He had the smile of a goofy, young kid, those adorably slightly-crooked, pearly white teeth grinning at you. It was a smile that seemed to light up its owner's whole face. It was a smile that would light up its recipient's face. The best part about that smile, though, was that you didn't have to be in front of him. You could have been watching miles away through your television screen and you could see it and feel it. And soon, you would realize you are smiling, too.
My favorite Oscar Taveras moment did not take place on a ball field, at least, not exactly. It was his interviews. Every game he was involved in a key play, I hoped they would be able to interview him, but worried they would not. Oscar would sometimes speak through a translator, so I feared a live television interview would not be an option. It was always to my delight when he stopped to chat with Jim Hayes on the sidelines. "I'm so happy," he would always say. My favorite line was one he said before his debut: "Everything is happy." Gosh, what an absolutely wonderful phrase.
In those moments he represented everything good about baseball - everything I loved about baseball. His voice sounded breathless, but not in a winded way, like most athletes do. He was breathless in the way a child rushes home to tell you about the great day they had at school. Like he couldn't get the words out quickly enough. In those moments, I knew I loved Oscar Taveras.
Oscar was a lot of things; he was a ballplayer, a son, a brother, a father, a friend. He could make you flinch at the violence of his swing then marvel at the beauty of its finish, and in the next moment giggle at the joy in his smile. He was the rare combination of terrifying raw talent and a pure, childlike love for the game of baseball. Oscar was happy. Even after losing time with an ankle injury. Even after the setback in Spring Training from the ankle injury. Even when he got relegated to the bench. He was happy. We can chose to remember Oscar in many ways, from his towering first hit that brought the rain, to his towering last hit that made towels wave. But I think I want to remember him just like that.
Although, I will still remember the dingers, too. Those were awesome.
Here's to OT. Here's to "Everything is happy."
what else is going on in baseball...
- Driving in the Dominican Republic is really dangerous. - Hardball Talk
- Darren Baker and JT Snow are reunited twelve yeas after Snow saved Baker from getting squished a home plate. - MLB Fancave
- Here are some strange pictures of Babe Ruth dressed as a cowboy. - SBNation
- If you ever wondered how people saw or heard the World Series before radio or television, wonder no more. - Cut4
- Jake Peavy's son says hid dad isn't his favorite baseball play. - Cut4
- Uncle Bill [James] literally cannot help himself. - NBC Sports
- The World Series is over. So who is going to win next year? - Sports On Earth
- And a look at some of baseball's greatest "dynasties". - Sports on Earth
what the cardinals are up to...
- This is a wonderfully heartbreaking interview with Oscar from last offseason. I loved it then and I love it now. - MLB
- Here is KSDK's last interview with Oscar. - KSDK
- We are all still struggling. - Cards Conclave
- It is hard to say goodbye, but this young writer tries her best. - Huffington Post
- Sometimes I forget Oscar spent so much time in Canada. This show a look from that part of his life. - Canadian Baseball Network
- The Cardinals left the right field lights on all night. - SBNation
- Joe said Mike Matheny is exactly who the Cardinals need right now and Bernie agrees. - STLToday
- That tom s. guy wrote about Oscar. - Mad em Dashes
- Cespedes Family BBQ does his 50th podcast. I haven't yet listened to it, but it promise to discuss Oscar and the Cardinals with guest Will Leitch and Chris Resop. - Cespedes Family Barbecue
- Cardinal70 reflects on each Cardinal. - Matt Adams; Matt Carpenter; Daniel Descalso; And more here
KNOW THINE ENEMY...
the nl central
- Todd Fraizer is hitting the ball harder. - Fangraphs
- Will Joe Maddon be the Cubs next manager? - Sports on Earth
viva el stuff...
From a @vivaelbirdos recap I wrote of a Cardinals win over the Red Sox in August: pic.twitter.com/He7hyVG4Nk— Chris Rhudy (@CRhudy) October 27, 2014
- The Blues have now won three in a row - two this past week - defeating the Stars in overtime 4-3 with the help of a Vladi Tarasenko hat trick and surprising the Ducks with a 2-0 win. - St. Louis Game Time
- Oscar's death rocked the entire St. Louis family. Even the Blues issued statements. - St. Louis Game Time
- As a tribute, the Blues had a moment of silence before the start of their game Thursday night. - IMAGE
And, just because we need it, this is a photograph of Bob Ross holding a baby raccoon.
Since we're all dropping selfies tonight pic.twitter.com/Bk0SlrqPt5— Halloween Wizard (@DukeRaccoon) October 29, 2014
It has been a tough week, Birdos, to put it lightly. I just want to thank everyone for sharing their thoughts and grief. When I heard the news, there was only one place I knew I could go where people would understand completely. Thank you for being my rock, VEB.