El Niño

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I’ve never been the type of person who gets all that upset when a celebrity/famous person passes away. I didn’t know them, it’s easy to be indifferent when you aren’t connected to someone. I might quote them on social media to show respect and whatnot but I’m not hurting or traumatized. But yesterday’s news shattered me.

José Fernández died in a boating accident. José Fernández, 24 years old. José Fernández, beloved pitcher for the Miami Marlins. José Fernández, who suffered tremendous hardship just to make it to the USA from his birthplace of Cuba. José Fernández, the kid with the electric arm and smile-inducing charm. José Fernández, a superstar.

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The handsome hurler was the kind of pitcher you rooted for even if he was facing your favorite team. His repertoire of pitches was nasty as hell, and his energy and kid-like enthusiasm were infectious. He could wow us with a wicked curveball and make us smile with his endearing goofiness. Even the get-off-my-lawn old-timers were like yeah, that kid’s pretty freaking awesome. He had that rare ability to melt the hardest of baseball souls. José Fernández was the main attraction every time he toed the rubber. We were all mesmerized by his sick strikeouts and his genuine joy for the game. He played baseball the right way.

Yesterday was difficult. I got emotional a few times throughout the day because a man I never met died unexpectedly. He was so young. So talented. So happy. The silly boy inside me will miss him. The jaded adult inside me will miss him. He was unique and awe-inspiring and warm-hearted. He will never be forgotten.

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José Fernández served time in a Cuban prison for attempting to defect to America. He once rescued his mother, who fell overboard during the voyage that ultimately proved successful. He dove into turbulent seas to save his mom. Come on. I can barely save chicken thighs in a Tupperware bowl, and this remarkable human being risked his own life for someone he loved. He was an inspirational and courageous man.

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The baseball world is mourning the loss of a phenom who brought flair and authentic exuberance to the diamond. I can’t fully articulate my thoughts at the moment because this tragic news is so very shocking and sad. But I have been soothed by the responses of fans and other baseball players on Twitter. There is a ton of pain being expressed, as well as some wonderful memories. Baseball will never be quite the same without José Fernández.

Rest in peace, kid.

 

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