There’s one man keeping Canadian baseball within the Axis of Fun.
One man putting seats in the stands.
One man on base, in the 8th inning in Toronto, year two of the Blue Jays’ era of greatness having passed.
Bautista and his home runs are gone. Kawasaki and his antics gone. Encarnacion and his imaginary parrot gone.
Kevin Pillar is not gone. Kevin Pillar is on base. Staring down Dellin Betances as he scares off the very notion that this Blue Jay team could get swept in their home opener.
— TVMAX Deporte (@tvmaxdeportes) March 31, 2018
He takes a step, another step, another step. Betances raises the ball to his glove, and in that brief moment before the windup begins, Pillar takes off.
Betances throws, Pillar dashes toward second—he’s in with no throw.
On second, he waits a pitch. Another pitch. Another, until it’s a full count. Luke Maile walks, Pillar stays put.
He catches his breath.
Pillar looks around the stadium, the crowd. Strong but not sold out. A crowd he might never see more of all year, if they fall behind early. A crowd jazzed up on Raptors basketball frenzy, their attention elsewhere. At least until June.
He looks around, at this colosseum… hot dog stands where marble arches once stood, Budweiser ads where lions once roared.
He thinks of antiquity, he thinks of heroism—he thinks of Samson, of Hercules. The Pillars of Hercules. Gibraltar. Mediterranean. The Ancients. Royal crests and the dollar sign and strength and PLVS VLTRA and what lies further beyond. The New World. North America. Toronto. Him, here and now. The Herculean, if he pulls off.
Pillar. The Pillar. The Pillar of Kevin. Year 2018 AD.
He waits a pitch. Another pitch. And then, as if to say, to shout, “Baseball will be fun again in Toronto, my friends”—he takes off for third.
“One more to go,” he seems to say to himself. “One more to go.”
He takes about a six step lead off third, no one holding him on. He breaks. Betances holding the ball on the mound in his glove, not yet in his delivery. Pillar makes it halfway home before anyone notices. Betances whips a wayward ball to Sanchez and it flies past to the backstop.
Pillar touches home standing up—safe.
He leaps and skips his way back toward the dugout as the Rogers Centre goes wild.
Kevin Pillar steals home STANDING UP 😳
— Sportsnet (@Sportsnet) March 31, 2018
He takes his sword out, his shield, throws both to the ground.
“ARE YOU NOT ENTERTAINED!?”
Baseball fun in Toronto is going nowhere.