Last night's Phillies' Milestone Loss No. 9,972 in 'Frisco (the locals hate it when their town is referred to as "Frisco") was a lot easier to swallow now that we -- after several days of waitin' on pins n' needles -- have the results of Josh Hancock's final moments on Earth.
Good thing SOME of us waited before we knee-jerked our way into a teary-eyed eulogy of "Josh was such a swell guy/Why do bad things happen to good people?/Life ain't fair."
The results appear incontrovertible:
*** A blood-alcohol level of .157 ...
*** Seatbelt not buckled (i.e. lapbelt and shoulder harness not "deployed properly") ...
*** 8.55 ounces of ganja in the vehicle (glass pipe included, chuhhh-ching!) ...
*** A cell phone which was engaged in a call to a chick at the time that the collision took place (at 68 MPH) with that parked flat-bed tow truck ...
While those are the cold, hard facts from the lab boys, there's a more-human, sensitive angle which has us remem'brin' that Josh Hancock died doin' what he loved.
Gettin' wasted and lookin' for 'tang.
Giddyup, darlin' ...
Some of us (and some of us won't) assign blame in the "taking" of Josh Hancock at age 29.
Whose fault was it -- or, more to the point, who could have saved Josh Hancock from Josh Hancock?
Do we point the finger at M.A.D.D. (Mothers Against Drunk Drivers) and/or S.A.D.D. (Students Against Drunk Drivers) and/or D.A.P.A.D.B. (Drunk Airline Pilots Against Drunk Ballplayers) for failing to keep America's asphalt free of broken glass, twisted metal, puddles of blood and World Series rings wedged within gnarled wreckage from America's drunken assholes?
Sometimes, when grief yields to guilt, it's best to turn to the source that we mentioned the other day.
That's right ... it's Ecclesiates to the rescue!
After seeking solace in the tender embrace of Ecclesiates 9:3 and 9:5 (as we did the other day), it becomes necessary to follow it up with the comforting wisdom of an Ecclesiastes 9:11 and 9:12 chaser to complete the "Why did Josh have to leave so soon?" equation.
Ecclesiastes 9:11 -- "The race is not to the swift or the battle to the strong nor does food come to the wise or wealth to the brilliant or favor to the learned; but time and chance happen to them all."
Ecclesiates 9:12 -- "Moreover, no man knows when his hour will come: As fish are caught in a cruel net or birds are taken in a snare, so men are trapped by evil times that fall unexpectedly upon them."
Doggone that Ecclesiastes ... he was so wise.
That guy totally had his shit together.
And, if our math is correct, time and chance happened to Josh ... and that Redbird was taken in a snare ... trapped by .157 and 8.55 worth of evil which fell "unexpectedly" on him.
At 68 MPH.
Without a seat belt (click it or ticket, pal!)
As far as wreckless driving goes, this Planet is inclined to rank The 'Cock's exploits a verrrrry distant second to the one which took down ex-USC footballers -- receiver Mike Bastianelli and DL'er Darrell Russell -- in late '05 in Culver City, CA.
That one ended sometime around 6 a.m. with Bastianelli behind the wheel, usin' the death maneuver of curb-to-tree-to-newsstand-to-fire-hydrant-to-light-pole-to-Tree No. 2-to-unoccupied-transit-bus.
"Tree No. 2" is a rarity in cars which spin outta control at 6 a.m.
However, we give thanks to Ecclesiates that the transit bus was unoccupied.
Then, as now, we praise Ecclesiates that he didn't allow any innocent bystanders to be taken in a snare or trapped by evil times which might've fallen unexpectedly upon them as dickheads engaged in dangerous dickheadish behaviour.
At least, now they're dead dickheads.
Hancock? Well, the Lord summoned Josh to Heaven because, ummmm ... the Lord decided that The Big Cock's time on Earth was complete and that Josh could better serve Heaven by acting as someone who could begin loosening up in the holiest of bullpens in case a mediocre set-up man was needed.
However, back on Earth, it seems as though Josh won't be available to volunteer any more at the homeless shelter before his 8 a.m. Bible-study w/ the kids at the orphanage.
