The Struggle of a Fan

I can’t figure out why I’m still so upset about the death of Cory Lidle.  I didn’t know him, I never met him.  He was a Yankee for only 2 1/2 months.  I saw him in Seattle in August during batting practice, walking around, talking with teamates, playing catch, etc.  He was a solid 4 or 5 starter, not a superstar.  He didn’t have spectacular stuff, and wasn’t lights out.  Yet, I’m still upset about this ordeal.  Is it because he left behind a wife and 6 year old son, who probably didn’t spend that much time with his dad because of his schedule?  I guess that’s part of it. 

I work at a bank, and all we have on our tv in the lobby are news stations.  When I got back from lunch yesterday, Lidle’s plane had just crashed, and news coverage was going crazy over the story wondering if it was an accident or attempted terrorism.  I said to myself, "I wonder if someone had enough with life and decided to end it" or "was it really cloudy and the pilot became confused about his/her location."  Coverage continued on tv, our customers would stop to watch the tv for a moment, then leave.  Then I looked up and saw Tom Verducci, a baseball writer for SI, and he began talking about the Yankees.  I began to panic a little bit, then they mentioned it was Cory Lidle’s plane and said he had previously told reporters he was leaving that day to go home.  They also mentioned he had received his pilot’s license 7 months ago, and I hoped for the best, but fears became reality.  I was shocked, and spent the rest of the day just staring at our tv and my computer.

I continued to watch the coverage of Lidle’s accident after work, and watched as ESPN ran a story about Munson’s accident that occured, which was before I was alive.  The whole time I watched the coverage, I just kept wondering why I was so drawn to it and why I was so upset.  I live in Idaho, have only been to NY one time and that was 10 years ago.  It’s not like I am close to where the accident happened nor was I during 9/11.

I am a huge fan of baseball and the Yankees, just like thousands upon thousands across the nation.  So, again the question comes into my mind, why am I so upset over this? 

I suppose the answer is a combination of things.  First of all, he was a husband and father, a brother, a son, a part of a family that he spent time with the previous day.  I am a husband, a son, and a brother as well, and it makes so sad to think about his family, who probably watched the coverage and wondered what was going on, only to find they were watching their son/brother/husband etc. last moments on national tv.  I also love baseball.  I played in HS and 1 year in college, and still dream of playing in the MLB, but in reality I know that won’t happen, so I dream and live through these players.  I follow them, keep track of their stats, buy shirts, jerseys, hats, drinking glasses, etc.  I go to games 2 hours early to take pictures and hopefully get a signature.  I read about them on a daily basis.  I don’t know them, but I feel like I do.  They are heros to us, as we watch in wonder and amazement what they can do.  Our day can be great or terrible depending on how they play.  When October rolls around, each pitch, swing, groundball, makes our heart race and hands sweat.  They bring us an array of emotion, from joy and triumph to despair and disappointment.  Because they give us so much and seem so heroic and invincible, it seems impossible to think of them as human like the rest of us who work in banks, schools, restaurants, etc.  Any one of us could go at any time for any reason because we are just a face in the crowd, the guy you walked by on the corner, the guy in front of you in a grocery line.  But when an athlete dies, particularly while his or her career is still going, it gives us a face, a person that we can all relate to.  And because of their extraordinary ability to play a game, to give us all those emotions, to see play in person, it’s that much more difficult to grasp.  When an accident like this happens, it gives those we watch and follow in the sports world the human quality of mortality, something most of us struggle to comprehend because they seem so superhuman to us.  It’s a terrible and sad tragedy, and yesterday while I was watching the coverage of the accident before I found out it was Lidle, I wondered about the Yankees and what they might all be thinking, considering what they dealt with on 9/11/01.  Now I know that because of 10/11/06, they will be grieving and wondering just as the rest of us are.  We don’t know Lidle or his family, but because we are fans, because we follow with passion and pride, we feel like we do.  It’s because of that passion and pride, because we care so much for our teams and our athletes that we become so upset.  Do we put too much emphasis on sports in our society?  Probably.  The reasons that make us so upset when something like this happens are also the same reasons why we need sports to help us through something like this.  As the playoffs progress, our attention will be redirected from this tragedy to the games played and the World Series, and once again after October greatness, we will again live through these athletes and their greatness.  Once again, they will become heros, and once again, they will become immortal.

Rest in Peace Cory Lidle, and bless your family and friends as they try to cope with the loss of a husband, father, brother, son, and friend.

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One comment

  1. yankeegirl23@yahoo.com

    Beautifully written. Dare I say I was alive when Munson died. I came home, and my younger sister (obviously not the tomboy of the family) came running downstairs to tell me that Herman Munster had died. Ok so I like The Munsters, but I was not particularly fond of Fred Gwynn. When I figured out what she meant, well, it was one of the most horrible things I had ever experienced, especially watching the next game on TV, and that moment of silence, with no one at the plate. He was our captain, our leader, he loved his family, his team, flying, he played hard and he played hurt. Where I lived, we all just thought he was pure class.

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