BY Art Thiel 08:30AM 06/27/2013

Big rain, big fall, big pain; and onto the net gain

Notes from the disabled list: What a supposedly waterproof sportswriter thinks when he breaks his first bone, and the plant to break new ground.

The cast, the cat and the can’t. / Julia Akoury Thiel photo

Something is awkward about a longtime Seattleite complaining about being wiped out by rain. It’s like a Hollywood starlet complaining about people staring at her boobs. Wear a baggy wool sweater, y’know?

Nevertheless, a June monsoon Tuesday seemed a sufficiently unusual event to compel my descent down the back stairs for a look at just how much water a Puget Sound sky can unleash at full gash. Looking up meant I failed to look down to see the waterlogged final step.

Two seconds later, my odd slide left me in such pain that I had a Kevin Ware flashback. Remember the Louisville guard in the NCAA men’s tourney who landed awkwardly enough to break a leg bone that punctured his flesh and stunned the TV hoops nation?

Thought so. For several seconds I lay in the dampness, screaming, thinking the worst. Finally, as the astonished bridal unit, Julia, arrived in full WTF, I manned up and looked.

Whew. Nothing protruding. But my left ankle was swelling, swelling faster than I’d ever seen, as much as the pride of a Mariners hitter with an RBI (I know; just go along here and try to imagine).

Despite being a player of numerous sports as a youth, despite having skied in the woods, climbed up mountains and paddled down rivers, I had never broken a bone. Now I had, according to X-rays at Virginia Mason Medical Center and Group Health.

From a rain storm. At home. C’mon. Do fish drown?

Broken fibula, the doctor said. Might heal OK on its own. Might not. We can put in a plate and some screws to stabilize, he said.

I wondered to myself whether my ankle would be able to tell of pending changes in the weather, as some people claim of their body parts, healthy or damaged.

Then I realized: What difference would that make? I hurt myself volunteering to stand in the pouring rain.

“Screw it,” I said, offering an old phrase much used, but never this way. I get armored up Tuesday.

As I write this at home, cast propped high (“Elevate, elevate, elevate,” the nurse said), contemplating at least six weeks on crutches, two thoughts occurred: 1) Unlike Mariners DH Kendrys Morales, my new Brother of the Bad Break, I can still work while on the (semi-) disabled list, 2) I better get to it.

Sportspress Northwest’s operations manager, Tim Garrison, a relentless fellow who knows well the online content business, has been asking me for a couple of weeks to make the ask of our readers to contribute to the cause of not only preserving independent digital journalism, but to make it flourish. I put him off mostly because I was busy and partly because I don’t like asking for donations.

Well, I’m not going to as many games and press conferences in the next few weeks. The innawebs allow me to stay in touch through Bookface, tweeps, KPLU-FM, and I’m not as busy, and Garrison knows I can no longer run away from him.

Readers can mock me for using my temporary incapacity as a sympathy appeal. But the donations panel went up a while ago. The broken ankle bone is just convenient violin music in the background.

The idea is simple: Want to help? Please, and thank you. Don’t want to help? Please and thank you for continuing to read. Our content is free to all. No paywalls. No tricks. The contribution window is in the upper right corner.

To execute the idea, there is the belief that co-founder Steve Rudman and I have long held: There’s a robust community of sports followers here who value honest, experienced journalism done for the reader, not the teams, leagues or conferences. For the triumphs and foibles of Northwest sports, we are here to celebrate, criticize, provoke and laugh. And above all, make a profit. We know no other way to grow the next generation.

From a combination of investment, donations, ads, syndication, events, appearances and services, we will spend revenues forward, not backward into sinking print models or legacy debt. Shortly we will be publishing our first e-book, the first of several initiatives that respond to our reader survey of what you told us you wanted: More.

As the EMTs wheeled me out of the house for the ride to the X-Ray Room for Graceless Falls, Corey looked at the paperwork.

“I know you,” he said. “Sportspress Northwest. Seahawks.”

Amazingly, the throb seemed to cease. Or maybe it was just really easy to make my night.

Someday soon, someone soon will figure out the business model for quality local/regional journalism. Why not Seattle, now, us?

Meantime, someone do me a favor and connect the dots among super moons, June monsoons, Chip Kelly, Aaron Hernandez, Raul Ibanez’s 18 homers and Phil Mickelson’s six second-place finishes in the U.S. Open. Eventually, I’ll run out of Percoset, and I’ll want answers.



  • Tian Biao

    I’m happy to contribute, but is there any way to do it without joining Paypal? i just don’t want another account, another password, etc etc. I’ll still do it, if it’s the only way.

    • sportspressnw

      Thanks for wanting to support us. You don’t have to have a PayPal account if you don’t want one. When you click on the “Subscribe”, or “Pay Now” button, you will be taken to a PayPal landing page that gives you the option to pay using your PayPal account or without one using a credit card.

  • Casper

    You mean you are not making money on this website?

    Did you have good health insurance when you worked for the P.I.?

    • sportspressnw

      Without getting into too much detail, we make money through things like advertising on the site. But we know the cons of that business model in the modern digital world. What Art has laid out in this post is how we hope to move forward, with many revenue streams instad of just the one.

      • Casper

        Are you paying all your employees a “living wage”?
        I remember Art Thiel publicly telling people not to buy the Times or P.I. because Thiel was leading a strike against them for paying wages that he thought were too low. And now the P.I. is out of business. How did that strike work out for those workers?

        • JeffB

          There is ZERO relationship between that newspaper strike (or people seeking reasonable wages) and the fact that the P-I went out of business. Some newspapers folded or are struggling because leadership was slow to recognize and adjust to the changes afoot. Also, get better soon, Art.

