Saturday, April 11, 2009

Some Sensitive Subjects

[For those familiar with the site, I am dropping the typical weekend morning header, for reasons that will be very apparent in about two seconds]

Almost every other blog I read that covers baseball had something on the passing of Nick Adenhart. We would have put a post up as well, but it didn't seem right. None of us knew him and he wasn't on any of our teams. That didn't stop so many others from doing so, and I think that speaks volumes about the sports blogging community and about human nature in general. No one had to send out an email and tell people they should put something up. Most just took it upon themselves to pay tribute to a incredibly talented kid who caught the worst break possible. It kind of destroyed that whole "blogs are mean spirited" cliche.

Most of us never would have met Nick. More than likely, the only way we would have laid eyes on him was when he the Angels came to town and he toed the rubber. But yet, there was still an overwhelming outpouring of support for those who did actually know him. As heartbreaking and painful as death is, it unites people. At every wake or funeral, a few people who had relatively brief or just passing encounters with the departed usually show up and pay their respects.

I think when we saw the headline Thursday morning, we all had the same emotions and reactions. Shock, sorrow, disbelief, empathy, a frog in your throat? Maybe I'm just soft, but there was one in mine. I don't care how much you hate Scott Boras, if watching him try to speak at that press conference wasn't a humanizing moment, you have no soul.

I can't decide if this is a good or bad thing, but the reason that so many people were touched by this was that, in some sense, he was a celebrity. If you are a baseball fan, he was a minor character in your life. He even had a tragic sounding name that could have been plucked from a Shakespearean play. There were two other people who died in that car, but many of the articles didn't even mention their names. If you read what Matt Clapp at Sharipova's Thigh wrote, you would know one of them.

Matt delivered a heartfelt tribute to his best friend, Henry Pearson, who was also killed that night. If you haven't yet, click through and give it a read. It will make you think about your own best friend and realize how unique your relationship is. I found myself hoping that if I ever have to write a piece like that, it won't be for a very long time.

The way it happened almost isn't important anymore, but it's worth noting that they were hit by a car that ran a red light. What the fuck are the odds of two vehicles traveling at a fairly high rate of speed meeting at an intersection in such a forceful collision? If someone forgot their cell phone before they left or some other random thing, it never would have happened.

Of course if the other driver hadn't been drunk it almost certainly wouldn't have happened either. Living in Manhattan, thankfully drunk driving doesn't even enter the equation. It used to though, when I lived in a place where people couldn't just hop in the next cab and give the driver their cross streets. The same goes for Joba Chamberlain, one would imagine.

While watching that video on the Smoking Gun, the one thing that absolutely astonished me was that he had an open bottle of Crown Royal sitting on the passenger's seat. If that had come out when the intial reports of his arrest were published, I'm guessing there would have been a far greater public outcry. There's a difference between drinking and driving and drinking while driving.

Even the staunchest opponents to drunk driving would agree that after having one beer at a backyard BBQ or two glasses of wine at a fundraiser, it's okay to drive. The point being that .08 BAC (or whatever it is in your state) is an arbitrary number. There is some gray area. Most people have probably been in the car with someone who was technically over the limit, but you still trusted implicitly that they did not have their ability to operate the vehicle impaired.

No matter how many tragic drunk driving stories there are out there, people are still going to roll the dice. The fact of the matter is that are some people who, if they think they are capable of driving, are going to get behind the wheel no matter how stiff the consequences are. I'm not saying that is okay, but it's just one of those things you can't legislate. Alcohol impairs your judgement long before it impairs your ability to drive.

Me saying "don't drink and drive" isn't going to change what happens at 1:30AM tomorrow morning when one of you is trying to rationalize getting behind the wheel. The only thing I can say is "think about it". If you get in an accident, it may or may not involve someone else, but it fucking surely will involve you.

[As the headline implies, these are issues that hit close to home for a lot of people. As always, my email is on the side of the site, and I will reply.]

1 comment:

  1. Like every other risky behavior there is an element of "it won't happen to me" that goes into drunk driving. People feel confident enough to get behind the wheel, and when it comes down to it, first and foremost it's their license and life they are endangering first.