Saturday, September 23, 2006
It just killed me to see Nick Johnson lying there, wreathing in pain, Austin Kearns, stunned, devastated--crying; The two had just collided, violently, both chasing a pop up in a game long since decided, but being the professionals they are, never giving up. Big Nick Johnson, receiving the brunt of the physical damage, a potential career threatening Broken Right Femur (Thigh Bone). Kearns maybe, receiving something far worse, psychological distress-- potential Mental Breakdown from being involved in such a ghastly accident.
The Washington Nationals may well have lost much of their near future today.
Unless The African Queen was to unexpectedly pass, I doubt I would feel much worse. Being the Rabid Fan I am, I was still watching today's final 12-6 blowout by the New York Mets over our Nats, always looking for something positive even in losing. When David Wright blooped that Jason Bergmann pitch over Nick's head in the bottom of the 8th, you just knew that Johnson would never give up on it. Kearns also hustling all the way. Johnson tried to make one of his off balance awkward slides to catch the ball, while Austin tried to make a sliding catch--the two slamming hard into each other, Kearns left knee crushing into Nick's upper right thigh, just above the knee. You could tell right away that Johnson was horribly hurt. Jose Vidro, trailing the play, IMMEDIATELY started signaling for medical help, obviously HEARING the sound of broken bone. Johnson turning over on his stomach, throwing his glove, then his cap, screaming in agony--his right leg, totally immobile immediately--Kearns knocked backward, facedown, seemingly knocked out for the count.
Play thankfully stopped and Shea Stadium was SILENT. Medical help ran onto the field, Frank Robinson moving faster than I had ever seen him move over the past two seasons. Mets Manager, Willie Randolph, the class act that he has always been, rushing out to help. Medical staff giving Johnson a towel to stuff into his mouth, trying to help Nick fight off the agonizing pain. Kearns would slowly get up, while sitting on his knees, staring at Nick in disbelief, the TEARS JUST STARTED FLOWING!!
Alfonso Soriano, standing with Ryan Zimmerman, holding his mouth in horror over what he was seeing. Brian Schneider, running as fast as he could to help out his best friend, Nick Johnson. And me, agonizing to no end, watching on TV. The African Queen, working on something in the Kitchen, not fully aware of what had just occurred, not understanding why I am asking her to please be quiet for a few seconds. THIS IS IMPORTANT!! Sohna realizing something very bad had just happened.
When the Medical Staff brought out the stretcher and then splinted Nick's right leg, you knew this was the end for Nick Johnson for 2006 and possibly 2007. Austin Kearns was now on his feet, Totally in Shock. Kearns standing all alone mumbling to himself, tears flowing. Nook Logan would finally come over to console him. It didn't help. As Johnson rolled over and was put on the stretcher and lifted onto the mobile cart, Frank Robinson turned away, dropping his head--me knowing that he just heard Nick Johnson scream in pain. I had seen it before, know the reaction of losing a close friend to a painful broken bone injury. Willie Randolph, standing 5 feet away, letting the medical folks do their job, but wanting to show his support. Nick and Willie having been with the Yankees for a few seasons together in the early 2000's
To New York Fans GREAT CREDIT, As Johnson was driven off the field, the Shea Stadium Crowd stood for a rousing Standing Ovation. Willie Randolph leading the clapping, the cart driving down the right field foul line and over to the centerfield exit for the awaiting ambulance. It was heartwrenching to see TV pictures showing Nick CRYING UNCONTROLLABLY on that cart. I just lost it--seeing such a proud competitive man lose out on a freakish injury. Austin Kearns was still standing in right field, shaking his head, still crying. There was no way Austin could continue in this game. Frank doing the right thing and sending in George Lombard to replace Austin. Austin with tears streaming down his eyes while jogging to the Nats 3rd base dugout, plopping himself down on the bench, holding his now drooping head. Teammates trying to console him, to no avail.
Later, MickNats would call me, hearing that Nick Johnson was injured, wanting to know what happened. I could barely recite the story, the incident bothering me to no end.
Today, our Washington Nationals lost their most important element, HEART. Nick Johnson, in many ways is the Heart and Soul of this team. Today, that heart was lost in devastating fashion. Nick Johnson will be lost and MISSED for some time. A Broken Femur can take 1 year to fully recover. Austin Kearns, finally coming around after being homesick from being traded from Cincinnati, will have a major mental scar. A scar that will be very hard to overcome, until, and if, Nick Johnson fully recovers.
Personally, I have not been able to concentrate of anything the rest of the day. Tonight, Mr and Mrs MickNats, The African Queen and I went to RFK Stadium to watch our very first DC United Soccer Match. I just couldn't concentrate. And, running into so many Ushers and Ticket Takers I see at Washington Nationals games, just made me think more about Nick and Austin. In fact, 3 separate ushers, knowing I was probably up on the incident, wanted me to give them play by play of the collision.
Despite our terrible 2006 season, the Nationals were starting to show some promise for 2007. That promise has now been delayed. September 23, 2006 is a terrible day for the Washington Nationals Franchise and their FANS.
Good Luck, Best Wishes for a speedy recovery for NICK JOHNSON. I will miss you until the day you, once again, don a Nats Uniform in a regular season game. Austin Kearns, it was not your fault, its very devastating to be involved in such an incident. Don't let it kill you, and your career. No One is going to blame you--especially not me. I understand, I;ve been through this before.
Nick Johnson, Austin Kearns and OUR WASHINGTON NATIONALS--need our support now more than ever.