I think by now if you’ve read my blogs, it’s glaringly obvious that I’m not a very serious guy. So it goes without saying that this was not a blog that I wanted to write, however as the self-proclaimed “baseball guy” for WCS, I feel like it’s my responsibility to give my take on how to comprehend the death of one of baseball’s brightest young stars.
Yesterday while sitting at my buddy’s house, my other friend said “holy shit, Jose Fernandez died.”
My reaction was simply “Jose Fernandez?”
“Yeah” my friend responded.
“The Marlin’s pitcher?”
“Isn’t he pitching?” I know it was a stupid question, but that’s how surreal that moment seemed.
A few seconds later, my friend reported to me that it was a boating accident and it became real. I wouldn’t consider myself a huge Jose Fernandez fan, but of course I’d try to tune in when he was pitching against the Mets. I knew his stuff was absolutely electric and he very well could have been one of the greatest pitchers of this generation and maybe even all time. He was getting compared to Pedro Martinez which is obviously something that should not have been taken lightly.
His numbers were video game esq. They’ve been posted everywhere over the past 36 hours but here are some of the highlights:
38-17 career record with a 2.58 ERA and a 1.05 WHIP. He struck out about 31% of the batters he faced in his career and his numbers at home were even better. Only one loss in his entire career and an ERA in the low 1’s. And he was only 24.
And he was only 24.
That’s what’s obviously so incredibly sad. He had his whole career, but more importantly, his whole life in front of him. He announced he was having a daughter with his wife earlier in the week. His daughter will never meet her father.
How he died doesn’t make it any easier. As messed up as this sounds, when a celebrity or athlete dies because of an overdose or in violence, the public is still sad, but can say “they shouldn’t have put them self in that position. They should have made better decisions.” But with Fernandez it’s horrifically different. He was out on a boat with his friends, just hanging out. Spending time on a boat with friends – something any 24 year old would do. No foul play. No drugs. Just having fun with some friends.
The pictures of the Marlins players going up to the mound yesterday to pay their respects were absolutely gut wrenching. The emotion they showed for their teammate and brother brought tears to my eyes. Major League Baseball did a great thing yesterday having all teams respect Fernandez in a moment of silence, this among many other tributes including a Jose Fernandez jersey hanging in the Mets and Dodgers dugouts. The Marlins will all wear number 16 tonight in a game that will most certainly be full of tears and heartache and organization will likely retire the number 16 and pay tribute to Fernandez in the near future as they should.
While it’s clear that this is “bigger than baseball,” we the fans need baseball now more than ever. I didn’t get to see Jose Fernandez pitch very often, but from what I saw and what I heard, he played with passion and fun. Don Mattingly said he played with the excitement of a little boy. So as players and fans while we mourn this terrible loss, let’s pay homage to Jose Fernandez and play and cheer for the game as he would.
Jose Fernandez will be missed. Rest in peace.