Oscar Taveras, and a Little Perspective

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Aug 3, 2014; St. Louis, MO, USA; St. Louis Cardinals right fielder Oscar Taveras (18) celebrates with second baseman Kolten Wong (16) after defeating the Milwaukee Brewers at Busch Stadium. The Cardinals defeated the Brewers 3-2. Mandatory Credit: Jeff Curry-USA TODAY Sports

Stunned.

That is the word that best sums up what I am feeling today. Like most baseball fans, I heard about the passing of St. Louis Cardinals outfielder Oscar Taveras from Ken Rosenthal on Sunday night during game 5 of the World Series. I immediately checked my phone and found a text from my co-editor Ehsan Kassim already giving me the heads up (he always knows things before I do).

It wasn’t just the loss of a good baseball player that rocked my world, it was  the realization how quickly life can all be over.

I should stop now and add a disclaimer. This isn’t going to be your typical analytical post from me. I am not going to talk about ways that the Marlins can improve their offense next year, or who they should target in the draft next summer. A writer, even a sports writer, occasionally desires, or even has to, write about other things. This is one of those times.

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I won’t be offended if you click away right now, I have to admit, I thought about disconnecting from sports for a while myself after hearing the news. It wasn’t because I was particularly a fan of Taveras, although I did think he was an excellent talent that would have been a mainstay in the outfield for years to come in the constantly reloading Cardinals franchise. Instead, it was because I felt a little guilty about all of those posts that I wrote that were nitpicking player’s attributes, or pointing out another one of Mike Redmond‘s coaching moves that I didn’t agree with.

The realization that it could all be over that quickly got to me.

In sports, we are inundated with cliches surrounding the games of inches. A ball just foul goes from being a game winning home run to nothing more than a strike. A clutch hit is the difference between advancing in the postseason and preparing for next year.

It was that close for Taveras and the Cardinals. The talented prospect was a game away from playing in the World Series. A game away from fulfilling any young baseball players dream. No matter, 2014 might not have been his year, but certainly he would have thought that he would have a chance  to make it to the Fall Classic in the future playing for a franchise as successful as the Cardinals.

He was in his home country with his girlfriend, likely decompressing after the grinding season that baseball players endure. A brief chance to relax and recover, before starting an offseason training program with an eye on making an impact for St. Louis in 2015.

Just like that, it was over.

I don’t presume to know any readers beliefs, but I do know mine. It is those beliefs that I hold strongly to in times of difficulty, and in times of joy. A man, much wiser than me, once said, “Everything under the sun is meaningless, like chasing the wind”. My interest in baseball certainly qualified as meaningless on a night that sadness surrounded a game that brings joy to me and so many others.

Yet I am encouraged by the realization that we all have a chance to leave this place better than we found it. Be it from an unbelievably talented baseball player who obviously loved to play the game, or a humble writer who loves a baseball team and is grateful for the opportunity to share that love with others.

I pray for those who are mourning the loss of a dear friend and teammate and I am hugging my family a little tighter tonight. The future will provide plenty of time to analyze the Marlins and provide suggestions on improvement. Tonight, I will just pray.

I encourage you to take advantage of your time remaining, it always seems to end too soon.

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