September 29, 2009
As soon as I saw the images of Nick Adenhart's jersey being doused with beer during the Angels' celebration on Monday night, I knew there would be people who objected to it.
It wasn't hard to see why. Adenhart and two friends were tragically killed by an alleged drunk driver back in April and to see the young pitcher's shirt being soaked with Budweiser was a tad arresting. I'll admit to being a little shocked upon first seeing the picture.
But the more I think about it and the more I read about how the Angels have helped keep Adenhart's memory alive throughout the season, the more I agree with the Angels' assertion that the move was an act of "camaraderie, not disrespect." They were including Adenhart in a celebration that he should have been around to enjoy and it's not as if that was the only way they remembered their teammate. After clinching the division, the entire Halos team headed to the Angel Stadium outfield and touched Adenhart's picture and number on the wall before posing for a group picture in front of it.
Given all that, I'm not sure that it's our place to question the Angels' actions. As for the inclusion of alcohol, the fact that beer was poured seems incidental. It'd be one thing if Adenhart had been drunk at the time of the crash, but he wasn't. The beer-and-champagne celebration is baseball's version of a postgame toast and Monday's action was the postseason equivalent of leaving a baseball at a grave site or hanging a jersey in the dugout.
I'm sure there are many who agree with me, just as I'm sure there are many who don't. (There might even be a conflicted few like the one Sparty and Friends commenter who asked "can something be not wrong and not right at the same time?")
Where do you stand? Why?