I'm on yet another of my business trips, this time in Las Vegas. So I'm three hours removed from Eastern Standard Time and several light years removed, given the hectic schedule at these things, from what's going on in baseball.
So imagine my shock when I turned on the ALCS Game 2 tonight during a few free moments while I munched on room service in my hotel room and the FOX sportscasters, showing a picture of Corey Lidle onscreen with birth and death dates, the death date reading "2006".
"As I'm sure you've heard by now..." one of the anchors said.
I may have been the last person in the Western Hemisphere to hear the news. I called Sam to basically exclaim "What?!?" and "I know, huh?" back and forth at each other.
I mean, the more I read about it, the crazier and less comprehensible the story gets. One story I read said four people were killed, another said two--Lidle and his flight instructor. One story has the apartment building at 50 stories, another at 40. One story says the 20th floor, another says the 30th floor.
They all agree on the following details:
The plane, flying north over the East River, along the usual flight corridor, came through a hazy, cloudy sky and hit The Belaire - a red-brick tower overlooking the river - with a loud bang. It touched off a raging fire that cast a pillar of black smoke over the city and sent flames shooting from four windows on two adjoining floors.(Guardian Unlimited)
The twin-engine plane came through a hazy, cloudy sky and hit The Belaire -- a red-brick tower overlooking the East River, about five miles from the World Trade Center -- with a loud bang, touching off a raging fire that cast a pillar of black smoke over the city and sent flames shooting from four windows on two adjoining floors.
ABC News reported that after Lidle's plane departed an airport in Teterboro, N.J., took a normal flight pattern down the Hudson River, appeared to have circled the Statue of Liberty, headed up the East River and fell off the radar at about 59th Street. (NYYFans.com)
Compton said Lidle's wife, Melanie, and their 6-year-old son Christopher had left New York for Los Angeles before the accident, and likely had no way of learning of the news. According to Compton, a priest planned to meet the flight at Los Angeles International Airport and break the news to Melanie Lidle that her life is forever changed.
"She doesn't know," Compton said. "She's on a plane heading home. She has no clue." (ESPN)
I mean...what are the odds? Not only of this happening, a plane crashing into a Manhattan building too close for comfort to 9/11, but the odds of a New York Yankees pitcher being at the helm?
It's one of those events where, if someone had told you yesterday it would happen, you'd have refused to believe it. If they put it in a book or movie, it would be too far-fetched. But it happened. A small plane piloted by a starting pitcher for the New York Yankees crashed into an apartment building this morning. I still can't quite comprehend it.
My condolences, of course, to Lidle's family (even as, of course, we in the baseball public completely lionize the story, even as we in the baseball public were given more notice of her husband's death than his wife ultimately got). My condolences to the New York Yankees and their fans, who somehow have had this very same tragedy visited upon them twice in the same half-century, another thing with perhaps even slimmer odds than the events of this morning.
If there's any consolation to be had in a truly twisted series of events, it's perhaps to be found in the following quote from Lidle, which has been repeated nearly constantly today whenever the story is discussed again:
"The flying?'' the 34-year-old Lidle, who had a home near Los Angeles, told The Philadelphia Inquirer this summer. "I'm not worried about it. I'm safe up there. I feel very comfortable with my abilities flying an airplane.''
"No matter what's going on in your life, when you get up in that plane, everything's gone."