It's times like these I wish I were Bill Simmons. Not for the fantastic pile of shekels he must be sitting on; or the fact that he gets to live inside the velvet rope in Hollywood; or the fact that he can do both without having to take shelter from the paparazzi storm; or the fact that he got that way for being a sports fan with a talent for the pen.
OK, actually all that would be pretty cool. But.
No, I just wish I had that talent with the pen sometimes. Like right now, after seeing Chris Taylor bring to real life the dreams of every eleven-year-old kid in the country who ever picked up a bat. If Bill Simmons were a UVA fan he'd do that pop-culture-sports weave thing he does and the magnitude of the moment would get even bigger somehow because it'd be just like some movie from 1987 and you'd all nod your heads and forward the link and I'd get paaaaaiiiid. Eventually. There's some steps between "write good" and "profit" but Step 1 can be awfully elusive.**
Then again, who needs it? The narrative, I mean. The moment speaks for itself. You'll watch baseball the rest of your life and maybe the only time you'll ever see that kind of thing happen again is when your kid is throwing the ball to himself in the backyard. And then it'll only be ghost runners. Bases loaded, two outs, down by one - maybe not a full count but if you're that picky about your drama then you hate life - Chris Taylor lived the dream and we got to see it play out. That's baseball drama, it doesn't get bigger than that. Fuck LeBron, man - Nike should've saved their Witnesses ad campaign for a moment like that.
Course, to have that much drama, you need a worthy opponent. I sort of hate to say it because it sounds condescending - when you're bleeding to death with a sword in your gut, "you died well" is of small consolation - but in many ways you couldn't ask for a better opponent. Irvine isn't the most talented team in the land, and it's fun to make Irvine Baseball jokes about the announcers (at least this year the commentators were lavishing praise upon both teams, and boy were they lavishing) but you had to admit they were right. Irvine does play an exhausting brand of baseball and they do it exceedingly well. Classy coach and a team with guts and fight all the way to the end - it's hard not to feel a bit bad to see a team like that lose that way. There are other teams I'd rather rip the hearts out of. UVA is the more talented team but Irvine knows every trick in the book to close that gap in a hurry.
So here's the part that's gonna read like an Oscar acceptance speech (eat your heart out, Simmons) but hats off to Chris Taylor for obvious reasons, Kenny Swab for a huge homer to erase the memories of his centerfield error yesterday, Reed Gragnani for that huge pinch-hit walk, Taylor and Keith Werman for teaming up on a zillion double plays especially the one that held Irvine to one run in the ninth, Will Roberts for a gem, Tyler Wilson for another gem, Danny Hultzen for another gem with his worst stuff of the season (that's why he's the #2 pick!), Branden Kline for the guts to put a lot of adversity behind him and make some clutch-ass pitches, Jared King for some big-league hits at big-league times, and especially the coaching staff for keeping a level head, making all the right calls, trusting their players, and working with a steady hand at all times. And oh hell, all the rest'a'you lugs I didn't mention. Have yourself another dogpile. If anyone's earned one it's this baseball team. After the greatest ninth inning in UVA baseball history, Omaha beckons.
**HOWEVA, up until a week or so ago I did have something Simmons didn't: my own canvas with the freedom to be as, um, colorful as I want. Seriously - this Grantland thing he's started really boils down to just one major difference between it and the ESPN space Simmons has: freedom to use swear words and potty language. You can see why I like this independent thing. Bill Simmons has parlayed sports fandom into the dreamiest of dreamy dream jobs and he still felt constrained enough to want to start up a whole new operation just so he could put "fucking" in front of the occasional adjective.