Wednesday, April 9, 2014

By now, most Angels fans are aware that today marks the 5-year anniversary of the senseless murder of Nick Adenhart, Henry Pearson, and Courtney Stewart. It also marks the 5-year anniversary of the senseless injury to Jon Wilhite.

I was at that game 5 years ago when a young Nick Adenhart took the mound. I was so excited to see him pitch. Having followed him since being drafted, I thought I was getting a look at the future of our rotation. Pairing him and Weaver up would have been incredible! I remember going home that night thinking that Nick had the stuff—the stuff that would make him a frontline pitcher in the Angels rotation for the foreseeable future.

The next morning, like so many of you, I was shocked and devastated to learn what had happened during the night. I had three young sons at the time. The thought of losing my child at a young age, in such a tragic way really got to me.

I remember walking by the memorial in front of the stadium. Angels fans didn’t have to be told what to do—they just did. No one needed to organize anything, fans just poured out their love for one of their own. I remember walking by the memorial for as long as it was there and just thinking about the tragedy. I can still picture it, and I bet you can too.

I didn’t know Nick all that well. So, I’m going to leave the words about him as a person to those who did. Tonight, I’m sure we will all hear about how much of a teammate he was and how great he was. I don’t doubt those words.

But, I’m not the kind of person to look at a senseless tragedy and let it pass without taking some action. I have to turn my anger and frustration into something productive.

Tonight, many of us may be tempted to raise a glass to honor Nick. I say don’t. Just raising a glass is not enough. 

Instead, raise your cell phone. Call a taxi. Call a friend. Call a relative. Use the Uber app. Arrange for a designated driver. 

Now more than ever, there’s no excuse. We all have cell phones, and the few minutes it takes to arrange a sober driver pale in comparison to the potential risk of driving under the influence. If you truly want to honor Nick Adenhart, make sure that no one, ever, has to hear the words that their child was killed or hurt in a drunk driving accident.

I’m not going to say don’t drink or don’t have fun. I drink. I have fun. But what I don’t do is drink and drive (or drive under the influence of any intoxicant of any sort—it’s not just about alcohol). 

Driving under the influence is 100% preventable. If we, as a society, choose not to drink and drive, no one will ever have to feel the pain of losing a love one through such a preventable tragedy.

I get that it’s inconvenient to have to go get your car the next day or to take a turn being the designated driver. But really, what’s worse: having to catch a ride back to a bar/restaurant/ballpark the next day, or living with the consequences of a horrible and preventable decision?

I have a simple rule with my friends and relatives. We all take turns being the designated driver. To make it more enjoyable for that person, we all chip in and buy that person a nice dinner and all the sodas that s/he wants that night. It makes the evening much more enjoyable and it guarantees that one of us will always take the turn to be the designated driver.

Again, please understand, I’m not saying don’t drink. There’s a time, a place, and a manner for it. It’s just that we all need to remind ourselves constantly that we will not drink and drive, because that way it will be ingrained in our minds so deeply that the intoxicating effects won’t make us forget.

If we truly want to honor Nick, we will all think about it the next time we raise a glass—and then we will all raise our cell phones and arrange for a safe ride home.

Love to hear what you think!

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