As I chronicle my recovery from Achilles Surgery along with my quest to get in the proper shape to run another marathon, I am pleased to report that I am making great progress.
On July 4, I was once again honored to host the Card King Sports Variety Show on ABC Radio – KMET 1490 AM in Los Angeles.
Special thanks to my guest Josh Lewin and to Brian Cataquet for allowing me to sit in for him once again.
I just got off the treadmill. I’m tired. I’m in some pain. I’d like to go to bed, but it’s morning. I’m tired. Real tired. But, underneath all of this exhaustion, I feel alive. I feel more alive than I’ve felt in a long time.
It’s good to feel ALIVE!
It had been over a month since I last pitched.
On June 23, I enjoyed pitching against Jersey City. Then, on June 25, I had my first visit with an orthopedist who did as I feared he would… he shut me down.
On June 25, my baseball season ended. On June 25, my softball seasons ended. And, on June 25, my hopes for running the 2019 New York City Marathon also ended.
The orthopedist looked at my swollen right ankle, the MRI that showed tears in the Achilles tendon, and his own X-Rays. He said, “This isn’t good, Paul.” The word “surgery” came up, but he also said, “I’m not ready to go there yet.” I think the thing that made him shut me down totally was when I could perform a simple exercise in his office – standing on just my right foot and going to “tippy toes.” When I couldn’t do that, it cinched the deal.
I was given a night brace, an anti-inflammatory prescription, and little hope.
I left the office with the brace, a discouraged countenance, and a follow-up appointment.
But all of that is old news.
This is the story I didn’t want to write…
Two days after I pitched on June 23, I had my first appointment with the orthopedist. This doctor is very well known and very respected. He took X-Rays, put me through a battery of small tests, he examined my legs, took careful note of my right Achilles, and, after all of that, said that my baseball season, my softball season, and my running season are all over.
I knew this was coming.
We all knew this was coming.
I just didn’t want to hear it.
I still don’t.
Well, I am the happiest 0-4 pitcher on the planet.
I pitched well enough, I guess. I gave up more than a few hard hit balls for loud hits, some of them long drives for extra bases. I also gave up some weak ground balls for hits. And a few bloopers also fell in.
On the other hand, some popups were dropped or missed altogether by the fielders behind me, a few grounders went under the infielders’ gloves, and a few would-be ground outs resulted in poor throws that instead netted no outs.
(And, to be fair, a couple of the loudly hit balls were caught by the fielders behind me. If nothing else, my pitching kept the team on its feet.)
In short, for much of the game, there were a lot of runners on the bases as I pitched.
The week leading to my third start was rainy and filled with more evening responsibilities that interrupted my throwing program, but, like in previous weeks, I was able to have a very special catch with a very special person.
My third start of the season was scheduled for Sunday, May 5. We were going to be back to Wright’s Field in Bloomfield to play a different team from the area. It seems that a few towns, Bloomfield being one of them, have more than one team in the league. I was looking forward to this opportunity to see if I could build off my modest success the week before.
This would also be my first chance to pitch in back-to-back weeks – a true test of whether or not my arm, and body was up to this challenge.
It wasn’t to be.
Rain, dreadful rain, washed away our chances to play.
It all started as a sort of lark. A few dads from my school were talking about forming a baseball team and jokingly (or not) asked me if I was interested in playing. I immediately declined. While I have played competitive men’s softball for decades, I hadn’t played baseball since I was sixteen years old. While I might be pretty good at softball (on my good days), I was never very good as baseball.
If I had one, my prime would have been a long time ago. I’m fifty years old, well past baseball age. I knew that a league like that wasn’t for me.
It was a great joy to get out on the mound and pitch again.
Since my first outing on April 7, I have been reliving much of that game over and over in my mind. I have also been surprised by the amount of people who have asked about the game. It’s been fun to tell the story to so many others. (To re-cap: It had been going surprisingly well through three innings before it all fell apart in the fourth.)
I did show in that game that I could still throw strikes, that I could throw a lot of pitches, and that I could still get guys out.
But now that it’s over, all of that isn’t enough.