The news has come out of St. Louis that sometime last night Cardinals’ right-handed reliever Josh Hancock was killed in a car accident. There aren’t many details about the crash and I personally find that unimportant because regardless of the circumstances, it’s still a tragedy.
I wanted to do a post and I was at a loss for what to write at first, because Hancock is just one of those guys in the bullpen that comes into the game, throws 10-15 pitches and leaves. You hope he gets ground-outs, you hope he doesn’t give up any runs, but that’s about it. The way LaRussa manages, you might see Hancock just come in for one out and then leave the game, so I was struggling for what to write.
Then I remembered my Josh Hancock story. Last fall during the NLCS game 2, I was unfortunately in my car driving 10 hours from Grand Rapids, Michigan to Nashville, Tennessee. I got the game in on AM radio, but it was too hilly for the game to come in clearly. I had my brother on the cell phone doing play-by-play for me because the station wouldn’t stay strong. Finally, I couldn’t take it anymore, so I pulled over at a Chili’s for dinner and to watch some of the game. I got there just in time to watch the Cards tie it up at 4 in the 3rd inning and was feeling pretty good.
My food came and I was trying to make it last so I wouldn’t feel like I had to get back on the road. Our ace, Chris Carpenter, got pulled in the 6th inning after giving up a run in the 5th and in came Josh Hancock. Up until this point, the St. Louis bullpen had thrown 16 scoreless post-season innings. And what happens? Hancock walks Jose Reyes and then Paul Lo Duca’s double scored speedy-as-all-get-out Reyes from first base. And for me? That was it. My food was done, my check was paid and I still had a while to go before I got to Nashville.
I’m sure this probably sounds like kind of a weird Hancock story to share, but it was what popped into my head. What makes it nice, though, is that it’s illustrative of how the Cardinals team will have to rally following this loss. Because after Hancock broke the scoreless inning streak, the Cards rallied. Flores, Kinney, Johnson and Wainwright came into the game and got the job done. The bats rallied in the 7th and 9th innings, capped by a home run from So Taguchi, of all people. They rallied around their fallen ace, they rallied around their reliever who gave up the first bullpen run of the postseason and now they need to rally around each other in the wake of this tragic loss.
Hancock was not just a Cardinal. In fact, this season was only his second year wearing the Birds on the Bat. He started with the Red Sox, played two years with the Phillies and played two years with the Reds. I’m sure there are members of all the ball clubs that will mourn his loss.