Channeling The Grief
Greetings from The Booth!
The Booth is festooned with red, white, and blue bunting as we say Happy Birthday USA this week. If you’ve been watching the US Women’s Soccer team, you’re no doubt filled with patriotic pride as the ladies are just one win away from back-to-back FIFA World Cup titles.
If you believe in the term “team of destiny,” the Americans may be just that. In yesterday’s tense win over England, the USA women got the benefit of a video review, when it was determined that an English striker was offside on the Brit’s apparent tying goal. And the USA had to fend off a late penalty kick, in what might be the save of the tournament so far.
As of this writing, the USA will now play the winner of the Sweden-Netherlands semifinal match on Sunday. The Americans should be heavily favored, but after an initial 13-0 win over Thailand, it’s been anything but easy for the USA.
The baseball world was shocked this week by the sudden passing of 27 year-old Angels’ pitcher Tyler Skaggs, who was found unresponsive in his Texas hotel room as his team prepared to play the Rangers. By all counts, Skaggs was a good teammate and solid citizen.
He was also a close friend of Washington Nationals pitcher Patrick Corbin. The two were drafted together, were teammates, and went through Tommy John surgery together. Skaggs was even in Corbin’s wedding in the offseason, and his death hit the Nationals’ lefthander hard, so no one would have thought twice had Corbin skipped his scheduled start this week against Miami.
Instead, Corbin went to manager Davey Martinez and informed the skipper that he not only would pitch, but also wanted to pay tribute to his fallen friend by wearing Skagg’s number 45 instead of his usual number 46. As he took the mound to start the game, he etched the number 45 into the dirt behind the mound in honor of Skaggs.
Sometimes tributes like these don’t go well. And this appeared to be one of those times as Corbin gave up 3 consecutive singles to start the game. But he would eventually settle in and give the fans one of the gutsiest performances we’ll see this year. Corbin threw seven strong innings against Miami, giving up just one run, and even coming back to the mound after a 1-hour, 15 minute rain delay, tough to do under normal circumstances. The Nats would eventually and fittingly win the game in walk-off fashion.
During the game, Corbin kept his emotions in check, but understandably broke down in the postgame interview session, saying,
“sorry, he’s all I’m thinking about right now.”
Sometimes in sports, all we see are robotic figures wearing the uniforms of our favorite teams. We don’t always see human beings who have feelings and go through life’s ups and downs like we do. Patrick Corbin was hurting Tuesday night and used Nats park as a comfort zone, a place where he could honor not just a former teammate, but a best friend. He channeled his grief with a performance that Tyler Skaggs would have certainly appreciated.
Until next visit from the Booth…GO NATS, GO HORNETS!