I found another card on the street yesterday, my second in the last week. What is the universe trying to tell me? Now I walk around staring at the ground, looking for more cards. Maybe I’ll quit my job and take up card-scavenging full-time. Maybe then I could figure out what this life is all about. My thinning wiry hair would grow long and unruly, and because of poverty I’d lose the couch-and-beer ten pounds that settled upon me in recent years as I neared forty. Forty! Last night as I walked home from the train, this card in my backpack along with several notebooks from work and my work laptop and some health plan information that baffles and overwhelms me, I kept hearing footsteps behind me, scuttling through the fallen leaves on the sidewalk. But when I finally snuck a look back there was no one. Then I started imagining a scenario in which my ten-year-old self was following me around. Eventually I’d catch a glimpse of him when I looked back, and then I’d ask him why he was here, and he wouldn’t really know but would start asking me about my life, i.e., his future, and I’d frighten and sadden him with a droning report of tedium, uncertainty, frustration, diminishment. I’m always ten, looking at myself with ever-growing disbelief. And I’m the person causing the disbelief, a pale cipher searching for messages in street detritus.
The message lately, judging by the two cards I’ve most recently found, seems to be something about highly accomplished Latin players who seem to have a lower general historical profile than they deserve. First it was long-time effective reliever Roberto Hernandez. Now it’s Pedro Guerrero. Judging by the statistic of OPS+, which in adjusting for historical context is the most accurate single measure of a player’s relative worth as a hitter, Pedro Guerrero was a more potent offensive force throughout his career than, among many others, George Brett, Al Simmons, Ken Griffey, Jr., David Ortiz, and Joe Morgan. He didn’t stick around long enough to rack up Hall of Fame-caliber career counting stats such as home runs and hits, and he also had an iron glove at all of the many fielding positions where teams tried to hide him. But he could hit like few have.
I don’t know how this could relate to my own life, but I do know that in the moments after I find a card on the ground I feel lucky. It’s a buzzing feeling in my head and limbs, like I just connected with a pitch. Yesterday I had been rushing to catch the bus up Western to start my long commute to work, but with the card the moment opened up a little. I started looking everywhere for more treasures where before I hadn’t really been looking at anything. I hadn’t been listening. I hadn’t been anything. For a second I could see. Next time I hear footsteps behind me, I’ll try to remember this feeling.