-I tried to put myself in the shoes of the Cardinals players today after learning of the death of pitcher Josh Hancock. The team cancelled its Sunday night game with the Cubs. And, if my attempt to identify is anywhere close, the team likely will be very distracted until after the Hancock funeral on Thursday. Playing ball between now and then will be very secondary, and very difficult.
When I was about the age of most of the young people on this team, I had the experience of losing two co-workers in a traffic accident. It was one of those "out of the blue" phonecalls in the middle of the night that informed me Pete Basch and Nancy Dintelman had been killed in a head-on crash caused by a drunk driver. Pete was not only a co-worker, but a fellow sports fanatic with whom I shared many a great time at sporting events. Nancy was a talented and brilliant news reporter who, I'm still convinced, would have eventually made it to national prominence in the broadcasting business. Nancy and Pete had just announced their engagement to her parents, and were traveling to share the news with his, when the tragedy occurred.
Just as Tony LaRussa described it at the Cardinals press-conference, your work family is not "real family" but it's still family. And when someone that close to you is suddenly gone under tragic circumstances, you hurt. And the hurt doesn't go away very quickly. It's not easy to think about anything but that hurt, and that person who is no longer part of your life.
So, let's all forgive the Cardinals if they are not quite playing up to their capabilities in Milwaukee over the next three days. Experience tells me they will be thinking about things that are much more important than the final score.