Sirk's Notebook: Story Time
It’s been a busy couple of weeks in Crewville, hasn’t it? A lightning delay before a dreadful loss to shorthanded Seattle, a coaching change, a thrilling win against Houston, a horrendous defeat on a patty-strewn Kansas City cow pasture, and a comeback win at first-place Montreal have flown by one right after the other. And then tucked in the middle of all that was Dos A Cero, Part Quatro, which, for Mexico, is like living the same horrible day over and over and over once every four years, as if the movie “Groundhog Day” also happened to fall on Leap Day. Or something.
Anyway, as a result of the whirlwind half-a-month in Crewville, I still have a lot of stuff that didn’t find its way into either of the recent Notebooks. There were some still usable items from the Seattle game that I never got to use because the coaching change preempted the Seattle Notebook. Then there were some stories from the coaching press conference that I felt didn’t fit the tone of that particular Notebook. Plus, there was a preposterous conversation that took place after the Houston game that was a better fit for this collection. I am calling this Notebook “Story Time” because it consists mostly of ludicrous stories that have little or nothing to do with actual soccer games. In fact, the only soccer content contained therein revolves around accidental physical calamity.
Since everyone is still smiling from Dos A Cero, and since Clint Dempsey’s last second penalty kick was pushed wide right, Scott Norwood style, by the collective telekinetic powers of over 24,000 people who felt that tradition demanded that the iconic scoreline be preserved, let’s start with a story about Deuce.
When the Seattle Sounders came to town on August 31, they brought their new superstar signing Clint Dempsey with them. He was in the starting lineup, which posed a problem for the Crew’s creative services team. They did not have a Sounders headshot of Dempsey to put up on the scoreboard when announcing the Seattle lineup.
“We had to get creative,” said the Crew’s creative services manager Will Bennett, whose title would suggest that it was something right up his group’s alley.
They could have just put a Sounders logo or a Twitter egg or something in the headshot’s place, but the Crew’s creative service coordinator, Eric Sinicki, pitched an idea to Bennett. Why not take an existing Sounders headshot and slap the famous Deuce Face photo on top of it? For those who don’t know, Deuce Face is a face that Dempsey (a.ka. “Deuce”) made at Crew Stadium last September while playing for the U.S. in a World Cup Qualifier against Jamaica. Captured by television cameras, the Deuce Face became an instant internet sensation. It still is, actually, and probably always will be.
Thanks to Sinicki’s quick thinking, Bennett displayed the following image on the Crew Stadium scoreboard when Dempsey was introduced on August 31:
Awesome. Pure awesome.
Late in the Seattle game, Crew defender Josh Williams paid the ultimate price for a blocked shot. He blocked a blast with his nether regions.
“I don’t know if he hit it with his hand and tried to blame it on his nuts, or if he actually used his nuts,” said goalkeeper Matt Lampson. “Either way, he got in front of it.”
After blocking the shot, rather than curling up in the fetal position and waiting for the painful hollowness to subside, Williams hopped around like an over-caffeinated kangaroo.
“That wasn’t good,” he said. “I kinda had a feeling it was coming right there. I kinda got my hands up so it wasn’t too bad, but it caught me square. I was in a little bit of a panic. Is it still there? Are they still there? I checked and they were all good to go. I tried to shake it off right away.”
So as a professional shot stopper, is this central groin technique something that Lampson discourages?
“You can do it all you want,” he said. “It just depends on if you want kids.”
Williams stressed that this type of block is not something in his defensive arsenal.
“I wasn’t trying, man,” he said. “That’s not a technique that I work on.”
On Labor Day, Brian Bliss was introduced as the Crew’s interim head coach. After all of the official press conference business was over, Bliss told me I should have asked one more question. Any question. This is because the last query posed to Mark McCullers was about whether or not command of the English language would be one of the criteria for the Crew’s coaching search. (In other words, “Is Guillermo Barros Schelotto in the running?”) This sent Bliss’s mischievous mind in motion.
