Los Angeles Angels – a bittersweet victory

by Steve


On Monday the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim baseball team clinched the American League West Division. As you can imagine, this was a moment of celebration. After six months of toil, they were not only champions of their division, but they were in the post-season play-offs, and one step closer to the World Series.

But this was not just a moment to mark a sporting achievement. It was an opportunity to remember and honour a teammate who was not there to celebrate.

On 8 April, Nick Adenhart made his season debut pitching six innings without giving away a run, as the Angels played the Oakland A’s. After the game, on his way to celebrate his performance, the car he was travelling in was hit by a drunk-driver, killing Adenhart and two of his companions, Courtney Stewart and Henry Pearson. Adenhart was 22.

It is hard to imagine such a loss. The Angels pledged to keep his memory alive this season, and did so by maintaining his locker and hanging one of his jerseys in the dug-out at each and every game. During Monday’s celebrations, his shirt was brought out, and tears mixed with cheers.

Following their passage to the play-offs, surely no neutral would begrudge an Angels World Series victory. It would be a fitting memorial to the young pitcher.

However, there was one aspect of Monday’s events that seemed a little odd. Adenhart’s shirt was drowned in beer and champagne by his teammates, to toast him and the division win. This seemed a strange act, considering the circumstances of his death.

Clearly there was an element of catharsis in the celebrations, and I’m sure in the moment they did not notice the irony of dousing a drunk-driving victim’s shirt in alcohol. However, there has been some criticism of their actions from some quarters.

Is such criticism too harsh? After such a difficult and stressful season, which the Angels have dealt with in a genuinely dignified manner, perhaps a misguided action at some point was inevitable.

I wonder, will any further victories be marked differently?

Photograph from Chris and/or Kevin via Flickr