Jose Fernandez Dead at 24

Jose Fernandez Dead at 24

The pitcher was killed in a boating accident early Sunday morning.
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Sunday morning I woke up, put my robe on, and stepped onto my porch. The air was chilly, but I needed my usual morning dose of nicotine (I truly wish I could quit). I took my phone out of my pocket to see what I had missed on social media during the time I was sleeping. For those of you that know me, you know that sports is an absolute passion of mine. I eat, breathe, and sleep sports. It honestly doesn't matter which one it is (I'm more partial to the Mets, New York Football Giants, and the Rangers).

Suddenly, my phone lights up with an ESPN alert. It was a breaking news story:

Jose Fernandez, ace for the Miami Marlins, 24, was killed in a boating accident off the coast of Florida overnight. (Toxicology reports are pending, but are not suspected.)

Immediately, my heart sank. This guy was an absolute monster. An absolute beast. The type of player children in Little Leagues around the world aspire to be. There was no denying his greatness: he led the league in Wins Above Replacement (WAR), strikeouts per game, and was 8th in the league in ERA. During the short span of his career, he was putting up Cooperstown like numbers. His strikeouts at home were the highest percentage of anyone since 1935. The only one to do this better: Sandy Koufax. I dreaded when the Mets had to face him. It was almost always a guaranteed loss.

This young man, whose life was tragically cut short, transcended baseball. He was constantly at children's hospitals in the Miami area. He always reaching out to the Cuban population of Miami. He himself was a Cuban defector. He had tried to leave the country four times. He had been shot at and imprisoned during some of those attempts. During one attempt, a few passengers on the boat he was traveling on went overboard. Without thinking, Jose jumped in the water. After he rescued a woman, it turned out that this woman was his mother. Such a selfless act by a selfless person. He was a Cuban son, the pride and joy for all those who wished to come to America to live a better life, free of the oppression by the communist Government and corrupt leadership of Cuba. He was so proud to be an American that he became a United States Citizen in 2015. In the midst of all this, just days previously he had announced that he was about to become a father.

His teammates and manager had nothing but good things to say. Same for everyone around the sport. This young man was so full of life and energy. He always had a smile on his face, always tried to keep the peace. He always joked, always tried to put people in a good mood. He used to ride his bike a lot, but he had heard that people were getting run over by cars in the streets of Miami at night. He wasn't willing to have that happen to him because baseball was his life. Jose decided to take up something much more calm as a recreational activity: fishing. He was the type of person who transcends sports, yet also very human.

After releasing a statement Sunday morning, the Marlins also announced that Sunday's game against the Atlanta braves would be cancelled. Tributes from players, sports icons, writers, and organizations filled up twitter: condolences for a fallen comrade. Most of the teams in Major League Baseball as well as several NFL teams had moments of silence for Jose. At the Cardinals game, their shortstop burst into tears. He and Fernandez had been childhood friends. The team granted him leave, in the midst of a wildcard race, to attend the funeral services. The Mets even did this:

(Yoenis Cespedes is Cuban as well. The Dodgers also participated due to the fact that their outfielder Yasiel Puig is Cuban.)

But as all things in life are concerned, the show must go on. Originally, Fernandez had been scheduled to pitch on Sunday. Due to a players return to the rotation from the disabled list, they pushed his start to Monday. I'm sure many are thinking of the possibility that he may not have been on that boat were he starting Sunday. But we can't think that way. On Monday, the Marlins were hosting The New York Mets.

This was one of the most difficult things I think I have ever watched in my life. The announcer started a moment of silence, tears streaming down the Marlin's faces as well as some of the Mets players. A color guard came on the field and played a resounding rendition of "Take Me Out to the Ballgame" with trumpets. Not a dry eye in the house. Even the Mets broadcasters couldn't contain their emotion. Neither could I. I just kept saying to myself: he was just a baby, he was just a baby. 24 years old. No one should have to die that young. After this, a children's choir came onto the field and sang our National Anthem, something that I'm sure Jose Fernandez was extremely proud of. The Mets also formed a line on the field to shake hands and offer condolences.


The entire team was wearing Fernandez number. It had been announced earlier that day that no Marlin would ever wear it again.

Then suddenly, magic happened. Batting leadoff for the Miami Marlins was Dee Gordon. He was never particularly a power hitter, but he was as fast as anything. He's sometimes called Flash Gordon. He approached the batter's box as a right handed batter, a tribute to Jose. After the first pitch, he switched to the other side of the plate. The rest, as they say, is history.

The emotion could hardly be contained. He couldn't even make it around the bases without sobbing. As he came to the dugout, his teammates embraced him. Many of them pointed to the sky. There was only one person who had a hand in something like that happening. If I didn't believe in a higher power, I do now.

At the end of the game, it was more of the same, but it didn't hurt any less. The Marlins won the game 7-3. The Mets players stayed in the dugout. When it ended, the Marlins came to the field and surrounded the pitchers mound. Fernandez was given the game ball. They participated in a group prayer, then individual ones. Giancarlo Stanton turned his jersey backwards so all could see Fernandez's name. Dee Gordon had a special RIP shirt made for his best friend. After a few minutes or so, they took their caps and placed them on the mound. There is no script for this, and these young men handled tragedy the best way they knew how: by coping together.

