Existentialism on Game Night: Losing our tether to space and time
Life is mitigated chaos. It's mostly disjointed noise and arbitrary action to which we fruitlessly ascribe meaning. But there are salves for the existential burning, structures we employ to navigate the static. Baseball, with its rules and order, is one of the good ones. It makes sense.
And then during Game 1 of the ALDS, Dallas Keuchel presents himself as both a harbinger of things to come and a reminder that the universe is, has been and always will be, awash in chaos.
These are the moments of lapse in our carefully curated baseball. This is existentialism on game night.
First, time is disrupted. Something happens, perhaps instigated by an unidentified space-time interloper, that prevents Yoenis Cespedes' parents from ever meeting. He is Marty McFly playing guitar at the Enchantment Under the Sea Dance, and we watch as Cespedes slowly begins to fade from existence. The first part of his body to disappear: His left arm.
David Ross is shifted a few minutes into the future, when Steven Matz has struck out and the inning has ended -- and he acts as such. The fluctuation in time lasts only a few moments before Ross returns to the present.
Time ceases to be a linear function. Like Billy Pilgrim, Ryan Goins becomes unstuck from time. He experiences all time simultaneously. He is transported to his youth when he is eight years old celebrating a snow day.
It's not long before the physical nature of our universe begins to crumble as well. Prince Fielder experiences a hyper-local bout of intense gravity during ALDS Game 2. In the first inning, he is rooted to the spot between third base and home.
And then, while his teammates rush onto the field to celebrate a 14-inning win, he is pulled toward the molten core.
Chris Colabello falls victim to a similar gravitational dysfunction a few games later, as it becomes apparent that Rogers Centre is the point on the Earth's surface around which the entire planet will collapse.
Unbound by the constraints of space and time, MLB players adjust to their new reality.
With a trip to the World Series on the line, Lorenzo Cain ruptures both space and time as he sails through a wormhole to go from first to home faster than should be physically possible.
In Game 2 of the World Series, Jacob deGrom and Johnny Cueto's identities merge. They think and act as one. There is no longer a boundary between organisms.
Alternate realities are transposed on one another. The Daniel Murphy that caught this ball is placed into the universe where he did not.
Yes, this postseason, MLB players realized just how tenuous our tether to reality is. Scientists revealed further evidence that the universe is random and chaotic, after all. It was only a matter of time.