“I was waiting for the next question because I was going to answer in German,” said Bliss, who played six years in Germany. “How could there not be one more question? We were up there for a half hour! Then when I want to answer a question in German, suddenly there’s no more questions? Come on! I was ready!”
Bliss got to make use of his joke the next day, though, so it wasn’t a totally wasted opportunity. When Adam Jardy of the Columbus Dispatch asked who would communicate with the Spanish-speaking players, Bliss responded to him in German. It was a joke that had been incubating for almost 24 hours.
During the Crew’s reserve game against FC Dallas on August 27, Crew defender Kyle Hyland left the game after taking an elbow to the mouth in a collision with Kenny Cooper. At halftime, Adam Jardy tweeted the following photo of a search party gathered on the field, looking for Kyle’s half-a-tooth:
I figured this warranted a roundtable discussion. After the Seattle game, once the locker room had all but emptied out, I sat down with Head Athletic Trainer Dave Lagow and Director of Team Operations Tucker Walther. This meandering and ridiculous conversation also features an amusing cameo by Chad Marshall and a surprise guest star in Bliss. Here we go….
SIRK: So tell me the story of Kyle’s tooth.
LAGOW: Kyle went up for a ball against Kenny Cooper, who is likely three times the size of Kyle. Then Tony Tchani jumped as well, pushed Kenny into Kyle, and then Kyle ended up trying to eat Kenny’s elbow. That was unsuccessful, and he instead ending up eating his own bottom lip. That took off about a half of his tooth…bottom half of a top tooth. So Steve [Purcell], being the lead A.T. for the game, goes out on the field to look at him, and realizes that the damage is too much to patch up and get him back in the game, so he sends him off and hands him off to me to take him inside, so Steve can keep watching the game. I call the dentist because he’s going to need some dental work.
SIRK: So what are you seeing once you get inside?
LAGOW: I’m seeing half of a tooth and a large gash in his bottom lip that was essentially a triangle, but the bottom part was still attached so it was like… a flap. It was a large flap. But other than that, he said he felt great, He was just pissed that he had to come out of the game. So I called the dentist, and the dentist was like, “Yeah, we need to see him, and if you can find the tooth, you need to find it.” I’m like, “Well, it’s somewhere on the field,” He’s like, “You need to find the tooth.”
So I left Kyle and went back out there, and luckily was able to amass a search party. It was myself, Dr. Johnson, Blissy, Jeremy Parkins, and maybe somebody else. So Blissy identifies roughly what he thinks the area is. We start looking around and we’re not really finding anything, and then Tucker started walking over from the far side and Danny [O’Rourke] said, “No, it’s not where Bliss said. It’s more over here.”
Then we found one spot of blood and another blood spot. And then Hawkeye Tucker came over and said, “That’s where it is.” Sure enough, after 25 or 30 minutes more of play in the first half, his tooth was still on the field. So then we packed it up and shipped it off. We have yet to get confirmation from the dentist if he used the tooth part or not to glue it back on. I guess he had had some previous injury where there was a cap or prosthetic, so he wasn’t really upset about it.
But the moral of the story is this—if you are forming a search party with Crew people and you really want to find something, make sure you bring Tucker and make sure you send Blissy for coffee. Blissy had us in the wrong spot.
WALTHER: I’m the fixer. I’m like the guy in Pulp Fiction who fixes the problems.
LAGOW: The guy at the end?
WALTHER: The guy who melts the bodies.
LAGOW: And cleans the car out. What’s his name?
WALTHER: I don’t remember.
MARSHALL: How do you glue a tooth back on? That’s some serious Elmer’s going on.
WALTHER: Gorilla Glue.
SIRK: In the old Krazy Glue commercial, they suspended a guy from a steel girder with it!
WALTHER: [To Chad] Didn’t you eat glue?
WALTHER: I think every kindergartner eats glue.
