Freak accidents can happen any day, any time, no matter who you are or where you are.
In baseball, you can dislocate your shoulder sliding into second base. You can tear your ACL playing pickup basketball in the offseason. A broken fingernail or a blister can put you on the disabled list for weeks. In football, you can bust your knee during a post-interception celebration.
So good for A.J. Burnett for pledging to keep living life the way he wants to live it in the face of potential freak accidents, like the one that struck the Marlins’ Chris Coghlan on Sunday.
After teammate Wes Helms delivered the walkoff single that led to the Marlins’ 11-inning, 5-4 win over the Braves, Coghlan jumped into the celebration, like so many have done before him for years. But as Coghlan delivered a shaving cream pie to Helms’ face — as has become custom for some teams during walkoff celebrations — he came down awkwardly on his left knee. Further tests determined that he tore the meniscus, will be out for six to eight weeks and may require surgery.
It certainly puts a damper on the celebration –but not enough of a damper to deter Burnett. What are the chances this happens again, anyway?
"I feel sorry for him," Burnett told the New York Daily News on Wednesday. "You can’t take the fun out of the game, but you have to do it right, I guess. It's an unfortunate incident, but I'm still going to throw pies."
There is, however, an art to pie-throwing that Burnett has perfected over the years. If you’re going to do it, you have to do it right, and fortunately, Burnett has had plenty of practice.
"I don't exactly go full-sprint at somebody with a pie," the Yankees hurler said. "Stuff happens, I guess. I always try to somewhat think safety first — unless I'm snapping — even when I'm pie-ing."
It’s a miracle that these things don’t happen more often. Those pig piles can get pretty rowdy. People get their heads bashed in, they get stepped on, they may take an errant elbow to the face here and there. But this is baseball, and anything could happen at any time. A line drive back to the mound could mean the end of a career, and coming down wrong on the bag when you’re trying to leg out a single could keep you out of action till next year.
Professional athletes often preach that they play every game like it’s their last because realistically, any game could be their last. Granted, this is most often the credo of professional football players who view a day at work a success if they can remain conscious the whole time, but all sports are dangerous. It’s part of the game, and there’s no use living in fear of the freak accident waiting around the corner.
Good for Burnett for staring down the unknown, pie in hand. Nothing is going to get in the way of his postgame celebrations, and nothing should. Those are part of the game, too.