The Rays Tank: Perspective

Al Bello

Warning: This isn't your standard Tank. The postgame recap will be up sometime this morning.

It's easy to get lost in the business of day to day life, to stress out over the little things, to get caught up in all that's going "wrong" and unfortunately, it usually takes some tragic event to bring us back down to reality and make us pause to realize just how lucky we have it.

Lately, it seems as if there have been multiple moments and deaths, especially in the baseball community, that have given us that, "Oh, man" sigh due to the passing of a figure we may not have known, but whose loss hits a little deep.

Don Zimmer and Tony Gwynn are two names that will go down in baseball history as the greats, and the stories and anecdotes that have poured out over the past few weeks have cemented the impact they had on so many people.

But it wasn't until last night, learning the passing of someone I never had the pleasure of meeting, or knowing about until tragedy struck, reading all the heartbroken sentiments on Twitter as people tried to cope with his death, that for some reason it hit a little harder and gave me that all-too-familiar perspective of the "grand scheme" of things.

Richard Durrett covered the Rangers for ESPN Dallas, and per his Twitter bio seemed like just another member of the media:

Writer and blogger covering Texas Rangers and other sports at ESPN Dallas. Host of Turf Talk with Cowboys CB Mo Claiborne on ESPN Dallas 103.3 FM.

He died yesterday at just 38 of a brain aneurysm, leaving behind a wife and two very small children.

People die daily, I know this. But if you take a second to search Richard Durrett's name on Twitter, you will see an endless outpouring of the kindest words about a man who sounded like such a gem of a human. Not a negative word will be found.

His coworkers and competitors alike were in shock over the news. People paid to write, to cover stories, were at a loss for words.

The biggest thing reiterated as I read late last night was just how nice he was, and his dedication to his family, time and time again.

From his coworker at ESPNDallas.com, Calvin Watkins:

The biggest thing I liked about Richard was his devotion to his family. I would get a call from him asking me to take over on the Rangers beat because he had a family function. He was a great dad and a great husband. 

Those of us who are dads know this business can take you away from your kids sometimes. Richard made up for the time away from the family in remarkable ways that are just too personal for me to mention in this public forum.

Another from Anthony Adro, of FOX Sports Southwest:

Richard Durrett was part of that but Richard was different.  He was better than the beat because of the kind of person Richard was. In a cut-throat business Richard didn't fit in because he was nicer than the rest of us. That's what made him so special. That's why the news of Richard's death Tuesday is so tough to take.

The world needs people like Richard because Richard made things better for everyone around him and he made it a better place.

Perhaps the hardest thing to read was a piece Durrett himself wrote in 2011, after Shannon Stone fell to his death at Rangers Ballpark in Arlington, entitled "What baseball means to sons and fathers." It's too bittersweet and poignant.

This may upset me so much because I grew up in sports television, I know how tight those crews are and just how hard it will be to even walk through the press box today, down a crucial member of the squad.

So, perspective.

Those days when the Rays offense seems like the worst thing the world, where the injuries to starting pitchers or a poorly thrown relief effort causes you to spout a bashing tweet.

Just remember: that's someone's dad, husband, brother, uncle. You know them as this beloved sports figure who's ruining your day via their position on your favorite team, but there's still gonna be a little girl who just wants to cling on and attach herself to his leg postgame, thinking he's the greatest guy on earth, win or lose.

They're bummed they blew the game too. But their role in life is a whole lot bigger than the one they have on the field, in the dugout or on the mound.

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