Last night, San Francisco Giant Matt Cain hurled just the 22nd perfect game in Major League Baseball’s history, and the very first in the team’s 129-year existence. I watched this game on television almost as it occurred in San Francisco. It was nothing short of thrilling, and an object lesson crushing the argument that the home run is the most exciting facet in baseball. As statistics metaphorically tell us, good pitching will always beat good hitting.
As the last three innings methodically unwound their historic tale, the sense of anticipation – tinged almost unbearably with trepidation – was absolutely material. You could feel the excitement of the fans in the stadium, the tempered wonder of the commentators, and the determination of the defense all converging methodically on the mound. It was as though everyone’s breathing began to fill up the small space immediately surrounding the determined pitcher, who established with his arm the general pattern of respiration for the entirety. We could feel the collective air leak out briefly in the tone of Mike Krukow’s call, when Gregor Blanco made his improbable catch in right field. It almost exploded from the crowd’s final surge, as Joaquin Arias shifted to his back foot but threw forward across the diamond to record the final out.
I’ve been pretty vocal throughout my sports-viewing life about the idiocy of ‘we’. When a fan claims, “We did it!” as her/his respective team puts a game or a series out of reach of the opposition, I tend to think, “Oh really? What exactly is it that you think you did? I mean, besides drink your sixteen-ounce beer while eating nachos as dessert to half a meat lovers pizza?” But last night, as pitch after dreadfully taut pitch passed over home plate, this Giants fan of thirty-two years understood the sentiment, and felt part of something much larger than one person’s accomplishment.
If you could know one thing about everyone you passed or encountered during your daily goings on, what would you wish to know? If one piece of information became available to you about everyone on the street, like an unintentional confession printed in mid-air above each person’s head, what truth would you be privileged to read? And what would you give up to acquire this knowledge?
My allowance would be specifically aimed at people with iPods – portable media players, smart phones, all those music-playing devices that people plug their heads into. I want to know what each person is listening to at any given moment. I want to know for the same reason that will probably disappoint me: where is all the expression? What isn’t provoking all of these people to laugh aloud, sob uncontrollably, and generally move their bodies in eccentric and pleasurable ways? Not all of these people – and really not even any but a few – can be listening to relentless ambient noise that petrifies their bodies into a mannequin-like physical condition. Perhaps they are moved to sturdiness! They are strong and unshakeable! I don’t believe that. What is really going on inside those ears?
What would I give for this information? What is it worth? Maybe an old stamp collection. No television for a month. Not much. I’m constantly curious, but I’m afraid I’d just find it sad. And really…if I want to know I should just ask.