Last Sunday, September 25 was going to be a bad day. I was leaving Panama City Beach, Florida after a five-day family vacation. We had 12+ hours of driving ahead of us as we ventured our way back home to Indiana. I was also missing the Sunday slate of NFL games, which is like a weekly holiday to me during the fall months.
About five minutes into our driving, I went onto ESPN to see the games I would miss throughout the day. The leading headline turned my day from bad to devastating.
“Miami Marlins ace Jose Fernandez dies in boating accident.” My jaw dropped and I gasped aloud.
I turned silent for a few minutes, staring at the window as a Florida forest passed by. I was in disbelief. Stuff like this doesn’t happen to someone this young, someone this good.
Strikeouts, 589. ERA, 2.58. All-Star appearances, two. Age, 24.
I am not a hardcore baseball fan like I am football and basketball. I appreciate the sport, and most of all, I appreciate the pitchers. I appreciated Jose Fernandez greatly. Like Clayton Kershaw, or Madison Bumgarner, or Jake Arrieta, I tuned in when I saw that Hernandez was taking the mound. He not only earned our eyes, he deserved them. He defected from Cuba three times before finally making it to America on his fourth attempt in hopes to live out his dream. He wanted to play baseball.
He played with passion and a smile on his face at all times. It was a game, not a job.
The way the Marlins as a team have handled this is both heart-wrenching and incredible. With all the stories I have read on Fernandez — and believe me, they will all be linked below — I imagine the team has done a lot of crying, but also a lot of laughing. Fernandez was a character, and losing him makes baseball — and the world — a dimmer place.
In Miami’s first game since the tragedy, Dee Gordon took the first pitch of the bottom of the first inning as a righty— as that is how Jose would bat. Two pitches later, he launched a homer into the right field seats. It was his first home run of the season, and as he claimed, the furthest he’s ever hit a ball.
The whole team wore Fernandez’s jersey, and that would be the last time the number 16 would ever be worn by a Miami Marlin. His jersey was retired after the game, a 7–3 win over the Mets. Fernandez was set to pitch that night.
Jose Fernandez taught us all a lesson just by living life the way he knew how to live it: follow your dreams no matter the obstacles, and always have a smile on your face.
Here are the best stories I have read on Fernandez since his passing. I’m sure there are plenty more out there I haven’t come across yet.
(This post will be updated)
Jose Fernandez was pure joy
Jose Fernandez wasn't just one of the reasons we loved baseball. He was one of the reasons baseball made us love life.
Jose Fernandez found joy and wonderment in everything he experienced
Sep 25, 2016 Buster OlneyESPN Senior Writer Close Senior writer ESPN Magazine/ESPN.com Analyst/reporter ESPN television…
Tragic loss of Jose Fernandez leaves us wondering what might have been
Sep 25, 2016 Jayson StarkESPN Senior Writer Close Senior writer for ESPN.com 21 years at the Philadelphia Inquirer…
Rest in Peace, Jose.
Fantasy Football: Week 3 Review, Week 4 Preview
QB: Joe Flacco ($6,100) — 13.76 points — Funny how last week I talked about spending more on a quarterback to get more production from the position, and Flacco shits the bed. It happens, but I was certainly disappointed.
RB: David Johnson ($7,700) — 26.10 — The Cardinals’ offense overall really struggled in their surprising loss to the Bills, but Johnson still shined. Getting Arizona’s only two touchdowns on the day made him a pretty solid fantasy play.
RB: DeAngelo Williams ($7,500) — 8.40 — DEANGELO FINALLY FELL THROUGH. I’ve been raving on for weeks about how good of a replacement Williams has been for Le’Veon Bell, but he finally had a rough day. Philadelphia completely dominated Pittsburgh in the Battle for Pennsylvania, and unfortunately, they shut down Williams.
WR: Cole Beasley ($3,200)—14.30 — Beasley is a very reliable 10–15 points every week just with how often he gets targeted — 8.3 average through three games. With his low price tag, it’s hard to be made at that production.
WR: Kelvin Benjamin ($7,200) — 0.00 — This was the killer for me. The Minnesota Vikings completely shut Benjamin down after two big weeks prior to that. His stats for the day: zero catches, zero yards, one target.
WR: Mike Wallace ($5,000)—6.90 — Wallace is very dependant on touchdowns. I was expecting Flacco do play a lot better, and thus, I thought Wallace would play a lot better. For just $5,000, even one touchdown on top of what he already had would make him a solid play. But, Flacco couldn’t find him for a score.
TE: Jason Witten ($4,300)—4.50 — Witten is finally starting to lose me. Dak Prescott has started spreading the ball out a little more as he gets more comfortable, and Witten isn’t his favorite target anymore.
Flex: Melvin Gordon ($5,800) — 17.80 — I thought Gordon would have a little better day against the Colts after what C.J. Anderson and the duo of Ameer Abdullah and Theo Riddick did to them the first two weeks. He still had a rather nice day, though, so no complaining here.
DST: Vikings ($3,100) — 26.00 — One touchdown, three interceptions, one safety, eight sacks. The Minnesota Vikings’ defense is legit.
Not a good week at all. On to the next…
QB: Matthew Stafford ($8,300) — In Weeks 1 and 3, Stafford has had over 26 points. He’s got the Chicago Bears this week, who are without top corner Kyle Fuller. Chicago gave up 23.52 points to rookie Dak Prescott last week. Stafford is much more experienced than Prescott, and could have a much better day.
RB: Ezekiel Elliott ($8,100) — In the last two weeks, the 49ers have given up 100 yards or more to their opponent’s top rusher. Elliott is fully capable of that. Christine Michael also got two scores on the ground against San Francisco in Week 2.
RB: DeMarco Murray ($7,300) — DeMarco Murray is back. He’s a threat as a runner or receiver. With J.J. Watt not clogging up the middle, he has a good opportunity to continue his streak of 18 or more points this season.
WR: Marvin Jones Jr. ($7,600) — Stafford loves Marvin Jones Jr. (9.7 targets per game this season). Jones Jr. had 205 yards and two touchdowns last week. He (probably) won’t do that again, but I still want him on my team.
WR: Jamison Crowder ($6,000) — Crowder has scored in his last two games, and is facing the Browns this week.
WR: Doug Baldwin ($7,400) — I’m hopping on the “Darrelle Revis Sucks” bandwagon this week. He’ll have Baldwin, and although Russell Wilson either won’t play or will be playing hurt, Baldwin could still be the next receiver to embarrass Revis.
TE: Jacob Tamme ($5,500) — Before the Monday Night game against New Orleans, Tamme was being targeted eight times a game. He had 8.1 and 16 points in his first two games, not bad numbers for a cheap tight end. He scored just under seven points in both games against Carolina last season, but he seems to be more involved in the offense now and may get more looks his way this time around.
K: Justin Tucker ($5,100) — Justin Tucker is just a really good kicker, and the Ravens’ offense isn’t exactly potent. Tucker gets opportunities to score plenty often.
D/ST: Minnesota Vikings ($4,700) — If the Vikings can shut down Cam Newton, they can shut down Eli Manning. I’m sure he’d love to give them a few free interceptions anyways.
Week 4 Picks
Week 3: 9–7
Dolphins over Bengals
Colts over Jaguars
Seahawks over Jets
Raiders over Ravens
Texans over Titans
Lions over Bears
Patriots over Bills
Panthers over Falcons
Redskins over Browns
Broncos over Buccaneers
Cardinals over Rams
Cowboys over 49ers
Chargers over Saints
Steelers over Chiefs
Vikings over Giants