As if Canada's choosing four giant reefers as an Olympic torch at the Vancouver Winter Games wasn't weird enough, now comes something even more bizarrely Canadian -- the saga of George Black.
Playing third base in a slow-pitch softball league in Hamilton, Ontario, in 2004, Black was struck on the right hand and head by a line drive, injuring two fingers and causing a gash on his face that required 20 stitches. The ball smashed his sunglasses and caused facial cuts.
What did Black decide to do? Sue.
Actually, Black is suing ArcelorMittal Dofasco Inc., the steel company that owns the recreation center where Black was injured because, he says, he lost sight of the ball in the sun. That caused him to raise his right throwing hand to block it and led to his injuries. He figures Dofasco is liable for $1.25 million because the company did not provide a large-enough sunscreen to block out the sun. This is not a joke. You might think it's ridiculous that any facility could be outfitted with anything that large, but I've read about such an apparatus. It's called a building.
I played softball for years. We put on sunscreen. We never asked the league to build a sunscreen. I guess I'm an idiot. I thought the sun was a given in softball. We even had a phrase for it: "Sorry, man, the sun was in my eyes."
But Black also thinks that Dofasco should have provided -- wait for it -- training. In his lawsuit, Black says Dofasco was negligent because "Players are not trained nor experts in knowing the safety precautions. There have been no instructions in avoiding the sun. There were no instructions that the players are to cease playing when the sun is at a level that will interfere with their eyes."
Cease playing? Game called on account of the sun?
You know whom Black should sue? His dad. For not teaching him that when you lose a ball in the sun, you put up your glove and not your hand. Hello? For one thing, the ball may find the glove, in which case you are the hero. For another, if the ball hits your glove, you don't go to the hospital.
Other things I'm sure Black needs the company to provide at the field:
• A dome, in case it rains.
• A giant wind-blocking screen, in case the wind should change the trajectory of a line drive and hit Black in the nose.
• Someone to catch the ball for Black.