Friday, June 22, 2012

Nose for the Ball

People.  They’re the worst.

It is easy to lose faith in humanity.  There are a lot of bad actors in the world, from terrorists to pedophiles to people who text while driving.  In my profession, human resources, I have seen some reprehensible behavior, although I am duty bound by my professional code of conduct not to divulge any of the sordid details in this public forum.  Ask me about the IT manager, the temp and the copy machine after a few beers, however, and I might crack.

Today my faith in humanity was shaken again.  This story from MSNBC had me bemoaning the end of civilization.  When people ask me why I moved from New Jersey, I think in the future I will just reference this story:

MANCHESTER TOWNSHIP, N.J. - A New Jersey woman who was struck in the face with a baseball at a Little League game is suing the young catcher who threw it.

Elizabeth Lloyd is seeking more than $150,000 in damages to cover medical costs stemming from the incident at a Manchester Little League game two years ago. She's also seeking an undefined amount for pain and suffering. 

Lloyd was sitting at a picnic table near a fenced-in bullpen when she was hit with the ball. 

Catcher Matthew Migliaccio was 11 years old at the time and was warming up a pitcher.

The lawsuit filed April 24 alleges Migliaccio's errant throw was intentional and reckless, "assaulted and battered" Lloyd and caused "severe, painful and permanent" injuries.

A second count alleges Migliaccio's actions were negligent and careless through "engaging in inappropriate physical and/or sporting activity" near Lloyd. She continues to suffer pain and anguish, incur medical expenses and has been unable to carry out her usual duties and activities, the lawsuit says. 

And Lloyd's husband, in a third count, is suing for the loss of "services, society and consortium" of his wife. They've demanded a jury trial. 

Matthew's father, Bob Migliaccio, said they were concerned for Lloyd when it happened. Then his son started receiving threatening and nasty letters, he said, and he started getting angry. 

"The whole thing has almost been surreal," Migliaccio said. "We keep thinking it's just going to go away, and then a week and a half ago a sheriff shows up at my door to serve my son the papers." 

Migliaccio said if his son had been horsing around, he would feel differently. But Matthew was doing what his coaches told him to do, he said, and noted Little League players aren't always accurate in their throws.

I will admit that I do not have all of the details, but it sure does sound like Elizabeth Lloyd is not a nice person.  No wonder Mr. Lloyd is suffering from a loss of “services”.

I am sympathetic to a young ball player with the rocket for an arm.  As a lad in the New Jersey Little League of the ‘70s, I too had a cannon for an arm.  Unfortunately like Matthew Migliaccio, I was directionally challenged.  My throws featured a surprise hook or a slice, a preview of my future golf game.  My ball went a country mile, but my aim was what one might call “erratic”.  Just ask my sister.

In a non-sanctioned game played in my backyard, I once let loose a hardball at high speed, planning for the ball to fly into the glove of my friend, Oscar.  Instead the ball hurled towards my sister, and I did what any kid would do in order to protect his sister.  I yelled, “Look out!”

Now, in retrospect, “Look out!” is the exact wrong instruction to give to a person in this situation.  Instinctually, the person being yelled at will turn in the direction of the shout so they know what to “look out!” for.  My sister turned her face in the direction of the ball, and I flattened her nose.

Blood.  Lots of blood.  As she screamed for the attention she always craved, I went through the same emotions as Matthew Migliaccio did when the ball struck face – guilt, sadness, anger that the victim chose to turn into the ball instead of away from the ball.  I can totally relate. 

Come to think of it, my sister lives in Jersey now, and she knows an attorney, a pretty darn good one, so he tells me.  Just remember, little sis, the statute of limitations has probably expired and besides, I am not worth that much (as you have been kind enough to remind me on occasion).  On top of that, you still have your looks, unlike poor Elizabeth Lloyd, and hopefully, consortium is plentiful although I’d prefer not to think about it.

Thankfully I know that my sister comes from good stock (well, 'stock' anyway) and would never resort to legal action just because I tattooed her mug with a baseball 40 years ago.  C’mon – sign the release and restore my faith in people!

And next time, look AWAY.

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