I’m still shaking two hours after the news broke.
Sports have a funny way of twisting our emotions. A bad day at work can be washed away with a victory from your favorite baseball team. A tough loss can offset the feeling of relief after a good workout.
You become attached to these teams and these players, giving them nicknames that they’re not aware of or that other folks may not understand, performing rituals that you swear helped them hit a homerun in their previous at-bat, and scolding them from the comfort of your living room because they didn’t run hard to first base.
Now that I work in athletics for a living, I try not to get overly emotional about the teams I support doing poorly or succeeding. But sometimes, as silly as it is to admit, I look at some of these players as family members or as close friends, even though it’s highly unlikely I’ll ever meet them.
That’s why I’m heartbroken after the announcement of Oscar Taveras’ passing.
In April of 2004, my high school alma mater lost its finest athlete in a car crash, and in June of 2013, I received the news of one of my close childhood friends passing after an ATV accident. Both, like Oscar, had promising lives ahead of them, filled with goals they were sure to fulfill and lives they were going to change. As obvious as it may sound, it really puts life into perspective when people – especially those who I am close to – around my age pass away within a blink of an eye.
I’m a religious person, but I don’t know if it will ever make sense to me that these folks’ lives are taken so early. There’s so much yet to learn about life, so many stories to tell, so many memories to be made, that it breaks your heart even more when those opportunities are unable to come to fruition.
Because of team affiliation and the suddenness of it all, this tragedy was made even tougher because it immediately evoked memories and emotions from Darryl Kile’s death in 2002. I still remember watching the Baseball Tonight episode that evening, breaking into tears as the news was released. Even though I was only 11 at the time, I felt like I lost a friend that day, just like how I currently feel now.
As cliché as it is to say, life can be taken in an instant and that tomorrow is not guaranteed.
Happy flight, Oscar.