We’ll tell our grandkids about this one, dear readers! Sitting in overcrowded camps in besieged cities during year two Robot Wars, we’ll keep each other warm with trash fires and tales of the Before Times. Remember the blue or gold dress, someone will say. And you’ll bask in the warm memories of a time when Twitter was a tool for dumb jokes instead of the steady erosion of the social contract. Remember the slap, another will offer. And you’ll remember a time when the most shocking violence was that which was subjected upon one millionaire by another on live TV.
And then it’ll be your turn to spin a yarn. And you’ll warm your hands, and you’ll look up at the stars, and you’ll say: remember when Miguel Bleis debuted against the Blue Jays in Dunedin? And everyone will lean back against their sandbags, and close their eyes, and take themselves back to a day when the world was nothing but baseball and possibility.
The first couple weeks of spring training are a glorious carnival of sunshine and hope. Baseball’s back! Players hitting! Players pitching! Players goofing around on picture day!
But then, the games start. And while the spark of seeing live baseball stays alight for the first half of the Grapefruit League, eventually the grind of 10-pitcher games and lineups stacked with non-roster invitees wears you down. This is especially true in World Baseball Classic years, when the passionate, colorful, intense baseball being played in Miami and Taichung only reinforces how dull Spring Training can be.
But yesterday, dear readers, was different. Yesterday, on a field in Dunedin, in a lineup otherwise filled with Ceddanne Rafaela, Enmannuel Valdez, and filler, a legend was born:
Miguel Bleis, a 19-year-old squint-and-you-see-Ronald-Acuna prospect from the southern coast of the baseball island, made his debut in a Red Sox uniform. If you saw it, you’ll never forget it. If you didn’t, you’ll lie and say that you did.
Here, for posterity, is the tale of Miguel Bleis’s first game. May the memories of this day long keep you warm, through whatever darkness awaits us in the days to come.
Damn it, we’re stuck with the Blue Jays feed. Thus, we’re subject to some yapping about Alejandro Kirk having a baby (boooooorrriiiiiing), instead of shots of Bleis warming up, getting a last-minute pep talk from Alex Cora, and receiving overly paternalist pats on the back. But look, there’s Hazel Mae! Hi, Hazel, miss you!
Top of the First
Miguel Bleis doesn’t do anything.
Bottom of the First
Miguel Bleis does something! With two outs and the bases loaded, Addison Barger (which, sources tell me, is NOT an AI-generated name if you can believe it) grounds the ball softly through the right side. Bleis fields it smoothly, fires home, and throws out Brandon Belt by whatever the Canadian metric system equivalent of a country mile is. Now, you might hear some people say that Bleis threw the ball from extremely shallow right and that Belt almost surely ran through a stop sign. But don’t believe them! That ball was thrown from damn near the bleachers, I tell ya! I heard that it even briefly popped up on the radar at Tampa International. What an arm!
Top of the Second
Miguel Bleis does something again! After falling behind 0-2 to start the at-bat, Cy Young-candidate Alex Manoah throws him a two-seamer that runs in on the hands. Bleis uses an inside-out swing to slash it to right and plate two runs. Now, some people might say it was a soft liner that would’ve landed gently in the glove of second baseman Whit Merrifield had he not been playing up the middle. But don’t believe them! That ball moved faster than the speed of light! In fact, word on the street is that the ball was hit so hart that Merrifield actually ran in the opposite direction out of fear that it was about to take his head off! What a hitter!
Bottom of the Second
More things done by Miguel Bleis! Whit Merrifield, still visibly shaken from last inning’s near-death experience, tries to find the gap with a looping liner to right-center. As the ball is mere millimeters from clipping the grass, it’s swallowed up by what initially appears to be a hovercraft zipping through the outfield, but which turns out to be . . . Miguel Bleis! Reportedly, Dunedin-area optometrists are immediately flooded with calls from fans who report that the Red Sox right fielder momentarily appeared to them as nothing but a blur of reds, blues, and canary yellows. What a glove!
Miguel Bleis. Five tool player.— Beyond the Monster (@BeyondtheMnstr) March 13, 2023
Top of the Third
Miguel Bleis doesn’t do anything. Lame.
Bottom of the Third
Miguel Bleis does som—awwwww, damn it. With the bases loaded, Addison Barger once again singles to the right side, setting up yet another play at the plate. But this time, the ball gets past Bleis and rolls all the way to the waning track, allowing all three runners to score. Now, some people will tell you that Bleis, clearly over eager to gun down a runner, lifted his head too soon and took his eye off the ball. But don’t believe them! What actually happened, is that a gopher popped his head out of his burrow at the exact moment that the ball was about to land in Bleis’s glove. Bleis, a friend to all living creatures, diverted his path in a successful attempt to spare the poor rodent’s life. It was a remarkable act of compassion, really. In fact, rumor has it Miguel Bleis is now a shoo-in for the ASPCA’s coveted Right Fielder Of The Year Award. What a humanitarian!
Top of the Fourth
Miguel Bleis does som-awwwww, damn it. With one on and one out, Alek Manoah strikes out Miguel Bleis on four pitches. Now, some people will tell you that Manoah practically toyed with Bleis, throwing him back-to-back, fall-off-the-table big league sliders with which an overmatched 19-year-old could do nothing but waive at. But don’t bel — actually, yeah, that is exactly what happened.
Bottom of the Fourth
Miguel Bleis doesn't do anything.
Top of the Fifth
Miguel Bleis doesn't do anything, for the second inning in a row. Why is Rob Manfred wasting his time with pitch clocks when polls show that what turns the majority of Americans off of baseball are innings in which Miguel Bleis doesn’t do anything?
Bottom of the Fifth
Miguel Bleis does something! Showing a superhuman level of composure and maturity in bouncing back from his strikeout, Bleis cleanly fields a single from the second batter of the inning — at least, that’s what the box score says he did. What he actually did, was save countless lives of the fans sitting in the right field bleachers by snaring what was probably the hardest hit ball known to man. Eye witnesses say that priests had begun administering last rites to those sitting in the first row beyond the wall when Bleis snatched the ball off the bounce. According to Dunedin-area hospital records, there are at least three different children who have already been conceived, born, and named Miguel by grateful parents who met and fell in love in Dunedin on this day.
Top of the Sixth
Miguel Bleis is removed from the game. Babies scream, lovers weep, and, for a moment, all color escapes from the world.
So there you have it. Miguel Bleis is here, and the world is materially different today than it was yesterday. It will keep spinning, as the world does, and we’ll keep spinning with it, as we do. And the fortunes of mankind will ebb and flow with the tides of the steadily warming seas. But come what may, we’ll always have this day. We’ll always have Miguel Bleis in Dunedin.