"It was fun," he says. "At first, you know, I thought it was going to be hard, man. But I already took the test, and I passed it, so I go down to the convention center in Miami, and they ask you to stand up and raise your hand, and that's it.
"Hey, they can't kick me out of the country now."
It would be a mistake to see the way he's approached things this season as an apology, a kind of penitential dumb-show that would be as banal as it would be artificial. What a cramped and bridled story that would be, locked and bound within the vocabulary of the salesman and the market research people, an appeal to the conventional instincts of the modern shopkeeper. Rather, take this season as a tentative initiation for all of us into the mysteries of a hidden knowledge, a peek into a different, wonderful place, warmed by the new rays of a very private sun.
"It's an awesome feeling, man," Ramirez says, talking of that single moment during which the pitcher has not fooled him, has made the mistake that the swing will take up over the wall, up over the seats above the wall and up over the signs above the seats above the wall, lost in the deepening blue of an evening sky. "You see everything in slow motion. It slows down. When you're doing that, it doesn't matter who's pitching. Nothing else matters."
Out to leftfield he runs, a tiny American flag in his fist. A citizen of a new country but, always, a native of his own world. The cheers rise and the evening assembles itself for baseball, and damned if the twilight's not gleaming. ?