THE SPORTS PHILOSOPHER Says: “Buster Posey To The Rescue!” by Brad Eastland

August 15, 2010
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      I had a bad week.

      I don’t say that to elicit sympathy.   Okay, maybe a little bit.   No, rather my personal pain is the bedrock of today’s sermon.   For without the advent of the week’s despair and the inevitable gnashing of teeth (in my case, literally), there would be no Salvation at the end.

      First I got sick.   Swollen glands, sore throat, fever, fatigue.   I hadn’t been really sick for about four years, so it hit me hard.

      On top of that, I was already in the process of recovering from the skin being literally ripped off of my little toes from a day-long walk through Disneyland the previous week, and I was also recovering from a black widow spider bite.  (No, I’m not dying.   Apparently you have to be old, sick, or an infant to die from a black widow bite.   But it was annoying.)

      Then my girlfriend got mad at me.   She accused me of flirting with a waitress less than half my age at a local restaurant.   I wasn’t, of course.   I am not in the habit of flirting with a woman while concurrently springing for an $80-dollar dinner for another actually important woman at the same time, much less while in the presence of the latter.   But if I’ve learned one thing about women (and it’s about all I’ve learned about them) it’s that diametrically opposed words like true false yes no did didn’t innocent guilty etc., don’t really mean very much either way to a woman once she gets an idea in her head.   Anyway, that incident which was not an incident has had additional fallout too nonsensical and boring to go into in any detail, but suffice to say it ratcheted up my bad mood.

     And then, finally, the big one.   I woke up at 4:00 a.m Thursday with a terrific toothache.   It was awful.   I couldn’t believe it, it came out of nowhere, and I was in agony.   And I couldn’t even get ahold of my dentist.   He was “unavailable”, they said at his office.   Thank God that right about the time I was going to give up and go to some local quack to get it fixed, my dentist finally called and told me he’d clear his schedule to take care of me.   That was the good news.   He’s a great dentist (his name is Gary O’Brien; I call him the Mozart of the Molar), and in hindsight I can’t imagine anyone else handling a complicated, delicate case like mine.   The bad news was that my lower left molar was shot.   As in dead.   They use the word “necrosis” to make it sound—I guess—not so bad.   But dead is dead.   “Irreversible pulpitis” Gary called it.   I also had a massive infection and had lost some bone in my lower jaw.   I also had a small abscess forming.   So he did a triple root canal, a post, and a crown, I was in the chair for three hours, I needed SEVEN separate Novocain injections, and even as I type this my eyes are tearing up from the pain in my jaw.   And the pain medication (which obviously doesn’t always work all that well) causes massive diarrhea, the pharmacist said, and boy he was right.   Or maybe the diarrhea was caused by the cost of the procedure which was, let’s just say, more than my father paid for any automobile he ever bought up until the late 1960s or so.

      Like I say, a bad week.

      Now we get to the point of the piece that has to do with sports.  (Bet’cha forgot for a minute that this was a sports column, huh?)

      I was sitting on the couch on Saturday, lamenting my five decades of bad luck, trying not to think about the pain in my jaw, doing the one thing I knew I ordinarily should not have been doing—watching a Giants game on TV.   Not because I don’t love baseball or that there is something wrong with baseball.   I DO love baseball, and while there is plenty wrong with it baseball is still the greatest sport there is, as Babe Ruth once put it, “The only game in the world, I think.”   No, the reason I shouldn’t have been watching is that the San Francisco Giants were playing.   My favorite team.   And they are doing great this year, which only fuels my deluded expectations that they might actually make the playoffs.   And they were losing.   For some reason, they always lose to the San Diego Padres, at least this year.   At the time they had lost eight of the first nine games they had played against each other this year.   And on Saturday they were losing again 2 to nothing.   My tooth was starting to flare up again, getting worse with every Giants hitter who tapped out weakly to shortstop.


One more thing.   My son has reached that age where he enjoys making fun of me.

      I suppose he’s good natured about it.   We have a great relationship Rob and I, as he completes his fourteenth year of life, and he enjoys keeping up a witty banter with his old man.   So every time a Giants hitter tapped out weakly to shortstop he started laughing.   I would glare back at him.   “Dad, I know you’re in pain, but every time some Giants guy grounds out your face gets all squinchy!”  he would say.   “It’s funny!” he would add gleefully.  

      I suppose it was.   He knows what I have gone through with the Giants.   During the 2002 World Series, when I couldn’t even watch, it was a six-year-old Rob who yelled out each at-bat to me cowering in the other room.   The Giants lost, of course.   To the Angels.   They haven’t won a World Series since 1954.   Rob knows this.   Our relationship has evolved just as my resignation to the Giants’ annual fate has evolved.

      But on Saturday, something unusual happened.   The Giants fought back.

      First, Pablo Sandoval (the “Kung-Fu Panda” himself) homered to tie the game.   Then it went into extra innings.   Torture.   Then in the eleventh, the Giants’ rookie catcher and all-around phenom Buster Posey (‘gotta love a guy with a rugged first name and a sissy last name) legged out a double on a ball up the middle that probably shouldn’t have even been a single.   The home crowd roared.   Briefly, my brain banished the pain from my tooth.   But I wasn’t totally fooled.   I know if there is one thing that earmarks the Giants these last 15 or so years, it is that they almost never get a key base hit when they need one.   And yet, there was weak-hitting Juan Uribe, flaring a pitch into shallow right field.   A hit!   I lurch forward on the couch.   Rob starts to laugh.   Everything is funny to that kid nowadays.   And suddenly there’s the young man with the funniest name in baseball, Buster Posey, flying around third and heading home.   “C’mon, Posey!” I yell at the TV, uttering words I never imagined I would utter (c’mon Posey?), he’s huffing and puffing, here comes the throw, he slides, a cloud of dust….and he’s safe!   He is safe!   The Giants win!   The Giants win!   The Giants win!   What a moment.   Even Rob seemed happy.   Anything remotely funny makes Rob happy.   That kid is all about the comedy.

      And that’s why we watch baseball.   Once awhile, your dreams really do come true.   Not often.   Occasionally.   But in this case, me and my jaw really needed it.   It’s called Salvation.  

      Tune in next week, sports fans, when I’ll probably talk about either how great golf is or how pre-season football makes me sad.



the Sports Philosopher


PS—By the way, the next day the Padres pounded the Giants 8 to 2.   That’s okay.   In baseball, Salvation usually only lasts about a day anyway.

meet….The Sports Philosopher!image0024

Brad Eastland is an author, historian, film buff, undiscovered fictioneer, and protector of the sacred church of baseball— in no particular order.   Brad’s other recent columns for LaVerneOnline can be found in Sports under ‘The Sports Philosopher’ and also in Viewpoint under ‘Brad Eastland’s View’.    Brad has also written 4 novels and over 20 short-stories.    Samples of his best fiction work can be discovered within the mysterious links below:




One Response to “THE SPORTS PHILOSOPHER Says: “Buster Posey To The Rescue!” by Brad Eastland”

  1. So glad you’ve found “Salvation”. Hope your jaw is better, too.


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