This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon, Oct. 13, 2011 - We have a feeling that the St. Louis Cardinals have not seen the last of the rally squirrel. Oh, sure, some were humanely trapped and carted off to the myth of the rural ideal.
Who really thinks this is humane treatment for a critter that has adapted to a diet of readily available peanuts, sunflower seeds and other assorted goodies? Scavange for nuts? Work that shell off a walnut? Please.
And who really thinks only a few squirrels were living in the tunnels and nooks and crannies of Busch Stadium?
So it shouldn't come as any surprise when our rally rodent reappears. In this, we're talking about real, live run-across-home-plate type of squirrels. Betting that others will appear -- on T-shirts (more on this later) or as repurposed dog toys adorning hats or worn as collars -- is a no-brainer.
And that brings us to Post-Dispatch columnist Bernie Miklasz, who writes "enough with the squirrel nonsense. This is the NLCS. These are important games. The World Series is on the line."
It is important -- baseball. It's a game. It's best played when the players are having some fun. Should they quit the "happy flight" chant? Insufficient gravitas there.
So let's look at the squirrel and baseball:
On base percentage: Through the roof. The strike zone is much, much smaller than Eddie Gaedel's, and he walked in four straight pitches in his one plate appearance for the St. Louis Browns.
Speed on the base paths: If we did the math right (a big if) Brewers second baseman Rickie Weeks has been clocked at 17.9 miles an hour in a 60-yard dash. According to a website devoted to squirrels, the rodents average eight to 10 miles per hour, but a story is told of an Illinois trooper who turned his speed gun on one that registered 20 miles an hour.
Pound-for-pound advantage: Again going to the web, we find that in the fall, grey squirrels may eat their weight in food every week "to prepare for the harsh winter season." Among the Brewers, Prince Fielder has been a declared vegetarian for a couple of years, so the granola-like diet wouldn't be too off-putting. But at 275 pounds, that's a lot of sunflower seeds.
Snack of choice: Speaking of sunflower seeds, the resident Busch Stadium squirrels are hoping that Brewers starting pitcher Yovani Gallardo makes a quick exit and starts spreading the seed around. (By the way, the Cardinals won the game that's featured in the video.)
Lawyer up: Sad to note that the Rally Squirrel has gotten an attorney, who has written to the Wall Street Journal (strange venue): RiChaRD FLuFFYTAIL, III, EsQ. I am A SQuiRReL AttornEY with the FiRm of ACoRN, ChEStNUT and PINECone, LLP. I am LICsenSED To pRaCTicE SQuiRReL LaW IN the STaTe of MissOUri as WEll as CAliForNia, New YORK anD aLL FOREsTS. - click the link to see the demands.
Salary arbitration: We know squirrels will play for peanuts, and we know a little bit can add up for kids, too.
In light of that, we were pleased to see a recent press release from Cardinal Glennon Children's Foundation:
"According to his agent, Rally Squirrel says, 'I'm just nuts about the life-saving work of SSM Cardinal Glennon. I know many of my fans have been touched by the work of this world-class medical center, and I don't want to squirrel hole all this fame. I want my fame to stand for something positive and my goal is to help create Cardinal victories while helping Cardinal Glennon kids'."
The foundation is selling hats (with a squirrel tail in the back), T-shirts and playing cards, with Anheuser-Busch In-Bev covering manufacturing costs. Giving an assist to Cardinal Glennon, in its effort to help kids, now that's important. That's lives on the line.