Ok, Here's The View From My Couch

July 22, 2009|By Peter Schmuck

The British Open has been over for a couple of days, and Tom Watson is probably home taking a blowtorch to his 8-iron, but I'm still sitting exactly in the same position I was when he overshot the green at 18 and came up just short of what would have been one of the most amazing feats in the history of professional sports.

I'd like to say I'm still sitting here in front of the television in disbelief, waiting for one of the SportsCenter replays to show he actually made that 9-foot putt on the 72nd hole of the tournament. If only that were so ... on two levels.

Instead, I'm sitting here with my foot in a cast because Father Time likes guys like Tom Watson and Lance Armstrong a lot more than he likes me.

I'm a lot younger than Watson and I'm quite a bit older than Armstrong, so you'd think that the old guy with the hourglass would have had trouble picking me out of a crowd, but he showed up five minutes into a pickup basketball game a couple of weeks ago and whacked my right Achilles tendon.

"That's a bad injury," Orioles manager Dave Trembley said when I limped into his news briefing last week, still hoping to avoid surgery. "That's a real bad injury."

I'm thinking of e-mailing Trembley and telling him I still might have gotten to third base faster than Cesar Izturis did on Brian Roberts' double Monday night, but that's because I've developed a sarcastic streak in the five days since getting my ankle put back together.

It is a real bad injury, from a sports perspective, because it takes at least six months to get back to full function. It's not a real bad injury from a getting-run-over-by-a-truck perspective, so I will count myself lucky. It's actually a pretty common injury among the middle-aged weekend warrior set.

Just for the sake of name-dropping, Miami Dolphins quarterback Dan Marino suffered an Achilles rupture in 1993 and came back to complete his Hall of Fame career. Many other great athletes - Boris Becker, Christian Laettner, Elgin Baylor, to name just a few - have popped that tendon and lived to compete another day.

If you're looking for irony, however, Brad Pitt would be your man. He actually injured his Achilles during a sword-fighting scene for the movie Troy, in which he played - you guessed it - Achilles.

Former Vice President Al Gore famously tore his Achilles playing basketball in 1994, which made him a foil for pundits who pointed out that he might not have had access to two well-regarded surgeons for his reattachment under the ill-fated Clinton plan to revamp the health care system.

Not sure whether he used the down time to invent the Internet or refine his position on global warming, but he seems to be walking fine now, which requires no fossil fuels.

This probably should be a cautionary tale for President Barack Obama, who loves basketball and looks like he's got some game. He's 47 years old - though a young-looking 47, I admit - which is actually a year older than Gore was when he felt that tell-tale pop.

There are enough stories of middle-aged guys - famous and otherwise - who have suffered this injury playing pickup basketball that I'm thinking of making a documentary about it.

Working title: Hoop Screams.

Of course, you can bust an Achilles in all sorts of ways, but you're a lot less likely to do it playing golf than basketball, which might explain why Watson was hiking around Turnberry for 76 holes at 59 and I was sitting on the couch with my leg perched on a couple of pillows rooting heavily for him to cheat the calendar.

Meanwhile, Armstrong was doing the same, attempting to win an unprecedented eighth Tour de France after a long layoff. Of course, he came all the way back from a life-threatening bout with cancer to perform the amazing feats that have made him an inspiration to millions around the world.

Compared with that, a few months on crutches will be a piece of cake.

Listen to Peter Schmuck weeknights at 6 on WBAL (1090 AM).

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