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Report: Fernandez was likely operating boat in deadly crash

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MIAMI (AP) Miami Marlins pitcher Jose Fernandez was the “probable” operator of a speeding boat that crashed into a Miami Beach jetty on Sept. 25, killing the star baseball star and two other men, according to a report issued Thursday by the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, which investigated the accident.

The 46-page report included a seating chart that had Fernandez at the helm, based on “physical evidence” collected during the investigation, including the pitcher’s fingerprints and DNA on the steering wheel and throttle and projection of his body as he was thrown from the boat. It also listed drugs and alcohol as factors in the crash.

Fernandez’ 32-foot Sea Vee hit Miami’s Government Cut north jetty at 65.7 mph just after 3 a.m. on Sept. 25, the report said. Fernandez and the boat’s other occupants – Emilio Jesus Macias, 27, and Eduardo Rivero, 25 – were ejected.

Investigators concluded that had Fernandez survived the crash, he could have been charged with multiple crimes, including boating under the influence manslaughter; vessel homicide and reckless or careless operation of a vessel.

The report also included a text message exchange that night between Rivero and Maria Arias, Fernandez’ girlfriend. She told Rivero the pair had been arguing and asked him to take care of Fernandez. “He’s been drinking and is not in the best state of mind.”

Miami-Dade Fire Rescue crews responded and divers found Fernandez submerged under the boat, pinned between the t-top and a boulder. Macias was submerged in a tidal pool next the jetty’s surface and Rivero was submerged, his head and chest under a bolder. They were pronounced dead at the scene.

The report describes how officials were not able to identified Fernandez by his driver’s license photo because of face trauma. They searched the internet for photos of Fernandez’ tattoo, which had a baseball surround by gears, to identify him. They also found a Major League Baseball identification card inside his wallet.

Fernandez’ boat was named “Kaught Looking” – the “K” is backwards, signifying a strikeout when the batter does not swing.

According to the report, Fernandez’ mother, Martiza Fernandez, was adamant in telling investigators the day of the crash that her son “was always the driver” of his boat. She also said she didn’t know her son to be a heavy drinker or user of drugs.

Ralph E. Fernandez, a Tampa-based attorney who is a family friend, was also interviewed in a group setting with the pitcher’s mother and several other relatives. He said he knew the pitcher could “throw `em down” and wouldn’t be surprised to learn he had been drinking that night.

The lawyer also described the pitcher as controlling and a “hot head.” He also told investigators he knew that Fernandez had not been driving the boat that night because he was aware of someone who was on the phone with the pitcher at the time of the crash.

“He said this person heard Fernandez giving someone directions when suddenly he heard the crash occur and the phone went dead,” the report said.

Ralph Fernandez did not immediately respond to an email seeking comment on the accident report.

Investigators met with Yuri Perez, a South Beach club owner who claimed he was on the phone with Fernandez at the time of the crash. But GPS and phone records show Perez was on the phone with Fernandez 12 minutes before the crash, while the boat was still on the Miami River.

An autopsy concluded Fernandez and Rivero had cocaine and alcohol in their systems.

“The presence of cocaethylene does confirm that alcohol and cocaine were consumed at the same time, from 15 minutes to 2 hours of most recent use,” the report concludes.

Investigators found that Fernandez and Rivero arrived at American Social, a Miami bar, around 1 a.m. on Sept. 25 and spent about an hour and 45 minutes. Fernandez bought two bottles of tequila, two vodka drinks and one gin drink. Macias bought three vodka drinks, according to the report.

The trio left at 2:42 a.m. and the crash occurred at 3:02 a.m.

The report says it was calm and dark in Miami – with visibility at 10 miles – when the crash occurred.

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Associated Press writer Curt Anderson from Miami contributed to this report.

Marcus Stroman named World Baseball Classic MVP

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United States starter Marcus Stroman was named Most Valuable Player of the World Baseball Classic after helping lead the U.S. to its first ever WBC title on Wednesday night in an 8-0 victory over Puerto Rico. Stroman flirted with a no-hitter through six innings, but gave up a double to lead off the seventh before being relieved by Sam Dyson.

Stroman also pitched 4 2/3 scoreless innings against the Dominican Republic in Pool C play on March 11. He struggled in Pool F play against Puerto Rico last Friday, surrendering four runs in 4 2/3 innings.

The WBC MVP award understandably goes to a player of the winning team. However, Wladimir Balentien of the Netherlands deserves special mention. In 26 at-bats during the WBC, he hit a double and had a WBC-high four home runs, 12 RBI, and 12 runs scored while putting up a .615/.677/.1.115 batting line. That’s MVP-esque as far as this tournament is concerned.

U.S. blanks Puerto Rico 8-0 to win first World Baseball Classic title

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The United States handed Puerto Rico its first loss in the World Baseball Classic, winning 8-0 for its first title in the fourth iteration of the tournament.

Puerto Rico starter Seth Lugo was matching Marcus Stroman zero-for-zero through the first two innings, but the U.S. broke out for a pair of runs when Ian Kinsler deposited a two-run home run just beyond the fence in left-center at Dodger Stadium. The U.S. tacked on two more in the fifth on RBI singles from Christian Yelich and Andrew McCutchen, pushing the lead to 4-0.

Meanwhile, Stroman was dealing. The right-hander, normally seen in a Blue Jays uniform, held Puerto Rico hitless through his first six innings, giving up just a lone walk. The U.S. put together a long rally in the top of the seventh, scoring three runs on three hits, two walks, and a hit batter. Stroman came back out for the seventh but immediately served up a double down the left field line to Angel Pagan. U.S. manager Jim Leyland immediately lifted Stroman from the game, bringing in Sam Dyson who escaped the inning without any further damage.

Pat Neshek allowed a leadoff single to Yadier Molina to begin the eighth, but induced a double-play, then worked around a two-out walk by striking out Kenny Vargas to end the frame.

In the ninth, David Robertson took over. He induced an infield pop-up from Enrique Hernandez. After Pagan singled up the middle, Francisco Lindor sharply grounded out to Eric Hosmer at first base for the second out. Finally, Robertson closed it out, inducing Carlos Correa to ground out to third base, making the U.S. 8-0 victors over Puerto Rico to win the World Baseball Classic.

Puerto Rico had an admirable run, defeating Venezuela, Mexico, and Italy to get out of Pool D undefeated. Then, in Pool F, it beat Venezuela again as well as the U.S. and the Dominican Republic to move to the semifinals. It narrowly edged Netherlands 4-3 in the semifinals to get into the finals.

The U.S. lost to the D.R. but beat Canada and Colombia to get out of Pool C. In Pool F, the U.S. lost to Puerto Rico and defeated the D.R again as well as Venezuela. The U.S. took down Japan in the semifinals to advance to the finals to play Puerto Rico.

The U.S. joins Japan (twice, 2006 and ’09) and the Dominican Republic (2013) as countries to win the World Baseball Classic. The 2017 tournament was a rousing success, setting attendance records, drawing over one million fans to ballparks to take in the games. It will hopefully encourage commissioner Rob Manfred and others to make a concerted effort to make the 2021 tournament bigger and better.