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