This is not how the story was suppose to unfold.
Jose Fernandez was a teenager fleeing from his homeland with his mother on a boat. When he saw that someone had fallen overboard, he jumped in and pulled her to safety. It was only then he realized it was his mother who had fallen and whom he had saved.
Jose Fernandez; with a love of life, of family and of baseball; lived life with a clear appreciation in everything he did. You could see it when he would be on the diamond; throwing a ball past the best hitters in the game making them each look like amateurs playing against a professional.
There is something about the relationship between baseball players and their fans. I have been watching baseball my entire life; I have been consumed with the 162 game schedule from the first pitch of the first game of a season until the final out, year after year for too many years.
When watching the games on TV you get to know the baseball players looks and idiosyncrasies; their batting stance, the way they field a ball and throw it; the way a pitcher sets up and delivers his pitch.
What draws in fans is the clockwork of the game which has no set times.
What draws in the fans are the decisions that must be made with each and every pitch.
What draws in the fans are the personalities and talents of each individual player.
There is the green grass and the immaculately clean dirt filled infield. The blue skies and the sound of a fastball hitting the catcher’s mitt followed by the scream of the umpire calling a, “Strike Three!”
The barehanded catch on a perfect bunt to the third baseman, the sound of the ball off the bat followed by sight of the ball sailing over the wall in the outfield just beyond the reach of the leaping outfielder. The the fans scrambling to get to the ball first.
These Major League ball players are human beings playing baseball. They are superhumans on the baseball field wearing uniforms made from polyester.
We watch them perform superhuman feats on the diamond; first as rookies learning and perfecting their crafts.
Then we watch them in their prime years, we cheer them on and call them by their first names. We call them by their first names because we feel we know them, you see, in baseball we witness the human sides of the superhumans.
We watch closeups of them after a strikeout, frustration and anger at themselves for missing a pitch they could have hit better.
We watch them as they limp away after getting hit on the kneecap with a 100 mile an hour fastball. Wincing in pain but staying on the field because they want to keep on playing.
We see them at their best; as they get a key hit or a homerun to win a game. We watch them as they succeed and they improve and improve until the spring has suddenly turned into a cool autumn evening.
We see them as they age quickly – the metamorphoses can be fleeting and painful to watch. But we watch them and we still cheer for them because we can remember when they were younger and in their prime.
They aren’t supposed to die in the spring of their lives. They are just not allowed to. Their story is supposed to be predictable and to unfold as great sports stories unfold.
As fans we watch or listen to the majority of the games within a season. We become very attached to the personalities of the team we follow and to the players they play against.
Baseball is played by players who possess a superior talent to hit, throw or catch balls. It is not a requirement for the players to be tall or bulked up as a behemoth. The hard work, determination and grind is what; coupled with a blessed talent and a support system; is what makes the player. One can be blessed with talent; but if they do not work hard at it the talent will slip away.
The infield is in the shape of a diamond. There are three bases and a plate. The goal for the batting team is to stand at the plate, bat in hand while watching the pitcher 60 feet and 6 inches away from them choose the pitch they will throw.
Jose Fernandez was a pitcher who could tell you what pitch he would throw and still make you look like a fool trying to hit it. He possessed an exuberance and a passion in each step he took that was effervescent and alive.
Jose Fernandez was a pitcher, player and a person who lived each second with a joy and an excitement that was infectious, infuriating to his opponents and exciting for the fans to watch.
It’s a sad ending to a story that should not have ended so soon. Tomorrow the Met’s will come to the park on 501 Marlins Way and play a game against a team minus one hero. The hero who had a future ahead of him that was suddenly taken away.
His death comes way too soon and we wonder if someone who is in charge of who stays and goes might have dropped the ball up there.
This is not how his story was supposed to unfold.