It's an afternoon in October, meaning that, in all likelihood, we have a baseball game to think about. It's nice, really. Even if I'm sure half of us are secretly dying inside worrying over the horrific fate which awaits our red clad heroes in just a matter of hours.
On Monday, we saw something special. Something really special. Special in a way that's kind of tough to appreciate in the moment, something that really only becomes as magical as it truly was through the lens of retelling, of myth laid on top of reality until the simulacrum of what it was approaches the miracle of the actual. We saw Michael Macha, the Pac-Man himself, go out and pitch the game of his young life, forever etching his name into our hearts in red, an almost-no-hitter that happened on an enormous stage at the biggest possible time.
Michael Wacha had himself a Signature Moment. Always capitalised, and pronounced that way as well. Signature Moment.
Funnily enough, we may have also seen the Signature Moment for another Cardinal in that contest, or at least the Signature Cardinal Moment: Matt Holliday. We've all heard the crazy talk coming through the radio or floating around certain message boards, of Holliday being overrated (actually, that might need to be capitalised too in this case; Overrated, yes), of being unclutch, or nonclutch, or some such nonsense, some fundamental character flaw, a lack of a certain Something that Matt Holliday will forever be primarily remembered for. The human equivalent of a question mark.
Well, fuck you, crazy talk. Matt Holliday is the man, has been the man, and will very likely continue to be some variety of the man (if perhaps a slightly past his prime man), for the foreseeable future. But hey, those people who like to look askance at the Lego Slugger don't need me to say fuck you; Matt Holliday cracked open a rather large can of fuck you in PNC Park, right into the left-center field stands. The final day of the 2007 season may stand as the singlest, shiningest moment of Matt Holliday's career overall, but that home run was Matt Holliday's Signature Cardinal Moment. Just like Holliday, though, to have his big moment and be completely overshadowed. Kind of funny, don't you think?
I wonder, quietly to myself, if we might see another Signature Moment tonight. Adam Wainwright takes the mound, just over two years to the day since his mentor had his Signature Moment in Philadelphia, putting what now looks like the ultimate capper on his own Cardinal career. Chris Carpenter is the man Adam Wainwright has looked to since he stepped into a St. Louis dugout for the first time. Carp pitched the Redbirds to victory in an NLDS game 5; perhaps, perhaps, perhaps. Adam Wainwright was the new Chris Carpenter; Michael Wacha is the new Adam Wainwright.
Of course, conjecture about Waino maybe stepping into the limelight for a Signature Moment ignores one important fact: that Adam Wainwright has probably already had his Signature Moment, or at least his Signature Cardinal Moment, when a curveball landed in Yadier Molina's glove and Beltran the Great turned away, knowing October was over. But, see, that was Waino the reliever; I'm not sure A.D.A.M. has yet had his great Moment in the sun as a starter. There have been plenty of moments, of course, but a Moment? That's tough to say.
Then again,, maybe tonight is the Moment for the Pittsburgh Pirates, the game they bring a city which applied for permanent Long Suffering status from the commissioner's office four years ago the joy of an authentic, honest to god Playoff Run. I hope not, though.
I want Matt Carpenter to have a Moment. An on base four times, three runs scored, bases-clearing triple into the gap Moment. And I want Adam Wainwright the starter to have his Moment, his Chris Carpenter Moment, when he exerts his will on the world and the world changes, bowing slightly, drawing aside, smiling and nodding and saying yes, I see, come in, friend.