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Wake me up when 2016 ends

September 29, 2016

 

Matt Valcho

Sports Editor | mvv002 @latech.edu

VALCHO

VALCHO

 

When I woke up on Sunday morning, like most sports fan, I immediately looked at my phone and saw an ESPN update. It told me that 24-year-old Marlins pitcher Jose Fernandez had died in a boating accident in Miami earlier that morning.

 

Fernandez, a native of Cuba until his defection in 2008, was one of the best young pitchers in the majors. He won the National League Rookie of the Year and was an All-Star selection in his first season back from Tommy John surgery. He’s even in consideration for a Cy Young award postmortem. In short, he was good. Really good.

 

But he was more than just a good baseball player, he was a good man. A good man that a few days before the accident announced that he was expecting his first child.

 

That is why it’s all the more tragic that his life was cut so short.

 

Countless other teams and players all gave tribute to Fernandez and the type of player that he was. The Marlins are even planning to retire his No. 16 jersey.

 

The most incredible thing though, happened in the Marlin’s first game following his death. Dee Gordon, Fernandez’s best friend on the team, was the leadoff hitter for the Marlins. He took the first pitch wearing Fernandez’s batting helmet and mocked his batting stance on the right even though Gordon is a left-handed batter. Once he switched sides, the first ball Gordon swung at was a home run. His first of the year. Gordon broke down while he rounded the bases, and embraced his teammates once he was back in the dugout.

 

He told reporters after the game, “I ain’t never hit a ball that far, even in BP. I told the boys, ‘If you all don’t believe in God, you better start.’ For that to happen today, we had some help.”

 

It was one of the best and most emotional things I’ve ever seen at a sporting event. I know it’s cliché, but that does not make it any less true. This was way bigger than sports.

 

Matt Valcho is a senior journalism major from Benton who serves as  sports editor for The Tech Talk.

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