LAGOW: I was at a soccer tournament in Brazil and we literally closed a guy’s eye gash with Krazy Glue. Not medical glue. I had Krazy Glue in my bag in case somebody’s boot split open. We had to get back on the field, and I looked at the doctor, and he said, “Yeah, that’ll be fine.”
MARSHALL: I like the smell of gasoline.
LAGOW: Dude, I thought I was the only guy. I’m not gonna lie.
WALTHER: So you’re pouring gas on your hands and going [long draw-out sniff]?
LAGOW: You’re actually the guy who’s not upset when you get your gas and accidentally step in a puddle and it follows you all day.
MARSHALL: No, I’m okay with that.
LAGOW: So am I.
SIRK: [To Tucker] So back to you finding things. You could have found my (bleeping) keys when I lost them in Toronto.
LAGOW: You’re a baseball fan, right? Tuck’s the closer. He’s the Mariano Rivera of tooth-finding.
WALTHER: Basically, it was their irresponsible-ness. Kyle never should have gone up against this (bleeping) giant. He never should have put his face there. And then these guys are looking on the other side of the field. It’s really easy. You just go to where it actually happened and look for a white-colored bloody tooth. There were like eight thousand people walking around over there, some of them in suits, and I’m like, “Really? I can see it from here. And I’m legally (bleeping) blind.”
LAGOW: It was me and Parkins. We were the dogs that picked up the trail and then you came in. I’m trying to give you credit.
WALTHER: I would have picked up the scent like that. [Snaps fingers.]
LAGOW: I’m trying to give you credit and you’re (bleeping) stabbing me in the back. What’s up with that?
WALTHER: Mr. Wolf! That’s the guy from Pulp Fiction.
[Bliss leaves Warzycha’s office and is on his way out of the locker room.]
SIRK: There’s Blissy.
LAGOW: Blissy! Get over here! We’re talking about tooth-finding and how you’re the coffee guy.
BLISS: Coffee guy?
SIRK: Yeah, they say if I’m ever looking for a tooth, I should just send you to go get coffee.
WALTHER: If we’re looking for a needle in a haystack, you should leave.
BLISS: You guys are so off base. I don’t even want to get into this discussion based on what happened with the game tonight, but I will tell you right now, I misinterpreted where the actual accident happened.
BLISS: I misjudged it. I misjudged where it actually was. From the epicenter, I was off by probably six feet.
LAGOW: Ten yards.
BLISS: Six yards. Six yards, not six feet. Tucker said, “I think it might be closer to this hash mark,” and we had seven guys, so I was like, “Okay.”
WALTHER: Which I never said.
BLISS: Somebody said it. Who said it?
LAGOW: It wasn’t Tucker. He was on the other side.
BLISS: Well, whatever. Someone said it. So we had like seven guys, and we were all doing this… [Bliss crouches down into some weird search stance.]
SIRK: So, wait. Were you guys on your hands and knees?
BLISS: No, we’re all like this. [Crouches down again and pantomimes sweeping the grass with his foot.] So then I see the big blood spot in the grass where he spit out the blood. So I found the blood spot, which was about the size of a quarter. So I’m like, “Ah! Blood! There it is!” And then Dave goes, “There’s more blood right there.”
WALTHER: Setup men and the closer. I’m on the bleachers like eight yards away and I’m like, “It’s right THERE!”
BLISS: No, he was right on top of it. I saw the quarter-sized blood spot. Dave’s off my shoulder and he says, “There’s another blood spot.” And then Tucker comes over and goes, “Ow!” [Bliss pretends Tucker stepped on the tooth.]
WALTHER: How could I have said “ow”? I had shoes on. I’m not a (bleeping) savage.
BLISS: No, but Tucker came over and said, “There it is.” So anyway, I was out of my element, but I found the first blood. I found the first blood in the grass. I mean, come on. That was pretty good.
LAGOW: It was very CSI.
WALTHER: Did you suck up the blood to put it back in him? And how did you know it was his? Maybe Benny [Jackson] cut himself when he was lining the field.
SIRK: So when you guys found the tooth, did you pick it up?
LAGOW: I had gloves on, so I picked up.
