It can be frustrating as a writer when you have so much you want to say but so little time to say it all. In your mind you begin to reduce and dissect about a quarter million words down to 500 and you hope that in the end, you did enough to convey your true sentiments as passionately as you can.
When it comes to the last three days of soul-crushing, gut-wrenching emotions in Miami, after the death of a young and beloved star whose loss sent shock waves around the game and pierced the hearts of millions all over the world, I gotta be honest I didn’t know what to expect.
Walking into the now hallowed grounds that Jose Fernandez called home, had to be one of the most difficult challenges the New York Mets have faced in a season fraught with so much emotional turmoil and adversity.
There’s losing your team captain or your top pitcher for the season, and then there’s having the life of the heart and soul of your team snatched away forever at the age of 24. Nothing else can compare.
“I see a red door and I want it painted black. No colors anymore, I want them to turn black.” That’s what it felt like, to coin a Rolling Stones lyric.
And now, as the Mets enjoy a much needed day off, I want to tell them how proud I am of them. How proud I am of the way they conducted themselves with so much respect and dignity under some of the most indescribable, unimaginable and unforgettable circumstances I’ve ever seen on a baseball diamond.
The Mets showed complete reverence for the moment and for the entire Miami Marlins organization top-down. And they did so while trying to win a wild card and maintaining a profound respect for the game and their mission as well. You think that’s easy? Think again.
One of the words you have often seen me use time and time again this year to describe the 2016 Mets has been “character.” That character was on full display these last three days.
You saw the Mets character when a teary eyed Yoenis Cespedes took it upon himself to pin a Jose Fernandez jersey on the dugout wall on Sunday
You saw the Mets character when catcher Travis d’Arnaud teared up as Dee Gordon cracked an emotional leadoff homerun after honoring Jose Fernandez by taking the first pitch while batting right-handed.
You saw the Mets character when Bartolo Colon admitted he was distraught and distracted during his start because in his heart he believed the Marlins needed the win so they could heal.
You saw the Mets character after game two winner Noah Syndergaard took to Twitter to say: “Usually I write something funny after a win like this, but it just doesn’t feel right tonight. Not after pitching on Jose’s mound.”
You saw the Mets character when after winning the series, Terry Collins went to the Marlins dugout to hug Christian Yelich, Giancarlo Stanton, Dee Gordon and Don Mattingly, who after a three minute conversation hugged the Miami manager again.
So now we’re off to Philadelphia with just three games left to the regular season and on the verge of clinching a second consecutive postseason berth. It’s truly amazing.
But all I could think of right now… right this second… is how much I love this Mets team and how incredibly proud I am of them.
When I think of the totality of everything this team has had to endure this season and for them to make it all the way to what will be a truly magical moment when they clinch, only one word comes to mind. Character.