Amidst the heated playoff race, this weekend showed what really matters in the world of baseball.
Much like others, on Sunday morning I woke up to shocking news, tweets and articles I had to read, and then read again in order to believe that Jose Fernandez had passed away in a boating accident early Sunday morning. The 24-year old Miami Marlins pitcher was set to pitch Monday evening against the Mets, and now he was gone.
Fernandez’s death was a major loss to the baseball world, as the young man was sure to be a Hall of Famer one day. Along with his family, friends and teammates, an entire community across the country mourned his loss.
The only shedding of light that came from this weekend was witnessing the outpouring of love and support from the entire baseball community. Aside from the obvious grieving and support in the Miami area, teams across the country took moments of silence, gave tribute to Fernandez or hung his jersey in the dugout prior to the game. Having cancelled their game against the Atlanta Braves Sunday afternoon, the Marlins returned to play Monday night against the Mets. New York took the time to walk through the entire Marlins team, embracing each player as they shed endless tears.
Often times, sports can serve as a distraction from the real world, an outlet to escape the dark and instead find some light. They also act as ways to cope with tragedy, a chance to make good of the bad and find happiness in otherwise sad times. We’ve seen this happen countless times following tragic events in our country. Looking back to April of 2013, when the city of Boston was still raw with pain, recovering from the shock of the Boston bombings. On April 20th, the Red Sox returned to play at Fenway for the first time since the bombings. Who could forget David Ortiz, one of Boston’s most beloved, standing on the field saying proudly into his microphone, “This is our f**king city.” The Sox went on to beat the Royals that day, and went on to win the World Series that October, all the while carrying their “Boston Strong” motto close to heart.
Sept. 21, 2001, just ten days after the 9/11 attacks, baseball returned to New York as the Mets took on the Atlanta Braves. Bottom of the eighth, Mets down by a run. Mike Piazza stepped up to the plate, and blasted a two run homer off Steve Karsay to give the Mets the lead, which they would hold for the remainder of the game. An emotional crowd went wild for Piazza, embracing other teary-eyed fans as they enjoyed a brief moment of happiness during an otherwise gloomy period.
In the case of Fernandez, tragedy struck directly within the baseball world. Putting aside his incredible talents as a baseball player, Fernandez was loved by many throughout the league for his infectious laugh and positive attitude. Whether it was celebrating his own hits, or those of his teammates, Fernandez was guaranteed to be the most exuberant player in the dugout at any given time. On Sunday morning, the world lost an outstanding baseball player, and an even more outstanding person.
It is these moments of tragedy, where people come together with tributes, moments of silence and overwhelming support that show it is about so much more than the rivalries, so much more than the games, and that makes me proud to be a part of such a strong community.
Molly Burkhardt is a staff writer for The Daily Campus. She can be reached via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.