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Rays 7, Tigers 8: Rajai Davis teaches us all a lesson

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You know what you want to read right after a 13-inning loss? A 2000-word short story.

Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

Erasmo Ramirez understood that you can't really control Rajai Davis. He's basically a speeding train. Almost a force of nature. And can you stop a speeding train? No, no you cannot. Rajai Davis is a free agent next year, and although I've only really seen him play for a little bit, he's clearly going to demand a $30 million AAU.

You can't stop a speeding train. But you know what you can do? Get it out of the way of a populated area. Flip the switches and let it die out in New Mexico. In the fourth inning, that's essentially what Erasmo Ramirez did.

In a level of strategy and gamesmanship previously unheard of, Erasmo Ramirez played the game of baseball on another, almost extra-dimensional level. He knew facing Rajai Davis with anyone else on base would result in a multi-run home run, as it was a certainty that Rajai "The Natural" Davis would send it out of the park. So Erasmo gave in. Not in a way that affected the game at all, but instead he very strategically put men on, in order to work the batting order around the guaranteed run Davis would provide. Both Miguel Cabrera and James McCann (by the way, I now hate everyone named McCann) singled and died on the basepaths. Erasmo's Herculean effort forced Davis' hand, and the solo shot he hit was a drop in the bucket compared to the guaranteed check a pitcher must write when facing Davis with men on base.

From then on, the game was academic. Erasmo could see The Great Machine, with its massive gears churning and twisting, and he knew the final fate of the game. The twisting snake of time had stopped writhing, and became as still as the grave. His complete game was inevitable. Although he knew nothing could stop the Davis Home Runs (one might as well look for a way to reverse the entropy of the universe!, Erasmo thought rhetorically. Could it even be done? Perhaps, but for now there's insufficient data for a meaningful answer) it didn't matter, as the three runs Davis would produce would not cost his team the game. They would score more than three runs, he was certain.

At one point, Erasmo thought he heard a loud clatter off the right field wall. He did not see the triple. At one point, he thought he heard a cheer from the crowd. He did not see the diving catch. Time had compressed to an infinitely thin disk. Mikie Mahtook and Evan Longoria had stood up; Mikie Mahtook and Evan Longoria had sat down. They had never left the bench. The bench did not exist. The score was tied 1-1. "Exist" did not exist. There were no more variables. The game had become inevitable.

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But Erasmo had much to learn.

Rajai Davis had studied for years the secret art of the mind. He had spent countless agonizing hours piecing together the ancient Cosmic Jigsaw Puzzle. He trained for decades under the fabled Master Wu, learning to control even his own biological clock. Surely, Rajai Davis recognized the passage of time, but in the same way a rock at the bottom of a river does: dimly, with impressive uninterest. Baseball was but a hobby to him, a foolish distraction for mortals who took pride in their own limitations, in pattern recognition (as if any pattern worth existing could be glimpsed by any sub-transcendent being).

When Davis looked at Erasmo, he recognized a man blind with false enlightenment. He had glimpsed the Face of God, and in his greed he did not demure (as the great men of the past had done) but greedily drank up the answers. He had grown fat on the universe. Davis had once nearly fallen into the same trap while performing the Ritual of Chud in the Himalayas, yet with great effort had avoided the terrible Dead Lights and slain the many-legged spider that lay within his heart. Here was a man who believed he had glimpsed the past, and present, the future: The Everything.

And with this false knowledge, Davis grimly thought, I shall slay you.

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Erasmo felt as if he heard a far-away whisper at his left, but it was nothing. A trick of the air. It didn't matter. The runs would come, and the Tigers would fall. One by one they did. After Davis' home run, no Tiger reached base. The third and fourth innings passed by in a blur. To Erasmo, they took literally no time at all. So it was written. The fifth was the same. Erasmo knew he would face Davis at the end of it. His home run at the end of the inning would put the Tigers up 2-1, but it didn't matter. He had seen how many runs his team would score, and it would not be the death of him. The team would live on and win.

And yet.

Davis did a funny thing. He took a strike. This was not a cause for alarm for Erasmo, as even the greatest of beings take time to act. Perhaps Davis was distracted by an anomaly 500 years ago, or 2,000 years into the future. Men such as him were sensitive to very the fabric of space-time rippling throughout the cosmos. Erasmo knew the home run was coming.

And yet.

Davis swung. And fouled off. Erasmo's jaw dropped. The fire went out of his eyes. Davis saw Erasmo's change, and a grim smile crept across his face. Ramirez had snapped out of the trance. This was not at all the way this was supposed to go.

If he wanted to he could hit this baseball 1,000 feet!, Ramirez screamed internally. Why are you doing this? Come, great beast-man! Come and eat! I offer this to you!

Ramirez threw again. Davis fouled it off.

Ramirez couldn't think. He threw another pitch. Davis barely swung at the ball. It flew 600 feet...foul.

Erasmo couldn't stand it. In a fit of prideful rage, he threw a fat slider to Davis, perhaps begging him to fulfill his destiny, to prove that the world really could be categorized and fragmented, that there was a limit to the bounds of the universe, that we might someday know it all.

