Now is the time to live moment to moment. There is room for a longview, but an extreme longview, one that sees over the clearing where we sit in the present, beyond the treetops of our immediate future to the larger arc of progress of existence itself drifting, at times, aimlessly in the sky. Take a second to appreciate the sun hitting a drop of morning dew sliding off a yellowed leaf, and try to hold your glance on it even when it’s interrupted by the hangman’s noose sliding over your neck.
The White Sox have struggled since I began writing about them in 2010, and look to have a grueling road ahead, even if it provides reward in the end. Most would say that this is a lousy beat, filled with drudgery and repetition. This conclusion is not based on nothing.
But I am thankful for the moments that peaked above the top of this cage, that lifted us to somewhere else, and the worse things get, the more I try to remember.
From the small collection of games I was fortunate enough to cover from the press box this year, I will remember the robust roar a two-thirds full U.S. Cellular Field released, diffusing a great weight when a decisive Avisail Garcia three-run home cleared the wall off future World Series losing pitcher Bryan Shaw, in the second home game of the year. It wound up being the rising action to an early crescendo
Still, I am thankful for the moment I was walking with Scott Merkin, 110 percent as kind of a man as he is rumored to be, after the Sox wrapped up their April sweep of Texas, and Scott and I pondered if this was the best Sox team we had seen in the decade since the World Series winner. It wasn’t out of fandom, but appreciation that we could be seeing something special, and being thankful for being able to see it happen in this place, in this city.
I am thankful for Chris Sale‘s April 15 start in Tampa and his May 13 in New York, and how simple he made the game look, and the feeling it gave me, as if I could just rewatch it and understand everything. I thought if I saw all his machinations and wrote down all the ways he toyed with his competition, I would see how pitching worked and how all major league hitters can be rendered into loyal subjects. For a day or two after, I thought he had truly solved the great riddle once and for all, but then the game had more to teach the both of us, and I am thankful for that too.
I am thankful every time I watch Jose Quintana. When I watch him I often feel like I am alone, observing a painting in a private study which only I know exists. The hilariously frustrated Josh Donaldson quote about him only throwing fastballs from earlier this past season showed that his effectiveness continues to be this little secret we all get to be in on. Donaldson destroyed Quintana while the rest of his teammaters were baffled. He could see him better than anyone, staring at his work from the best possible viewpoint, and yet couldn’t see what actually made him special at all, but we can. It’s nice to feel special about some things.
It’s been an amazing five years for Quintana, more than anything we could have dreamed for him and likely a longer and more dominant run than he could have seen for himself. Baseball’s brutality creeps in quickly, and the span of time of which the world belongs to certain men can be as short as a day, or even an inning, and the ratio of moments we take to breathe that time in to hours we spend mourning its leaving is impossibly small.
I watched Mat Latos win his fourth game of the year in April. With his ERA still at a microscopic 0.74 and the whole room too drunk on his success to squint and see the rotting framework behind it, a reporter read his incredible stat line aloud to Latos just to see if he had a word, or a thought about his incredible success. Instead, Latos bowed his head, closed his eyes and breathed deeply enough for the to be caught on our recorders, before ending the moment and breaking the tension with a well-timed rapping of his knuckles on the wooden side of his locker. And now, months later, I felt that he knew, and was still thankful.
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