Oscar Taveras, a promising young outfielder for the St. Louis Cardinals, passed away recently after being involved in an automobile accident while driving to his hometown in the Dominican Republic.
The outpouring of emotion over the tragedy was sizable, in modern terms, as the Twitter world tweeted out Taveras highlights and general thoughts on human mortality. The feeling has spilled over into a few touching articles today, but it won’t be long before the tragedy of losing Taveras, 22, becomes a faint memory.
Sure, today you may arrive home and hug your loved ones, in the wake of such a terrible event, but what about tomorrow? Will you hug your loved ones with the same vigor as today? One week from now? A month? Years?
You aren’t an asshole for saying no, because if your answer was yes, then the Taveras tragedy shouldn’t have done anything to your psyche; you’d still be appreciating life in the wake of Umpire Wally Bell’s fatal myocardial infarction (heart attack) in 2013, or Greg Halman’s murder in 2011, or Nick Adenhart.
Death in sports isn’t uncommon. For those of you with longer memories, you won’t be surprised to recall that this isn’t even the first time the St. Louis Cardinals lost a player in your lifetime, that this isn’t even the second time the St. Louis Cardinals lost a player in your lifetime, or that this isn’t even the first time a car accident in the Dominican Republic took the life of an active baseball player in his twenties. Why would this one be any different?
Even if the moral expectation was that we must remember these tragedies in our day-to-day activities, Taveras, Hancock, and Kile were St. Louis Cardinals. This is a Padres blog and we shouldn’t expect Padres fans to remember the details surrounding the death of players they may have never seen play. Those same Padres fans should recall and consider Mike Darr, though.
Mike Darr, legally drunk, crashed an automobile in February 2002 near the Padres training facility in Peoria, killing himself and a childhood friend. Neither Darr nor his friend wore their seatbelts. Padres pitching prospect Ben Howard walked away with minor scratches and bruises. Howard wore his seatbelt.
When Mike Darr died, it was the first time a player for a team I followed passed away while I was old enough to understand death. I was 14, but less than a year away from becoming a California Driving Permit holder. Less than two years away from drinking my first beer. Having never lost a friend or relative to driving drunk or to a drunk driver, Mike Darr was the one tangible lesson available to me: don’t drink and drive.
Halloween and you
Halloween is coming up. Friday, for those of you horrible with calendars. For the first time in my life (not including large-scale house parties in Isla Vista), I’ll be hosting some friends for a Halloween get-together, having recently moved into an apartment in downtown San Diego. Most of us will drink and some of the guests will inevitably pass out at my apartment; they are encouraged to do so.
I also encourage everyone reading this to be pro-active about your end-of-night Halloween plans. Do you have a place to stay or a guaranteed designated driver? Make sure your phone is properly charged so you can use Uber or bring some cash for a cab. You’re reading this post on a computer, tablet, or smart phone; a twenty or fifty dollar cab fare will never be the difference between success and failure in your life. It could be the difference between life and death.
Unless you’re actively reminded, you’ll probably forget about Oscar Taveras in short order. I’m not asking you to remember Oscar Taveras or hug your relatives extra hard. I’m asking that when you go to your Halloween parties this weekend, remember former Padre Mike Darr so you can continue to hug your relatives, period.
Be safe, people. Don’t drink and drive, and remember to buckle up. Mortality is one strike, you’re out.