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Bartolo Colon allowed seven runs Monday night as the Marlins beat the Mets, 7-3, during Miami's first game since the death of their 24-year-old ace Jose Fernandez.
The Mets entered the game needing to win as many of their remaining six games as they fight to outlast the Giants and Cardinals for the NL Wild Card. And yet, given what the Marlins experienced during the last 48 hours, I can easily accept the Mets losing in Miami last night. It felt like the right thing to do. The night was full of emotions, and both sides did an admirable job fighting through them...
"He respected the game. That's why he played it like he did," a poised and somber Collins said of Fernandez before game. "Therefore, in respect for him and his honor, we've got to go out there and respect the game, and go play it, and play it the right way, and play it with energy and play it with enthusiasm. There's no other way about it."
In the first inning, Marlins 2B Dee Gordon lead off with a home run, during which he cried while running around the bases. He was embraced by teammates in the dugout, all of whom were also wiping tears from their eyes.
"I don't care who you are, who you root for or how badly you want the Mets to be in the postseason, that was phenomenal," SNY's Gary Cohen perfectly said on air.
Colon had no expression on his face, as he clearly worked to hold back tears of his own.
"I was also crying," d'Arnaud said. "When he was coming to home plate, tears were coming down his face. They were coming down mine, too. I'm sure the whole world felt that emotion in that moment, whether you were here, watching it on TV or anywhere."
It was an incredible moment.
I didn't know Fernandez. I never met him. I'm just a fan, sitting on my sofa, watching the game. But, I choked up too, thinking of my daughters, thinking about how life is unpredictable, thinking about how important baseball can be in helping people feel and heal from devistation.
Prior to the game, a lone trumpet played a slow, touching version of "Take Me Out to the Ballgame," coupled with a tribute video that gave me chills. It was stunning.
The Marlins did an outstanding job helping players and fans cope with this tragedy, while also allowing for moments to honor and celebrate an amazing young man.
And, I'm equally proud of how understanding and supportive the Mets were each step of the way. Terry Collins and his players were consoling their opponents throughout the game. Mets players had their arms on the shoulders of Marlins base runners, they hugged coaches during the game and showed a level of love and respect that is rarely seen between opponents. It was beautiful and demonstrated a a rare, genuine connection between spirituality and sports.
After the game, the entire Marlins roster and coaching staff gathered in a circle around the pitcher's mound, where they took part in prayer and a moment of silence. In New York's dugout, a group of Mets stood by, leaning on the railing, again offering support if needed.
"First of all, I wanna say, 'Thank you,' to the Mets, they were first class for coming in and showing their gratitude to us and being there for us in a time of need," Gordon said in a post-game TV interview.
The entire evening - before, after and during the game - felt like an on field funeral for a rival and a teammate. I've never see anything like it and my heart continues to break for those directly involved.