When I was a lad, I remember watching a game between these two teams that damn near melted my young mind. There came about a moment that rendered one player so existentially useless that I became lost in a fog of uncertainty about his very need to be doing what he was doing. The moment stuck with me for months afterward. "Why was he there at all?" I would ask myself. "But then, what else would he do?" I would answer back. After many years I finally managed to suppress these thoughts and went on to lead a fairly normal life. Then, just this week, I got this letter and it all came flooding back:
I have a mundane question. Let's suppose the game is tied, two outs, bottom of the ninth, bases loaded. For the sake of flavor, it's Yankees vs. Red Sox. Let's say Derek Jeter is at the plate. Would Hideki Matsui, who bats after Jeter on this day, bother to come out of the dugout and into the on-deck circle? There's no way he'll get to bat. Wouldn't it make more sense to encourage Jeter by saying, "Well, I'm hitting the showers. No need for me," then subsequently do so?
All the best,
"All the best," he says? Does Michael know what he has done? Does he realize the Pandora's box of a paradox he reintroduced to my mind? It all came flooding back: the man in the on-deck circle who would never bat no matter what! What was he doing there? What was he thinking? Why was he even holding a bat???