There is a pall over baseball this Sunday, one that stretches far beyond Miami Beach, where Miami Marlins star right-hander Jose Fernandez was killed in a boating accident in the early hours of the morning.
Orioles manager Buck Showalter brought the subject up immediately during his pre-game press conference, discussing how the death of a 24-year-old member of the baseball fraternity makes things like a pennant race seem insignificant.
“Woke up to the news of Jose Fernandez. … A reality check, huh?” Showalter said. “There’s a place I go to watch film of us, I usually turn the sound off, but sometimes I get the announcers call. ‘A must-win.’ I got it, the mathematics of it. Things like this, you try to keep a grip on what’s real and what’s not. The thing that are really important.”
Showalter said he spoke today to struggling young infielder Jonathan Schoop on Sunday, and they talked about life’s big picture.
“I know Jon was saying, he gets frustrated and then (you) wake up to that type of news, you think about how silly your anxiety about something or frustration about something really is compared to what’s really, really important and what’s real,” Showalter said. “We press on and we know the game out here is important to the standings, but there’s some other…”
Showalter’s voice trailed off.
“Looking forward to having some of this stuff explained to me some day,” he said. “Because I don’t have answers why.”
The Orioles manager said this tragedy reminds him of March 1993, when Cleveland Indians pitchers Steve Olin and Tim Crews were killed and Bob Ojeda was injured in a boating accident on Little Lake Nellie in Florida.
At the time, Showalter was manager of the New York Yankees, and he remembers boarding owner George Steinbrenner’s plane and going to the memorial service for the players.
“It’s a dark moment, boy,” he said.
One of Showalter’s best friends is Marlins manager Don Mattingly. Showalter said he expects to reach out to Mattingly at some point soon to express his condolences.
“I will at some point. I just found out about it a couple hours ago,” Showalter said. “I really don’t know a lot of the particulars. But really not something I’m going to be searching for. But I’ll talk to Donny today or tomorrow. They canceled their game right? Good.”
Showalter was asked when things like this happen, does it make him think about his own players and how there’s no way to keep them safe.
“I do, but there’s so many things you see happen and you really don’t know how or why. What’s that expression, you want God to laugh, tell him about your plans?” Showalter said. “You treat people like you want to be treated, try to have a positive impact, do as many good things with your life. And see how long it lasts.”