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Home » April 2009 Game CommentsApril 2009 » Shi o itamu [死を悼む]

Shi o itamu [死を悼む]

Game 3: April 9, 2009
WinRays 4 W: Matt Garza (1-0)
H: Brian Shoush (1)
H: Joe Nelson (1)
S: Troy Percival (1)
2-1, 2 game winning streak
Red Sox 3 L: Daisuke Matsuzaka (0-1) 1-2, 2 game losing streak
Highlights: It’s just a game. I’m talking about this particular game in the context of the series, of the season, but also about the sport itself. It’s just a game. Shi o itamu means “mourn someone’s death” in Japanese.

For the past three years I have been in an intense fantasy baseball league. In it we track players from when they are drafted until they (hopefully) make the majors. Since Nick Adenhart was a high profile prospect, he had been part of our consciousness long before his gutty performance last night. He was like a distant cousin to whom you were related to but didn’t talk to every day. He was part of the extended family and following his emerging talent from afar helped us to remember what it was like to have childhood dreams. Except he had the talent and the will to make those dreams reality, battling through injury and Tommy John surgery to take his place on a major league mound.

When I read about his death this morning I was stunned. With MLB Network’s live look-ins it was just a few hours before that I had seen him pitch. He had a better outing than Daisuke Matsuzaka did today, lasting 6 innings while allowing 7 hits and 3 walks. Despite the 10 baserunners allowed, he did not surrender a single run. He was in line for his second win of his major league career until the bullpen coughed up the lead. But in the early morning hours something far more precious than a game was lost.

Thankfully, work provided a series of tasks to distract me from contemplating Adenhart’s passing. I drove home with more caution than usual and tuned into the remnants of the Red Sox game. The late inning rally captured a portion of my attention, but the improvement of Jason Varitek’s swing and his ninth inning homer were minuscule morsels of entertainment. I didn’t have the appetite to savor a game for the game’s sake.

I thought back to a conversation I had with a friend in high school. I was yammering about how I would only volunteer for high-minded causes, like Amnesty International or the World Wildlife Fund. You know, things that mattered. I made a disparaging remark about Mothers Against Drunk Driving, forgetting that she was the president of our high school’s chapter of the organization.

“It’s such an obvious cause. Of course everyone should be against drunk driving, so why does anyone need to devote time and energy to that? I want to align myself with ideals.” (Italics are meant to convey the smug tone in my voice, but to truly display the level of arrogance I had at the time imagine it about 30 more degrees slanted to the right.)

Back then I apologized when I saw that I had hurt her feelings, but sadly enough I actually believed that malarkey in those days. So, here I apologize again. Lisa Friedman, I’m sorry for trivializing your efforts. If you stopped one person from getting into a car intoxicated your work was worthwhile.

May the driver who took the lives of three people in Fullerton, California today spend at least 22 years behind bars.

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