Tuesday, September 27, 2016
Crying In Baseball
This was the first Marlins game after the devastating death in a boating accident of their brilliant young pitcher, Jose Fernandez. Just 24 years old, Fernandez was a spectacular pitcher with limitless ability, a heroic life story, and as engaging a personality as anyone in the game.
I tuned in at the close of the pre-game ceremony and witnessed a remarkable scene -- Mets and Marlins players embracing each other on the field. All were visibly grief-stricken -- some barely holding back tears and others sobbing uncontrollably. I wondered how they could possibly play a ball game after that, and as the Marlins took their positions, you could see them still wiping their moist eyes.
Dee Gordon lead off for the Marlins in the bottom of the first, and took the first pitch as a right-handed batter, emulating Fernandez's batting stance in tribute. He then turned around to bat lefty and crushed Bartolo Colon's pitch into the upper deck for a home run. When Gordon trotted around the base with tears streaming down his face it was hard to think about what this at bat -- or this game -- meant for the Mets' playoff chances. It was a stunning moment, reminiscent of Mike Piazza's dramatic home run on September 21, 2011, the first game in New York after 9/11.
I admit that after the Gordon homer, I wanted the Mets to come back and win (they lost 7-3), and I will be rooting for them to beat the Marlins tonight and tomorrow. But Gordon's homer was a powerful reminder that while baseball is more than just a game, there are some things bigger than the box score.