Miami will never forget Jose Fernandez, but they could take steps to ensure his name is forever linked to the team.
Dee Gordonprovided the best tribute to Jose Fernandez we’re going to see in 2016, and for that matter, the best moment of 2016 in MLB, with his performance on Monday night. It wasn’t so much that he hit his first home run of a trying season on his first swing since Fernandez’s death, but the way he then ran the bases, fighting back tears for a moment, then letting them flow. It was the way he wiped his eyes and pointed to the sky, the way he then hugged so many of his coaches and teammates, none of them jubilant, none giddy, all just overcome and leaning on each other because the alternative (as it has been since Sunday morning, for so many inside and outside the Marlins organization) seemed to be to physically fall down under the weight of it all.
That moment was terrible and beautiful, everything we ask sports to be. Often, even when we ask that much of sports, they don’t provide it. Sports aren’t designed to comfort the grieving or to unite the divided or to inspire the desperate. Every so often, though, when the right people end up in the middle of sports’ peculiar dramas, those people can make sports really substantial. Gordon and his teammates (and in a less obvious way, the gracious Mets) did some of that heavy lifting Monday.
Becoming fans of Jose Fernandez linked a daughter and mother, in life and in death.
Jose Fernandez wasn’t just a great pitcher, he was a symbol that held so much meaning, not just to everyone in baseball, but to many people in the Miami community and around the world. We didn’t just lose a star athlete too soon, we lost an all-encompassing asset to all our lives. Fernandez helped us see parts of ourselves, he reflected parts of us--such as our love for the game--that for some, has gotten lost in the translation of adulthood, and he has opened our eyes to ways in which we can improve our quality of life through pride, joy, innocence, and selflessness.
My awareness of Fernandez as anything more than a Cuban rookie pitcher who was taking the National League by storm was minimal in 2013. The intriguing young star piqued my interest for the very first time after this incident, Fernandez’s first big -eague home run, and what followed.
The franchise you couldn't say a nice word about six months ago has overperformed and put itself into a playoff race. The route has been especially baffling.
It’s generally hard to define a franchise. Franchises are full of hundreds of people, each of them with his or her own hopes, dreams, college GPAs and skills. Teams that are bad at actual baseball can hold noble philosophies, can play a vital role in their communities, can be lovable losers or compassionate antiheroes. Except the Marlins, the one team everyone knows how to feel about. In the 2016 BP Annual, Matthew Trueblood excoriated Jeffrey Loria and Associates for nearly every decision they made last year:
The Marlins have had a great year so far! Why we despair for them.
Since their baseball transformation in 2012, the Miami Marlins have always been an under-the-radar type of entertaining baseball story, good and bad. From taking on the crassness of Ozzie Guillen to be their first year manager, to having their general manager play dress-up in the dugout for nearly a full season, to watching one of baseball’s greatest and oldest hitters join the 3,000 club in their uniform — the Miami Marlins organization has been riddled with good “Hey, remember that time...” tales to rehash.
The maddeningly inconsistent closer had his first meltdown of the year. Meanwhile, the Brewers batted out of order and Lance McCullers dominated for real.
The Monday Takeaway
The Marlins were ahead 6-0 after they batted in the first half of the fourth inning yesterday. Matt Harvey had been roughed up for 11 hits and six runs (five earned) without completing the fourth. Miami starter Tom Koehler had driven in a run with a base hit. And Harvey’s own throwing error had compounded the home team’s woes before Terry Collins finally decided that enough was enough.
Notable performances this week from Trevor Bauer, Corey Kluber and Wei-Yin Chen.
There’s no time to waste, as the commander has ordered double-time for this week’s pitching notes. Permission to come aboard.
Kluber has been going through this rigmarole for a year and a half. Perhaps he was fortunate to string together so many dominant starts during his Cy-winning campaign of 2014, but Kluber continues to confound, with a glaring tendency toward disaster starts throughout the past two seasons. The peripherals far surpass the ERA numbers—he has a K/BB ratio of 5.2 over the past season and a half but just a 3.52 ERA to show for his work—and his excellent stuff combined with A-grade mechanics provide a steady basis for command and consistency. Yet he gets bombarded by hits and runs every few starts, and his past two turns serve as exhibits 1A and 1B.