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Posted: Friday April 10, 2009 10:38AM; Updated: Friday April 10, 2009 5:08PM
Jeff Pearlman Jeff Pearlman >

A life lost way too young

Story Highlights

Angels pitcher Nick Adenhart is dead because of an alleged drunk driver

The message needs to be sent: you drink and drive you risk ending someone's life

The 22-year-old rookie had just pitched the best game of his young career

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Angels 22-year-old rookie pitcher Nick Adenhart died way too young and the sad reality is nothing can bring him back.
John Cordes/Icon SMI

I don't want to hear the clichés. I don't want to hear how Angles rookie pitcher Nick Adenhart loved baseball more than anything; how his 22 years were all too short, but packed with love and virtue. I don't want moments of silence before a game; a camera shot of an ADENHART jersey dangling from a hanger; a floral vigil outside the ballpark; a scholarship fund to help kids from his hometown of Silver Spring, Md.

I don't want any of it.

When ballplayers die, Major League Baseball, its operatives and the media do everything possible to comfort us, to numb the pain and give purpose to the purposeless. Just as we were told when death struck Lyman Bostock and Mike Darr and Cory Lidle and Josh Hancock and dozens of other ballplayers, Nick Adenhart is surely in a better place right now, looking down from that big diamond in the sky and smiling in his own special way.

I don't want to hear it.

Adenhart, a young man with a limitless future, is dead because someone who was allegedly drunk decided to get behind the wheel. There is no happy ending; no silver lining; no neatly wrapped Little House on the Prairie conclusion. Life goes on, but not for Adenhart. He is gone, and no matter how many video tributes are played on scoreboards throughout the majors, he will not come back. The woman out there who he was supposed to one day marry will wed someone else. The children he was supposed to sire and raise will never exist. There will be no more birthdays or Christmases or gleeful nights at the ballpark. There will be no gracefully growing old. No grandkids. Nick Adenhart does not exist. He is dead. Forever.

This is the message -- as painful as burning flesh -- that needs to be told. And told. And told. And told. You drink, you drive, you risk extinguishing somebody's life. Period.

And yet where, exactly, is that message?

In the days leading up to Adenhart's death, New York was abuzz with tabloid headlines concerning Joba Chamberlain, the Yankee pitcher who had been arrested during the offseason for driving under the influence. The news, however, had little to do with the DUI and everything to do with the humiliating video of an intoxicated Chamberlain making jokes with police about Yogi Berra's height and New York City's abrasiveness. The newspapers had a field day -- JOBA WACKY! screamed Wednesday's New York Daily News cover, alongside the words, "Yankee star pokes fun at New York, Yogi after DUI bust."

Alcohol? Driving? Eh, no biggie. But to make fun of Yogi Berra ... now that's news.

Maybe I'm too sensitive. Just last November Brian Hickey, a close friend and former managing editor of the Philadelphia City Paper, was crossing the street in Collingswood, N.J., when a hit-and-run driver plowed into him and left him for dead. In the days and weeks that followed, most of us assumed the worst -- Hickey's skull was cracked open, his back was broken and he was in an induced coma. It was a jarringly up-close, personal view of what reckless driving can to do a human being and his family, and even as Hickey has made a remarkable recovery (his Facebook group, "Help Me Find the Person Who Almost Killed Me," is a worthwhile endeavor), I still hold that anger deep inside.

So, please, remember Adenhart for all the right reasons. His decency, his kindness, his talent. But also remember the reality at hand: He is not here -- for no good reason.

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