New York Mets: Last Night Was Bigger Than Baseball
Sep 26, 2016; Miami, FL, USA; Hats of the Miami Marlins lay on the pitchers mound after the game to honor teammate starting pitcher Jose Fernandez at Marlins Park. Mandatory Credit: Jasen Vinlove-USA TODAY Sports

The New York Mets’ postseason chase fell secondary to the tribute Jose Fernandez‘s life deserved.

Sometimes, society is need of a reality check. That baseball is just a game, despite its multibillion-dollar worth, and that its players are people with genuine human emotion, was a perspective New York Mets’ fans saw last night.

Marlins Park was beset with an overbearing stillness of tragedy since Sunday morning, as it is the home of a franchise that lost its ace pitcher, and its ace personality in unexpected horror.

Not only, though, did the Marlins organization lose Jose Fernandez, a man of character and full of life, but the city of Miami that admired him, the sport of Major League Baseball which was well familiar with his ascension to one of the game’s best pitchers, and the thousands his Cuban aficionados did too.

This man was idolized by numbers of people hard to estimate, and hard to comprehend.

His teammates looked at Fernandez as an idol in a similar way, but, in a most distinctive way, they knew him. They ran the course of a 183-day, 162-game schedule with him. In every sense of the word, he was their brother.

Such brotherly love and undying affection was on full display in the tribute to Jose, a 24-year old laid to rest far before his time. At Marlins Park, a setting described as “surreal,” Fernandez’s teammates battled every tugging emotion to put on their uniforms and take the field clad in jerseys bearing their late teammate’s name and number.

Impulse would probably urge these men to mourn in sorrow and perhaps solitude, yet they portrayed an act of undeniable love for their teammate’s life of joy. Miami players surrounded the mound that once served as Fernandez’s launching pad for big league success and a place that built him to become one of baseball’s best pitchers.

Trumpets solemnly instrumented “Take Me Out To The Ballgame.” Players, overcome with emotion, were welled up in tears. Opposing teams embraced and cried together. They joined arms in solidarity as baseball lost a shining star, and Marlins’ players lost a brother.

By the end of the tribute, I myself was sobbing. To a point, I was uncontrollably emotional. And I never met Jose Fernandez. I never thought of him as more than a phenomenal pitcher who I hoped the Mets would avoid in a given series with Miami. But, watching the raw emotion of grown men and professional athletes had such a humanizing impact.

In many ways, it altered my outlook on sports. Baseball means nothing next to the loss of a young man whose body will repose – instead of lead a Marlin pennant one day.

Last night, my friends, was bigger than baseball.

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