Yesterday morning we received the unwelcome news that both former big leaguer Andy Marte and Kansas City Royals pitcher Yordano Ventura had died in separate car accidents in the Dominican republic.
Upon seeing the first few tweets, I scrambled around trying to get confirmation, feeling an unpleasant sense of déjà vu. “Not again,” I mumbled to myself as I searched “This cannot be happening again.”
As it became apparent rather quickly that it had indeed happened, I’m sure Marlins fans the world over were getting the same simultaneous feeling of sympathy and painful recollection that I was: We just went through this.
It’s not my intention to diminish Marte’s passing, but it’s Ventura’s death that conjures up that queasy familiarity. Young, confident flame thrower, gone in the prime of his life. We felt robbed of José’s talent on the field, but more importantly, the connection he’d made with members of the Marlins’ organization, fans and his own family blazed brightly in the days following his passing. These things can get lost in the shuffle in the daily grind of sports and it’s unfortunate that, sometimes, it takes something or someone to be gone before we realize what we had. These are the thoughts that those in the Kansas City Royals organization and their fan base are feeling right now, a coming to grips with the cold finality that comes with the ending of a life.
I was planning on reviewing José Fernàndez’s 2016 season today; it felt like a fitting finale to the series given that we will remember 2016 mostly for what happened at the end of it, but in light of these recent passings, it just didn’t feel appropriate. José had a great 2016 season and perhaps someday we will be able to celebrate the numbers on their own merits, but today we mourn with the Kansas City Royals and their fans, knowing more than most what they’re going through. Hopefully, it’s the last time we collectively have to do so for many, many years to come.