Monday, September 26, 2016

Jose Fernandez Showed Us How to Enjoy the Game

The death of Jose Fernandez was a shock. Not just because he was a great pitcher and a rising star in Major League Baseball. But Fernandez showed what could be great about baseball and was such a good example for young players watching. He really loved the game and enjoyed playing it. He smiled on the mound. Think about that - how many pro pitchers do you see who are so happy and comfortable in their own skin that they smile on the mound? 

I think that's how the game should be. I think the fans would prefer it. I think players perform better when they relax and enjoy it. Every pitch is a challenge, not a threat to your well-being. Fernandez was the greatest example of that perspective on the game. His death is a huge loss for many reasons. But it's particularly sad to think that a generation of kids won't see a shining star like Jose openly enjoying the game like he did.

Too many young players carry the weight of their world on their shoulders when they play. It's all or nothing. They succeed and everything is great. They fail and it's all over - tears, anger, tension. I'm sick of it. We've created a culture in youth baseball filled with pressure - as if what happens in a 12-year-old game really matters. Guys like Fernandez showed that it's okay to relax and have fun, and take it for what it is - a game. 

So I hope we never forget Jose Fernandez. He was a big kid with amazing talent who competed fiercely - but enjoyed competing fiercely. And he wasn't afraid to show it. What a sad day. But when the sadness eases, let's remember that smile.