Simply put, on a day like today, words like: hurt and devastated just aren’t up to par with the level of pain we feel today.
The death of Jose Fernandez punctures the heart of Miami in a way we would’ve never imagined 5 years ago when he was just a kid in the Marlins farm system.
As a life-long fan of the Marlins and Miami sports in general, I can say without a shadow of a doubt that no athlete has ever represented and truly embodied Miami culture like Jose Fernandez.
Watching Fernandez pitch felt like watching our culture.
Jose’s flamboyance and attitude, his spark and presence, his walk up music, it just all felt like home.
There isn’t a single aspect of Jose’s personality that didn’t scream Miami. His starts were Spanish poetry-in-motion.
“Jose Day” was nothing short of your grandparents playing dominoes outside on a Sunday afternoon while Willie Colon played in the background. His personality and exuberance was a walking, talking metaphor for the color and vibrancies that make our Hispanic culture so great.
It’s not only relatable to the Cuban community, but to all of our Spanish heritages. Jose was the epitome of the type of young men and women that our parents and grandparents raised us to be.
And it hurts to write this in a past tense because what Jose meant and will continue to mean to our community is something that I hope will always live on and his legacy is one that we can only hope the future generations of Hispanos can lean from and carry on.
There was just something reminiscent about his style of play, his passion and love for his craft, his smile on and off the mound, his deep competitiveness that had him swinging out of his cleats trying to hit one out every time he came up to bat, that just reminded all of us about our days in the backyard with our friends imitating our favorite athletes, smiling from ear to ear, racing back home for dinner when the sun went down while still sweating profusely.
Jose was like a kid amongst a bunch of alpha males. He was your little brother that you knew was already better than you, but you’d never let him know it.
He’d beat you and make sure you wouldn’t forget it, but not in a pompous manner, but rather in the way that your friends never let you forget when they beat you at Mario Kart. It was innocent, it was fun, it was competiveness, but with nothing but pure love behind it regardless of the result.
Jose was relatable. There’s a little bit of Jose in all of us because deep down we should all know that life is too short to take yourself so seriously and that it’s okay to still show that inner-kid that’s inside all of us.
As I sit here with a heavy heart and almost in tears, minutes away from the first Marlins game since Jose’s passing, it’s almost hard to think straight.
In a year that’s already been so tragic, this one really hits too close to home. Fernandez was only 24 and with the brightest of futures ahead of him, you can only stop, think and realize that this could’ve happened to any of us.
In a time of so much turmoil and in a sport that can at times be a bit pretentious, it’s been truly beautiful to watch the love and appreciation around the MLB for what Jose meant to not just the game of baseball, but to everyone who ever had the pleasure of encountering him or watching him perform.
This is bigger than just a game. This is now a time to celebrate the life and legacy of a man that we all truly loved and should all aspire to be like.
Whatever it is that you do, always remember to not take any moment for granted and to appreciate the time you get to spend with your loved ones and in this case for me, watching and admiring the ones you love.
I cannot stress it enough, there is a little bit of Jose Fernandez in all of us and if there’s anything that watching Jose these past four years has taught me, it’s to smile more, to embrace your neighbors, and to make those around you feel like friends.
In a time like this, we could use a little love, a little compassion, a hug, and the warm embrace of a friend like Jose Fernandez.
We love you, Jose.