In my post The Book of Job, I wrote all about how God giveths and how he takeths away.
Then, on the precipice of the Toronto Maple Leafs squeaking into the second round of the playoffs for the first time since Noah was loading dinosaurs onto the ark…
…tragedy. The Boston Bruins dashed Toronto’s playoff hopes by sending the Leafs to the ping-pong tables in yet another devastating game seven. My faith shaken, I looked up to the sky like Steph Curry does after he sinks a three-pointer, and I asked, Why Does God Hate the Toronto Maple Leafs?
Some fellow bloggers came to my aid and tried to explain it to me using the scriptures.
As I wallowed in despair knowing I may die of old age before I ever see the Stanley Cup hoisted at Scotiabank Centre, I began to wonder if this curse was affecting not just the Leafs, but the Blue Jays too.
I mean, the last time the Blue Jays won a World Series was two and a half decades ago.
Just as I was about to burn all of my sports jerseys in the backyard fire ring, I heard a voice say, “My son. Dropeth that lighter fluid and cast aside that match. Thy Maple Leafs chokethed in the playoffs once again, as is my will. Thy Blue Jays did wasteth their chance in 2015 and 2016, as I commanded. Fear not, for before the sun revolves around the earth once more you receive a precious gift.”
“Is it gold,” I asked.
“NO,” boomed a loud voice from the heavens.
“I know… it’s Sapphires.”
Instantly the sky went dark and a bolt of lightning struck me down. When I awoke I was field level at the SkyDome.
Ace, the Blue Jays’ mascot was about to deliver the ball to the mound for the ceremonial first pitch.
To my left was the visiting team dugout. Sitting in the dugout was former Blue Jay, Kendrys Morales, now with the Oakland Athletics.
I looked up. The roof was closed.
The announcer asked me to please remove my hat for the national anthem. I did. After a beautiful rendition of the Star Spangled and Banner and O Canada, the game got underway.
Still unsure of why I was here, I checked my pockets for clues. I found a hotel key for the SkyDome hotel and a receipt with my room number.
I decided to give my brain a rest from asking existential questions and watch some baseball. The game was good but fairly uneventful. At the end of the ninth, the game was tied 1-1.
“Great,” I thought, “Extra innings.”
I stayed until the tenth inning had finished. At that point, I realized that for all I knew, this could end up being the longest game ever played, so I decided to watch the rest of it from the comfort of the hotel room. I left the SkyDome and walked a quarter of the way around the circumference of the stadium to the hotel entrance.
As I walked, an announcer gave the play-by-play of the game in progress over a loudspeaker. The top of the eleventh inning was not kind to the Blue Jays, and by the time I took the elevator up to my hotel room, the score was 4-1 for the Athletics.
I made my way to the back of the hotel room and opened the window that overlooked the field at SkyDome. I would watch the rest of the game from here. With a three-run deficit heading into the bottom of the eleventh, I pretended I was at a Maple Leafs game and set my expectations to their lowest setting.
The Blue Jays led off with a near home run that touched the top of the wall. After a review, it was determined that Rowdy Tellez’s blast was only a double. Then Alen Hanson walked. Runners on first and second.
A grounder hit by Billy McKinney to the shortstop. He threw it to second to get the force out. Runners on first and third. One out.
Then the hero of last week’s walk-off win, Brandon Drury came to the plate. Home run. Three runs score. Tie game.
Galvis singles. Jansen walks. Runners on first and second.
Sogard pops out. Two outs.
Justin Smoak comes to the plate. This part would be a lot cooler if his walk-up music was “For Whom the Bell Tolls” like pitcher Ryan Tepera. Instead, Smoak walks up to the plate to some very unintimidating country music.
No matter. He receives the pitch he wants and hits it for a single. The runner at second scores. The Jays win. It’s a SkyDome miracle. The bench clears as the players run onto the field:
Something in my head told me I just received my gift. A Jays Victory, and a second sweep of the Oakland Athletics this year.
After the players, fans, news media, and staff cleared the building, the lights were turned off and the field went dark:
As I shut my eyes to go to sleep, I once again heard a voice in my head, and it said,
“SkyDome is your church. Congregate here often.”
I vowed that I would.