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Espindola Flips Out

Fabian Espindola likes to celebrate goals. At some point, he decided he would make it his custom to celebrate a goal with a back flip. Apparently, no one associated with his club, Real Salt Lake, told him this was not a good idea.

Six minutes into RSL’s game with the Gals last weekend, Espindola thought he had netted one and proceeded to perform his customary back flip. There were just two problems: (1) the goal had been called back as Espindola was offsides and (2) Espindola’s flip flopped and he came down awkwardly on his ankle.

Now, Espindola may miss the entire rest of the regular season with an injured ankle.

Espindola’s ankle will undergo further tests this week, but what really needs to be examined is his head and the head of his manager. At what point did anyone think his little back flip routine was a good idea? It’s cute, sure, but it’s dangerous, foolish and actually a display of pretty poor sportsmanship.

If I had been his manager, I would have yanked him from the game the first time he did it and told him he would never see the pitch again unless he promised never to do it again. RSL didn’t do that. They let him keep flipping. Now, he’s flipped his way onto the injury report during the crucial final stretch of the season.

Now, I know athletes have suffered a ton of stupid injuries over the years. Big Ben Roethlisberger celebrated his Super Bowl win by flying around Pittsburgh on a motorcycle without a helmet on, that is, until he wiped out and almost ended his career. Hall of Fame third baseman Wade Boggs once got a concussion when he was trying to put his boots on, lost his balance and crashed his head into a bed post. Slugger Sammy Sosa once injured his back by sneezing. These are all stupid injuries because they could have been prevented (somebody could have gotten Sammy some Claritin to go with his HGH)…

But it’s especially foolish to injure one’s self while celebrating an on-field accomplishment. Espindola is not the first to do so and will definitely not be the last. Bill Gramatica, an NFL kicker with Arizona, tore an ACL while jumping up and down after making a kick. QB Gus Frerotte of the Washington Redskins celebrated a TD by headbutting a wall and giving himself a concussion. There are many, many more examples I could cite here, but you get the point: Sports are dangerous enough as it is without death-defying celebrations.

The real question isn’t why these celebratory injuries keep happening. They happen because many professional athletes are showboating idiots. No, the real question is why teams allow their players to celebrate in such dangerous ways.

I can’t tell you the number of times I have seen a player score a TD or a goal only to see him literally tackled to the ground and crushed by a half dozen or so teammates. Now, that’s great for camaraderie and it’s nice everyone wants to tackle the guy to show him they liked his play, but if he tweaks his PCL on the bottom of that pile, somebody else is going to have to fill his spot in the lineup.

Hopefully, RSL have learned their lesson and will keep Espindola’s feet firmly on the ground from now on.

But then again, maybe teams will never learn.

Only two minutes after Fabian’s flop forced him from the game, youngster Brian Jordan of L.A. scored a goal.

He then proceeded to do a front flip to celebrate.

If I had been Bruce Arena at that moment, I would have shown Jordan a flip of my own.

With my middle finger.