Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Oscar Taveras

I had just gotten home Sunday night from going to Arbys after church with Donna, Josh and Shelby to get food to bring home. I was settling into my easy chair with my roast beef sandwich to watch Sunday Night Football when I heard Josh shout. He said “A player on the Cardinals died!”. He then said it was Oscar Taveras. I was absolutely stunned. I jumped on the Internet immediately and saw it was true. Oscar and his girlfriend had died in an auto accident in the Dominican Republic.

Oscar had gotten a lot of publicity during the current baseball season. He had been billed as the heir apparent to Albert Pujols. He had a couple of stints with the Cardinals this year but hadn’t broken out with the season expected of him The Cardinals had even traded Allen Craig to give him an open spot in right field. By year’s end, Oscar had been replaced in right field by fellow rookie Randal Grichuk. He did a good job coming off the bench in the playoffs as a pinch hitter. Plans were for him to get in better shape and work hard over the winter to be ready for the spring. He was only 22 so he had plenty of time to develop. Now, that was all gone.

We already had a couple of memories of Oscar. He made his major league debut on May 31st. This was the day of Jonathan and Cheyenne’s wedding. I was keeping up with the game before the wedding started. In his second MLB at-bat, he hit a home run. I was talking with Mickey Spiceland right after it happened. I think I said something like “I didn’t see that one but I’ll get to see him hit plenty more”. Josh and I went to the see the Cardinals play at Miller Park in Milwaukee in September. Oscar came up to bat with a runner on. Josh asked me what he was going to do. I said “He’s been struggling, he’ll probably strike out”. Josh said “Nah, he’ll hit a home run”. We’d played this scenario out in April with John Jay and he hit a home run. You can guess what happened. Oscar drove a deep drive over the right field wall. It was ultimately the difference in a 5-3 Cardinal win. Again, I thought that he’d hit a lot more for the Cardinals in the coming years. And now just like that, he’s gone.

It’s always sad when someone dies so young. The fact that he was not much younger than Josh hits me hard too. I feel guilty when I occasionally get a thought of what the Cardinals will do without him. It’s almost cliché to say this when a young person dies, but it’s true – we are not guaranteed our next breath on this earth. If there is someone you’ve thought “Yeah I need to do more with that person “ or “I need to clear up a dispute with someone”, this certainly should be a reminder to deal with that quickly. If you haven’t been baptized into the body of Christ or you once did and you’ve turned away from God, you shouldn’t put that off either.