Those who know me will vouch that I don't do silence well. I'm chatty by nature and even my whispering is loud. Apparently I don't even do silence when I sleep, my wife says. I'll probably still be muttering at my funeral.
But this latest twist in this odd season for the Nationals did the trick. As Dukes crumpled to the ground, my jaw hit the floor. I may have muttered something incomprehensible. I can't recall. Mostly I stared at the TV and shook my head. No freaking way this is happening.
We've gone round and round on Dukes before on here. None of that is relevant now. Even if I thought him the most despicable person on earth, I wouldn't wish injury on him. He'd grown on me completely as a player and I was dealing with the other stuff.
I can't say it as well as Tim Redding did in today's story in the Post:
"I'm not worried about how I did. I'm worried about Elijah Dukes right now. It's definitely a blow. We've had enough injuries already for any team in a whole season, let alone in the first three months. And to see a kid go down who is passionate about winning and lays it out on the line day in and day out, you go home, pray and hope he's doing all right."
I will add this: If he indeed has a partially torn patella tendon, forget that 4-6 weeks. I don't want him back this season. If that goes completely, you have a real mess on your hands. There's no pennant to be won. Like Zimmerman, don't rush it with a key piece of the future. Get it right and then get him back.
I don't really care who replaces him out there, the dropoff will be considerable. We've already seen what Wily Mo can (or can't) do. I'd rather see them give another kid a shot but the kid they're giving a shot to right now isn't exactly tearing it up. Willie Harris to left, Casto called up and put at third and Belliard at second? Whatever. Like it matters.
Odd how things change over time. If you told me when Dukes was acquired that I'd be sitting here one Sunday with a boulder in my stomach over what happened to him, I would have sneered. Now I'm sitting here with a boulder in my stomach.
The only good thing in all this is I'm not stewing over yet another loss. I'm not cursing, wondering if Flores should have caught that thing and made the tag or if the bad hop made that impossible. I'm not fretting 100 losses, I see that as inevitable.
I am wondering if they ought to get Flores out of there before something happens to him - most agree the four key position players for the future are Flores, Zimmerman, Dukes and Milledge. The thought of all four on the DL at once gives me the shakes.