Baseball gives, and we are thankful. That the Blue Jays’ two backs-to-the-wall, series-swinging victories occurred over the long Thanksgiving weekend, when we might watch with family and, bellies full, cheer ourselves hoarse, was a lovely bit of fortune. Memories, I feel safe stating, were made. I watched Game 3—unofficially presented as a plebiscite on this team’s character—with a cousin, and the conversation ranged from a baseball trivia question that had tripped me up (“What pitcher ended DiMaggio’s 56-game hitting streak?” Said the cousin, “Played for Cleveland, I know that.” For the record: Jim Bagby) to how the slide by the Dodgers’ Chase Utley, which broke Mets shortstop Ruben Tejada’s leg, compared to Hal McRae’s flying barrel takedown of Willie Randolph in 1977. Well fed and watered, sitting on that couch, watching the unsung Marco Estrada spin magic and Troy Tulowitzki send a rope to left field and drive in four runs, talking baseball with a relative, I felt wonderful. I felt sustained. Sometimes, baseball is shorthand for the people it invites into our lives, and those loved ones with whom we’ll share it.
In what is perhaps a mild case of synesthesia, when I seen autumn leaves in sunlight, I hear electric piano. I have a partial explanation for it, but I won’t bore you. Anyway, I heard electric piano all weekend, and in the crisp air and golden light I detected something like a portent of good things. There was an odd sense of inevitability hanging over those two road games. They seemed robbed of dramatic edge because I had so convinced myself that the Jays would be back in Toronto for the deciding fifth game. Once it was confirmed that R.A. Dickey would pitch Game 4, I felt that a narrative symmetry had been achieved. The team’s fate was in the hands of a remarkable human being, and that felt right.
The baseball campaign is long. It spans three calendrical seasons. The leaves are aflame now; we’ve arrived at the third act. Today, the long crusade ends for either the Texas Rangers or the Toronto Blue Jays. I’ve made my wager, but even if I’m wrong and the Jays fail to move on to the American League Championship Series, it’s hard to imagine feeling anything but gratitude; for the season they’ve given us, and all the seasons that lie ahead.
The “Jay of the Dead” is by Toronto’s Kyle Art Howard.