When the moment is bigger than the game

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Photo courtesy Boston Globe

Last week, Kyle McDonald wrote a column about adversity bringing teams together. He mentioned the recent death of Miami Marlins pitcher Jose Fernandez and how his team reacted to the tragedy during their next game. If there’s any better way to honor a fallen friend than what the Marlins did for Fernandez that night, I don’t know it.

However, what can’t be overlooked in that situation are the actions of the New York Mets, the Marlins’ opponent for that game. When Miami’s Dee Gordon hit a leadoff home run, the run being given up was the furthest thing from the mind of Mets catcher Travis d’Arnaud.

“I was crying, too,” he said in a statement to mlb.com. “When he was coming to home plate, tears were streaming down his face. They were coming down mine, too.”

As they left the Marlins’ stadium, the Mets each signed the Fernandez jersey that had been hanging in their dugout throughout the series.

At times like these, it’s incredible to watch as humanity rises above contention and the moment becomes bigger than the game.

The Mets are not alone in this type of gracious reaction to an opponent’s tragedy. In the home opener of the University of Nebraska’s football team this season, the Cornhuskers lined up in punt formation with just 10 men on the field, which left the punter spot empty to honor Sam Foltz. The late punter had passed away in a car crash the previous summer. The play clock ticked down and the flag was thrown for a delay of game. Their opponent, Fresno State, who also wore stickers on its helmets honoring Foltz, declined the penalty and turned down the advantage of the penalty yards.

“If we can’t teach our guys about doing something classy like that then what is college for?” Fresno State head coach Tim DeRuyter said in his postgame press conference.

In sports, it is sometimes said that winning means everything. Athletes are taught to do everything they can to dominate their opponent, physically and mentally. In spite of that, though, teams and players have to read the situation and be aware of these moments when a competitive edge needs to be placed on the back burner.

In today’s society, when it seems that everyone is at each other’s throats for this issue or that, look no further than the football field or the baseball diamond when teams are able to set aside their differences for a moment of solidarity in the face of tragedy. It is truly something to behold.