Maybe it's crass to write about this right away, but I don't know what else to do. And I can't just sit here.
I was thinking, watching Matt Clement lie motionless on the mound, hands clutching his head where a line drive off Carl Crawford's bat struck him, that really, it's not so insane to feel tears pricking in the corner of my eyes. After all, I see these guys every night. I take long trips and spend money and sit out in the hot sun to be with them. I've seen Matt Clement pitch twice this year. The first time he pitched a complete game.
What I'm trying to say is, it's really understandable to feel as though I've been kicked in the gut, hard, after what I've just seen, because even though I know Matt Clement only through the TV, minute for minute, I spend more time with him per week than I do with my parents.
I got upset enough watching Trot pull a muscle, or whatever he did, earlier in the game. Maybe it is irrational, but I feel protective of the players I love. I get upset when they swing and miss, for Pete's sake.
Since becoming a more avid sports fan, I have lived in fear of seeing one of my guys, either on the Patriots or Sox, laid out on the field. I mean it--I've thought about it, maybe seeing it happen to a guy somewhere else, in another sport or another league. And I've dreaded it.
Tonight it happened.
The worst thing about it was the silence. That awful, frozen, echoing silence. And the motionlessness. Clement just laid there. The trainer had to delicately pluck his hands away from his head, and his arms just flopped to the ground. It remains unclear to me whether he regained consciousness or not before leaving the field.
And then, you could see him breathing, but he just lay there, right where he fell. The ball hit him so hard it flipped him off his feet. It was like he was shot.
In the stands, on TV, you could see people, mouths open, hands covering their mouths. Suddenly I realized I was doing the same thing.
My eyes stung. I swallowed.
Kevin Millar kneeled, Manny brushed a hand over his shoulders right above his name. The players just stood there. No one appeared to say anything to anyone. Varitek walked away from the mound quietly, his face grim. Terry Francona came out and stood, arms akimbo, looking down at Clement.
Silence. They eased Clement onto a backboard, hefted him onto a stretcher. I winced as people applauded while he left the field. It seemed so...pathetic. Like it would have been more respectful just to be quiet. But I'm strange sometimes, especially when shaken.
At the last moment, Varitek's broad hand slipped among the others hauling Clement onto the stretcher and patted his pitcher on the right forearm.
They returned to the game. It seemed suddenly obscene. The cheery NESN music taking us to cheery commercials.
Baseball should only seem like a matter of life and death.