Hangin’ at the Clinic With A-Rod
by Peter Shelton
Mar 13, 2009 | 1102 views | 0 0 comments | 18 18 recommendations | email to a friend | print

Uh. Sorry to bother you, but I couldn’t help noticing: you’re Alex Rodriguez. Whoa, imagine finding myself sitting next to A-Rod here in the waiting room at the clinic!

Here in Vail. At the clinic. Steadman-Hawkins Clinic, yeah. With all these blown-up photos on the wall of famous knee-jobs: Elway, Montana, Cindy Nelson. That’s her over there. U.S. downhiller in the 80s? Guess you might be up there one of these days, huh? Big signed poster. “Thanks for fixin’ my hip. Alex R.”

Yeah, Dr. Steadman pioneered some pretty radical joint-repair stuff. Lotta skiers. Scoping. Heavy rehab. Micro-fracturing. Not really fracturing, I learned; it’s drilling. Little holes in your bone. Stimulates the body to grow more padding on its own. Kind of like cartilage but not really. Like the stuff that’s leakin’ outta your hip joint. But different.

Yeah, I’m here to see Dr. Philippon, too. French Canadian guy. Big hip guy. Famous hip guy. Imagine that – my right hip, your right hip. Who knew, right?

So, how’s it goin’? Well, not great with the hip thing, right? First your brother says you’re having surgery. Then the Yankees say they’re goin’ the conservative route with the rest and rehab. Then somebody else makes the announcement that you’re coming here for “hybrid” surgery, repair the tear in the labrum first, right, and hope you can play most of the season, then go in again in November to fix the impingement? Is that right?

Yeah, it was kind of the same deal with me. Not a labrum tear, though. See, I’m a little older than you, and I just wore my hip out. Skiing. Yeah, well it is possible. I did it. Apparently.

So, anyway, before I was bone-on-bone – you don’t want to let it get that far, believe me – I came over here to Dr. Philippon. He thought he could do his micro-fracturing deal on me since my cartilage was still at about 50 percent. I was right on the edge. He said he could buy me a couple of years before I’d need total hip replacement. Maybe. If it worked.

He was maybe not going to do it until I told him I needed to ski for my livelihood, that I was a professional skier. Sort of. Not that I ever… not that any skier ever could be in the same league… I mean, papers say you’re making $175,000 a day! Whether you’re working or not!

Whoa. Excuse me, I had to catch my breath there for a minute. OK. I’m OK now.

Anyway, so some people are saying you’re just doing this to distract attention away from the whole steroid admission thing. But I don’t believe that. I mean, who would go so far as to fake missing the World Baseball Classic, and the MRI and the whole deal. And this, coming all the way out to Colorado. See, we’re sittin’ right here together in the waiting room. So…

I mean, come on. I said to my wife that if you were faking it, it was because of your personal problems, your divorce and breaking up Madonna’s marriage and all that. She said, no. She said the steroid thing was gonna blow your whole career out of the water. How you had been this savior, “the Natural,” she called you. She’s an English teacher, so she was referring to the Robert Redford movie, you know, but being ironic at the same time about how you were all pure – natural, get it? – and you were gonna beat that cheat Barry Bonds’s home run records. Of course, that’s all in the soup now.

I told her, I said I thought this had nothing to do with the steroid business, whether or not you’ve been telling the whole truth about that. No, I said, if he’s faking it’s because of something way more deep-seated, something like that self-absorption thing you’ve got going on. The way you can wrack up those huge individual numbers during the regular season and then just completely tighten up when the team needs you in the post-season.

Am I right? That stuff’s way bigger than a simple “loosey-goosey era” young man’s experimenting with needles? Am I right?

Anyway. Hey, maybe that’s how you tore your labrum in the first place! Swingin’ for the fences with your hip all tight like that? From the pressure? Worth thinkin’ about.

Oh, hey, they’re callin’ your name. So, anyway, good luck, man. Can I call you “man”? OK, well, good luck with it.
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