Jose Fernandez

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The Jose Fernandez statue may be in jeopardy

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Last November it was reported that the Marlins planned to build a memorial for Jose Fernandez, likely including a statue. The effort was said to be a pet project of the Marlins owner, Jeff Loria, who was close with Fernandez.

Today the Miami Herald reports, however, that those plans are in limbo due to the sale of the team:

The planned statue to honor Jose Fernandez, which was departing owner Jeffrey Loria’s idea, is now very much in question because it will not be erected before Bruce Sherman and Derek Jeter take over, and it will ultimately be the new owners’ call. That matter has not yet been discussed, with the sale agreed to only in the past few days.

There’s nothing in the report suggesting that they’re opposed to the statue — it’s possible this was placed in the Herald by people close to the new group in order to test the waters — but there always was the sense that the idea was something of a priority for Loria personally. One wonders how much momentum it will have once he’s gone.

Then, of course, there’s the fact that Fernandez was eventually found to have been under the influence of alcohol and cocaine and was behind the wheel of the boat at the time of the accident that claimed his life and the life of two others, making any memorial to him suspect in the eyes of some people.

Thankfully we don’t spend a lot of time and energy discussing the ethics of statues in this country, so I’m sure it’ll have no bearing on the matter.

The Marlins’ home run sculpture could be on its way out

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The Marlins are soon to be under new management, as current owner Jeffrey Loria reportedly agreed to a $1.2 billion sale on Friday. There are still some kinks to be worked out, like the approval of the remaining 29 MLB teams, the future of the team’s star players and the level of involvement from investor and former MLB infielder Derek Jeter, but at least one rumored change involves the Marlins’ infamous home run sculpture. Per FanRag Sports’ Jon Heyman, the center field eyesore (or Lisa Frank tribute, depending on your perspective) will likely be removed when the Sherman-Jeter group officially takes over.

The $2.5 million sculpture was commissioned from American multimedia artist Red Grooms and has been a staple of Marlins Park during its five-year lifespan. It’s helped commemorate everything from Jose Fernandez‘s explosive first home run

to Giancarlo Stanton‘s walk-off grand slam

to Aaron Judge’s spectacular show at the 2017 Home Run Derby (albeit without the colorful display).

Whether this is an isolated move or the start of a serious rebranding effort remains to be seen, but, like the removal of Tal’s Hill at the start of the 2017 season, it looks like another of baseball’s lovable quirks is destined for the scrap heap.

RIP, home run sculpture. You were gone too soon.

Gio Gonzalez flirted with a no-hitter against the Marlins

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July 31 was a special day for Nationals starter Gio Gonzalez. It’s the birthday of pitcher Jose Fernandez, the Marlins’ All-Star who died last September in a boating accident. Gonzalez was a close friend of Fernandez. At Marlins Park on Monday, Gonzalez and Bryce Harper requested to see Fernandez’s baby daughter in Fernandez’s mom’s first visit to the ballpark since his death, Clark Spencer of the Miami Herald reported.

Gonzalez went out and pitched a gem against the Marlins, bringing a no-hitter into the ninth inning. It was broken up when Dee Gordon it a 1-1 curve ball into center field for a single. Gonzalez was lifted at that point, receiving a standing ovation from the Miami crowd. Sean Doolittle came in and wiped out Gordon when Giancarlo Stanton hit into a 5-4-3 double play. After Christian Yelich singled, the lefty got Marcell Ozuna to pop out to end the game for his seventh save.

Over eight innings, Gonzalez gave up just the one hit and three walks with five strikeouts on 106 pitches. He’s now 9-5 with a 2.66 ERA and a 132/58 K/BB ratio in 142 1/3 innings this season. With the win, the Nationals pad their least in the NL East to 14 games.

After the game, speaking to MASN’s Dan Kolko, Gonzalez said, “Tonight was more of an emotional night, kind of like a special night. I got to see the Fernandez family. And what a night.” When asked about Fernandez specifically, Gonzalez said he received a special ball signed with Fernandez’s initials before choking up with tears.