Tuesday, September 27, 2016

Crying In Baseball

I recently heard someone talk about the power of being intensely passionate about something that you know deep down is really not that important.  And it is just possible that my love of, perhaps obsession with, baseball -- and the New York Mets -- might fall into this category.  For close to fifty years, I have closely followed a team that has provided endless drama, occasional miracles and an inordinate amount of heartache and heartbreak.  It is a passion that I take very seriously -- just ask the petrified trick-or-treaters who happened to knock on our door last Halloween when Daniel Murphy booted a grounder in the 8th inning of Game #4 of the World Series, and heard some choice and very loud expletives coming from the man on the couch.  But last night's game against the Miami Marlins -- a pivotal one for the Mets, who are in a three-way battle for a wild card berth -- surely tested the theory about what really matters.

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.


Dave Margulies said...

Dee Gordon, after his home run ..."I told the boys, if ya'll don't believe in God you might as well start. I ain't ever hit a ball that far, even in BP. For that to happen we had some help today"

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