What a tremendous loss not only to the baseball world, but to the world as whole. In my heart, he will never be forgotten. R.I.P. Jose Fernandez.


Cover Image Credit: Wordpress

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I'm The Girl Without A 'Friend Group'

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Little things remind me all the time.

For example, I'll be sitting in the lounge with the people on my floor, just talking about how everyone's days went. Someone will turn to someone else and ask something along the lines of, "When are we going to so-and-so's place tonight?" Sometimes it'll even be, "Are you ready to go to so-and-so's place now? Okay, we'll see you later, Taylor!"

It's little things like that, little things that remind me I don't have a "friend group." And it's been like that forever. I don't have the same people to keep me company 24 hours of the day, the same people to do absolutely everything with, and the same people to cling to like glue. I don't have a whole cast of characters to entertain me and care for me and support me. Sometimes, especially when it feels obvious to me, not having a "friend group" makes me feel like a waste of space. If I don't have more friends than I can count, what's the point in trying to make friends at all?

I can tell you that there is a point. As a matter of fact, just because I don't have a close-knit clique doesn't mean I don't have any friends. The friends I have come from all different walks of life, some are from my town back home and some are from across the country. I've known some of my friends for years, and others I've only known for a few months. It doesn't really matter where they come from, though. What matters is that the friends I have all entertain me, care for me, and support me. Just because I'm not in that "friend group" with all of them together doesn't mean that we can't be friends to each other.

Still, I hate avoiding sticking myself in a box, and I'm not afraid to seek out friendships. I've noticed that a lot of the people I see who consider themselves to be in a "friend group" don't really venture outside the pack very often. I've never had a pack to venture outside of, so I don't mind reaching out to new people whenever.

I'm not going to lie, when I hear people talking about all the fun they're going to have with their "friend group" over the weekend, part of me wishes I could be included in something like that. I do sometimes want to have the personality type that allows me to mesh perfectly into a clique. I couldn't tell you what it is about me, but there is some part of me that just happens to function better one-on-one with people.

I hated it all my life up until very recently, and that's because I've finally learned that not having a "friend group" is never going to be the same as not having friends.

SEE ALSO: To The Girls Who Float Between Friend Groups

Cover Image Credit: wordpress.com

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Andy Ruiz Jr. May Not Look Like The Typical Boxer, But It Doesn't Make His Victory Any Less Deserved

Andy Ruiz Jr. just proved that dreams can come true.

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On June 1, boxing fans witnessed something special as Andy 'Destroyer' Ruiz Jr. defeated Anthony Joshua via TKO after going seven rounds in the ring at Madison Square Garden in New York City to become the first ever Mexican-American heavyweight champion of the world. Ruiz Jr. (33-1) was a heavy underdog (+1100) heading into the match-up with Joshua (22-1) but ultimately flipped the script to hand the British fighter his first professional loss ever. Surely the fight will go down as one of the greatest moments in sports history.

Some members of the media and fans have been quick to label the fight as a 'fluke' and 'rigged' which in the end is no surprise to me. That always happens in the sports world. Many did not believe we would get this result yet failed to remember the one rule of sports -- expect the unexpected. Over the past week, I've been coming to the defense of Ruiz Jr. in the wake of others choosing to call him a joke.

I was shocked and surprised to hear two of my favorite sports analysts, Stephen A. Smith and Shannon Sharpe, make fun of Ruiz Jr. and frame him as just a guy that looked like 'Butterbean.' When I viewed their tweets on social media it honestly made me upset. Sure, Ruiz Jr. may not have fit the mold of what a professional boxer should look like, but they simply should not have just judged a book by its cover.

Personally, I thought it was disrespectful for Smith and Sharpe to throw shade at Ruiz Jr. in the way they did. I felt like they should have done a better job of acknowledging the winner considering the result of the match. Yet choosing to bash someone because of their physical composition appeared like a low blow. The very foundation of sports allows people of all shapes, sizes, genders, races, and backgrounds to compete -- that's why most people follow them in the first place.

Smith was open behind his reasoning for his tweets in which I'd like to shed some light on. Smith was upset about how boxing time after time contains elements of corruption with fans having to wait years until promoters schedule big fights. He along with other followers of the sport were looking forward to the highly anticipated yet potential future match-up between Joshua and fellow heavyweight Deontay Wilder. Smith believes that by Ruiz Jr. beating Joshua it essentially diminished the chances of that fight ever happening with the same amount of buildup, but that still doesn't provide any excuse for mocking the new heavyweight champ.

Ruiz Jr. was there for a reason and ultimately seized the opportunity that was right in front of him -- that's not his fault for getting the job done. Just because someone doesn't look like the part doesn't mean they don't possess the same qualities and characteristics as their counterparts. The following pair of videos display the amount of talent Ruiz Jr. does have in the ring. Even fellow boxer Canelo Alvarez and former UFC lightweight/featherweight champion Conor McGregor acknowledge that and have come out to say something on their behalf.

Unfortunately, I don't expect much to change because most will stand their ground and continue to behave the same way. All I'm saying is I did not enjoy some of the top figures within sports media stereotyping Ruiz Jr. based on his looks. I would think that we would be better than that and recognize that anyone can accomplish something great in this world. It all just starts with a simple dream.

I understand and respect other people's takes on this subject, maybe I'm looking into things deeper than what they are, but it struck a chord with me and I felt the need to say something about it.

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