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Miami Marlins righthanded phenom Jose Fernandez threw his last pitch on Tuesday, September 20th against the Washington Nationals. He completed eight innings and struck out 12 batters from one of Major League Baseball’s best lineups. The kind of game baseball appreciators would have seen for years from the talented kid who was always smiling.
On September 25th, he died tragically in a boating accident. He was 24 years old. Far too young to die. When you least expect it, death and life come together in an ungodly fashion and take a bright young person away. Nearly two years ago, the fine young St. Louis Cardinals talent Oscar Taveras died in a drunk driving car accident. The feeling this morning is eerily similar. A shot to the stomach.
The baseball world lost a true stud. What is a stud? When someone is merely doing their job and it becomes an event to watch them do that job, that person is a stud. When Fernandez pitched, it was an event. Akin to a Saturday night PPV boxing match or playoff game in October.
On July 28th, Fernandez faced the Cardinals for the last time and surrendered 5 runs and lost. A fellow Cuban star connected to Fernandez’s path, Aledmys Diaz, hit a home run off of him. It was a true event to watch the two childhood friends square off. You could take away the other players on the field and leave the pitcher, catcher, and the hitter standing between them at the plate and it would be electrifying entertainment.
There should have been more Fernandez and Diaz showdowns. More back and forth talent contests. Fastballs clocking in close to 100 mph taking their chances with premium bat speed. Man, that’s just tough to swallow.
That is the kicker. We will never know what Fernandez could have been and it’s painful. He had the makings of Felix Hernandez with a dash of Max Scherzer and Carlos Martinez thrown in for good measure. His MLB career will conclude with a 38-17 record, 2.58 ERA, and 589 strikeouts in just 471.1 innings. His ERA+ was 150, which is ridiculously unfair to hitters in any ballpark. He averaged 12.5 strikeouts per nine innings.
He was the kind of pitcher who made the best hitters in baseball glare back at him after a strikeout as if they were mentally calling the baseball police for the pitcher being especially mean to their bats. Fernandez was a special talent.
More so, he was a budding family man. His young wife is expecting their child and Fernandez couldn’t have been more excited. In an Instagram post showing off his wife’s beautiful baby bump, he talked about the journey a kid would take them on and preached, “family is first.” He wasn’t just a talented athlete. Fernandez had his priorities straight and was a good guy.
He was heavily involved in a charity foundation that fought cancer and raised awareness for its victims called Live Like Bella. He wanted to do good things. This is a guy who saved his mother from drowning when they were defecting from Cuba. It didn’t matter if there was a baseball diamond or not, Fernandez brought his A game every single day of his life.
Now, he is gone. Way too soon. 24 years old isn’t long enough for anyone, but Fernandez made a dent in his short yet robust life.
I’ll remember the fiery competitor that was easy to admire and respect.
I’ll remember the smile that illuminated a packed stadium every time it stretched.
I’ll remember the look on a hitter’s face when he was overmatched by a Fernandez offering.
Most of all, I’ll remember the kid’s heart that seemed larger than life.
Jose Fernandez was on top of the world, and now he is out of it for good.
Take a few moments today. Watch some highlights. Watch him pitch. It will make you feel better about the game of baseball.
When I finally catch up with Doc and the DeLorean, there are a few places I am going.
I am going to watch Bob Gibson act like a wizard on the pitching mound at Busch Stadium in 1968.
I am going to watch Muhammad Ali and Joe Frazier fight like warriors in the “Thrilla in Manila” in 1975.
I am also going back in time to watch Gordie Howe play hockey.
“Mr. Hockey” finally gave out Friday at the age of 88 years young. He went peacefully and surrounded by his loved ones. This world was no longer fit for his presence. Howe, a legend for the Detroit Red Wings and owner of four Stanley Cups and the gusto of a war ship, is someone every hockey fan should know about and understand. (more…)
David Bowie is dead, gone from the world at 69 years young after an 18 month battle with cancer. What he leaves behind is a legacy that few can touch and a musical influence that will last for decades. Bowie wasn’t just a musician or artist. He was an island of memories, events and love swirls. I didn’t grow up on Bowie or listen to every single song he produced but I knew of him.
If you were a fan of music in general, you knew David Bowie. He lurked around everybody’s music interests, tempting them to take the fall for his distinct brand of music.
