I’ve often said that other than the things that actually matter in life, baseball is my favorite thing in the world. Occasionally, those things that matter will collide with baseball in a startling way. Today is one of those times. Last night I watched Angels pitcher Nick Adenhart make only his fourth career big league start, allowing no runs and striking out five over six innings, only to have the bullpen cough it up in the ninth inning. This morning on a break at work, I went on the Internet and discovered that Nick Adenhart is dead. After the game his car was struck by a hit-and-run driver, slamming it into a light post. He died in surgery about six o’clock this morning.
People die, and die tragically, everyday. Open the newspaper, watch TV, or surf the web and you’ll see and hear stories about people killed in car accidents, drive by shootings, in wars, disease, or one of any other of endless possibilities. In just the last couple months we’ve seen stories of police officers gunned down in the line of duty and a group of immigrants murdered while taking a citizenship test. All unexpected, all tragic. Nick Adenhart being a professional baseball player doesn’t make his death any more or any less tragic than these others, but perhaps because we often see professional athletes as being at least physically impervious to the pitfalls of this world, it makes a big impact. Here he was, 22 years old, his whole life and career ahead of him with seemingly nothing to stand in his way to success and fortune. Now its all gone. In the case of those police officers in Oakland and Pittsburgh, while we don’t expect our cities finest to be gunned down in the street on a weekly basis, we know that its a dangerous job and that they knew that when they signed up, so while we don’t, and shouldn’t, accept it maybe it doesn’t seem quite as inconceivable. In a professional athlete we see an insular life of privilege and wealth, not often found amongst the ranks of law enforcement officers. But now we are reminded–because we already knew it in the back of our minds–that all the money and privilege in the world can’t insulate anyone totally from the travails of life.
And so we’re left to wonder, why? Why are those whose futures appear so bright taken from us by those who, at the same age, already have DUI convictions on their record and a suspended license? It isn’t fair. But we know life isn’t fair, don’t we? If it was, would a perfect Man have to have died to pay for the crimes of you and me? This life is frail. It can seem sturdy and well constructed on the outside, but the frame and foundation may be crumbling and we don’t even know it and it could come to a crashing end at anytime. The only certainty is Christ. Hebrews 13:5 says, “Keep your lives free from the love of money and be content with what you have, because God has said, “Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you.” All the money in the world can’t guarantee you a thing, but once Christ is in your corner there’s no losing. No more bullpen to blow a solid start. He’ll be with you all the way. If he’s not in your corner yet, don’t hesitate. I hope Nick Adenhart didn’t.