From Angels to Angel; Nick Adenhart a Reminder of Life's Fragility

Dave SerkochCorrespondent IApril 9, 2009

TEMPE, AZ - FEBRUARY 22:  Pitch Nick Adenhart #90 of the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim poses during Photo Day on February 22, 2007 at Tempe Diablo Stadium in Tempe Arizona.  (Photo by Stephen Dunn/Getty Images)

It's funny the thoughts that come to one's mind after news breaks of somebody's untimely death.

For me, the last few days have been filled with such instances, and each time I can't help but wonder why—although I had no connection to these people—I'm left heavy hearted and appreciating the fact that my heart is still beating, my time on earth still ticking away.

I live in Pittsburgh, and this past Saturday three city police officers were gunned down and killed in what was thought to be a routine 9-1-1 call. These men, one of which was off duty at the time, were the first respondents to a call placed by the suspect's mother, who was trying to have her son removed from her apartment after they had gotten into an argument in the early hours of the morning.

The suspect, Richard Poplawski, was a discharged marine who adhered to a number of right-wing conspiracy theories, one of which was that the government was planning to take away his right to own guns.

As his mother answered the door, Mr. Poplawski lay in wai,t clutching an AK-47 assault rifle, one of his beloved weapons he so feared having taken away from him by the big, bad government, and opened fire on the officers as they neared the doorway.

I won't go into the rest of the details, but all three officers were killed, and the city, myself included, is still mourning their loss.

But in the back of my mind, despite the sorrow and grief that I feel for the slain officers and their families, there's a part of me that says that they knew there was a possibility that this could happen. They had signed on to the police force with full knowledge of the dangers associated with the job.

Did they expect it to happen on what seemed like a routine domestic disturbance call? I'm sure they didn't. But somewhere along the line, as horrible as it is, they knew that this day could come.

They gave their lives in the line of duty. As such, they should be honored and remembered accordingly.

But with Nick Adenhart, it was a different story.

This guy—this KID—was only 22 years old. He was a rising star among the Angels organization, showing signs of his potential greatness in six innings of work the very night before he was killed.

His job wasn't dangerous, unless you take into account the backlash some fans are capable of. But this guy was living every little boy's dream; playing in the big leagues, getting paid to play baseball!

He wasn't equipped with a gun, he wasn't taught techniques to bring down and subdue criminals. He was merely a baseball player, but a darn good one at that.

So it pains me to see that this young man, who had his entire life ahead of him, was cut short by the stupidity of a drunk driver.

This would be a perfect opportunity for me to go off on a tirade about how I believe drunk driving is one of, if not the most severe, crimes that can be committed. But I won't, out of respect for Nick. Let's just say, though, that I would have no problem with this guy getting the death penalty.

The reality, though, is that a young man's life, along with thousands more each day, was cut down during a seemingly innocent moment in his life.

He was simply driving. Not even that, he was stopped at a red light.

It's a painful reminder of just how fragile life is. One minute, we can be on top of the world. And the next?


So it was great to see that the Angels, and Major League Baseball, got it right today when they decided to postpone the game between Los Angeles and Oakland and honor the memory of their fallen brother.

Here's hoping the Angels, if not every team, adorn a patch embedded with his No. 34 for the rest of the season.

I couldn't help but spend the day wondering though—what if?

I'm only 23 years old. I've played baseball my entire life, and still do. I'm just like Nick, in a way. What if it was me that was hit?

I told my parents today, for the first time in as long as I can remember, that I love them.  Same with my brothers.

What if it was my last chance? Or how about tomorrow?

With the sudden and tragic death of Nick, it's a forceful reminder that you just never know when your time is going to be up.

Take this opportunity, afforded to us by Nick's loss, to make sure that, in case today is your last day, you don't have any regrets.

As painful as it is to think it, there's a good possibility that Nick Adenhart, along with the fallen police officers, might have.