We loved Jose Fernandez, and his baseball funeral was probably the saddest for anyone who was presumed to be out for the year. It was sadder than Matt Harvey’s; sadder than Stephen Strasburg’s; and it was sadder than the rest of the dozens (seriously, dozens) of pitchers whose fate likely awaits Fernandez with Tommy John surgery.
If you had asked around the Baseball Internet, Fernandez might very well be the player everyone would hate to see out for the season. It’s so much more than just the fact that he’s a really good baseball player.
• Fernandez is a cool story. He overcame so much in fleeing from Cuba, and BP tends to root for guys like that — even more so when the story isn’t played over and over and over, and the Fernandez narrative has been fairly quiet.
• He’s ours. Fernandez isn’t in big-airplay commercials. He isn’t all that recognizable outside of the serious or at least, with a Rookie of the Year Award, the semi-serious baseball community. The word “hipster” is used way too much by people who don’t know what it means, but there’s some element of his still belonging to us and not yet the world.
• He’s young, and fans like young stars. Matt Holliday is a perennial All-Star, but fans wouldn’t be 1/10th this sad if they couldn’t watch Holliday play tomorrow. Holliday is your better-than-average good player, but until he hits 40, that’s when he becomes cool again — a Sam Miller theory.
• He does cool things and is .gifable. And fans will miss that.
Add it up, and the baseball deities have taken away perhaps our must-est of the must-watch TV attractions, and we’re bummed. Is Fernandez the answer to that question of whom the Baseball Internet would be saddest to see go down with an injury?
If this were Opening Day, he’d be top two or three. He’s 10th because fans already were prepared for it. We’ve made it through a few weeks without Kershaw, and most of us are still here. But let’s hope the two-time Cy Young winner stays off the DL the rest of the season.
9. Bartolo Colon, Mets
Have you seen his.gifs? As with Fernandez, there’s a good chance fans will see something new when the 40-year-old right-hander takes the mound — or more accurately, the batter’s box. If this were out of my life today, I’d be devastated.
8. Derek Jeter, Yankees
It wouldn’t be right if the Farewell Tour was cut short. There aren’t any other players with 3,349 hits (through Wednesday) and five championships retiring at the end of the year. A great player — one of the greatest of all time — who deserves not to have his exit taken away from him.
As with Fernandez, the pitching porn in our lives would be greatly decreased if Strasburg had to cool off for another year. Add to that the extra sadness of watching a potential once-in-a-generation guy having to struggle back from a second Tommy John surgery and all the hot takes that would harken back to “The Decision.” This is probably a conservative ranking. Losing Strasburg would be awful.
Would baseball fans miss the 22-year-old right-hander more than Stanton? Probably not. But Ventura is No. 3 for what he represents. If one 100-mph man can’t make it past 10 career starts without Tommy John surgery, we should probably just pack this thing up and head home now. Ventura is the healthy, exciting guy still standing. His TJ would be a blow to hope.
He’s a stud, a five-tool stud. He’s young. He does the amazing. He’s .gifable. He’s the best player in baseball. If he went away tomorrow, he wouldn’t just be depriving fans of all those things, but the conversation as a GOAT candidate that will be so intriguing over the next 20 years changes instantly. Does the speed come back? Is he still a center fielder? Wait, why are we even thinking Matt Kemp? Stop that right now.