Marlins, MLB Saddened and Stunned By Loss Of Jose Fernandez
Early this morning, Miami Marlins pitcher Jose Fernandez and two other passengers perished in a tragic boating crash off of Miami Beach.
There’s really only one way to say that, so if that reads a little close to other official releases, I trust I’ll be permitted the breach. Any loss of life is tragic, so on the grand scale, Fernandez himself is just one-third of a story that many might not have read had his name not been affixed to the lead. This was not the first time lives were lost in a crash off of Government Cut, and it won’t be the last. It’s a tricky stretch of water for boaters of all skill levels, and there is risk every time one sets out on the ocean.
And therein lies the particularly painful, even cruel, irony of this tragedy: very few people knew that as well as Jose Fernandez. For well before he was the dominant and rising superstar pitcher, he was a passenger on a boat undertaking the perilous crossing from Cuba to Mexico. It was not his first attempt to escape to freedom, and all he had to do to complete that one successfully was jump off in the middle of the ocean to save his mother’s life.
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Easy from there. Make it back to the boat. Arrive in a new land, and make your way to the United States. Leaving one home behind, establish yourself in another. Get drafted. Make it the majors. Become a citizen of your new country. Become arguably the second best pitcher in all of baseball. Suffer a career-threatening injury. Undergo fourteen months of rehab. Come back better than ever.
Quite the eventful nine years.
Then, this morning: Jose Fernandez dead at the age of twenty-four.
Obviously, this does particularly sting. Nothing written above about Jose Fernandez’s story was news to anyone reading this. It was part of what made him such a joy to root for, particularly in the Miami community, but also across the entire sport. The fact that he actually was a once-in-a-generation type talent just made it all the better.
And just as obviously, the fans who loved him can’t come within a thousand miles of knowing the loss that must weigh so heavily on the shoulders of the friends and family of Fernandez and the other two passengers this morning. Unless, of course, they’ve experienced such loss themselves.
There will be a time for deep analysis. How does this impact the team, rest of season and beyond? Who takes his place? For today though, you only need to look at how quickly today’s Marlins-Braves game was cancelled to know how utterly unimportant such speculation is right now. Fernandez was originally scheduled to pitch today, although there were some reports that he had been pushed back. Likely, that move was made to free him up to possibly face both the Mets and the Nationals in the season’s final week.
But the baseball side of this is for tomorrow. Today is just for Jose, for his friends and family.
And yours as well.