On Friday night, that nightmare came true for Colorado Rockies rookie Juan Nicasio.
In the second inning, Nicasio was smoked by a line drive off of the bat of Ian Desmond. The ball struck Nicasio on the right side of his neck, near his jaw.
The sound of the impact was scary enough, but as replays showed, Nicasio went down head first into the mound. From the look of it, the right-hander was knocked out cold by the blast, which caused him to hit the dirt head first. Keith Dugger, the Rockies trainer was at the mound first, and camera's showed Todd Helton and Jim Tracy come behind him.
The look on a generally stoic Helton's face told the whole story. He was in shock by what he was taking in, followed immediately by Tracy looking as if he might throw up due to the scene at the mound. Dugger quickly put a towel over Nicasio's neck and summonsed the paramedics, who put the pitcher on a flat board and carted him to the waiting ambulance.
In a season full of disappointment for the Rockies, it was the last thing that they needed. They went on to lose the game, but frankly, no one cared.
Sometimes for those of us who follow sports, particularly one team on a regular basis, it is easy to get wrapped up in the game itself. We get connected to players, coaches and managers. We watch every move that they make and analyze it. The reality is, these players who we barely know, end up being a big part of our lives.
It is situation's like Friday night's that are the reminder that probably everyone who is a huge sports fan needs. No one ever likes to see an injury like Nicasio's, but it serves the purpose of how trivial sports really are, how a bad call from an umpire, a home run given up by a closer, or a strike out with the bases loaded are the last thing that should keep people up at night.
The situation is scary for those who witnessed it, but put yourself in Nicasio's shoes. The pitcher is just 24-years old. He is from the Dominican Republic and knows very little English. It is doubtful that he has parents or family in the United States, and getting a hold of them is probably not as easy as Americans are used to having it. That is a scary situation.
The only report on Nicasio so far is that he is "resting comfortably in the hospital as he undergoes a battery of tests." However, as Troy Tulowitzki addressed the media after the game, it was clear that he was choking back tears. He mentioned that it was a neck injury, but wouldn't elaborate on the severity of it.
The scary part of what he said was when he compared the situation to the death of Rockies president Keli McGregor, who suddenly died on April 20th of 2010. If there was any hope that Nicasio's injury is a small one, that hope was squashed when that comparison was made.
More information will probably come out as the night unfolds, but at this point, there are no thoughts on the Rockies record, who is performing and who is failing, there are no second guesses of Tracy's managerial decisions, and there are no questions about why this team under performs.
The thoughts are all on Nicasio, and his health.