September 28, 2017
Time is Limited
By: Rachael McDaniel
A few weeks ago I attended the second game of the Northwest League division series between the Spokane Indians and the Vancouver Canadians. The stands at Vancouver’s Nat Bailey Stadium were buzzing, packed with fans in various states of excitement and inebriation, waving towels and beers, screaming encouragements for the home team and slanders for the visitors. And perhaps the single most vocal fan in the entire ballpark was someone in the section immediately to my left, whose heckles―due to both their content and their sheer volume―simply demanded attention.
The insults began with classic pun-based denigration of the opposing pitchers: “You’re ragged, Ragans!” or “You’re setting a low bar, Barlow!” Sometimes they devolved into old classics, like a slow, taunting chant of the batter’s name, or just “You suck!” As the game went on, the heckles became more abstract and inscrutable. A plate appearance from one Pedro Gonzalez, for example, was greeted by a mystifying shout of “Grab your monocle!”
It was the final heckle of the night, though, which really stuck with me. When the Indians came up to bat in the top of the eighth, the voice cried out from yonder section eight: “TIME IS LIMITED!”
I have been thinking about those words all month. Not just in the context of the Spokane Indians, for whom time was indeed limited: They would be eliminated not 20 minutes after the heckler’s cry, losing 2–1 to the Canadians for the second night in a row, their season ended just like that. No, the echoes of “TIME IS LIMITED!” seemed to reverberate beyond that, beyond baseball. I heard it as I lay in bed, my whole body wracked with anxiety, convinced that I would die in my sleep. I heard it as I sat crying in a dark corner of a hallway at my school, trying very hard to conceive of a future that didn’t end with me killing myself. It came to resemble something more than a warning; it was a taunt, a reproach, a harsh reminder of the waste that I often perceive my own existence to be. Time is limited, it said. What the hell are you doing with yours?
On Sunday, I tuned in for what was most likely Jose Bautista’s final home game as a Blue Jay. I saw him run out to his familiar spot in right field, alone, applauded by his teammates and the gathered fans, saw all the signs and the jerseys and the t-shirts, heard the mounting cheers for each of his plate appearances, the final one a pop out with runners on. I watched as, with one out in the ninth, manager John Gibbons pulled him. He hugged his teammates, ran back to the dugout, then stepped out for one final curtain call, a single ovation containing within it an entire decade of home runs and bat flips and joy and heartbreak and anger and disappointment and love, an entire country’s worth of love. And I heard those words again, echoing through my mind, as I watched the career of one of my team’s greatest players come to a close before my eyes: Time is limited.
It felt different this time. I finally understood. It wasn’t a taunt or a warning or a recrimination, but a reminder, stern, perhaps, but gentle. A reminder to look around you, to notice. This is a unique, miraculous moment, a convergence of a thousand coincidences that will never converge again, and you are here. You are alive.
Bautista could barely hold back his tears. I think he understood, too.
Ode to the Man Throwing Up Outside This Stadium
By: Patrick Dubuque
The human body is a mystery.
Huddled against the base of a concrete wall
The human body is a mystery.
Rachael McDaniel is an author of Baseball Prospectus. Follow @rumhamlet