McDaniel: A surgical probe into the state of Chris Sale, Red Sox

From Rachael McDaniel at FanGraphs on April 11, 2019:

Getting a major, non-emergency surgery is a strange experience. One moment you are yourself, living in the body you have always inhabited, even if that body is now dressed in an unfamiliar and unflattering set of garments foisted upon you by the nurses. You are then wheeled into a cavernous room, where you are laid out on a slab for dissemination, surrounded by a motley crew of strangers with covered faces. Some bustle around with arcane metal implements; others pat you on the shoulder and tell you to have good dreams, thereby placing an unnecessary amount of pressure on you not to have bad dreams, in which case you would have failed at one of your two tasks in this scenario. (The other task is, of course, not dying.) And in what seems like moments (but also seems like a very long time, somehow), you wake up confused, unable to move or speak, with your body permanently altered in ways that you will likely never be able to fully understand. In just a few hours of unawareness, your experience of reality is fundamentally changed. There is nothing you can do but try to adjust. 

The last baseball game I watched before I went under was the Mariners home opener. The Mariners played this game against the defending World Series champion Boston Red Sox and ace Chris Sale, and they won 12-4. Save for their poor defense, they looked all-powerful. The Red Sox looked uniformly awful. The baseball season is full of these little flauntings of expectation: fun, ultimately insignificant. A larger data set irons everything out in the final reckoning. When I got knocked out for surgery in the early morning on March 29th, I had differently-arranged bones, no titanium screws or plates in my body, and a fundamental, unshakeable understanding that the 2019 Seattle Mariners were not, and the 2019 Boston Red Sox were, a reliably excellent baseball team.

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Originally published: April 11, 2019. Last Updated: April 11, 2019.