Saturday, March 24, 2007

Cleats are Good

One of my softball team's fastest runners, Jack, has always wowed us with his speed around the bases. A simple single often turns into a double because of his heads-up running and his blindingly fast feet. Even so, he has always resisted buying cleats. He doesn't like them, he says. Even with the increased traction, he insists they slow him down.

At Wednesday's game, Jack was getting beaten up at third base. The other team was hitting hot-shots at him repeatedly, every inning. He was a real trooper, fielding all of them, and holding up the corner very well. Until the bottom of the seventh inning.

The batter hit a fast ground ball towards third. Jack shuffled over to get in front of it.. and slipped.

The ball, continuing on its path, impacted his shin with a sickening -thwack-. Even the outfielders heard it. He crumpled to the ground in pain.

When I reached him, he was not able to put weight on his left foot. His range of motion was severely compromised. His shin was swollen about 1/2" above the bone. He wanted to stay in the game, but I wasn't going to let him if he was unable to stand. Our left-fielder helped him off the field, and took his place at third.

After the game, Jack insisted on walking off the field, and driving his manual-shift car home. I pleaded with him to get an x-ray, as it was possible he could have chipped or fractured the bone. He definitely took this one for the team.

"So Jack," I said, "I guess you'll be getting cleats now, huh ?"

"Yeah. I think I should."


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