A lost game didn’t mean as much to the Seattle Mariners as it might have 24 hours earlier – before they learned Wednesday that second base Jose Lopez’s 28-year-old brother was killed.
He wasn’t a ballplayer, and none of the Mariners had met him.
Their grief, however, was genuine, and they shared it with Lopez, who decided to stay with the team in lieu of flying home to Venezuela to be with family.
"If I left tonight, I wouldn’t get there in time for the funeral," he said. "My father told me to stay and play for Gabriel. I’m staying."
It is the kind of thing professional players face over a season. A year ago, Miguel Batista pitched on the day his grandmother died.
"A year ago, I had to pitch on the day my grandmother died," Batista said. "When you’re a professional, you can’t always go home. You can’t always do what you want to do. There’s an obligation there."
That doesn’t mean a players grief is any less than anyone else’s.
Often, it means that a team he spends eight months a year with is a family, too, and that signing a major league contract isn’t just a license to make millions. For those who wonder where responsibility has gone in professional sports, take a moment today to think of Lopez.
He will play the rest of the season for his brother, for his teammates and for the Seattle Mariners.