We have come too far to turn back now

We have come too far to turn back now

Boston Red Sox pitcher Chris Sale is on his flway back from Tommy John surgery.

He underwent the procedure to replace ulnar collateral ligament in his left elbow last March, so that puts Sale on pace to return to the Red Sox rotation sometime around June, if he’s lucky.

There is a pretty good chance the Red Sox will take it slow and wait until July or August. Some things are just not worth rushing.

It usually takes a pitcher 12 to 15 months to recover from the surgery, and that return is a slow, tedious process. No matter how badly a pitcher wants to get back on the mound, he cannot push it.

He has to go through all the initial rehab steps before eventually being able to throw again. When he can throw, he has to take baby steps. He will throw from flat ground, work his way up to the mound and then gradually ramp up his throwing.

If he feels any sort of pain or discomfort at any point, the pitcher must take a step back in the process.

If Sale were to just go to the mound on the first day of spring training and fire a fastball, he would likely set himself back months, if not longer.

Such a foolish move could mean he has to go back under the knife.

Recovering from Tommy John surgery is kind of like getting through a pandemic. You have to have patience to make it.

Right now, we can see the light at the end of the COVID-19 tunnel, and if we go through some more slow, tedious steps, we can all be back on the mound something this year. If we try to rush it, would could erase so much of the progress we have made.

On Friday, Montana Gov. Greg Gianforte sent us all to the bump to fire a premature fastball that could derail our recovery. The Governor put an end to the statewide mask mandate that has been helping save lives since July.

The reversal comes as the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends wearing two masks when out in public.

The Butte-Silver Bow Health Department quickly issued a statement to make it clear that the mask mandate will still be in effect in the Mining City.

From Day 1, the Butte heath department has made safety a priority. It started when it canceled the St. Patrick’s Day celebrations last year, and the department has unquestionably saved lives. It is hard to say just how many lives have been saved, but it surely could include yours or mine.

Gianforte decided to get rid of the statewide mandate because he says he favors personal responsibility over mandates. He said he will wear a mask when he works in Helena.

Normally, I would not argue with his philosophy. Like most of us, I do not like people telling me what to do.

The problem is that so many Montanans have proven that they do not have the ability to show any kind of courtesy or compassion to their fellow citizens. When your personal responsibility can kill others, well, then the rest of us should have a say.

While the mandate has been followed strictly in Butte, Bozeman, Missoula and Helena, the order was openly flouted in places like Billings, Kalispell and the Bitterroot Valley, that scenic piece of paradise that offers a mixture of the wild west and the Twilight Zone.

When stopping at convenience stores on a trip to Lockwood in November, fellow customers stared like there was something wrong with me for obeying the governor’s mask mandate.

You would think I was not wearing any pants. I was. At least I think I was.

Last week, Stevensville fans came to Butte to watch a high school boys’ basketball game between their Yellowjackets and Butte Central at the Maroon Activities Center. Not one fan from Stevensville wore a mask during the game.

They all must have had their masks on to enter the arena, otherwise they would have not been allowed in. During the game, however, not a single visiting fan had any kind of facial covering on as they crowded together and yelled over the press table about the referee conspiracy to steal the game from their winless team.

Dealing with such people was no treat while the statewide mandate was in place. It will be impossible now that the new governor overturned it.

The unmasked crusaders will be emboldened the governor’s decision. We will be overrun by Karen videos.

Good luck to the volunteers working the Western A Divisional basketball tournaments in Butte Feb. 25-27. Without calling in the national guard, they will not be able to enforce the local rule.

That will not be an issue for the Class AA State tournaments that were supposed to be in Butte. The Montana High School Association Executive Board decided to pull the tournament out of Butte because our health department will only allow two spectators per player, up to 40 per team.

The board would rather take the tournament to Great Falls, where they will allow more fans to pack the gym.

It is worth noting that COVID-19 is just as deadly in Great Falls as it is in Butte. Actually, the Electric City has had twice as many deaths as the Mining City.

It is also worth noting that the announcement to move the Class A tournaments to allow more fans came 337 days after all of the Montana championship games were canceled because four cases were detected in the state. Four cases.

Then we lost the entire spring season as the virus spread to all four corners of Montana.

Remember how horrible the spring was last year? It stunk so badly that we all watched The Tiger King on Netflix.

Hopefully, everyone in the state will listen to the governor’s words about “personal responsibility” and realize it us on all of us to make sure that we do not have to go through another spring like that.

The end is in sight. The vaccinations, while maddingly slow, are coming for all of us. If we wear masks and respect the health, safety and space of others, we just might be able to go back to normal in time for the next football season.

We got through the fall and most of the winter season by taking baby steps. If we continue with that, we can continue to let the student-athletes compete in the sporting events for which they dedicate so much time and effort.

If we toss the masks too soon, we could set ourselves and those athletes back months, putting the spring sports in jeopardy. Then all the things we missed out on would have been missed for nothing.

We just might kill a whole lot more people along the way, too. The lives lost could surely include yours or mine.

Giving up on wearing masks now would be like Chris Sale losing his patience and throwing as hard as he can when spring training opens later this week.

It would be such a waste.

— Bill Foley, who is almost certain he is wearing pants, writes a column that appears Tuesdays on ButteSports.com. Email him at foley@buttesports.com. Follow him at twitter.com/Foles74

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  • Larry Lakel
    February 16, 2021, 12:04 pm

    Always enjoyed your articles! I live in Anaconda and met you while I was running the down markers at a BC and Copperhead game in the 90s. My sister Maureen Hamblin would save the Butte Weekly however she passed in Oct.

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