It hurts that I even have to type this out right now.
Last night, it was confirmed that former major leaguers Luis Valbuena and Jose Castillo were killed in a car accident as they were leaving from the game they had just finished for the Venezuelan Professional League. There was no reckless behavior reported. Their CDL driver had made a sudden swerve to the other side of the road in order to avoid a sliding rock that had gone in their path. The driver and another passenger survived.
Although I got to watch him everyday as a member of the Angels, the tweet above perfectly encapsulates how I’ll remember Valbuena. A light hearted, kind soul, who had a knack for flipping bats. You would be hard pressed to find anybody in the league who bat flipped more than Valbuena, because he bat flipped almost every time he got a hit. It was magnificent. It was fun. While the wave of people looking to silence personalities from playing baseball pressed on against bat flips, Valbuena never changed. He played this game exactly the way it should be played; with a childlike enthusiasm.
As a member of the Astros, I only knew him as the bat flipper. As a member of the Angels, he was one of my favorite players on the team. He was always one of the biggest smiles in the dugout regardless of if he was playing or not. There was never a dull moment with him, and whether you loved him or hated him on the field there was no denying how genuine of a person he was. The joy that he brought with him was what baseball needs more of and I, along with the rest of the baseball world, will miss him greatly.