Thursday, February 18, 2016

The Greatest Home Run (redux)

Authour's Note: As we enter the dog days of winter, millions of sports fans across North America start to look towards spring. Towards the summer. Towards a new season of baseball. With that in mind, here is an updated version of my account regarding the greatest game, and the greatest home run, hit by a Blue Jay in over twenty years. Pitchers and catchers report!

(Originally published October 14, 2015)

Remember when M. Night Shyamalan was making movies where you couldn't guess the ending. Films that caused you to hit rewind and say "ahh" because the ending seemed to emerge out of nowhere? Tonight’s deciding game between the Texas Rangers and Toronto Blue Jays was like that.

The internet is littered with reports on what happened, so surely you know by now. You know about the crazy Russell Martin throwing error that led to a Texas 3-2 lead in the top of the 7th. You know about the three consecutive errors in the bottom of the inning by a Texas team that had masked its defensive deficiencies for the past four games. And you certainly know about one of the biggest home runs in Blue Jays history, the mammoth three run shot by Bautista that brought the crowd to a living roar, so loud it seemed as if the stadium itself were about to separate from its concrete foundation.

For many fans, younger ones especially, it was the greatest moment of their life. I’m old enough to remember Joe Carter's home run to win the World Series in '93, but back then the Blue Jays had been great for a decade. They’d won the previous year. It was awesome, but it was expected.

This? This was not. This was discovering that Bruce Willis was a ghost in Sixth Sense.

It was startling. Unexpected. And gut wrenching in emotion.

Nothing, after so many years of Blue Jays’ mediocrity, could prepare you for such a moment.

I had tears in my eyes for the last two innings. I wasn’t the only one.

Sports is a form of theatre, though it is often masked in macho idiocy and overstated clich├ęs. And when you're a fan, you put up with the nonsense, the same stilted dialogue, the same banal jock-talk, always hoping for that one moment that changes everything. That moment that lifts you out of your seat. That moment that causes your stomach to wrench with joy.

Tonight, we not only watched Bautista hit the home run heard around Canada, we then watched the youngest player in baseball strike out four of the last five Rangers, including a swinging strike on his last pitch to complete it.

It was more than a game. It was a story told for the ages and one that will be replayed as much for generations to come. No, it wasn't the World Series. But in a city starved for winners, this Blue Jays victory will go down in history as one of the best games this city has ever seen.

Not even Shyamalan in his prime could have written this piece.

No. It was much better than that.