Yesterday morning I woke up to see the news that a small plane had hit an apartment building in Manhattan. As strange as this story was at the time, it became even stranger to me when I learned that the pilot was Yankees pitcher Cory Lidle.
Before I moved to Las Vegas, I once had occassion to have a lengthy conversation with Lidle at a poker table in Binion's. Despite being an obsessive baseball fan, I didn't recognize him at all. He was sitting to my right and was quiet but friendly. After chatting with him for a couple minutes, I asked him about his unusual-looking card protector (at that point I still didn't know who he was). He told me that he actually designed it and sold them on his website; a friend of his had a company that custom-made such things. It had a chart on one side showing you your odds to catch a card on the turn or river given a certain number of outs. We got into a somewhat ridiculous conversation about whether such a chart should even be legal at the table, and a few other people at the table had strong opinions on the subject. It got to the point where someone at our table asked the floorperson if we would be allowed to bring a calculator to the table (yes, it would be allowed). Lidle seemed disapproving of bothering the man with such a silly question.
It was only at that point that I asked to take a closer look at the card protector in question. Along the bottom it said "www.corylidlepoker.com." I looked at him curiously and said "are YOU Cory Lidle?"
"Yeah. Why, are you a baseball fan?" he asked. I was, and we proceeded to discuss various things including his high school teammates Jason and Jeremy Giambi (Jason is a cool guy. Jeremy is a "walking drug store" who blamed his girlfriend when he got caught with pot in his bag at the airport), playing for the Phillies as opposed to the Reds (the Phillies are a fun group... the Reds have a lot of obnoxious young players), and the new drug testing policy ("I like it, because I don't use them"). He also confided in me that he hadn't touched a baseball since the end of the season (this was mid-January, a month before the spring training), and indeed he had a reputation of having a poor work ethic.
Due to my encounter with him in Las Vegas, I became a bit of a Cory Lidle fan. It helped that I think he was a bit underrated as a player (so I felt justified in arguing that he deserved a spot in the starting rotation). I was also quite impressed with his willingness to speak his mind publicly, most notably about his rooting against Barry Bonds because he's a cheater. Of course, I also have some respect anyone who has spent the time to become a decent poker player, as Lidle seemed to have been. In any case, I just wanted to get my personal memory of him in writing, as I was sad to learn of his death.