No one expected Doc to take the news about his right latissimus dorsi with a smile. Maybe a tight, grim smile, forged through years of PR training, as blood slowly drips out the sides of his mouth. But other than bone-chilling smiles of men watching their life’s purpose be pushed aside due to human weakness, no indications of acceptance were considered.
So it was in a refusal to accept his injured state that Doc stalked across the hall and outside of the visiting team’s quarantined zone of Citi Field, putting him well within the realm wild dog attacks. Yet he was not to be stopped in his search for a second medical opinion, and he got one from Dr. David Altchek, the Mets team physician.
Now, I know what you’re thinking. ”The Mets doctor? Wouldn’t he just tell him his arm was dead and he should retire, or inject bone poison into his spine?” And the answer is, these employees of teams often have no personal vendettas against rival players. They just live a passionless existence, clocking in and out and refusing to partake in the same primal instincts that make us human, like poisoning a future Hall of Famer after gaining his trust.
So who is this Altchek character? Some kind of back alley veterinarian surrounded by caged rats? No. He is one of the most popular, well known medical professionals in New York City. He’s treated everybody from Jorge Posada to James Gandolfini, who are both still pitching in the Major Leagues to this day. He’s also a skilled golfer and has appeared in a Ralph Lauren ad. He is Ralph Lauren’s doctor.
Nobody was insulted when Doc left Dr. Michael Ciccotti’s expertise bubble and went to Altchek. In fact, the Phillies apparently encouraged it.
“It just provides further peace of mind.”
‘Peace of mind’ might be a bit of a stretch as far as ‘things Doc has right now.’ I’m sure the public speaking Doc will do on Friday after all of his doctors have had the chance to meet, ask each other if they all noticed the remarkably low temperature of Roy Halladay’s blood, shudder, and discuss the topic at hand, will show just how peaceful he is.
It was not out of fear that Doc went to the enemy. It was not out of doubt. It was out of shocking desperation. Or passion. Or, forgetfulness. We don’t know. We just know that one diagnosis was not good enough for Roy Halladay. And Friday, we’ll get to hear the probably definitely uplifting news he has for us.