Intra-squad games are being played, hopes for the 60-game season are high. Perhaps two sure signs of a return to normalcy are that Byron Buxton is injured and umpire Joe West is being…well…an idiot. No matter how weird the world gets, some things seem unchangeable.
But back to Buxton. Way back in February, (and that truly seems several years ago) I wrote that I thought we should trade him. Not because I didn’t like him. I like him. I really do, and I hear only good things about him as a person, and I can see with my own eyes that he has incredible talent.
Sadly, though, I’m beginning to think that some people just aren’t as lucky as others. It’s easier to point that out when you see the sons or daughters of the CEO who is a lock for a high-ranking company job, absent any evidence of drive or ability, than it is with a baseball player who, obviously, rose to the Major Leagues on talent, rather than connections. Still, some people are just luckier than others…at least when it comes to getting injured, and I fear Buxton is just one of those people. We’ve known really good people in Minnesota sports who’ve gotten more than their fair share of injuries that have clearly shortened their careers. We can go back to Tony Oliva, or onward to Kirby Puckett, and Justin Morneau to see injuries shorten even stellar careers.
(I know there is no evidence that the beaning that Puckett took contributed to his glaucoma and his ultimate retirement…but it was certainly in the same time-frame, and while I don’t normally traffic in conspiracy theories, I’ll always wonder if the beaning didn’t affect his eyes in some very real way).
But back in the real world, I’m not suggesting Buxton is done, or even close to it. But, the evidence seems to suggest that standing next to him during a thunderstorm might not be wise. Unless, of course, it actually would be, given that the lightning would seem to inevitably turn to him rather than the one standing next to him.
Buxton isn’t an unlucky fellow in relative terms. By all accounts, he’s talented, with a great family, a great personality, and he already has a bank account that’s far healthier than 99% of the population, let alone people his age, but in baseball terms, he seems…well…rather unlucky.
I wish him the best, we all wish him the best, but that said, I’m thinking of the Dad joke that says “when you see a bear, you don’t have to be faster than the bear, you just have to be faster than the person you’re with.” Though it would be a near certainty that Buxton would be the fastest person in a crowd of people who might see a bear, I fear he’d be the one the bear would chase. It seems so unfair, and yet, it seems like such a sign of normalcy.
So, as we prepare for the abbreviated 60-game season, I close with this “let’s hope Buxton gets back on the field soon.” Which, by the way, would’ve been what we would’ve said had the season started back in late March. The more things change, the more they stay the same…in this case…I’d like to see a “new normal” and never have to lament the Buxton injury situation again.