Was Celebration Offensive to Nick Adenhart's Memory?

Five months after the Angels pitcher was killed by a drunk driver, his teammates doused his jersey in beer

By Josh Alper
|  Tuesday, Sep 29, 2009  |  Updated 5:29 PM EDT
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When the images of the Angels' Monday night clubhouse celebration started rolling across the television last night, it didn't take much to realize that they'd create a stir. The jersey of the late Nick Adenhart was held up and doused with beer by his raucous teammates, a sight that caused many observers to shake their head to make sure what they were seeing was correct. Adenhart and two others were killed by a drunk driver in April and a third passenger in their car is still recovering from the accident, which made the connection to alcohol a bit hard to watch for some people

That's understandable. It is impossible to completly detatch yourself from remembering how Adenhart died when looking at that poweful image. It gave the scene a morbid quality that doesn't quite jive with the average locker room celebration, even though that's exactly what it was when all was said and done. And, hard as it may be to look at that picture, that's why it's hard to get too offended by the Angels behavior. 

All season the Angels have acted like Adenhart was with them. His jersey hung in their dugout, players would regularly stop by the mural honoring him on the outfield wall and were told by manager Mike Scioscia that he was with them on Monday night after their victory. When someone is with you, they're with you all the way and that includes the postgame beer shower that soaked every other player on the team. It's easy to see how their last thought was about how Adenhart died because they were so focused on the present.

It's the same thought process that led the team to take a picture in front of that mural right after the game. They wanted Adenhart to be a part of it, just as they wanted Adenhart to be a part of the celebration that went on in the clubhouse and just as they'll surely have a World Series ring made for his family to have if they should prevail in the postseason. 

Moments after thinking about the potentially negative reaction to the Angels celebration, there was a second thought. Hopefully each and every member of the Angels who was enjoying themselves on Monday night found a ride with a sober driver or called a cab after leaving Angels Stadium. That part of Adenhart's story that should be kept in their hearts and minds right alongside the exuberance on display Monday night. 

Josh Alper is a writer living in New York City and is a contributor to FanHouse.com and ProFootballTalk.com in addition to his duties for NBCNewYork.com.

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