Tuesday, April 22, 2014

DDJ is Famous, Worldwide

Delino DeShields Jr is famous, even in the Southern Hemisphere.

As an aside (and I have posted a heap of unmitigated crap already today), I used to play cricket, the Australasian analogue of baseball.  I was 16, playing in the top Secondary School competition when I caught a bouncer in the face while I was batting.  The guy that hit me was throwing it down around 135kph (80-85mph) - plenty fast for a 16 year old, and remember that a cricket ball is harder and heavier than a baseball.

Anyhow, I totally lost the ball in the orange roof in the background and it hit me in the mouth, on an ascending trajectory.  My two front teeth got pushed up toward the top of my head, then out, and destroyed the tooth sockets in the process.  I also had another few teeth that later needed root canals, and my orthodontist remarked that I may have had my life saved by my retainer plate because it provided some resistance to the ball going in.  Collapse of the hard palate in the roof of the mouth can sometimes cause airway occlusion, I found it.  The orthodontist had seen it with hockey puck injuries.

Anyhow, I initially bounced back pretty quickly immediately post injury.  My mood was ok given that my dentition had been rearranged, and I had become a toothless 16 year old.  In the months and years afterward, I needed 3 or 4 operations including bone grafts, all under GA.  And it was only in the years afterward that I realised the enormity of the whole thing, and how much it affected me.

Immediately afterward, I took around a fortnight off cricket, then tried to get back into it.  After a few months, what I discovered is that every time a ball was up near my head, it was not fun - flashbacks and everything.  Batting was no longer much fun, and mentally I was impatient, and prone to all sorts of idiot shotmaking.  Never really played after the comeback didn't go so well - did some mucking around in the game after I left school, but that is about all.  Still love watching the game, and still occasionally umpire.

I sure as heck hope that nothing like that happens to DDJ.  It is even more important as he is hoping to make a living from the game, and I never had anything approaching a ceiling like that.  From a mental perspective, pitches up-and-in may not be that much fun for him in the future, but I imagine that a professional sports organisation would have a bunch of experts available to address that.  Plus, that is without even talking about physical difficulties, like the trapping of tiny little eye muscles in unseen eye-socket fractures, blurred vision, concussions and so forth.

Amongst the slightly lighthearted tone of the social media communications and press articles, I remain cognisant of the significant potential fallout from this tiny portion of time, mental and physical.  He may not play again this year, but I hope he does.  Positive vibes in your direction, DDJ.