Next week at this time, if all goes as planned, I will be lying in a bed at Mass General Hospital, in a drugged stupor, after my third knee replacement surgery. As much of a physical anomaly as I am, I do not have three knees, I have one good knee and one knee that will be requiring its third replacement.
My knee replacements in 2006 and 2008 were failures. While I do not want to mention the failed replacements by name (Smith & Nephew Genesis II), this time I will be getting a totally new and different knee. This time I will be getting a Zimmer knee. I personally find this ironic since I already bear too close a resemblance as it is to Don Zimmer.
This has been a year filled with more pain than I have ever had from a knee that has been my enemy for most of my life. Sadly, it even prevented me from going to the ballpark towards the end of the season. However, when I have written baseball for Billy-Ball.com, for Nick Cafardo and the Boston Globe, and for the NYTimes.com (oh, the pride I feel about that), I felt no pain. The pleasure that I have gotten from being able to provide content to great baseball media guys like Jerry Crasnick, Jayson Stark, Jerry Howarth, Eric Nadel, Ken Rosenthal, Holden Kushner, Jim Duquette, Mark Simon, Tom Caron, Lee Sinins, Sean Forman (of the great site baseball-reference.com), and so many others, way too many to name, brought me feelings of pure elation.
Of course I’m very lucky, I don’t have to wait for a media mention or an appearance on the air with my friends Justin Hull or Corey Costelloe, I simply check my inbox or the comments section on Billy-Ball.com and there are loads of messages from my readers. You have truly no idea how wonderful it is to hear from you.
So what’s next?
Over the next few days I will continue getting my life and home in order as I prepare for the post-operative ordeal. This afternoon I will watch my last HS soccer game (no sadness there). I look forward to seeing my daughter Jen play next year in college. Starting tomorrow night I will watch, like you, the start of what I anticipate will be two great League Championship Series, highlighted by a potentially classic Saturday night of Roy Halladay versus Tim Lincecum, and my homemade sushi versus martinis.
In the long run, I consider my baseball writing avocation (what I would do to permanently remove that initial letter!) a 12-month exercise. Thanks to some help from my wonderful family, I now have an iPad, which will enable me to do some writing long before I can get comfortable at my desk again. And thanks to Tim Dempsey of Elastic Brands, I have a website that I can easily add content to and it looks great as well. My bigger picture involves finding a way to make a sustainable income.
In closing, I need, as always to thank some special people. My daughters Elizabeth and Jen are, as Marvin Gaye and Stevie Ray Vaughn sang, my pride and joy. There’s my buddy Jack Rossin, who daily gives me a good kibbitz (look it up, it’s not dirty). The Playground 10 gang who read Billy-Ball, but especially Peter Meisel, Mitch Orfuss and Mark Bittman who I can share the thoughts and love that only more than 40 years of friendship can bring. And last but far from least, the most important person in my life, my wife, Max Chuck. These have been very difficult economic times in our household and Max works unbelievably long hours at her job and then still provides love and support to all of us who need her at home. I repeat what I say every year to you, there is no Billy-Ball without Maxie.
There also is no Billy-Ball without baseball, the sport I love. This has been a wonderful season without juice. It is a better game this way. Those of you who play and manage the game, and those of you who announce or write about the game, thank you for bringing so much joy to so many people.
Now if you are rolling your eyes, so be it. It is your loss. Roger Angell wrote, “It is foolish and childish, on the face of it, to affiliate ourselves with anything so insignificant and patently contrived and commercially exploitive as a professional sports team, and the amused superiority and icy scorn that the non-fan directs at the sports nut (I know this look — I know it by heart) is understandable and almost unanswerable. Almost. What is left out of this calculation, it seems to me, is the business of caring — caring deeply and passionately, really caring — which is a capacity or an emotion that has almost gone out of our lives. And so it seems possible that we have come to a time when it no longer matters so much what the caring is about, how frail or foolish is the object of that concern, as long as the feeling itself can be saved. Naivete — the infantile and ignoble joy that sends a grown man or woman to dancing and shouting with joy in the middle of the night over the haphazardous flight of a distant ball — seems a small price to pay for such a gift.”
Thank you all. After my daughters, I consider the Billy-Ball community as my proudest creation.
Don’t hesitate to write, I kneed to hear from you.