It's not often you'll find me on the scene of a straight-up sports story, but the recent case of the college coach who gave one of his players a kidney was so inspiring I had to make an exception. Also, Sheeka and I were without a story that day and The Suits thought we could milk a little more emotion out of this future Made for TV Movie. Who could blame them? It's not every day a college baseball coach coughs up a kidney for a Freshman outfielder. Even an information isolationist like myself had heard rumblings all week about the Wake Forest coach who'd put an internal organ where his mouth is. Talk about diggin' deeeep. Still, I was more than happy to ignore the story from afar, lest any of that alleged humanity wash away my hard-earned cynicism. Well, that's not entirely accurate...
I abhor baseball. There, I said it. Hell, I typed it! Misguided as it may be, my aversion to this once national pastime has deep roots. Back when I was but a boy, I followed my parent's suggestion and tried out for the church baseball league. I made the team, but my thick glasses and complete lack of athleticism left me a marked fourth grader. For the entire season, I rode the bench, never once playing in a game. Still, I preferred the games to practice, for that's when I did take the field, only to be openly disparaged by kids who didn't know better and adults who should have. I blame the coach, a small minded lout who - between globs of tobacco spit - took great pleasure in ostracizing me at every turn. I grew to hate him, his half-drunk supplicants and most everything else that these good ole boys of summer held dear . At the age of eleven, I swore I'd NEVER take part in another team sport. It's a promise I've kept to this day.
Anyhoo, enough background. I don't lie in bed at night cursing the name of Abner Doubleday, or drive by ballparks all slow and gangsta-like, but neither do I go out of my way to attend, support or acknowledge this wretched form of recreation. Having said that, I'll point a camera at (most) anything my bosses wish, so when they suggested we be in place when a post-op coach joins all but one of his players on the field, I headed West without much thought to my barely-buried hang-ups. Which was a really good move, since not only did it allow me to remain employed but it restored my faith in bent-bill strategists. Coach Tom Walter moseyed up slow, four days removed from surgery and missing a kidney. Still, he was a man in full, accomodating the many cameras awaiting him without once appearing to gloat. His quiet advice to always think of others almost made me rethink my stance on baseball. At the very least it reminded me that not ALL coaches are like the miserable choad I suffered under.
Just don't ask me to play catch.