The baseball world was rocked on Sunday morning with the news that Andy Marte, a former top prospect with the Atlanta Braves who later played with the Cleveland Indians, Arizona Diamondbacks, and most recently the KT Wiz of the KBO League, was killed in a car accident in the Dominican Republic at the age of 33.
Not long after came the news that Kansas City Royals starting pitcher Yordano Ventura, the team’s 2015 Opening Day starter who memorably pitched seven shutout innings in Game 6 of the 2014 World Series while honoring the recently departed Cardinals outfielder Oscar Taveras, had also died in a car accident, also in the Dominican Republic. Given the similar nature of the two stories, it seemed impossible that something had not been lost in translation.
All of the details are not yet known, though ESPN’s Cristian Moreno has reported that the two deaths appeared to be under similar circumstances—while under the influence, presumably of alcohol. This is a detail that is part of the story and I don’t blame anybody for reporting on it, but on two levels, it doesn’t really matter.
One is that the death of anybody, much less somebody as young as Marte or Ventura, or before that Oscar Taveras or Jose Fernandez, is a tragedy regardless of circumstance. Particularly with Taveras, that he was driving while intoxicated became weaponized by some of the most vile fans imaginable as a way of criticizing other fans for being sad that a 22 year-old man had died. Assigning full blame to those who cannot defend themselves is a way to ignore the cruel randomness that is our own mortality. While Taveras undeniably made a mistake, he did not deserve to die. The same applies, if the reports are true, to Marte and Ventura.
But on a second level it does not matter if they had been drinking because we already know that baseball has a problem. In addition to the cases listed above, there is Josh Hancock. There is Mike Darr. There is Nick Adenhart, killed as a passenger by a drunk driver. The former two could be considered part of an epidemic of Major League Baseball players making dangerous decisions which ultimately cost them their lives—the latter part of a human epidemic which kills over 10,000 people in the United States alone annually.
I do not want to come across as the least bit sanctimonious here. I drink. But if I am feeling even the least bit incapable of driving, I will not do so. Please do the same. Pay a driver. Stay with a friend. Don’t let “died while driving drunk” be your final legacy on this planet. Do whatever you can to avoid causing such grief and hurt to those who love and care about you.
There isn’t an easy transition from that, but this is still, nominally, a news and notes post. So here are the links from the weekend in VEB, in the Cardinals realm.
Ben Markham wrote on Saturday about how the Cardinals should sign Yadier Molina to an extension before the 2017 season. There is a ton of sentimental value attached to the idea, but as Ben shows, the statistical argument for doing this is also valid.
The red baron wrote on Sunday about the relatively barrenness of the Cardinals’ farm system at third base. He also wrote about Weird Al Yankovic and Manny Machado. As you do.
After weeks of complaining about baseball being boring and lacking any news whatsoever, I’m kind of hoping for a boring week now. Take care.