"Kids ... Josh won't be coming in this morning. The Lord gaveth ... and the Lord hath taken away. Now, let's go grab some Lowenbraus ... "
What so many of us learned is that it's wise not to be impulsive and to Sharpie a "JH 32" onto the sleeve of our best dress shirts -- as a tribute to "fallen" Redbirds -- before all of the findings are in.
Which is why we're goin' on-line and ordering a St. Louis Cardinals "HANCOCK .157" uniform top (remember, you orphans ... baseball players wear a "uniform," not a jersey).
Still, ya gotta wonder what the confusion will be with Hancock .157 and "Kile #57."
Uncertainty aside, it has come full circle for La Loser -- the super-bozo who made headlines during spring training by using his steering wheel as a pillow and goin' sleepytime as the stoplight was turnin' from red to green.
After all, La Loser can offer all the somber, choked-up platitudes he likes re: "JH 32"-- but SOME of us remember La Loser's inaction when, during the first week of Oct. '96, former Cardinal pitcher Joe Hoerner -- an excellent Redbird pitcher for the '67 and '68 N.L. champion Redbirds -- was killed tragically when he jumped off his moving tractor to clear some debris in the vehicle's path ... and then was run over by the tractor.
There was no "JH 43" patch or black armband for the Redbirds to wear then because most ballplayers believe that baseball was invented in 1985.
But, God (apparently) did find it necessary to punish La Loser for the mgr.'s indifference -- because one week after Joe Hoerner's death, La Loser held a 3-games-to-1 lead over the Braves in the NLCS -- and then God punished La Loser by handing the Redbirds three consecutive losses by scores of 14-0, 3-1 and 15-0 (the only run scoring on a wild pitch by Wohlers).
As Lt. Kendrick might've summed up, "I believe in God and His son Jesus Christ. And, because I do, I can say that Hancock is dead and that is a tragedy. But, Hancock is dead because he had no honor. And, he had no code.
"And God was watching."
On the other side, for those of us watching La Loser's baseball death in '96 ... that was fun.
That'll teach ya to mess with Joe Hoerner.
Still, none of this schadenfreude will bring back Joe Hoerner (damn you to hell, D.A.P.A.D.B.!).
And, it didn't keep the Cardinal organization from allowing Joe's #43 to be worn by Juan Encarnacion while he was batting a robust .182 during last year's postseason (just as he'd worn the #43 while batting a triumphant .185 in the postseason for the world champion Florida Martians in '03).
Agreed ... .182 and .185 sucks -- but not as much as .157 sucks.
Funny thing is, Encarnacion wore #34 during those formative years that he spent in Detroit 10 years ago. #34 is significant because it was the number that Chet Lemon wore while leading the Tigers to a World Series title in '84.
And, some of us prefer wearing a #34 decal on the left sleeve of our softball uniform top (like we did 13 years ago) because there's a greater good in action when you're commemorating your teammate who wears #34 but has to sit out an entire season whilst he battles lymphoma -- rather than paying tribute to some drunken waste case.
Also, it's getting tiresome watching these drawn-out tributes to cruddy, .500 pitchers such as Cory Lidle and Josh Hancock.
Crashing into a NYC high-rise is tragic.
Crashing into a parking flat-bed tow truck is cruel.
Decapitating yourself and killing your teammate while doin' some drunken boating at dusk (we're talkin' 'bout you, Tim Crews, Steve Olin and Bob Ojeda) and crashing the craft into a pier on Little Lake Nellie ... well, that's really, really unfortunate.
Gettin' run over and killed by yer own tractor is ... "yer own goddamn fault," someone seems to be saying.
All that's left now is to await the arrival (via UPS) of that replica St. Louis Cardinals uniform top w/ the big "HANCOCK .157" on the back so that when it's time to hit the bar scene, the chicks go ape shit over fact that this maybe/maybe not big league pitcher is buyin' another round of Tuborg Golds.
We'll save the weed for the quote-unquote "postgame" show, wink wink.
And, it'll be too damn bad for that guy wearing the "TAGUCHI #99" Redbirds shirt ...