Bowie told millions of people to dance. He told you to be a hero. He made you wonder who Major Tom was. “Space Oddity” got inside your head, it wasn’t leaving for days, You’d spend the next week whispering it or humming to it. The best musicians, true artists, carve out a spot in someone’s cerebellum and buy up real estate there, slowly hooking them into your persuasive vices.
There was John Lennon, Bob Dylan, Joan Jett, and Kurt Cobain. Musicians who didn’t follow an influence. They created one themselves and demanded others to follow. Bowie did that and didn’t let it consume him. He enjoyed the game, match making and soul defying contest that the world of a rock star provided.
He seemed to warn us that one day he would gone.
“Nothing will keep us together. We can beat them. Forever and ever. Or we can be heroes for just one day.”
The “Heroes” video says it all. A man wearing a leather one piece outfit unzipped with a tan tank top underneath, waving his body around and standing in a black box singing about being heroes and living in the now. Bowie didn’t look like everyone else. He had several colors of hair and his personality seemed to stretch farther with each decade. He looked bendable, like he would easily disappear at any moment. He was one of those people who could wear any outfit and get away with it.
For over 40 years, Bowie worked in several different genres, like a cure waving through nightclubs on a hot Saturday night. Glam rock, soul, hard rock, punk, and electronica. He blasted onto the scene with Ziggy Stardust in 1972. Bowie had fun with the media and toyed with his sexuality every time he released another he sported a new look. Instead of just being a singer, he became the characters and stories inside his albums.
On January 8th, he turned 69 and released his 25th album, Blackstar. One more hat tip to the world before he called it a night and departed this rock. When someone dies, people wonder what happens to their legacy or how they will sit in people’s minds. It’s like a house with no owner. With Bowie, people can rest easy knowing he lived a full life and did it his way, with style and grace.
Most people just try to keep living and move to the beat of the drum. For several musicians, Bowie was the drum. Just search “Heroes” and listen to the endless covers of a classic song.
“I can remember. Standing by the wall. The stars shot up over our heads. And we kissed so nothing could fall.”
“Heroes” was released on an album of the same name, in 1977. Five years before I was born. Once I heard it, there was no forgetting it. Nearly 40 years later, it’s potency hasn’t wavered. In another 40, it will still mean something to a new generation of kids. That’s the true work of an icon.
(In case you missed it on KSDK)
A gangster named Frank Lopez in Scarface. A toy company CEO in Big. A priest. A wise man. A dozen cops. Two dozen other gangster roles. For over 64 years and 230 different movies and television roles, Robert Loggia was a face of cinema you couldn’t forget. General Grey in Independence Day! Loggia played three different characters on the 1970’s series, The Rockford Files. Charlie’s Angels. Starsky and Hutch.You name it and Loggia played it.
He was FBI agent Nick Mancuso for over 20 episodes. He was Coach Wally Rig in the Scott Bakula football cult classic, Necessary Roughness. Loggia, after five hard years of battling Alzheimer’s Disease, passed away Friday at the age of 85 years young. He earned every one of them and his work in the land of make believe to live on for decades. You can watch his movies on Netflix tonight if you wanted. He wasn’t in it for the fame and glitz. Loggia was a true actor. A worker. Hard edged and passionate.
Born and raised in New York City, Loggia broke into acting at the age of 21 years old and did more than four projects per year. Like Christopher Walken, he didn’t care what the role was. He just did it and did it well. In a way you would remember. No one will ever forget Loggia’s raspy laugh and street wide smile and cackle. It was a signature part of every role he played.
He never stopped working. In 2015, he had four releases planned and has three incomplete films slated for post production as this is typed. The only thing that could have kept Loggia off a set was his lovely wife Audrey, whom he was married to since 1982. What St. Louis and Missouri film fans may not know is that Loggia graduated from the University of Missouri-Columbia with a journalism degree in 1951, the year he started acting. He served in the army and spent time on Broadway.
Nothing scared Loggia when it came to life or film. He was a month shy of his 86th birthday when he passed. The film world owes a debt to him. How many actors can you think of have acted in over 200 films or TV shows? How many have played in so many and elevated every single one they were in?
Loggia was a classic face of film, someone you see and smile knowing that the part he is playing will be played with fierce attention to detail and the authenticity that a film fan covets.
Stop by Netflix tonight and watch these Loggia aided films. Wide Awake, Over the Top, or the holiday film, An Evergreen Christmas.