A little sarcastic humor for the eve of the baseball season. But first a little background:
For 17 years, I have been part of a group of college friends who have been playing in a computer baseball management sim league. Our league currently uses Diamond Mind Baseball to sim the games, but we have also used Strat-o-matic and Earl Weaver Baseball over the years.
Our commissioner was a guy named Dino Scoppettone. Dino was one of the most gifted writers I have ever known. He could also be one of the bitterest men when it came to complaining about his team, and at times, life in general. But he was loved, and was frequently the life of the party.
Shortly after our draft for League 17 last spring, held in the final week of Spring Training, Dino found himself frustrated by the fact that one of his pitchers, Rich Harden, was following a familiar path onto the DL. Fueled by this angst, among other things, he crafted the e-mail below.
About a month later, Dino was diagnosed with a liposarcoma (which he would refer to ironically as cancer of the fat). It did not respond to treatment and Dino passed away in late August of last year at the age of 39.
I share this e-mail with you because I think it is funny - please forgive me if it isn't your cup of tea. I think it will echo with almost every baseball fan in some way or another. I share it in faint hopes that maybe this will be the year that Harden doesn't follow this path. And I share it because I miss my friend, Dino.
Here's to you, buddy. (Anyone who wants to read more about Dino, visit his memorial Web site http://dinosjourney.com/)
The Rich Harden 12-step Program - Dino Scoppettone
Many of you are at least familiar with the infamous "12-step program" undertaken by rehabbing drug and alcohol addicts. However, what you may not know is
that Rich Harden has his own 12-step program.
For those of you unfamiliar with the process, I thought I'd provide a kindly refresher for the annual step-by-step process through which Harden goes from fully-functioning healthy stud in March to worthless sack of sh** by May and beyond. Small variances of this process played out in 2006 and 2007, and the 2008
process has already begun.
- Step 1: Harden makes 2-4 starts, showing outstanding stuff and generally making hitters look foolish (2008: achieved)
- Step 2: Harden complains of some sort of minor pain, start is pushed back so he can get some "extra rest" (2008: achieved)
- Step 3: Harden misses his pushed-back start because he still "doesn't feel quite right"; talk of trip to DL begins (2008: achieved)
- Step 4: Harden goes on DL as a "precautionary measure," assures everyone that it's not a major injury and he'll be ready to go in 14 days. (2008: still to come)
- Step 5: 14 days comes and goes, Harden still not ready, says that he's frustrated but "I just need to let myself heal"
- Step 6: One month after going on DL, Harden is re-activated. Makes scheduled start with middling results.
- Step 7: Harden is given extra rest before his next start. Insists that he is not "injury-prone" because this injury has nothing to do with the injury from last year (or the year before).
- Step 8: Harden makes next start, is pulled in second inning as injury is exacerbated.
- Step 9: Harden is immediately placed on DL again, with no timetable given for his return, other than he'll "likely be activated after the All-Star Break."
- Step 10: All-Star Break comes and goes, still no Harden. Team doctors say Harden "is not responding to the treatment the way we'd like."
- Step 11: By mid-August, discussions have begun about shutting him down for the season, although Harden insists he can heal and still get out there and help
- the team for the stretch run.
- Step 12: By late August, the final decision is made to shut him down, as the A's are out of the race, and Harden needs as much time to get healthy for next year as possible.
The 13th step is, of course, that the whole ridiculous process will just repeat itself again next year.
Now taking bets as to when Step 4 will be achieved...
(For the record, step four was reached later in that same day, April 10, 2008, as Harden went on the DL).