          • art thiel

            Well said Jeff.

    • art thiel

      Casper, we are making some money. But to do what’s needed to rock, we’d like your help. As far as the old P-I, I don’t look back. There’s only one direction.

  • Owen Wollum

    Great post, Art. Nice to see that your sense of humor didn’t disappear with the stability of your leg. I’m rooting for you guys to make this work – you do great work and the timing couldn’t be better with the local papers both going to a pay per view model recently. But the step into the new economy for a couple of old farts (I can say that, I’m one too) is as slippery as that last step that you just slid off of the other day. I’m hoping you can do it, but not holding my breath that it will happen. I’m good for a small donation though for all the smiles you’ve brought me over the years and because you’re a fellow Lute. Happy healing.,

    • art thiel

      Owen, thanks for the words and support.

      Regarding journalism, my experience is that experience is still good, as long as it is not inflexible. I do not share the view of many of my colleagues in the industry that all is broken, all is lost. Much has happened that will make journalism even more valuable, once consumers and advertisers learn to trust new ways that will make the business of journalism as effective as the practice is valuable.

  • notaboomer

    so sorry for your break, art. you are the best sportswriter in greater seattle. i wish you a speedy recovery.

    • art thiel

      Suddenly, Morales and Gutierrez are my heroes.

      Thanks for the good words, notaboom. We at SPNW will carry on despite the temporary inconvenience. Please tell your friends.

  • Peter Schmid

    Well, at least the “bridal unit” and kitty are sticking by your side! Great post, get well! I really enjoy SPNW and your non-nonsense commentary on KPLU!

    • art thiel

      The cat hasn’t quite grasped the situation, but she will when I can’t open the tuna can while on crutches.


  • Thomas Heavey, Sr.

    Won’t be the first time you have been on the wrong side of inclined plane wrapped helicly around an axis. Since you have been spending so much time watching the Seattle Rainiers, come on back to town and watch the Tacoma Mariners.

    • art thiel

      Thanks for the invite to hop on down. But my hop, overused in last 48 hours, is tired. If I stay put, I’ll see them all on the way back to AAA.

  • Trygvesture

    You guys deserve more than what I can do, but I’ll do what I can — happily. I always look forward to your good work! (Cheers to J from another post-VSDer..)

    • art thiel

      You’re a fine man. And cheers backatya from J.

  • Will

    Dang, does this mean IR? Will you come-back tossing change-ups instead of fastballs? Will you be able to still kick for distance or will it be trick plays and a cloud of dust? “Course you’ll have VIP docs, John Hopkins trained therapists, Perrier ice cubes and a Vespa instead of crutches … Art, heal up and stay feisty!

    • art thiel

      After that oration of the gospel, brutha Will, I shall heal! May I have an amen from the congregation!

  • Rich M. Coeur d’ Alene

    Sorry you have to be armored up and I suppose you will be semi constrained. Is Julia ready for this? Hope you don’t have any further probs. best to the marital unit.

    • art thiel

      Julia has been a most noble warrior. I am following her instructions (elevate!) purely out of fear. She sends her best to you.

  • maqman

    Hey Art, sad to see you take up bone breaking at such an advanced age. I’m from the early and often school, Evel Knievel was the only guy I ever met who was better at it than me. It may not seem it to you but your break should heal fine and relatively soon. The first time I broke my right leg it took a year and a half before I could walk normal again. I’ve upped my monthly support, it might now be enough to pay a doctor for the time I takes him to ask if you have insurance. Living now in a land (England) with free health care I am finally able to afford to live in a manner unperturbed by actuarial statistics and insurance free at last. Get well ASAP.

    • art thiel

      A year and a half? Don’t even start . . . I plan on dunking by Labor Day.

      You’re leading in the long-distance support club. British pounds welcome. Thanks, and please say hello to John Cleese, but tell him I will not join, despite my setback, his Ministry of Silly Walks.

      • Trygvesture

        no joining, Art. Your walk was close to induction status before the fall, as I recall. At least after unfolding from the old minivan. Now you are simple inducted. Get well soon.
        And– a Seattleite getting IR status from stepping in a mudpuddle is surely unprecedented in my experience and family history– and my grandkids are 6th gen Seattleites. Get well, soon!

  • maoling

    Sorry about your fibula, Art. Try not to bust any fingers so we can keep reading the best sportswriter in town.

    • art thiel

      As long as I ignore dat ol’ debbil Percoset, the brain and fingers will carry on.

  • bugzapper

    Fibulee, fibulah! So you’re what, covering opera now? Well hey, you’re more than welcome to the comfy air boot they overbilled me for when I broke mine 10 years ago. I still showed up on the job three days later, so you have no excuse, with or without the interweb and its series of tubes.

    The cat looks disinterested. Did you steal him from Howard Lincoln?

    • art thiel

      Thanks for the offer of the boot, but I think I have one lined up. I was back on the job the next morning, but the insistence on elevating the ankle is temporarily denying me the privilege of prowling the bowels of Safeco looking for life forms.

      Your line about the cat is leader in the clubhouse for best Retort de FibulaFail.

  • RadioGuy

    So now that you’ve lived a day in the life of Franklin “The Human DL” Gutierrez, here’s hoping your own rehab goes well and (unlike Guti) you come off the list permanently. I’ve luckily never broken a bone, although I did sprain both ankles as a kid on the same day…hours apart…playing baseball both times. Being a gamer doesn’t necessarily make you smart, too.

    • art thiel

      Coming off the DL swiftly is part of the plan. As far as gamer vs. smart, I rationalize my misfortune by saying that I’ve done many dumber things and escaped injury. So the karmic forces figured I was owed.