On July 1st, just over two weeks ago, a young man by the name of Tyler Skaggs was found dead in his hotel room in Dallas. This was very unexpected — Tyler was just weeks shy of his 28th birthday, …
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On July 1st, just over two weeks ago, a young man by the name of Tyler Skaggs was found dead in his hotel room in Dallas. This was very unexpected — Tyler was just weeks shy of his 28th birthday, and a professional athlete. He was a pitcher for the Anaheim Angels.
Boy, that’s a downer lede.
Tyler wore number 45, and, in his honor, last Friday night, every player for the Angels wore number 45. And that wasn’t all. Tyler’s mom threw out the ceremonial first pitch of the game; the best player on the planet, Mike Trout, one of Tyler’s teammates, hit the first pitch he saw 454 feet; the two pitchers for the Angels that night combined to throw a no-hitter, the first combined no-hitter in major league baseball since July 13, 1991, which happens to be . . . wait for it ... Tyler Skaggs’ birthday.
How can you not be romantic about baseball?
Of course, all of the very cool numerological occurrences surrounding Tyler Skaggs’ death don’t, in any way, diminish the tragedy of his untimely death, or, I’m sure, the pain his loved ones feel. Perhaps, the only good that could come out of it is to bring more attention to his death, to make people more aware of one, simple thing:
Tomorrow is not promised.
In 2010, the Washington Nationals brought a promising young pitcher up to the major leagues named Stephen Strasburg. Strasburg was a freak of nature — big, strong kid who could throw the ball 100 mph and drop a wicked curve ball off the kitchen table. However, in 2011, that young man developed elbow pain, and had to undergo Tommy John surgery to repair it. He was out for that year, and only came back partway into the 2012 season, with the team and his agent putting him on a strict limit as far as innings he could pitch. The problem was, the Nationals played phenomenal baseball that summer, and looked like the favorites to win the World Series.
Until Strasburg bumped up against his inning limit, and the team, with much controversy, shut him down for the playoff run. They lost in the first round.
“It’s okay,” everybody said. “They’ll be back year after year. They’re too talented not to.” Except they haven’t. They made another playoff run in 2014, which also ended in the first round, and the Nationals haven’t been back to the playoffs since. For Strasburg, that’s been okay — he is still one of the best pitchers in baseball, and it can be argued that the shutdown extended his career. But, for the Nationals…
I would never advocate living just for today. Obviously, as a teacher, a lot of what we work for is tomorrow, and in my particular job, almost everything I do only pays off in the future. Tomorrow is something you work towards, you plan for, and you prepare for.
But it is not a good place to live. People who live in the future are either incorrigible worriers or hopeless dreamers.
Today has a special wonder to it that deserves your full attention. Especially during these hot, lazy days of summer. Every day is an opportunity to do something special, to get better at something, to invest in yourself or somebody else. And, as soon as the sun sets, this day is over — it’s never coming back. Did you make good use of your time?
Michael Alcorn is a teacher and writer who lives in Arvada with his wife and three children. His new novel, “Charon’s Blade,” is available at Amazon.com, on Kindle, or through MichaelJAlcorn.com.” His opinions are not necessarily those of Colorado Community Media.
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