Jose Fernandez Was Supposed to Pitch Tonight

Sitting in Section 135, you get the opportunity to look into the Mets dugout.  While watching the game, I could only make out that the Mets had hung something up on the dugout wall.  As I would discover after the game, Yoenis Cespedes hung a Jose Fernandez Mets #16 jersey to honor his fellow countryman, defector, and baseball player:

His manager, Terry Collins was right there talking to his star while he hung something to honor a player who would die tragically at the age of 24.  It was just one of many Mets players who took time to express their grief over the loss over a competitor.

All over baseball, people mourned the loss of a unique talent and incredible talent that was gone too soon.  However, it was not just his talent that makes the loss that great.  After his death, you heard stories about how active he was in the community.  You saw how beloved he was by his teammates, competitors, and people who covered the game.  It is a rare sight to see Keith Hernandez breaking down and losing the ability to speak when talking about anything.

Personally, I was left with a loss for words having re-heard the story of how he defected.  After three failed attempts, and having been imprisoned for those attempts, Fernandez and his family set to cross the Gulf of Mexico for their freedom.  En route, Fernandez’s mother would go overboard.  At 15 years old, Fernandez jumped into those rough waters, and he used that strong right arm to save his mother’s life.  Upon hearing the news, many were left wondering where Fernandez’s savior was when that boat crashed.

As if this wasn’t tragic enough, there was learning the news that Fernandez was set to become a father.  Someone in Florida a child is going to be born, and that child is never going to get to know their father.  That child is only going to get to see the highlights on TV and is going to meet people who will tell him/her just what an incredible person and pitcher Jose Fernandez was. Worse yet, this all happened before Fernandez got his big payday.  In a couple of years, that child was going to be set for life with Fernandez reaching free agency.  Now who knows how much of a struggle a single mother and her child is going to have.  Hopefully, someone will reach out and care for Fernandez’s child much in the same way he reached out and touched the lives of others in his community.

With the shock and sudden loss, the Marlins cancelled yesterday’s game.  However, they will play tonight against the Mets.  They will play on a night that Fernandez was supposed to be taking the rubber against Bartolo Colon.  As it stands right now, the Marlins haven’t announced a starter to take Fernandez’s place.  It just seems fitting because no one could ever take his place.  No one else can be the young ace that Fernandez was.  No no else could have the impact on the community Fernandez did.  No one else could garner the respect of all of baseball in the way Fernandez did.  No one could ever replace him as the father to his child.

That’s the backdrop to tonight’s meeting between the Mets and the Marlins.  A once meaningful September game now seems devoid of its meaning without Fernandez.  On a night that he was supposed to don his number 16 jersey and take the mound, the Mets and Marlins are left hanging up his jersey in honor and remembrance of him.