Saturday, June 2, 2012

Fact: Johan Santana Pitched a No Hitter

Johan Santana awoke. He was in a room: that much was clear. Little else was. There were pictures of...himself...and members. Him and family members. He looked out the window. Cars. Streets. Honk honk. Humans traversing, conversing, commercing. Fair enough. Foul enough too. Fair is foul and foul is fair. I really need to cut my hair, he thought, catching his reflection in a mysterious snow globe of a made up land called New Yorkci.

A phone. Well now isn't this interesting. How satisfying the plastic felt in the intelligence of his hands. So brassy. Clean jazz. An uncountable number of buttons gleamed at him with enough upward jut to catch the rays from the gigantic sphere of fire, so far away. Zero seemed a fine number. He pressed it. He examined the other numbers, wondering which to pick next, when the ear piece purred, and then said, "Morning Johan."

"Yes, that is who I am," he recalled. "Can you tell me where I am?"

"You are on the 57th floor of the Met Tower," said the voice. "And you shouldn't be for long. You are pitching tonight."

"Pitching? Pitching..."

"Johan, why don't you come down to the lobby. It sounds like you need some explaining done."

The doorman of the Mets Tower was mysterious, in that it was ambiguous just how mysterious he was. He was a scruffy old man they called "Pops." He read the paper. When a stranger entered, he said, "Be you Met or be you not? For only Met shall pass." But questions hovered. What was his real name? Where did he live? What plane did he arrive from?

The elevator door opened in the lobby. Santana stayed in it, examining the buttons, dissatisfied.

"Over here," said Pops, absentmindedly scruffling his newspaper in his hands. The consonants started to slide off, leaving a bunch of shapeless vowels, but Pops brushed the consonants back on, and most of them found their original spot.

Santana wandered into the lobby. "See this?" said Pops, holding up a baseball. "You throw these?"

"Do I?"

"You used to be the best at throwing these," said Pops.

"Was I?"

"Observe," said Pops. He stood up into an awkward pose, his legs too far apart, his arms an unmixing combination of ragdoll and robot. "See the wall?" he asked, getting a little trancy, "pick the spot you don't like."

Johan had no trouble with this task. There was a spot eleven inches off the ground that was grimy without grime, shadowy without shadows, cynical without sentience. Johan pointed to it.

"Me too," said Pops. His arms seemed to rotate in slow motion. Torque itself was visible. His legs jimmy-jambled with incredible precision. He released the ball. Somewhere in the world, at that moment, a match had begun to spark. It was in that impossible moment between spark and flame. The ball flew across the lobby and hit the worst spot on the wall. Only as dust erupted around the ball did the flame splash into existence.

"Now you," said Pops.

Johan Santana, his memory empty except for sprinkles of this and that, and the memory of the pitch Pops had just thrown, took the ball, walked back, jimmy-jambled his legs, flamble-rambled his arms, released the ball just so. It thunked the spot with a pleasing boom. He threw another that glammered upward before thunking into the spot. Another swooped to the side and then sashayed into the spot.

"Thanks Pops," said Johan.

"Call me Sidd," said Pops.

This way and that, the ball snarpled and dove against the Saint Louis Birds of Fire. They were under and over it like amateur bettors with too much money. Beltran was cool to fate's peculiar draw. Yadier of Doom waved his doomstick, but Mike Baxter became Achilles for a moment, knowing that he would succeed and then die, and was okay with that. If ends up on the DL, Odysseus will visit him and ask if it was worth it, and won't it be interesting to hear his heart beat as he ping pongs those cliches. To us, however, Mike Baxter is another fly in this non-ending Ninja Turtle drama. On the day that Johan awoke without a history, he changed all of ours. A fire forever unlit in all the backwards of time before Johan's 134th pitch now burns in our memories until infinity walks out or the buggers finally win one.

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