DEAR FUQUA: My daughter and her husband have recently begun lobbying for me to move into an assisted living facility. I am 77 years old and have been living alone since my wife of 52 years died last spring. I am still relatively spry for my age and, according to my doctor, show only mild signs of dementia. In nearly a full year of living alone I have had only one minor mishap: in December, I forgot to put the toilet seat down and got stuck in the bowl for a few hours (I have since purchased Life Alert). The fact of the matter is I am still more than capable of living on my own. Still, every time I see my daughter and her husband, they insist on discussing my living situation. I have lived in this house for nearly half of a century, and I'll be damned if I leave now. I know they love me and have my best interests at heart, but I also think they want to send me to old people's prison so they don't have to visit me as often. Am I being unreasonable in refusing to budge? --Still Somewhat With-it for Seventy Seven
DEAR SOMEWHAT WITH-IT: You are absolutely right. The hysterical claims that Chase Utley's knee injury will sideline him for the season (or even end his career) are absurdly premature. We simply don't know enough about the specific injuries he is dealing with or their severity to make any realistic claims about how long he will be out this season. Fans, players, and media people have all chimed in with their two cents on the matter. They have thrown around words like "microfracture surgery", they have set time tables for his return that begin at "months" on the low end and at "never" on the high end, and Derrida would be impressed by their ability to parse Ruben Amaro's words for some hidden revelation of the true severity of Utley's injury. But something all of these people have in common is that they are not medical professionals. In fact, the only medical specialist to be consulted on the matter thus far basically said "chill out people, surgery is only a last resort."
Look, I am not saying Utley won't miss significant time this year, and I can understand the impulse to panic at the prospect of the Phillies losing their best offensive player for an extended period of time, but the endless speculating and worry-mongering can do no good. If you are attempting to claim that Utley will miss a season due to some inevitable surgical procedure, the burden of proof is on you. And since the evidence to support such a claim is limited at best, it can't really be made. Finally, Utley's best days may very well be behind him, but this is something that was just as likely to be true even before this injury was revealed. Relax. When it's time to panic, you'll know it.
DEAR FUQUA: I recently had an argument with my husband about whether we should get our two-year-old son vaccinated for the chickenpox. I believe he should be, of course. My husband, on the other hand, was raised by a drill sergeant (literally) and believes that he shouldn't be vaccinated. He thinks that if our son does end up getting chickenpox, it will be good for him. "It will make him stronger and it builds character," he says. It has created a rift in our marriage, as the tension from the argument still lingers. I was not fully aware of his philosophy of child rearing when I married him and now I feel like we are too far up the creek to turn back. What do you think Fuqua? Is my husband right? --Believer in the Wonders of Modern Medicine
DEAR BELIEVER: No. While the down time and a return to the minors might help Domonic Brown "reboot", it is hard to imagine any set of circumstances under which breaking one's hand can possibly be interpreted as a "good thing." Maybe if you are out drinking with your buddies at a bar and you get involved in an altercation, but leave the bar before coming to blows only to then defend your and your buddies' honor by resorting to fisticuffs in the parking lot, it would be okay. In that case, you would clearly be destined to become an ace left-handed pitcher. But in all other cases, breaking one's hand is a bad thing, obviously. Some have suggested that given what Brown could be reasonably expected to contribute to the Major League club this year, his absence won't have an appreciable effect on the team's performance. Thus, they say, we shouldn't sweat it. The problem is that this was never the concern. Although the initial recovery from a broken hamate is relatively short, it can take a player's power much longer to return. For an uberprospect like Brown, a year without his power could have a potentially adverse impact on his long-term development. So, as the injury isn't likely to derail the Phillies this year, its effects (if any) are more likely to be felt at the major league level a few years down the road. Personally, I think Brown will be fine, but the indifference to this injury is wrongheaded.
DEAR FUQUA: I began a relationship with someone at the beginning of the winter. At first, things seemed to be going well. We had a great time together and really enjoyed one another's company. Initially my friends were quite impressed by him, calling him "perfect" and dubbing him a "lock for marriage." Even though deep down I know there is no such thing as a "lock for marriage," they repeated this so much that I actually ended up believing it. We moved in together in January and still things were going quite smoothly. Then, last week, we had our first big argument. Suddenly, the same friends who had been going on and on about how perfect he was were pointing out flaws in him that they had never mentioned before. "He's not as perfect as you think" became the new refrain. Yet I could have sworn that they were the ones that planted the idea of his perfection in my head. Between my friends' sending mixed messages and the relationship troubles, I'm all confused now. What should I do?--Perplexed in Philly
DEAR PERPLEXED: Your exasperation is completely warranted. That is just how mainstream media organizations work. They thrive on "storylines". So when the Phillies signed Cliff Lee, their storyline was "the Phillies are by far the best team in the National League--a lock to make the World Series." And thus it went until the injuries started to creep up this spring. Then, the storyline became "in spite of their fantastic pitching, the Phillies are old and their offense is suspect. Don't believe the hype--they aren't even favorites in their own division." Never mind that they don't back either the assertions that the Phillies are awesome or that the Phillies suck with any meaningful data. Never mind that there is no such thing as a freaking "World Series lock". YOU ARE THE SAME PEOPLE WHO HYPED THE PHILLIES AS SUPER AWESOME IN THE FIRST PLACE! Because reasoned analysis based on anything resembling useful data is in many cases beyond their capabilities to talk about and does not hold an audience, the mainstream sports media believes stories need to be presented in an easily digestible "narrative." Hence we go from "World Series locks" to "here's why that team (that we previously said was the best team in the league even though we won't ever acknowledge that) is not actually as good as people think they are." Of course, in order for the second claim to resonate, they need to make sure their first fallacious claim becomes widely accepted as common sense. It is manipulation plain and simple, and you don't have to stand for it.
That's all for now.
FuquaManuel is an award-winning advice columnist. His "Dear Fuqua" column appears in hundreds of languages and on thousands of internets around the world.