Every time the news comes out that a celebrity is sick, dying, or dead, there are a few noticeable waves of reaction on Twitter and Facebook:
“OMG did you hear?” People post what has happened so that their friends and followers can hear, and also so that their friends and followers see that they knew the news first.
2) Thoughts and prayers
3) An examination of What This Means (optional)
4) A bitter backlash from cynics who wonder why people are emotionally involved with the fate of a celebrity they’ve never met
I have not seen #4 yet for Brandon McCarthy’s horrifying head injury, yet, but I’m preparing for it.
Preemptively, I’m going to concede that yes, there are people getting injured, people dying, people suffering all kinds of injustices all over the world. Why fret (and in my case, cry like a damn baby every time I see the footage) over a millionaire with a beautiful wife?
In general, it’s about expectations. When a fan is expecting to watch a ballgame, or when the A’s and Angels players are expecting to play one, nobody would be so absurd as to think about a life-altering injury. No one figures one of their own will have his skull drilled open before the night is over, or will be in a “life threatening situation” the following day.
For me, it’s simple: Baseball’s supposed to be a game. Baseball’s where I’m supposed to escape the ravages of brain injury. I can always enjoy watching a game even though odds are good I’ll forget most of it. I wouldn’t wish a brain injury on the people I dislike the most, but I want to share baseball with everyone I love. Those two things are supposed to be separate, always.
What I pray for is that McCarthy is the same person after his surgery as he was before. That he’ll remember conversations with his wife 5 minutes after he has them, and can hold on to memories from his childhood. That he can drive a car without suddenly wondering where he is and how he got there, and can stand up and walk around someday without feeling faint. (I’m still waiting on some of these for myself. Except for the “wife” part.) Young people should not have to lose their memories. Nobody should, but I have and I pray that Brandon McCarthy does not, because he was just expecting to play a game of baseball.
- Jeff Sullivan’s very thoughtful take over at FanGraphs
- A doctor says McCarthy could have died
- The video, if you have seen it somehow
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