Jose Fernandez’s heartbreaking death will leave a hole bigger than most
All deaths leave a hole, but the shocking, heartbreaking death of Jose Fernandez at 24 will leave a bigger hole than most.
Above all, it is a hole for his family. But it is also a hole for his team and his city, for his Cuban community and his sport. A hole in every fan’s heart.
There is a Spanish word, duende, that does not have a definitive translation in English. Duende according to Wikipedia, loosely means having soul, a heightened state of emotion, expression and authenticity.
Jose Fernandez had duende. He oozed duende. His passion matched his talent, which is saying something, considering the lightning in his right arm.
He was fun to watch, fun to be around, a shining light for the sport. He also was the perfect star for Miami, a Cuban defector – on his fourth try, when he was 15, after he had spent a few months in a Cuban prison – who relished becoming a U.S. citizen in April 2015.
"It means a lot," Fernandez said then. "It means respect, it means love, it means freedom and it means one of the reasons I came to this country – for freedom.
"Honestly, being an American citizen is amazing. That’s a lot of respect. A lot of people have died to defend this country to have it the way it is. It’s an honor that I can be a citizen."
It’s devastating to think what more he could have accomplished in baseball, as a pitcher and person, both on and off the field. He had the same type of charisma as Pedro Martinez, the same type of competitiveness, the same type of enthusiasm. It always seemed odd that he did commercials for 5-Hour Energy. He was probably the last guy who needed an energy boost.
We will learn more about the details of his death in the hours and days ahead. We will discuss the impact on the Marlins. We will talk and reflect and mourn, but no words are suitable. No words ever will be.