Wednesday night, I watched the A's play the Angels. One baseball game of 162 this year, of thousands I've watched in my lifetime. Most of them disappear when they end. Somebody won, somebody lost. Other times, you remember certain events. At one point in the game, the Angel pitcher, Nick Adenhart, threw Jason Giambi a 2-0 changeup. It was the first change he'd thrown in the game, in the 5th inning. It floated up there, looking fat, before it dove down and away, Giambi a mile in front, flailing like he was trying to hit a hummingbird. I had a reaction something along the lines of "Whoa!" That pitch was not fair.
It was Emet who told me about the accident. I had stayed at her house Wednesday night and she'd dropped me off at the train station so I could go to work. Except there was a derailment and I had no way to get downtown. She came and picked me back up and told me. Nick Adenhart, and three others, not one of them past the age of 25, had been killed by a drunk driver, just blocks from where we were, just hours after Adenhart pitched six shutout inning against my A's.
The news hit me hard. Harder than I'd have expected. Working in newspapers, you develop a certain cynicism. We report bad shit every day. I research obituaries. You become numb or you'd go crazy having to wade into sad news with such regularity.
More than anything else I am in this life, I am a parent. And that was the nerve that was struck. This is not tragic because Nick Adenhart was a baseball player. It's because he was someone's child. Because he was on the cusp of success in his chosen vocation and I can't imagine the pride his parents must have felt. Just as I can't imagine receiving that phone call.
Unable to get to work, I sat and watched the news all day. Read the stories. "Senseless." All the reactions you'd expect, all the ones you feel. I love baseball. Love my A's. Hold the Angels in a certain contempt as a geographical and competitive rival. I even taught AJ to call them the "Stupid Angels." I'm the first to admit I sometimes place too much emphasis on my fandom. Sports are often more than just a game to me. If you have a team you feel deeply about, you know what I mean.
I feel stupid writing that. Useless. What am I trying to say? Come out with it.
Fucking asshole drunk drivers.
It's not fair.
I called AJ on Thursday night. To hear his voice. Somewhere, deep inside, simply to know he was okay. He was busy. A video game or a TV show or something. I asked about his day. He kept saying, "Okay, Daddy. Bye." Four times. Five. But I held him on the line. I was scared.
I don't know how the Angels went out and played baseball last night. I don't know how Adenhart's parents sat in the stands and watched their son memorialized in the pre-game. I don't know how anyone could have watched that and not been touched to the point of tears or held their children tightly.
I'm glad the Angels won last night. I hope it eased their burden. And I wish them well.