Wednesday, October 11, 2006


When we heard the news, it marked another milestone moment in our lives in the chapter under the heading of "I Remember Where I Was And What I Was Doing When ..."
In the case of Cory Lidle's plane crashing into that 50-story high-rise on New York's Upper East Side, it became a matter of "I Remember Where I Was And How Completely Enamored I Was With The Flavor of The Bold Party Blend Chex Mix When I Learned of The Fatal Aviation Disaster."

Like most Americans, the first thought that came to mind when the initial reports of small-plane-into-building first came across was that some Joe Blow was off-course in his Cessna.
Then, once it was revealed that it was Cory Lidle -- THE Cory Lidle -- it was time to get all straight-faced and somber while offering philosophic platitudes.
"Our heart goes out to One Swell Guy & One Fantastic Pitcher, Cory Lidle. And to THAT OTHER GUY who died."

That's right, America. When it's Cory Lidle, it's all about "An All-Star Tribute To Cory Lidle & The Zen of the No-Decision."
Oh yeah ... and bummer for THAT OTHER GUY who died.

ESPN's wall-to-wall "Cory Lidle Coverage & Day of Rememberance & Atonement" definitely makes a person "take stock." It served as a wake-up call for those of us who maybe are too fascinated/obsessed with the possibility of dating that pink-haired chick on the Esurance commercials.
As usual, ESPN instructed a nation to look into its heart and re-evaluate what's truly important in life (besides the T.O. saga in Dallas).

Few of us will ever forget where we were on 9-11-01 -- and, now, thanks to ESPN, 10-11-06 is another date to remember. It's another stark reminder that skyscrapers in NYC serve not only as parking spots for Atta and stolen jumbo jets.
Believe this: America breathed a collective sigh of relief that this tragedy occurred on the posh Upper East Side and not on the turbo-posh Central Park West.

Anyway, here's another date to remember: 8-12-04.
That was the day when ex-Met/ex-Devil Ray/ex-Blue Jay/ex-Red Cory Lidle made his Philadelphia Phillies debut.
Against Colorado at The Cit.
Bill Welke was the home-plate ump.
Royce Clayton hit a 2-run HR off of Lidle to pin the "L" on the crafty/gutty/wily/gritty native of Covina, CA.
Todd Jones -- in one of his 27 games w/ the Phils -- replaced Rheal Cormier and surrendered a double to Clayton and an RBI single to Jeromy Burnitz for an insurance run in a 3-1 Rockies win.
Six days later, Lidle's second start as a Phillie saw him blow a 4-1 lead and leave the game in the fourth inning trailing, 7-4.
Jones came into the game with the Phils leading, 8-7. He faced two batters, allowing a single and then committing an error on a Jose Vizcaino bunt.
A 2-run double by Carlos Beltran paved the way for a 9-8 'Stros victory (rookie Chase Utley flied out with the bases loaded to end the game).
Lidle's third Phillie start was messy affair in Houston.
So, by the time he made his fourth start, he was 0-2 with a 8.16 ERA.
Oddly enough, Lidle came through with back-to-back, complete-game shutouts of the Brewers and Mets. Following a pair of no-decisions, Lidle won his final three starts of the season.

That final "W," though, came at a price. The 6-2 win over the Marlins was the final game managed by Larry Bowa. With two games remaining in the '04 season, Bowa got the axe from pencilneck (Ed Wade), know-nothing (David Montgomery), loudmouth (Dallas Green) super-douchebags (Ruben Amaro, Jr.) in the Phils' front office.

Now that Cory Lidle is gone, there's no use with anyone about the forces which conspired against Larry Bowa in a complex, power-struggle paradigm.
Also, the desire simply isn't there to reminisce about Cory Lidle's two innings of shutout relief for the Mets in his MLB debut on 5-8-97 in the Astrodome ... a spotless ERA which was preserved when LF Butch Huskey threw out Astros rookie Bobby Abreu at home plate as he tried to score from second on Brad Ausmus' single.

More than nine years later, Lidle and Abreu would be included in the same deal which would bring future stars Matt Smith, C.J. Henry, Jesus Sanchez and Carlos Monasterios to Philly for the sake of securing World Series championships in 2009 and 2010.
Either that, or all four will be out of Philly's minor-league system before the end of the 2008 season.
Bet on the latter.

The world may never know if Cory Lidle kept that ball which Butch Huskey used to cut down Bobby Abreu.
The world has learned so much about Cory Lidle in the 12-18 hrs. since his death -- although Tanyon Strutze has yet to chime in with a few uplifting stories about Cory's 12-15 / 5.75 season of '03 with the Blue Jays.
Where's Esteban Yan to provide some inspiration from the good times they shared together with those unforgettable '99/'00 Devil Ray teams?

