An athlete dying way too young

I feel deeply saddened by the news of Nick Adenhart‘s death.

I didn’t know Adenhart. I had never met him, and prior to today I probably couldn’t have picked him out of a crowd unless he was wearing an L.A. Angels jersey with "Adenhart" on the back.

Yet the news of the Angels pitcher’s death at the age of 22 really gets you. To hear about a guy passing away at such a young age should be tough for anyone to get over.

I saw former big league pitcher-turned-commentator Dan Plesac on MLB Network say how sad he was because you think about all of the places a big league career can take someone, and Adenhart was just on the cusp of that. He will never get to experience some of those things a person of his athletic ability is able to experience.

I liken the death of an athlete to that of a TV or movie star. These are celebrities, and even though we may not know them personally, we’ve seen enough of them to feel their loss.

But I think an athlete dying young is an even harder pill to swallow. Because unlike movie stars or TV stars, athletes perform live. I literally saw this guy on Baseball Tonight just hours before he died. It’s a really difficult thing to wrap you brain around.

I doubt anything I’ve written in this post is mind-blowing, but I just felt the need to write something about it.

Gabby’s last hurrah

If these are the final days of Marian Gaborik‘s career in a Minnesota Wild uniform, it is ending appropriately: Gaborik teasing fans with his ability.

Gaborik is the oft-injured star of the Wild. He was the team’s first-ever draft pick and only remaining original member from the team’s expansion season of 2000-01. He is the team’s best offensive player, but his injury-laden past frustrates fans as much as his speed on skates frustrates opposing head coaches.

And Gaborik – who is in the final year of his contract – has left his mark since returning from yet another injury. He has played just 14 games this season, but in the Wild’s last nine games – his first games after missing three months due to injury – he has scored eight goals and dished out five assists.

He has a goal in five straight games, not an easy task in Jacques Lemaire‘s defensive-minded system.

The Wild, sitting in 10th place in the Western Conference, are clinging to playoff hopes with two games to go. They need to win out just to grab one of the eight playoff spots in the conference.

Would the Wild have a postseason spot locked up if Gaborik had been healthy? We’ll never know.

And that seems to be the feeling that resonates for many Wild fans. Who knows how good Gaborik – and the Wild – could have been if he stayed healthy? He’s played more than 65 games in a season just once in the last five years.

The Wild are not expected to re-sign the 27-year-old forward this offseason. So if this is the end of the line for the Wild and Gaborik, his career will be remembered in much the way that the last couple of weeks have gone for him and the team.