It’s October and and the Jays have won the American League East pennant.
They’re vying for best record in the AL and home field advantage throughout the playoffs.
It’s been 22 years since they were even IN the playoffs.
All this, to use a cliche, is a kind of poetry.
And there’s a poem I wrote a while back about diving catches that seems applicable right about now. Especially after last night’s most recent highlight reel grab by Kevin Pillar. Instigated by that time a writer I know posted a Facebook status that included reference to an old ESPN column / article by Buster Olney on diving catches in baseball, it’s part of a soon-to-be-published new collection of mine.
Here’s a newly updated draft. Enjoy.
THE ART OF THE DIVING CATCH (or, THE SONG OF KEVIN PILLAR)
Most outfielders dive for catches as if they’re falling headfirst off the hood of a car,
their bodies dropping at a high angle, both hands extended in front of them.
– Buster Olney, ESPN
you know: although the pros – your
andruws jonesed, your pillars airily posed – execute as though
the field’s a car poorly parked at the lazy, pristine edge
of some summer’s swimming hole, their arcs
a naïve physics simply spit-balling the complex
metrics of a shoulder’s socket wrenched or a rib’s
transubstantiation into a kind of heartfelt stake –
or something just as hard to swallow, something just as
sacrosanct – there is more than one way to skin a cat
(a knee, a shin, a ball); more than one way to catch
yourself, mid-fall. there is, in fact, a grace you’ll note
only when you’re flung all akimbo all at once away and
into the mooning embrace of gravity.
this is, as they say, akin to – no – exactly
what it means to be on a cloud of nine. trust me: mid-
arc – however briefly – you will find yourself at peace.
a piece of leather; catapulted and exulted: a raw, once
hidden, language now exposed. yes: you, yourself,
a kind of soon-to-be-flowery prose. a figure of speech; both
a breach and a pause. the park’s rustling leaves
a sudden applause. and landing? a slap; a tickle.
a new understanding of just how fickle a breeze can be.
how what we see isn’t always what we get. how
certain things, despite our dogged drive, remain
beyond our reach. how the sun gets in our eyes. how,
despite our myriad protests and gesticulations, there’s
always the ground’s finality. it never lies.