I’ve written far too much about former Astro Ken Caminiti of late, and for all the wrong reasons. Sadly, it appears that I will no longer have any reason to write about him. Caminiti died yesterday at the age of 41. A life that was far too short ended far too soon.
No one will ever know if Caminiti would have been able to turn his life around- not his three children and not the Houston fans who adored him for his hard-charging, balls-to-the-wall style of play.
On a day when his former team lost to the Atlanta Braves to force a deciding Game 5 in Atlanta tonight, baseball suddenly seemed such a trivial diversion.
Ken Caminiti was a player who knew only one way to play the game. If he could have lived his life between the lines, he probably would have been OK. Between the lines, Caminiti was in his element. He could take of business, and he felt comfortable there. Life was ordered, and he was part of a team that, over the course of a eight-month season, functioned as a surrogate family.
Outside the lines, his demons were waiting for him, and over the past few years increasingly had the upper hand. The man who played hard also lived hard, and his inability to deal with live outside the lines led him into a downward spiral that may well have ultimately cost him his life. Alcholism, drug addiction, and four failed drug tests while on probation were in the end apparently more than Ken Caminiti could overcome.
Caminiti’s death of a massive heart attack at the age of 41 may well be the result of his struggles to deal with his dependency issues. Even if it is not, his demise is the sad ending to a very sad story. My heart goes out to his children, who should be able to enjoy their father instead of burying him at such a young age.