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September 30, 2016

Figuring out how to write this was hard. It’s not every week you wake up, and an entire community is devastated. It’s not often sports encounters a loss felt so viscerally throughout the entire community, that an entire game is canceled. Think about that: owners do not cancel games. That hurts their profits. It hurts playoff chances. It is cumbersome to the league and to the fans. And yet, that’s exactly what the Miami Marlins did. A solid black screen, with an orange “16” looming ominously over the entrance to the ballpark let us all know something awful had happened. “The game today is canceled.”

As of the morning of September 25, 2016, Jose Fernandez is no longer with us.

I struggle not to cry as I write this. I have never met Fernandez, but he was one of my favorite pitchers ever since he went pro. Forget the 95 mile-per-hour fastball. Forget his wicked slurve. None of that matters. He played with a joy and a life that rarely graces a game that has become increasingly workmanlike. Fernandez was a talent, but he was also a joy. We have all seen the GIF of Fernandez robbing Troy Tulowitzki of a hit, and then giggling about it. The yelling into his glove. The cheering, dancing, the pictures of him and his grandmother. That was Fernandez, in a nutshell. He was everything I love about sports, and everything I love about life.

And it doesn’t seem fair that he is gone. Of course it doesn’t. He was 24. Just a year removed from becoming a US citizen. He was not that much older than any student here. Everyone loved him. He did everything right. He was living the dream. Honestly, it isn’t fair. He should be in Miami, goofing off with Dee Gordon. He should have picked the Atlanta Braves offense apart on the 25th. We should be talking about the gem that would become his last start, an eight-inning beauty against the Nationals. 12 strikeouts. Just three hits allowed. He should be with his girlfriend, discussing names for their child who will grow up without seeing their father. That is not the case, obviously.

There will be articles saying he should not have gone boating. That he was drunk. That he was reckless. Ignore them. They are stupid, click-seeking headlines. Do not let the media frame Fernandez as someone to be chastised. Do not let the media sully this man’s image. Remember, instead, Dee Gordon. Remember the image of that mound on the 25th. The only thing on the field that day was Fernandez’ ballcap. Remember Dee Gordon, crowding that hat, crying like he lost his brother, because he did. Remember the home run Gordon hit in his first at-bat after losing his friend. Remember that screen. How morbid, wrong it felt. Nothing related to Fernandez should be on a black backdrop. He was too bright, too fun, for that.

Remember the Marlins’ quip for Fernandez, when he took the mound. “It’s #JoseDay.” It’s always going to be Jose Day. We’re all Marlins fans, this week. And for the foreseeable future. Rest in power, Mister Fernandez. We all miss you.

Anthony Adams
Sports Columnist

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