Some things are so unexplainable, and so crazy that they seem just down right unrealistic. The unrealistic became real for the Cardinals last night.
Just two days ago, Dee Gordon created one of the greatest moments in all of Baseball. In a fashion exactly like one you would find in a scripted Hollywood movie, Gordon broke down in tears after hitting his first home-run of the season in his first at-bat only a day after the passing of one of his best friends, Jose Fernandez. Speechless and forcibly making myself breathe, I played the clip over and over and over again. Not only for the real and authentic emotion of the moment, but also for the realization that some things are simply bigger than a single person, bigger than a single team, bigger than a single game.
This realization was advanced even further last night by another dumbfounding moment. This time in the city of St. Louis.
Aledmys Diaz, the Cardinals standout rookie, was a lifelong friend of Jose Fernandez. Having grown up down the street from each other in Cuba, and having played ball together from a young age, Diaz and Fernandez were very close. The day after the tragic accident, Diaz rushed down to Miami to try and console Fernandez’s family, a family who Diaz said took him in as a son. After spending a day in grief, Diaz made his way back to St. Louis in order to play in Wednesday night’s game.
It was clear that Fernandez was on Diaz’s mind during the game. In the dugout before the game started, Diaz and fellow Cuban born Brayan Pena hung up a Jose Fernandez jersey, and during the game, Diaz wore a wristband on his left arm that read “Fernandez 16”.
With the bases loaded in the fourth inning, and Aledmys Diaz coming up, an opportunity to create magic arose. I wasn’t there, but I can imagine all 40,000 Cardinals fans at Busch Stadium waiting in anticipation as the stage set itself for an incredible moment. On the 2-1 pitch, down by a single run in a tight playoff race, Diaz delivered. Delivered a moment that seemed too unreal and too unlikely to be true. For the second consecutive night, I sat still, in awe, questioning the meaning of life.
After the game Diaz said this:
“I think the best way to honor him is to play this game 100%. I would think that’s what he’d want. I want to go out there and play 100% every day and give my team a chance to win, like he used to do, and to remind me how fun this game is.”
Baseball is much more than a sport.
For two people who left their homes, their families, and their country on a limb, with no foreseeable plan other than the slim chance of building a career off playing baseball, it becomes apparent just how much this game can mean to someone. Moments like the Dee Gordon homer and the Aledmys Diaz grand-slam are glimpses into just how much the game means to its players. Portrayed not only by their ability to produce runs and wins after such a tragic loss of life, but also by their ability to seek and find enough comfort in the game to be able to play it so quickly after devastation.
It’s pretty incredible how a sport played with only a bat and a ball can elicit such incredible emotion.
Photo Credit: Jeff Curry-USA TODAY Sports