What happened in the Marlins-Braves game last night was one of the dumbest and most embarrassing things I have seen on a big league field.
For those who didn’t see what happened, Jose Fernandez of the Marlins is pitching against the Braves and Evan Gattis hits a bomb off him, then proceeds to style and profile and stare Fernandez down. Fernandez just turned around and walked toward second base saying, “Wow” — meaning he crushed that ball. Mistake Number One by the Braves.
Then Chris Johnson comes up later, takes a pitch and shakes his head as to say, “You got nothing,” to Fernandez. Then Johnson proceeds to fly out to left, at which point he yells at Fernandez the whole way to first base. Then Johnson says “weak [blank] fastball” to Fernandez. Mistake Number Two by the Braves.
Fernandez was upset by this — any pitcher would be. In his next at-bat, Fernandez hits a home run, stands there and styles and profiles. When he reaches home plate, Brian McCann tells him he can’t being doing that, someone’s going to get hurt. I agree totally with McCann, as long as he had the same conversation with his teammates, Gattis and Johnson. Fernandez could have done what I would have done and drilled someone on purpose, possibly injuring one of the Braves’ pieces vital to their World Series hopes. Instead Fernandez did what was done to him: stood and watched his home run.
Then we come to find out that some of the Braves players didn’t like the fact that Fernandez smiles and has fun playing the game. That’s why Johnson was yelling at him. To me, that is absurd. There is nothing more entertaining than watching players smile and have fun. They play a game for a living.
Gattis has a very inspiring story to his big league career. So does Fernandez. He had to defect from his native Cuba to come to the U.S. and play baseball and get paid for it. Why should he not smile? It is not disrespectful to your opponent to smile. If you are one of those players who thinks the game of baseball owes you something and you want to be miserable playing it, that is your choice. Torii Hunter has been smiling for over 15 years and no one has a problem with that.
Then to make things even worse, in his postgame press conference, Marlins manager Mike Redmond basically threw Fernandez under the bus for what he did, saying, “That is not how we do things around here.” He did not stand up for his player in any way. If I am a member of that team, at that very moment I would have lost all respect for him as my manager. He didn’t mention one word about what Johnson and Gattis did to provoke the actions of Fernandez.
Many people out there think I’m a Braves hater. Not true. I have a ton of respect for many players on that team. Brian McCann being one of them. They have the player who I believe is the NL MVP in Freddie Freeman. They have probably the most dominating closer the game has seen in years in Craig Kimbrel. What I don’t respect are guys who play this game and have a problem with a guy smiling and having fun. Anyone who has a big league uniform on should be smiling. You are playing a game and getting paid for it. They don’t know what Jose Fernandez went through to come to the United States and play baseball.
My advice to Jose would be to keep respecting the game the way you do, because this kid respects the game. I have spoken with him. Also keep smiling and being yourself. Smiling is not showing up your opponent. Finally, don’t let anyone show you up. You get respect by earning it. You are not the one who should have been embarrassed last night. The guy who went 0-for-3 with a punch-out and talked trash all the way to first base should be embarrassed.