I have a sort of wrap-up of Summer 2013 post coming along. I started it a month ago when it would have actually been relevant but obviously my commitment to documenting my life has, uh, evolved. But I have to take a moment to document September 24, 2013, the day after the Pittsburgh Pirates clinched a playoffs spot for the first time in 21 years. I wrote about my hopes for their then-potential first winning season for Draft Day Suit back in July, though my hopes for that milestone are now replaced with bigger goals.
The baby and I were watching the game, which was one of the more stressful things I’ve ever watched. There were multiple moments where my heart sped up in excitement or terror, but I don’t think I want to know what might surpass the final play of that game in terms of sheer insane intensity.
I’m not exaggerating at all when I tell you that I was SCREAMING during this play. Screaming obscenities, screaming prayers, screaming in tongues. Rewatching it later with the husband, who had been DJing during the game, the sensation wasn’t at all diminished. Watching it now, my heart still pounds.
As someone noted on Twitter last night:
It started 21 years ago with a play at the plate. It ends 21 years later with a play at the plate.
— Tyler Graham (@TGraham930) September 24, 2013
This win, of course, is still many steps away from the real goal. But the poetic bookends of our losing streak beginning 21 years ago at a home plate in Atlanta, a bomb in the shape of Sid Bream, to last night’s excruciatingly marvelous play at a home plate in Chicago killing that streak could not have been written better.
I stayed up way too late last night, too wired to sleep, looking at any pictures I could find of the game. This one struck me and I checked this morning to make sure that it was actually that perfect or if my brain was just exhausted.
I’m fairly certain that this is one of the finest sports pictures I’ve ever seen. The umpire’s melodramatic stance and gesture, the utter defeat of the runner, and the triumphant catcher. It’s a perfect sequence of a defining moment in time, a story told in one flick of the eyes from left to right.
The more I looked at it, the more my eyes kept drifting up to the man in the stands, his arms raised in triumph, his shirt giving the slightest detail to communicate who he is cheering for. It reminded me of a somewhat similar picture, taken over 40 years earlier, when the celebration was even bigger.
In between Manny Sanguillen and Steve Blass, a lone Pirates fan cheers for his new World Series champions.
These are not the same kinds of moments, because any wins that we get beyond last night’s will be even bigger and more important. But everyone who was in Pittsburgh last night, either physically or in their hearts, struck the same pose. And, man, did it feel good to stretch.