WALTHER: Then we put it in a plastic bag and sealed it with a glass of milk. That’s what you’re supposed to do.
LAGOW: That is a remedy, but that is not what we did.
WALTHER: That’s what I suggested. I got a gallon of milk that morning.
LAGOW: If you’re ever looking for a tooth, send Bliss for coffee.
Now that we’ve heard the story of the search, how about the guy who actually lost the tooth? Hyland was happy to share his version of events.
As for the actual tooth-cracking incident itself, he clarified that it wasn’t a head ball challenge against the much larger Cooper. He also confirmed that Tony Tchani, rather than Cooper, was the main culprit.
“The ball bounced to Kenny’s chest, which would have been a header for me,” he joked. “What happened was Kenny was backing up and I was just shielding him. But then Tony claimed to me that he wanted to ‘send him a message.’ So Tony tried to send him a message while I was standing there. He hit Kenny pretty hard and then Kenny elbowed me right in the mouth. I ended up spitting blood, and I’m placing the full blame on Tony. He claimed it was a message to Kenny, but it didn’t work out that way. Apparently it was a message to me.”
After Hyland finished laughingly blaming Tchani, he then shared the on-field reaction of teammate Shawn Sloan, who was the bearer of bad news.
“When I went to the ground, Sloan was right by me,” he said. “He was the one who waived on the trainers to come get me. Right when he saw me, he said, ‘Did you just chip your tooth again?’ Three weeks ago, I had just a minor chip in my tooth. It was in a different tooth, and I went to the dentist to go get it repaired. It was a tiny little chip. So Sloan looks at my mouth and says, ‘Did you chip your tooth again?’ and I was like ‘Dammit! Not again!’ But this was actually not a chip. It was a straight break.”
The immediate problem, even moreso than the tooth, was that Hyland bit deep into his lower lip. As Lagow previously mentioned, he had a large lip flap that needed stitched up.
“It was 20-plus stitches,” he said. “They had to sew some of the muscle and tissue together. It was gross. It was disgusting. They gave me three shots of Novocain in my lip until I couldn’t feel anything, then they had to stitch up the inside before stitching up the outside.”
As for Lagow’s statement that Hyland was mostly upset that he had to come out of the game, Kyle said that was the truth. Amazingly, despite a lip-flap gash and a broken tooth, he wasn’t in much pain at the time.
“I think it cut so deep that I lost the feeling in my lip,” he said. “Honestly, it didn’t hurt at all unless somebody touched it. If somebody touched it, I was gonna kill ‘em. If nobody touched it, it was fine. I was just bleeding a lot. This happened at about 10:10, and I didn’t get stitched up until about 12:50, and it was still gushing blood. I had to keep switching gauze. It was unbelievable.”
Since they couldn’t search for his tooth until halftime, Hyland took a shower and was ready to go when the search commenced. He actually observed the tooth hunt as it unfolded.
“I just sat down and watched them,” he said. “I’m not gonna lie, it was pretty funny to watch. And I think Tucker’s a little cocky about the whole situation,”
The massive tooth hunt and Tucker’s heroic tooth-spotting were all in vain. Despite the dentist’s insistence that they find the tooth, it never got glued back into his mouth.
“They didn’t use the tooth,” Hyland said. “I think they used the stuff they use for cavities and built a tooth. I’m just assuming they use that kind of stuff. I have no idea.”
In the offseason, the dentist wants to crown Hyland’s teeth to make them Cooper(Tchani)-proof. In the meantime, I was curious if the tooth fairy paid Hyland a visit. And since it was half a tooth, did he only get half of the tooth-fairy money?
“Actually, I did get a $5 Chipotle gift card from my dentist,” he said. “That’s not bad, right? The only problem is I had to wait a week or so until I could use it. I couldn’t even eat. I was on a yogurt diet for a few days.”
Questions? Comments? Think a yogurt gift card would have been more practical? Feel free to write at firstname.lastname@example.org or via twitter @stevesirk