Travis Hafner. Erik Bedard. Brad Lidge. Colby Lewis. Jake Peavy. Marco Scutaro. Chris Snelling. Jayson Werth.
Those guys all debuted in 2002. Some are still going strong, and some aren't. They've all spent some time in my column, Under The Knife, in its various incarnations and locations. I share something in common with them. We all debuted in 2002.
I sent an email out to three friends—Jim Callis, Rob Miller and Lee Sinins—and asked if people would be interested in reading about injuries. All of them encouraged me, and in the weeks to come, it went from three to 10, from 10 to 300, from 300 to 3,000. Peter Gammons talked about my column on Tony Kornheiser and I nearly drove into a telephone pole. Rob Neyer made me his "Link of the Week" and I was astounded.
I still am, every time someone reads this column.
I spend most of Monday sitting and waiting to talk about the Manny Machado injury on MLB Network. I spent time on my phone, watching MLB.tv.
Think about this for a minute. None of this existed in 2002. A cable network that's nothing but baseball? A phone where you could watch games? Jet packs!
And all because of you. You read this column. You love it and sometimes hate it. You call me on every slight mistake and make me work to be better. You learn something, I hope, along with me. In 12 years, I've never stopped enjoying the game or writing this column. It's not easy, but the idea remains the same. Telling stories through the lens of sports medicine is something I hope I can do 12 more years.
There's more people than I could list here to thank and many of them are sources, so I couldn't name them. So to avoid skipping any of them, I'll just tip my cap. I hope they all know who they are and how much I appreciate them.
I started this season just a few weeks after a heart attack nearly ended me. Standing on the field at Miller Park on Opening Day, chatting with Gord Ash, Doug Melvin and Dan Wright, lifted my spirits more than I can ever tell you, and with each game, I remember why I love baseball. My boyhood hero, Ryne Sandberg, is now a manager, but as life goes on, like Terrence Mann said, the one constant is baseball.
Thank you. See you in the playoffs and I hope I will see you all next season.