Thursday, October 12, 2006

Life Goes On

There are a few pieces you should read about yesterday's plane crash which took the life of pitcher Cory Lidle. I like what each of them say about death and life, and how they apply to all of us, not just someone who was lucky enough or, more importantly, skilled enough to throw a ball around the grass for a living.

The first is a piece written by the mlb.com beat writer for the A's. He got to know Lidle personally, and they became friends. I like this one, not because it's written well, but for the tone and the reaction of it. It reads as an almost instantaneous outpouring of grief, the kind of reaction we'd all have in a similar situation. I especially like how he tries to come to terms (eventually saying screw it) with how his personal relationship with Lidle balanced with his professional responsibilities.

There's another amazing story in ESPN, by Alan Schwarz. It's certainly the most well-written thing I've read. It perfectly captures the frivolities of life, without resorting to the tired, nearly offensive cliches like "It puts things into perspective." Schwarz, too, became friends with Lidle and recalls some good memories, the small anecdotes that give you a snapshot of a person. But how he found out and his reaction, doing what any good friend would do, is the gripping part. Just excellent stuff.

Bronx Banter, which is certainly the most well-written sports blog, has an equally interesting version, this from the perspective of a Yankees fan, living in the city and dealing with all the confusion of the day. What touched me, though, wasn't so much his account of that, but his description of how others deal with grief. I thought about that, and my first reaction upon hearing of the plane crash was similar to the one his coworkers had, a silly ARod suicide joke. It seems callous in hindsight, but at the time, it's just a way of dealing with tragedy.

Writing in Salon (it's worth the click for the commercial), King Kauffman has the most refreshingly honest take. He tries to balance the fantasy of sport with the reality of life. He argues that we don't really look at these players as humans or as people who have lives, childresn, families, schedules. He points out that when Lidle was traded in July, nobody stopped for even a second to contemplate what effect that would have on his family. We were too busy thinking about whether he was an upgrade (or figuring out of Pat Gillick had last his mind). It's a tough thing to admit. It's admitting to being selfish and only thinking for ourselves and what his impact had on our lives. Answer: it didn't, at least until his death knocked us into reality. He concludes that, for most people, that's a choice that they're comfortable making. Just play hard for me, wear the uniform, and don't create a personal relationship. Selfish in some respect, but that's just reality.

It's the reality that's really strange sometimes. One of our own Nats Bloggers had a relationship of sorts with Cory Lidle. Those six degrees are really strange, are you not? Farid from the Beltway Boys worked for one of Cory's minor league teams and recounts his experiences with him, even as he's struggling to remember much from so many years ago.

But, again, like in the piece from above, it's those tiny snapshots, those glimpses of personality that make up our memories. Each of these stories attest to that. And each of them give us the tiniest glimpse about who was lost yesterday and, perhaps, tell us a bit about ourselves.