It doesn't seem likely that the Yankees are ready to retire Lidle's #30, but the Phillies might pull the trigger on a special #30 emblem on the uniform tops next season.
It's how Cory would have wanted it.
After all, the first time that he buttoned up that Phillie shirt for the first time (before the Rockies' game on 8-12-04), he noticed that on his right sleeve that there was a logo for the inaugural season at The Cit -- an insignia which was flanked by a shamrock logo for Tug McGraw (who died on 1-5-04) and a ribbon logo for The Pope, Paul Owens (who died 10 days before Tugger).

Speaking of the Irish and their shamrocks, the Phillies can reverse the wrongs of several Pittsburgh Steelers, who, when they landed in Detroit for the Super Bowl last winter, were seen wearing green Notre Dame #6 jerseys in honour of Jerome Bettis, the native of Detroit who wore #6 at Notre Dame.
It was opined in this space at the time that Bettis himself should have worn a BLUE #5 Notre Dame jersey as a tribute to the fallen Rodney Culver, Bettis' teammate at Notre Dame.

Culver, also a Detroit native, was the Chargers' RB who, a year and a half after his Chargers were routed in the Super Bowl, died in that ValuJet crash in the Florida Everglades.
Everybody forgot everything about Rodney Culver -- but, that's what ya get for crashing into a swamp.
ESPN educated us on the glory of flamboyantly crashing a plane into somebody's 40th-floor appartment in Manhattan.
Swamps are filled with gators n' snakes n' slimey matter.
NYC is full of pretty people with pretty apartments.
Which is why we had the Cory Lidle Plane-Crash Telethon. Not so much that Cory Lidle didn't get waterlogged in a Florida swamp, but that he likely, upon impact, fell 40 stories to the ground below as the plane disintegrated.
THAT OTHER GUY ended up on the sidewalk, too.

Still, Cory Lidle had so much to live for.
So much to offer the Indians in '07 and the Marlins in '08.
And the Pirates and the Mariners in '09.
It's not that he played on so many teams and played with so many different teammates (and that he would've spent the next three or four seasons acquiring 70-100 more teammates).
No, what set Cory Lidle apart is that he turned so many heads and touched so many hearts ... something that can't be measured by a 12-10 record and an ERA hovering near 4.88.
Which was your typical Cory Lidle season.

That's why America forgave him for crossing the picket line to pitch that one inning as a scab for Milwaukee during spring training during the strike of '94 which turned a lot of us away from the game (despite Big Mac and Sammee saving the sport -- to Mike Stupidca's delight -- back in '98).
Cory Lidle brought an intangible lovableness and likability to the game during those hard-fought 9 yrs. in the bigs.

Which is why there's a National Cory Lidle Day of Mourning.
When the legendary Buck O'Neil died five days earlier, the fanfare was limited to ESPN throwing the guy a bone with a 3-minute segment.
It's not fair to compare. Buck O'Neil was an ambassador for the Negro Leagues for 70 years -- but he was beset by a few shortcomings.
First of all ... he was black.
Secondly, he was 94 years old.
Thirdly, he was interesting.

Three strikes and yer out, Buckeroo. Promoting the appeal and talent of the Negro Leagues doesn't quite stack up against Cory Lidle preparing to make a 2-2 pitch to Chuck Knoblauch.
ESPN often wonders why if those Negro League players were so good, then how come they weren't playing in the N.L. or A.L. and facing the likes of Cory Lidle?

THAT'S why Buck O'Neil gets three MINUTES (if that) and why Cory Lidle gets three hours (or more).
Cory Lidle was noble and heroic.
When modern-era Negro Leaguers such as Lyman Bostock get gunned down on the streets of Gary, Ind. it's not because of mistaken identity and bad aim.
It's because "those people" are looking for trouble.
And finding it.
In Gary, Ind.

Conversely, Cory Lidle and Thurman Munson were attempting to better themselves through recreational aviation. Roberto Clemente, on the other hand, was asking for trouble when he overloaded that plane on New Year's Eve '72 and he crashed it into the ocean.
The fact that Roberto Clemente was not actually flying the plane does not strengthen the argument for white pilots vs. black pilots.

But, at least Cory Lidle died doing what he loved.
And now ESPN can return to doing what it loves -- ignoring black baseball people who dwarf Cory Lidle so that milquetoast Sean Salisbury can break down the latest Terrell Owens pissfest.

No comments: