The Legacy of Jose Fernandez

It is hard to fathom the loss of Jose Fernandez. The baseball community will long mourn the death of Fernandez. Waking up today, I didn’t expect to hear that one of baseball’s brightest spots would have his life tragically ripped from him in a boating accident. There’s just something about Fernandez and his death I just can’t get over. Maybe because just two years ago we saw another rising star in Oscar Taveras die tragically in a car crash in his home country of the Dominican Republic, and as an almost lifelong Cardinal fan I could almost feel my heart break for both his family and the Cardinals organization. Maybe because at just 20 years old, I woke up with news that someone who is less than four years older than me had his life unfairly taken from him.

No matter how you look at it, it’s a sad day in baseball.  Fernandez was just one of those players you couldn’t help but root for.  There was just something about him, maybe it was his smile or his upper 90s fastball, but you just knew he was something special. He played the game with such energy, such fervor, such fun and I think he really encapsulated everything a sports player should be.  He played baseball because he just loved the game and you could see that on and off the field.

He just loved the game and he loved life, and I think that’s what made him so special. To me, it seemed like baseball was more about the game and about the atmosphere than money for Fernandez.  He didn’t seek fame or millions of dollars, but just the sport he loved.  And his teammates loved him too.

He was a star, but yet it seemed like he never took the spotlight.  He lost all of two games at home, and when he pitched at home there was always a spike in attendance.  Everyone wanted to see greatness live, and Fernandez usually didn’t disappoint.  At 24, Fernandez was already considered one of the top pitchers in the league and he was only getting better.  That makes it all the more sad.  Such talent, and yet we didn’t get to see the best of what Fernandez had to offer.  He was just starting to hit his prime, and now all of what could have been, in an instant, was taken away.

As a baseball fan I am devastated by the loss of Jose Fernandez.  He was probably the most entertaining pitcher to watch in the MLB.  To me, it seemed like Fernandez was a little leaguer in the MLB.  He played with as much passion as you’d want to see in an athlete while at the same time having the most amount of fun.  Today in sports, that is a rare combination.

I think this quote from Muhammad “King Mo” Lawal describes Jose Fernandez both as a baseball player and a person: “The moment you stop having fun, that’s when everything gets hard, you start getting burnt out.  When you’re having fun, you’re winning, regardless if you win or lose.  When you’re having fun, you’re winning.”

Rest in Peace, Jose Fernandezjose-fernandez

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