Dear Derrek Lee,
I wanted to tell you how sorry I am to hear about your recent injury. Although MLB copyright laws prevent me from directly recounting the occurrence here, word on the street is that you have two broken bones and won't be able to play for two or three months. Rules of polite discourse prevent me from describing completely what a horrific travesty this is for the Cubbies. Your team and TONS of loyal fans are crying with you... even though Tom says there's no crying in baseball, situations like these are the exception. Although I'm appalled to report that some OTHER Chicago baseball fans are smugly happy about this unfortunate event.
There is also some mean spirited talk circulating that the runner who collided with you did so on purpose. Personally I don't believe this to be true but I heard some disgruntled Cubs fans discussing the incident on the train this morning and one said to the other "Yeah they [the Dodgers] couldn't win so they just took out our best player!" I can see how sentiments like this one can arise. In my own non-professional sporting career, I was involved in a situation similar to your own and blame was thrown out quicker than Zambrano's fastball.
See, my sporting career is slightly different from yours in that Air Hockey never caught on as an official sport in this country. Despite devoted enthusiasts such as myself, we have yet to experience the joy and elation that this country could know from a NAHL. I have resigned myself to be a lifelong amateur at the sport because chances are even if I were to initiate such a marvelous league it would easily be another decade before women were allowed to compete and by that time my reflexes would not be up to my current cat-like goalie standards. But regardless, take comfort in the story I have to share.
I am a quasi-undefeated Air Hockey Champion. (The quasi part comes from the only games lost being the fault of Appletinis at Gameworks and no reflection of my actual skills and talent). I've been playing the game since I was tall enough to see the top of the table and loving it even longer. Even today my pulse quickens at the hum of a table vent warming up. Such sweet music! In my early days my quick shot hands earned me the nickname "Wild Child" but as I grew more mature and perfected my techniques I took on the title of "Ricochet Reina" (Reina being Spanish for queen and the ricochet shot being my signature scoring system). In the past two years though, I gained my most favorite nickname yet "The Derrek Lee of Air Hockey". (...Okay so I actually gave myself that one but it has a nice ring to it, don't you think?) My slick combination of quick shot serves and non-goaltending defensive blocks earned me much admiration but also ignited fires of jealousy in my opponents. In a game against my unofficial Air Hockey arch nemesis (also known as The Puck Pirate, Tony the Tiger or Mi Esposo) I suffered the worst air hockey injury known to man -or woman- ...a crushed thumb.
Isn't it painful just to think about? It was a rematch game so the tension was already in the air. Goals were traded for the first minute (with yours truly scoring first) followed by a series of quick blocks that kept the puck on the table for the next thirty seconds. Absorbing a quick shot off the left bank I retaliated with my own double ricochet slider that whipped through Tony's goal a hair quicker than his block. He took the serve and passed the puck right to my mallet and I sent it straight back for another score. This was accompanied by cheers from me and grumblings from my rival. On the next play the puck found itself ricochet-stranded in the center of the table. Innocently bouncing off both banks but moving towards neither goal, the puck was lost to play. I braced my free hand on the edge of the table and stretched forward to bring the puck back in the game. Despite my long reach I was unsuccessful and relinquished the attempt to my opponent. Although he could possibly have rebounded our stranded puck with a simple tap from an outstretched hand, he chose instead to use his mallet as a missile and launched it towards the center line and our marooned puck. He missed and instead of a potentially cool-though-illegal goal his mallet launched straight down the table and into my thumb (which was still braced on the side bank from my puck recovery stretches). The pain was as appalling as the laughter from my nemesis. At first I took such jubilation to be an indication of the intention of the strike but later I found out that it was just laughter at the dumb luck of hitting me.
So you see, Derrek, even though my injury didn't result in broken bones and had the occasion arose I still would've been able to play air hockey, I know how you feel. Like the mean spirited grumblers on the train I wanted to believe that my opponent was a sore loser that wanted to make up for poor performance by injuring me but as I did, I hope that they can now realize that sometimes, these things really are just up to chance. Get well soon, I hope we'll be needing you in the post-season!
p.s. In your professional opinion which sounds better "The Todd Walker of Air Hockey" or "The John Mabry of Air Hockey"?
A new thing
6 months ago