A name that was mentioned quite a bit throughout the program was Jose Fernandez of the Miami Marlins. One of the best pitchers in all of baseball was pushed back an extra day and was now scheduled to pitch against the New York Mets.
Little did I know, I would wake up to the heartbreaking, gut-wrenching and tragic news that Jose Fernandez was killed in a boating accident early Sunday morning.
A bright stars in Major League Baseball, one of the most dynamic pitchers in all of baseball has passed away at 24 years old.
It all seems like a bad dream.
The Jose Fernandez story was as poetic and as American as it gets.
Fernandez was born in Cuba and tried on three separate occasions to escape his country for the hopes and dreams of the United States of America.
There was hardship, struggle and failure.
Eventually on the fourth try, Fernandez, his mother and sister escaped Cuba. In his escape, his boat hit turbulent waters and knocked his mother into the rough Atlantic Ocean.
Fernandez jumped into the water and saved his mother’s life.
Jose Fernandez was already a hero before even throwing a pitch in the big leagues, but his talent on the mound was off the charts.
There was a certain swagger and enthusiasm that he brought to each and every one of his outings.
He expected to be great, he was not afraid of the moment, and he was on his way to becoming one of the great pitchers of this era of baseball.
Just like Thurman Munson’s career in 1979 was cut way too short, Jose Fernandez has left this earth far too soon.
I wondered how the Marlins would be able to play a baseball game on Monday night without their teammate.
Playing Monday’s game with every player wearing a #16 Fernandez jersey and with each team embracing before the game showed us everything that is right in not only baseball, but everything that is right in our society.
The tribute on the mound, the handshakes between Mets and Marlins, and the national anthem brought tears to my eyes on Monday night.
Sports has this power to help us heal. It helped all of us heal following the days of September 11, and sport’s healing power was on full display in the first at bat in the bottom-half of the first inning.
Fernandez’s friend and teammate Dee Gordon wore Fernandez’s batting helmet and took a pitch right handed, even though he is a left-handed batter.
Sure enough, two pitches later after switching back to his natural side of the plate, Gordon who had not hit a home run all season, powered his first blast over the fence and had tears coming down his face rounding the bases.
Fernandez’s death on Sunday reminded me of a tough lesson. You simply never know when it’s your time. Kiss your loved ones, chase your dreams and passions and live life to the fullest.
Try to to live each and every day the way Jose Fernandez did.
JJ’s Unlocks of the Week (7-3)
• Jets +1.5
• Dallas -3
• New England -3.5
• Carolina -3.5
• Tennessee +6.5
You can listen to me Friday and Sunday from 2-6 a.m. and after the Chiefs-Steelers game until 2 a.m. on WFAN Sports Radio 660/1019 FM.