Earlier this week, Rob Neyer of SB Nation's Baseball Nation published a piece on the next great baseball film. Moneyball, 42, and Trouble with the Curve, all released within the last few years tell us that baseball films are popular again and that baseball stories can be turned into quality films.
Movies like Moneyball and 42 chronicle the lives of significant figures within the game. Billy Beane of the Oakland Athletics used sabermetrics to gain a competitive over other bigger budgeted teams. His actions led to the rise in prominence of sabermetrics and statistical analysis within the sport. Now, every team has at least some analytic presence in their front office and that development in of itself can be traced back to Billy Beane's tenure with the Athletics.
In 42, moviegoers saw arguably the most influential athlete of all time, Jackie Robinson. Jackie Robinson had one of the best career's of any baseball player, but most of his impact was off the field. As the first black baseball player, he became a source of pride for many blacks in America at a time where the country was racially divided because of both Jim Crow laws and racism on an individual level. Jackie Robinson's impact on the American Civil Rights movement profound, he proved that blacks were capable of being both equal, and possibly better than whites and were in no way second class citizens.
There is absolutely no way that Jose Fernandez's career will be anywhere as influential as the career of Jackie Robinson. Jose Fernandez could literally win 500 games in his career and still not be as big of a figure as Jackie Robinson remains. Still, Jose Fernandez has a story worth telling, and his story grows every time he takes the mound.
Jose Fernandez was born in Cuba under the dictatorship of Fidel Castro. Cuba is a dictatorship infamous for its abuse of human rights and strained relations with the United States, epitomized by the Cuban Missile Crisis at the height of the Cold War. Life in Cuba was hard for Fernandez and his family, just as it was for every Cuban. Fernandez attempted to defect to the United States four times. After each of his three failed attempts, he faced jail time. On his final and successful attempt to defect, his mother fell overboard and the then-15-year-old dove in to save her.
After making it safely to the United States with his mother and sister, Jose began to make a name for himself as one of the top High School pitchers. Featuring a scoarching fastball, a disgusting curveball nicknamed 'The Defector' and a plus change-up Jose Fernandez made himself first round draft pick in 2011.
Since being drafted 14th overall in 2011, Jose Fernandez has been justifying his pedigree as a first round pick in the Minor Leagues. Jose dominated the South-Atlantic league in 2012 and before the 2013 season Baseball America ranked him as the fifth best prospect in the game, after just one year in single-A.
In the 2012 offseason, Jose Fernandez's club, the Miami Marlins executed one of the biggest fire sales in major league history. The Marlins team was gutted of talent and Jose Fernandez was called upon to start in the majors to start the 2013 season, much earlier than anyone had expected.
Thus far, Jose Fernandez has proven that he belongs in the majors. With the talent of a true ace and the fearlessness of a honey badger Jose Fernadez should go far. It remains to be seen how far he will go in his career, but right now the outlook could not be brighter.
Fernandez's story as "The Defector" (which would totally be the tile of a Jose Fernandez bio-pic) is not one exclusively of baseball. The unimaginable obstacles Jose Fernandez overcame to reach America and then prove his worth as a baseball player is a story anyone would have interest in.
A movie based on Jose Fernandez might be a bit too far out to even speculate on. Bill Veeck, as mentioned in the Rob Neyer article, would be a more likely subject for a baseball movie released in the near future. For now we should simply appreciate Jose Fernandez for what he is right now; one of the best young pitchers in baseball, but we can also think, in the back of our minds, that what we are watching could one day be the stuff of legends.