It’s been almost a full week since Josh Beckett was thrown out at first from right field by Carlos Beltran and I’m still not fully over the total awesomeness of the event. And you thought my first post back at Call to the Pen after an extended absence was going to be about something “newsworthy” or “relevant” or “topical.” Admittedly, I have something of a soft spot for batters being thrown out at first from right field. I love it. I have no idea why or how this has come to be but my love is real and it is large. I have watched the video of this play enough times that I don’t care to divulge the exact number, and I will watch it a handful more as I craft this post. I have no problem with this. The video’s charms do not diminish upon repeat viewings. Like fine wine, the video ages, details become more pronounced, complexities tease and excite the senses. Inebriation dulls the harsh edges of life, bathing time and space in a soft and comforting glow. Mirth abounds.
Take pause for a moment and watch the video here. View it with your eyes and brain. Let it wash over you. Now that we’re all on the same page, let us discuss what has happened and what we have seen.
I have to be honest, my first reaction is just complete joy. My eyes light up, there’s a smile and a laugh. Did you see that? The effing batter got thrown at at first by the effing right fielder! Life is wonderful! After that, I start to take into account the players inhabiting the stage of this grand masterpiece. Josh Beckett. Carlos Beltran. These men are both similar and different and for the purposes of this drama they are enemies, each of their respective teams battling valiantly for a postseason birth. One a pitcher, a thrower. The other a batter, a hitter. The two meeting strangely on an alternate baseball plane under rare and exceptional circumstances. The tables turned, in a sense.
First, there is the hit:
After contact, the batter runs. He is pushed forward by the elation of success, a surge of adrenaline born of triumph:
The hit is clean and it is sharp, it is charged by the fielder and quickly corralled:
The batter looks up, perhaps to admire his accomplishment, perhaps by instinct. His fate lies before him and he is horrified by what he sees:
It is done, inevitable, already happened. The future present. The batter manages one last futile push, his meager body failing him. The ball flying towards the glove too fast. There is dejection, acceptance:
And then shame:
The batter stands alone. An island. A metaphor. He contemplates his life and the choices he has made. He stares into the distance but sees nothing:
The fielder watches all of this with disdain. He feels no joy:
By trade, the fielder is a glorious base runner. A Hall of Fame caliber base runner, the best of his generation and perhaps the best in all of history. Despite his defensive achievement, his heart is empty. His craft has been insulted, tarnished. The fielder looks upon the batter and bile rises from his abdomen, filling his gullet. His throat tremors and his soul aches. In this story, there are no winners. Only participants. Only ball players: