Exciting times await us in the next 48 hours. With just two or three games remaining on everyone's schedules, four teams remain alive in the hunt for an AL Wild Card berth: the Toronto Blue Jays, Baltimore Orioles, Seattle Mariners, and Detroit Tigers. The Houston Astros have been eliminated. Is pointing out Houston's shortcomings redundant? Yes, but I never tire of saying it.
There is a seemingly endless list of scenarios and possibilities that could play out in the next couple days. In this time of confusion, terror, excitement, and baseball-filled bliss, I've turned to the only beacon of truth I've ever known to sort out the mess:
Facing aces with your playoff hopes dangling is challenging. Pitching to David Ortiz with the bases loaded is terrifying. However, make no mistake: nothing challenges you on a physical and mental level the way a journey down the trail does. With Manifest Destiny knocking on the door, who will be the one to answer? Let's load 'em all up and find out.
Obviously, the players are busy. Sure, the Mariners could probably spare a Chris Iannetta and the Tigers could toss out a Buck Farmer and the Orioles could send Wade Miley, but you never know when a player who actually contributes might need a cup of water or a bag of sunflower seeds or something. That is when those guys shine and they are absolutely necessary.
No, we will not be sending players. Instead, we will be sending mascots, with Rob Manfred tagging along to ensure chaos ensues.
To summarize, we have:
- Mariner Moose (Seattle Mariners), lovable moose who once snapped his ankle whilst riding a quad. A moose is a big, sturdy animal. I like his chances here.
- Paws (Detroit Tigers). After finishing second in the "Become a Frosted Flakes cereal mascot" contest, Paws turned to a life in Detroit to make a living. He has performed admirably and considering he could easily murder one of the two birds in the event of starvation, I also like his chances here.
- Ace (Toronto Blue Jays). The old adage is that teams take on the personality of their mascot, so I can only assume Ace is a massive jerk. Legend has it that if a child so much as looks at him wrong in the stands, he will take the kid down to the field to "meet a former Toronto Blue Jay" and introduce him to an old, dusty cardboard cutout of Josh Johnson.
- The Oriole Bird (Baltimore Orioles). Another gigantic bird. Do we really need two of these things?
Oriole Bird, learning a lesson in humility, admits defeat and succumbs to his gastro issues shortly after his second bout with dysentery:
Ace cheers, knowing all remaining supplies belong entirely to him. All he has to do is survive the rest of the ride and he is golden. For three days, he chugs water, consumes feasts, wears multiple pairs of clothes at once because he can, and takes in the beauty of the wilderness. On July 22nd, he goes to take another large gulp of water to find the cup is empty. He goes to eat the food to find there is nothing left. The clothes he had been wearing are tattered rags. The beautiful scenery is actually a miserable desert of nothingness in the middle of a scalding valley. It was all a mirage. He has nothing.
The very next day, as Rob Manfred curls up in the fetal position and awaits a rescue helicopter, he receives a phone call. It is the Arizona Diamondbacks, inquiring about the beauty of the area he currently inhabits. "Could a baseball field fit there?" they ask. Manfred, tired as he may be, begins to talk business. The Baseball Gods, still laughing about the fun they had with The Oriole Bird, decide to have some fun:
With no one left to care for Manfred and the supplies all used up, he wanders into the sun-soaked desert, finds a comfy spot and scrawls 'chaos wins' into the sand. Pulling a flare gun out of his pocket, he uses his one last bit of energy to fire the blood-red burst into the night sky. The sound of an approaching helicopter rings off the valley walls. Manfred closes his eyes and sleeps.
All the past we leave behind
We debouch upon a newer, mightier world, varied world,
Fresh and strong the world we seize, world of labor and the march, Pioneers! O pioneers!