Rajai Davis leaned back, swung his bat, and missed completely. He never broke eye-contact with the sweating, panicked pitcher.

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The world exploded into view. The colors that Erasmo once remembered (how long had it been since he had truly known was color was?) snapped back into view. Almost all at once, he was acutely aware of his own fingertips. His arm ached. His arm had texture. His mouth was dry and cracked. He was human.

The fabric of reality seemed to shift. The Rays, propelled by cosmic inevitability, sprung to life. Matt Boyd, the unenlightened, happily ignorant Tigers pitcher, allowed a walk and a hit to put runners on the corners with nobody out. He was lifted for Al Albuquerque.

Albuquerque promptly gave up a run on a single to put the Rays up 2-1. A small squirrel began burying nuts for winter.

Evan Longoria his a single to score another one. A father stayed late an extra two hours at work to pay for his son's field trip to the museum.

Logan Forsythe, AL Player of the Week, promptly hit another single to score yet another run. A pilot deviated from the scheduled flight plan by five degrees to avoid ominous clouds five hundred miles away.

Albuquerque balked to put runners in scoring position. A man dreamt of an amazing idea for a short story, but when he woke up the idea seemed half-realized and foolish.

Tim Beckham singled yet again to score the fourth run of the inning. A man wants to cook a hard-boiled egg, but for a long moment can't remember how.

#RaysUp 5-1

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It will come as no surprise to you that a man who had experienced so much in so little time can hardly be expected to eat lunch, let alone pitch meaningfully in such a high-caliber sport as baseball. Erasmo had gone to the edge and danced on the tightrope to eternity, and was shoved back into reality through the grace of Rajai Davis. In many ways, Davis did Erasmo a favor. Davis' centuries of sharpening his mind allowed him to better cut through the layers of time and reality unlike the False Prophet Ramirez, yet he saw a kindred spirit in Erasmo. A fellow baseballman, on his own path. Davis had met many men on his path, all had been lampposts and road signs that let him know he was on the right path. What he did was in no way done in ill will. He saw himself in Ramirez, it must be said.

Erasmo, nonetheless, could barely grasp which reality he was currently in, let alone pitch properly. He quickly allowed three singles and was pulled for a man facing his own earthly battles: Matt Andriese. Erasmo did not notice the four-run inning that followed when both Matt Andriese (and his antecedent Alex Colome) could not effectively end the inning. In a way, this was right. The temporal rifts that followed Davis' Great Sacrifice are what allowed the light-hitting Rays to score so many runs in an inning. Without the great reality snap that started it, the game might have ended far earlier. The universe has a way of balancing itself, and once the inning ended it was fitting that both teams had scored five runs and seven hits through six.

The mechanisms of the universe are often complex and impossible to grasp, yet sometimes they truly are maddening simple.

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The Rays pulled ahead in the seventh after J.P. Arencibia doubled and Daniel Nava singled him home with two outs, but the great tidal force of the universe could not allow imbalance for long. Anthony Gose singled and The Universe, working through the vessel known as Alex Colome, threw two wild pitches and permitted Rene Rivera to botch a play to tie the game again. In the next inning, Nathan Karns allowed a leadoff home run to J.D. Martinez to give the Tigers the lead. Such is the nature of an uncaring and unfeeling existence.

Rajai Davis, ever the teacher, allowed the game to become tied after missing a catch in the top of the ninth inning, which scored the tying run. Certain folk work in mysterious ways. Davis knew that if you give a man enough rope, he might hang himself, and so the Rays did in the ninth, scoring merely the tying run and nothing more.

Sometimes a team knows when they are beaten. Perhaps something pulled the Rays towards their 13th inning defeat. Hits and errors. Hits and errors. Davis understood that predestination is a nonsensical farce, but tap the dominoes just right...

The Rays lost tonight on a sac fly by Rajai Davis that was not hit very far, but was hit to just the right spot, to just the right player with just the wrong arm. The Rays lost tonight because they could not capitalize on opportunities. The Rays lost tonight because of events that happened weeks ago. The Rays lost tonight for no reason at all.

And yet...

There are lessons to be learned, not in the box score of the baseball game, but within the men who play the game. The Great Cosmic Ballet, at its core, is the intersection where actions of men meet the random number generator of the universe. Somewhere within the digits of pi is your answer, but your life will not last long enough to find it. The goal is not to shun the chaos, but to embrace it. This is not to say that you must be flimsy and mercurial. Fools are those who renounce earthly meaning and give themselves over to the God of Chaos. Reject the carnal embrace of the uncaring, for within her arms you will find nothing but ashes and sand.

Science is a noble endeavor, and a necessary one, but flawed, for scientists do not speak the language of the universe. Neither do artists, despite their muses and their fever dreams. The meaning you make is contingent and wrong and insignificant and flawed.

Yet is it not the most profound flaws that pockmark the earth, the gashed landscapes, the turbulent rivers, the twisted mountains, that provoke the most profound and spiritual response?