I will start this article by saying that Josh Beckett threw a no-hitter against the Philadelphia Phillies today. Boring.
In the bottom of the seventh inning today, after hitting a two-run double with two outs, Yunel Escobar took third base on defensive indifference.
I was at the game on the first base side, and I have to say, it was an absolutely beautiful play. Escobar got a perfect running start and his stride was majestic, like a glorious gazelle. It made me stop and stare, slack-jawed, unbelieving, as though I were a babe gazing upon the face of an unfathomable yet infinitely merciful God. Time slowed and I felt as though the domed roof of Tropicana Field had disappeared, and late autumn sunlight was shining through a canopy of beautiful trees.
After both an eternity and no time at all, Escobar reached third base and the illusion was broken. Brock Holt must have felt the same way as I, since he did not even bother to cover the bag. He was frozen before it, feeling as early settlers must have felt before the Grand Canyon. A.J. Pierzynski and Jose Molina could do little but stand up and watch as Escobar confidently took third on defensive indifference, although in truth, it was more like defensive incomprehension.
Both Jose Molina and A.J. Pierzynski agreed that it was a beautiful steal, and that Escobar is an incredible ballplayer.
Look at them, discussing what they saw in the middle of a baseball game. Former enemies now becoming friends. What fun!
"That might be the best play that I've ever seen," said A.J, probably.
"I disagree, but only because it's the best play that I've ever seen," said Molina. I assume. Full disclosure: I dropped out of lip-reading school to pursue an interpreting job in the private sector, so my lip reading is a little rusty.
On the other side of the field, Escobar gets into a friendly discussion with David Ross.
"I can't believe that, man! It was incredible! You're incredible! I heard the sound of violins, but it seemed like the music was coming from within my heart...or my soul! Is this proof of the soul?"
Escobar doesn't wish to go so far as to claim that, but ever the modest man, he claims that Ross is a far better player than he is, and that he wishes for nothing more than to be as good as he one day. They go back and forth, with a friendly passion usually reserved for Sundays at church. Each claims the other is better than he, and the crowd at Tropicana Field begins to cheer and egg them on, because each and every person realizes how lucky they all are to see two ballplayers so talented yet humble on the same field at the same time.
Lost in all the compassion is Jonny Gomes. No video evidence exists showing what Gomes thought of Escobar's gallop to third base, but we are free to speculate, and will do so. Wildly.
Jonny, lost in the beauty of the moment, loses all composure. He rushes in from left field, as though he is chasing after a missed bus, although the bus here is something intuitively beautiful that he doesn't quite have the words to describe. Burdened with glorious purpose and at one with all living things, noted pacifist Jonny Gomes rushes over to embrace his brother.
Jose Molina, perhaps sensing a pivotal change in how we understand human empathy, intercepted Gomes' hug. Pandemonium ensued.
Okay, wow. That's the most I've seen Jose Molina move in three seasons.
"Thank you too!"- David Ross, maybe. Yunel Escobar, Jonny Gomes, and Sean Rodriguez (inexplicably) were then ushered off of the field by friendly umpires. Hand in hand, they walked into the dugout, while Vivaldi played over the intercom in the stadium. The Rays would go on to win the game 8-5, but really, aren't we all winners today?
When Grant Balfour tells you to ease back you know you've had an eventful day.
The Rays and the Red Sox play again on Friday, May 30. The series promises to be full of sportsmanship and good feelings.