Ubaldo Jiminez is pitching—and Zach Britton is not—and his first pitch to Encarnacion meets wood and then rises up through the cool air inside the open-roofed stadium and lands in the second deck. Encarnacion stands with his arms above his head and drops his bat. I stand with my arms above my head. “Oh my God,” I say. “Oh my God.” “Did they do it?” asks my wife, who is upstairs unpacking. “Oh my God,” I say again. The SkyDome erupts in jubilation and disbelief. The TV broadcast will end with that buzz still apparent, the emotional currency of that place plain and enticing to us at home. It is unlikely that a team’s fans should ever know even one of these moments, but we have counted four. In the morning I will show the children the replay of Encarnacion’s home run over breakfast. I will watch it myself a dozen more times.
— “Timelines,” for Eephus, about Encarnacion’s Wild Card Game-winning home run, as well as Roberto Alomar, Joe Carter, José Bautista, memory, family, the passage of time, and a bunch of other stuff
We wander into the guts of the stadium for another beer or a bathroom break and see where they have hung on the walls images of old teams who played here, including the Athletics, the Alouettes, and the Braves, members of the Provincial League and, later, farmhands for Boston and Milwaukee. Warren Spahn pitched in this very ballpark. Hank Aaron hit a home run here. They modeled this park’s design on Trois-Rivières’ home field, built a year earlier. The Expos installed an affiliate in the ’70s, called les Carnavals, and later, the Metros. Gary Carter and Andre Dawson took their hacks. Though unique, Québecois baseball is nothing new. It goes back decades, or a century, or more.
— “Le baseball,” on les Capitales de Québec of the Can-Am League, for Eephus
Authenticity is a thing we may move toward but never touch; if it’s to be found at all, it approaches us. But make no mistake, in buying these caps and memorizing the names of players and owners and stadiums from 20 years ago or better I’m attempting to will myself toward something authentic.
— “Defunct,” from The Utility of Boredom, excerpted on Eephus
You’re welcome to split all the hairs you like, cling with arthritic digits to the go-go, vial-in-pocket exuberance of Pete Rose’s heyday and say, as Rose gaseously has, that Ichiro’s great and all but he’s sure as hell not the all-time hit leader, because he notched his first 1,278 in Japan which, sorry, ain’t no major league. We can have that debate, if you’re dead set on digging your heels in, or we can say that they’re different things, both impressive, and agree that the only loser here is the already besmirched respectability of Rose, a man clutching with deathlike desperation at the remaining tatters of his relevance. It’s hard to blame him, when everything’s weighed, but that doesn’t render his graceless reaction to all this any more becoming.
— “Ichiro Runs the Numbers Down,” for Eephus