Looking Back On The Life Of Jose Fernandez

Looking Back On The Life Of Jose Fernandez

The sports world lost a huge star.
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I woke up that morning and when I unlocked my phone, I was devastated. A flurry of notifications came from my phone about the death of Jose Fernandéz the night before. He was 24 years old and full of life and happiness. My heart hurt for him, his family and his teammates. He was loved by many and hated by few. I think that is why it was so hard for everybody to accept the fact that he is gone. He made everyone around him happier just by showing his infectious smile.

I remember one day after school, a friend and I noticed Jose was pitching in L.A. that night, which is an hour from where we go to school. It was not even a question at that point, we just got in the car and made our way to L.A. so we could see one of the most exciting pitchers in the game. He threw a shutout that night and that is a night I will never forget.

He carried himself different than other players do. He wanted to be the best and worked hard to get there. After he had Tommy John surgery in 2013 he only came out stronger. A sudden death like this hit the sports world very hard and everybody seemed to be impacted by it.

The Marlins all wore number 16 Fernandéz jerseys to commemorate their fallen player in the next game. Dee Gordon hit a home run to right field in his first at-bat and the place went wild. Gordon doesn't really have much power so this was incredible in itself. He was in tears by the time he crossed home plate and all the other players were as well. He was greeted with hugs from every player and manager in the dugout. This moment will go down as one of the most emotional moments in sports history and it is a scene that will never be matched.

Every team in the majors put up a number 16 Fernandéz jersey in their dugout to commemorate the infectious pitcher. He touched so many lives and he brought communities together in a way that no one else could. His significance to the game cannot be overstated and it hurts to know that a player you went out of your way to see died.

At 24 years old, Jose Fernandéz died in a boating accident along with his 2 other friends. He gave so much happiness to the world and now he will be giving that happiness to another world. Rest in Peace.

Cover Image Credit: Flickr

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To The Coach Who Ruined The Game For Me

We can't blame you completely, but no one has ever stood up to you before.
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I know you never gave it a second thought, the idea that you're the reason I and many others, never went any farther in our athletic careers.

I know you didn’t sincerely care about our mental health, as long as we were physically healthy and our bodies were working enough to play. It’s obvious your calling wasn’t coaching and you weren’t meant to work with young adults, some who look to you as a parent figure or a confidant.

I also know that if we were to express our concerns about the empty feeling we began to feel when we stepped onto the court, you wouldn’t have taken the conversation seriously because it wasn’t your problem.

I know we can't blame you completely, no one has ever stood up to you before. No one said anything when girls would spend their time in the locker room crying because of something that was said or when half the team considered quitting because it was just too much.

We can't get mad at the obvious favoritism because that’s how sports are played.

Politics plays a huge role and if you want playing time, you have to know who to befriend. We CAN get mad at the obvious mistreatment, the empty threats, the verbal abuse, “it's not what you say, its how you say it.”

We can get mad because a sport that we loved so deeply and had such passion for, was taken away from us single-handedly by an adult who does not care. I know a paycheck meant more to you than our wellbeing, and I know in a few years you probably won’t even remember who we are, but we will always remember.

We will remember how excited we used to get on game days and how passionate we were when we played. How we wanted to continue on with our athletic careers to the next level when playing was actually fun. We will also always remember the sly remarks, the obvious dislike from the one person who was supposed to support and encourage us.

We will always remember the day things began to change and our love for the game started to fade.

I hope that one day, for the sake of the young athletes who still have a passion for what they do, you change.

I hope those same athletes walk into practice excited for the day, to get better and improve, instead of walking in with anxiety and worrying about how much trouble they would get into that day. I hope those athletes play their game and don’t hold back when doing it, instead of playing safe, too afraid to get pulled and benched the rest of the season.

I hope they form an incredible bond with you, the kind of bond they tell their future children about, “That’s the coach who made a difference for me when I was growing up, she’s the reason I continued to play.”

I don’t blame you for everything that happened, we all made choices. I just hope that one day, you realize that what you're doing isn’t working. I hope you realize that before any more athletes get to the point of hating the game they once loved.

To the coach that ruined the game for me, I hope you change.

Cover Image Credit: Author's photo

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There’s No Fan More Loyal Than A Cubs Fan

Nothing about the windy city is fair weather, not even the baseball fans.

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At some point in our lives, almost all of us have arbitrarily selected a sports team that will inevitably dictate our emotions for the better part of our lives. Many choose teams based on where they live, where they are from, who their family is loyal to or who has the prettiest colors. In many cases, selection and subsequent dedication are trivial. For Chicago Cubs fans, it's anything but.

Formerly known as the "Loveable Losers," the Cubs had the longest standing drought without a championship win in all major sports. Before they won it all on November 2nd, 2016 they had gone 108 years without winning a World Series. Their last world series win was in 1908, which—like my dad always said—was before electricity was widespread in homes. Imagine something like being a Cleveland Browns fan, but for 108 years. After this much time, only the most loyal of fans still remain. You can't find someone who sort of likes the Cubs because if they were this indifferent, they would've probably given up on the team about a hundred years ago.

I grew up around a family that lived and died with the Cubs. Until the past few years, living and dying with the Cubs was actually just dying while desperately trying to remind yourself that there must be something to live for.

Being a Cubs fan was turning off the game when you went down a few runs because everyone knew the Cubs never came back from that. Being a Cubs fan was getting teased by Brewers fans for wearing a Cubs jersey to school because no one ever took them seriously. Being a Cubs fan was having your family tell you to put Cubs flags on their graves if they ever won it all because we all figured we'd never see it happen.

Until we did.

In a night I'll never forget, the Cubs—in a very anti-Cubs fashion—completed the comeback against the Cleveland Indians from a 3-1 game deficit. A God-given rain delay before extra innings in World Series game seven shifted the momentum in the Cubs' favor, and Ben Zobrist delivered the go-ahead double that reminded Cubs fans across the country what winning actually feels like.

In a now iconic scene I can't watch without tearing up, Kris Bryant scoops up the baseball and stumbles while tossing it to Anthony Rizzo for the first World Series win in 108 years. I remember hearing the announcer say, "the Cubs have finally won it all" and hugging my family with no intention of letting go. It was this indescribable feeling that I believe no other sports team can elicit. We felt joy, relief and elation—not just for ourselves, but also for our loved ones who didn't make it long enough to feel it with us.

There are absolutely beautiful stories regarding this World Series win, such as the man who promised his dad that they would listen to the World Series games together—if the Cubs ever made it there. So for the 2016 World Series, he brought a radio to his father's grave and listened to every game there, just the two of them. Good luck finding another sports team with stories, emotions and loyalty like that.

So yeah, although I just watched the Cubs' 2018 season end after the wild card game with two consecutive losses at Wrigley Field, I'll get over it. If my family and the other diehard Cubs fans of the world can make it 108 years without Flying the W, I can rationalize waiting for a few more. Even if it means dealing with unrelenting snide comments from Brewers fans.

Oh, and I have one more note for the Brewers fans out there: go ahead and keep telling me to "Fly the L." I'll just tell you to fly your World Series pennants. Oh, wait…you don't have any.

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