Wow. Normally when I say it's been a strange week, I mean that there were a few zany extra-inning affairs, that the umpires diddled us out of a game, that some unexpected hero stepped up or our game thread went even more meta than usual. But in this case, it really has been a strange and troubling week -- catalyzed, of course, by the death of club president Keli McGregor on Tuesday morning, April 20th. Nobody knows why, in either a physical or an epistemological sense. Why is it that the good go young? If you have an answer for that, there's definitely a lot of people interested in knowing it.
Join me after the jump for some thoughts.
Much has been written of McGregor: that he was a great family man, a pillar of the community, devoted to the Rockies ever since their days as a baby franchise. I'll admit that prior to his passing, I was only aware of him peripherally, but I'd always had a sense that he was a great fit for the club. He'd certainly helped the transformation of the organizational philosophy from indiscriminate spending to long-range planning, and I'm glad he got to see those efforts pay off. I hope he'll be treated to an even better view of an even bigger prize this fall. There is really no better way to respect the work he put into building this team, both on the field and off it.
I imagine that in a month or two, aside from the "KSM" patches on our uniforms and the memorial in the sidebar, life will go back to normal for us. Maybe even for the players as well, at least somewhat. It has to. It's a coping mechanism. And I feel confident in saying that Keli McGregor would have wanted it to. Maybe it's just baseball, just a game, but maybe it's not. Maybe it's something that has threaded together these 25 guys and this front office and this minor-league system and us all here at Purple Row, for our shared obsession over America's pastime and this team in these colors and this place. Baseball is always capable of telling great stories, mirroring our euphoric highs and our devastating lows. We shouldn't discount its possibility both to hurt and to heal.
There are baseball results to discuss from this week, and plenty of them. The Rockies are above .500 at the end of it for the first time the season started, and there are signs the offense may be rekindling from its monthlong slumber. Aaron Cook may be putting his game back together, and Ubaldo remains a joy and pleasure. AprilTulo may not be vanquished, but he's not a significant problem. Miguel Olivo is owning everybody, and we just want it to continue. They still win a game and lose it, win a game and lose it. But when we needed them to, when we needed a good story, they did it. On Tuesday night, immediately following Keli's death, they won, and scored 8 runs in the third inning. Today, after Keli's memorial service, they won, scoring 8 runs in the process. And would have had 8 hits as well if it weren't for two contributions by Barmes and EY2 in the... you guessed it, eighth inning.
I know there's always the impulse to try to make sense of a tragedy. Impose meaning on it, get some symbolism, some comfort. As much as it touched us, however, we're not the ones who need it. We're fans. We appreciate what he did to turn the Colorado Rockies into more frequent visitors to the win column. That's fine. If in a few weeks, we're back to bitching about Clint Barmes and calculating how much BABIP is screwing Dexter and CarGo and fretting about Hawpe's injury and wondering when the heck Street will come back and so on and so forth, that's also fine, it's expected, and you shouldn't feel guilty about doing so -- after all, the games will go on, and winning them is the best medicine, for us and them.
Every so often, however, it's worthwhile to think about what really happened. The hoariest cliche in all of sportswriting is the one that invariably gets broken out after someone in the sports world dies untimely: that it puts things into perspective. And it's true, it does. Suddenly, whether a little white sphere drops in the grass or gets caught in a glove doesn't seem to hold as much mystical import. Squabbling about contract figures or managerial moves seems slightly sillier. But when it comes down to it, life goes on. And these things have to be part of it.
Loss will touch us all at some point. It already has for some of us. And so we remember that Lori McGregor lost her husband and high-school sweetheart, that Jordan, Taylor, Landri, and Logan McGregor lost their father, that his parents lost their son, that his sisters lost their brother, and that a lot of people whose success we are very emotionally invested in lost a very good friend. These things don't go away overnight. They will be shaped by it for the rest of their lives. I don't want to be nearly so presumptuous as to tell them how to grieve.
But we hope that baseball -- the game Keli McGregor put so much into -- may help in going forward. The sea of purple at Coors today spoke to that. The sun will rise tomorrow, and one more time, the boys in black and purple will take the field under a sea of lights, and summer will stretch long into autumn. It's life. It always has been.
Smart lad, to slip betimes away
From fields where glory does not stay
And early though the laurel grows
It withers quicker than the rose.
Eyes the shady night has shut
Cannot see the record cut,
And silence sounds no worse than cheers
After earth has stopped the ears:
Now you will not swell the rout
Of lads that wore their honours out,
Runners whom renown outran
And the name died before the man.
-- from To An Athlete Dying Young