ESPN is reporting that Steve Howe died in a car crash in Coachella today. Apparently it was a single-vehicle accident at 5:55 in the morning. His well-documented struggles with substance abuse make one immediately wonder if that was involved. We don't know, and I don't need to know in order to know how this makes me feel. I am sad, to the point of wondering how I can be so sad for someone I didn't even know. I think the answer lies in how hard I always rooted for him to finally get it together, to somehow find redemption. He was a guy that I dreamed on as a child, a guy who was going to bring the Dodgers to the top of the baseball universe. And for a while, he did. I wanted better for him.
The Steve Howe drama wasn't really about a guy screwing up, at least not to me. There was always something different about this one: he seemed like the underdog. Guys like Strawberry, Gooden, Caminitti, and, today, Barry Bonds, all seemed like big shots being cut down to size. For some reason Howe seemed like he needed a hug, a big brother. Don't get me wrong, I didn't root against those other guys (O.K., except Barry), they just didn't tug at my heart strings. I believe in personal responsibility and accountability, but Howe still always seemed in over his head. He reminded me of the sad cases in Field of Dreams, men seeking a second chance. I pray that he finds peace somewhere in the cornfields now.