One of the sides of that coin is pretty and bright and gets pressed to the lips of the pretty girl. The other side of the coin is the side that stuck it to the sidewalk the first place. The jolt of excitement at seeing the shiny side lasts until you grab it and find the muck on the hidden side.
This morning is the coin-grabbing time.
Watching the final pitches of San Francisco Giants pitcher Matt Cain’s virtuoso performance against the Houston Astros, I felt the youthful, nervous excitement that I felt when I watched Cal Ripken break Lou Gehrig’s record and when I saw Craig Biggio reach and pass 3000 hits. The glare from the shine of the coin blocked out the troublesome shadow for a moment: the Astros got done up in historical fashion.
This morning, the drubbing takes on a sadder, more fluorescent gloom for our Houston side. As I said to a co-worker: “it’s weird to root for your own team to lose even bigger.” It’s weird, but not hard. I watched with breathless anticipation, too, in the late hours of a Wednesday night. Gregor Blanco’s miraculous catch meant more to me than Jordan Schafer dropping one it to raise his average to two-thirty-whatever. Baseball is a game of moments, and there’s no shame in enjoying one at the expense of those who, after all, could have changed the outcome by rapping a few hits and allowing fewer runs.
Coins have two sides, but really this game only had one. J.A. Happ stunk it up along with his bullpen mates. They left one show in town: the Matt Cain show. America tuned in.
Every perfect game seems to have that one iconic defensive play to preserve it. A utility man or fourth outfielder extends himself the extra half a foot–driven, it feels like, by the performance on the distant mound–and his name becomes synonymous with the achievement. Welcome to the books, Gregor Blanco.