Is it a problem that the Cardinals are going to wear a patch in memory of Oscar Taveras?


Last month we learned that the Cardinals will wear a patch with Oscar Taveras’ number on it. Taveras, of course, was killed when he crashed a car he was driving in the Dominican Republic in October. Also killed was his 18-year-old girlfriend, Edilia Arvelo. Taveras was drunk at the time of the crash, well above the legal limit.

As Paul Lukas of ESPN notes, the circumstances of Taveras and Arvelo’s death are such that the Cardinals’ wearing the patch is creating some controversy. Which is understandable. After all, if Taveras had lived, he’d have been prosecuted for vehicular homicide. His acts killed himself and an innocent passenger. As Lukas puts it:

This discussion raises a number of interesting questions. Should a person’s character have any bearing on whether he’s memorialized with a patch? Does the fact that Taveras was only 22 at the time of his death make a difference in this case? Is a memorial patch an endorsement of a person’s entire life or a gesture of mourning?

Fair questions. Baseball — and the Cardinals in particular — have a checkered history with drunk driving. Players have died. Players have killed or injured others. Some, like Cardinals pitcher Josh Hancock, died as a result of his own drunk driving. Others, like Angels pitcher Nick Adenhart, were innocent victims. One-time Cardinals manager Tony La Russa was once arrested for drunk driving. It’s always been a problem around the game, largely ignored until quite recently.

But, despite that, I’m having a hard time taking issue with the Cardinals wearing a Taveras patch. It’d be one thing if the Cardinals went crazy here, retiring his number, proclaiming days in his honor and otherwise attempting to whitewash what happened to Edilia Arvelo and Taveras, but nothing they have done since his death suggests anything like that. Their public statements have not been such that they condone or deny Taveres’ actions or that they are seeking to minimize the danger of drunk driving or the tragedy that it causes. In light of that, to claim that a small patch honoring Taveras’ memory is the same as endorsing or excusing his actions is a bit too much in my view.

Ultimately, the Cardinals as a team lost someone they knew and loved. They knew him and loved him even if the circumstances which led to his death and the death of another were borne of his own irresponsibility. Those circumstances don’t make them love and miss him any less or make their loss any less painful. Given the relative modesty of this gesture, it seems presumptuous to me for people to tell Cardinals players that the manner of their mourning is somehow wrong.


Phillies down Astros for 1st playoff berth since 2011

Philadelphia Phillies v Houston Astros
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HOUSTON – Aaron Nola took a perfect game into the seventh inning and Kyle Schwarber homered twice as the Philadelphia Phillies clinched their first playoff berth in 11 years with a 3-0 win over the Houston Astros on Monday night.

After Brandon Marsh caught Mauricio Dubon’s fly ball in center for for the game’s final out, players jumped and cheered in jubilation before meeting at the mound where they hugged and bounced around some more.

The video board at Minute Maid Park displayed the team’s logo and the words: “Congratulations Philadelphia” as the Phillies celebrated.

A small but vocal group of Philadelphia fans congregated near the team’s dugout and chanted: “Let’s go Phillies,” in the bottom of the ninth inning.

The Phillies clinched at the same ballpark where they secured their last postseason trip on Sept. 14, 2011. That game was a 1-0 victory over the Astros highlighted by a complete game shutout by Hall of Famer Roy Halladay.

Philadelphia’s postseason drought was the longest active one in the majors after the Seattle Mariners clinched their first playoff berth in 21 years Friday night.

The Phillies entered the opener of the final regular season series of the year needing a win or a loss by the Brewers to get a National League Wild Card spot. The Brewers rallied to beat the Diamondbacks 6-5 in 10 innings a few minutes before Philadelphia wrapped up the victory.

Nola (11-13) struck out nine and didn’t allow a baserunner until Yordan Alvarez singled with two outs in the seventh. David Hensley followed with a single and Nola was replaced by Jose Alvarado, who struck out Kyle Tucker to end the inning.

Zach Eflin pitched a scoreless ninth to complete the shutout and get his first save in 11 years of pro ball.

Schwarber got things going for the Phillies in their first visit to Houston since Sept. 16, 2012, with a leadoff homer off Lance McCullers (4-2)

Philadelphia added some insurance when Bryson Stott and Schwarber hit back-to-back solo shots off Jose Urquidy to start the eighth inning.

It is the eighth multi-home run game this season for Schwarber, who leads the NL with a career-high 46 home runs, and gives him 199 homers in his career.

The Phillies have three players who will appear in the postseason for the first time after playing more than 600 career games. Jean Segura leads the group with 1,327, J.T. Realmuto has 1,004 and Rhys Hoskins is at 666.

McCullers allowed six hits and one run with five strikeouts in six innings.

Manager Dusty Baker replaced Jose Altuve, Alex Bregman and Jeremy Pena with Aledmys Diaz, Dubon and Hensley for the seventh inning.

He said before the game that he planned to get some of his starters out early to rest since Houston has already clinched the best record in the American League.


Phillies: LHP Brad Hand (elbow tendinitis) threw a bullpen session Monday in Houston and could throw live batting practice Wednesday. If that goes well, he could be ready to return for the postseason.


Houston Justin Verlander, whose 1.80 ERA leads the majors, will try for his 18th win when the series continues Tuesday against Ranger Suarez (10-6, 3.37).