Jose Fernandez showed the importance of embracing the humanity of baseball

Jose Fernandez reminded us every time he took the field that baseball is a human game, that it’s a game of emotions, that it’s a game of fun — even though we’re sometimes told it shouldn’t be.It’s a game of many facets and nuances that play into its greatness. But the most important descriptive, the most important word in the baseball vocabulary, is game. Games should be fun, exciting and joyous. Games should be human. Jose Fernandez understood this, and baseball was and is better for it.Now Fernandez is gone, killed in a boating accident early Sunday. But the joyous humanity he showed and embraced on the mound, at the plate and in the dugout should be remembered and, hopefully, emulated.MORE: Notable sports deaths of 2016 It’s the humanity that showed excitement and flamboyance in big moments, the humanity that showed humor when people needed to lighten up, the humanity that showed happiness and fondness for teammates, the humanity that energized the entire field and the entire stadium.And, yes, even the humanity that sometimes rubbed opponents the wrong way because of a silly deference to unwritten rules that say baseball should be played as though everyone is a robot.Humanity was Jose Fernandez’s calling card. That and his immense talent, which we’ll sadly never see again.Of course, Fernandez was probably able to embrace his humanity because he had perspective. Because he knew baseball is, ultimately, not really that big of a deal. It’s a special perspective, the kind that comes from risking your life to leave an oppressive country so you can have a better life in another one, from drifting toward freedom but not knowing whether you’d ever taste that freedom.When you go through that and come out on the other sid

e, the thankfulness you have for your blessings and for your opportunities allows you to shamelessly and unabashedly have fun while playing a game. Because the stakes really aren’t that high. Sports are not life and death. It’s a simple thought with which most everyone would agree, but it’s also one that’s often too hard for us to grasp.But Fernandez knew. And he wanted us to know, too.Yes, Fernandez reminded us that baseball should be a joyous affair. Let’s not forget that.Even though Jose Fernandez is gone, baseball needs more Jose Fernandez.