During the 2011 National League Division Series between the Philadelphia Phillies and St. Louis Cardinals, play was interrupted on two occasions during games three and four, when a squirrel ran onto the field in the middle of the action. It made for a funny enough moment, and it had zero impact on either games (of course, Roy Oswalt will claim that he was distracted by the squirrel's presence during his start in game four), so file it under one of those “Hey, would you look at that!” moments.
The Cardinals, after defeating the Phillies in the series, decided to adopt the squirrel as sort of an unofficial mascot during the postseason, and would often flash the “Rally Squirrel” on their jumbotron during the LCS and World Series. Makes sense, I suppose.
But, they didn't stop there, as they have gone as far as to feature the squirrel on their World Series rings. From USA Today:
The little varmint, who interrupted a Skip Schumaker at-bat during the playoffs and became a mini marketing sensation, makes a flying leap across one of the ring's side panels. It's in full extension -- as squirrels on the run tend to be -- and subtly tucked in among several other features.
One part of me thinks it's cute, and that the Cardinals are free to do what they want, but the other part of me – the part that is still bitter of that NLDS – thinks it's tacky, asinine, and altogether stupid.
But that didn't stop the Cardinals, long considered to be one of the better organizations in the game, from putting that squirrel on their ring. Again, it seems harmless enough on the surface, but I assure you, this is much more terrifying than anyone can possibly imagine.
First, it's because the rally squirrel didn't have anything to do with the Cardinals winning. It first appeared during game three of the LDS between the Philles and Cardinals – a game that the Phillies would actually win. It appeared the next night, during the fifth inning in game four, when the Cardinals were already winning. So, really, the squirrel is oh-for-two in impacting playoff games, yet he somehow ends up on the Cardinals World Series ring. If anything, the ring should feature the diamond visage of a hobbled Ryan Howard, who would represent the Phillies' lack of any sort of offense during that series. That would make sense, because it actually had an impact on the series.
But that's not even the worst thing about this whole scenario. The worst thing, really, is the fact that it royally screws over Cardinals third baseman David Freese. In 40 years, when he's showing that ring off to his grand kids, do you think they are going to care about the fact that he single-handedly won Game Six of the World Series (one of the top five playoff games in history, if you ask me)? No! They are going to be too interested in that squirrel to even care what baseball even is.
And you know, that's just the beginning. First, it's a cute little design on a ring, but then, it becomes a kid's movie, called “The Squirrel That Became a Cardinal,” then it's going to spawn like four sequels, each more ridiculous than the last, where the squirrel teams up with other animal-themed sports teams, until no one even remembers that the Cardinals are a baseball team that actually won the World Series in 2011.
So you see, it's not just about maintaining some shred of integrity or decorum pertaining to America's Pastime; No; it's about shielding society from a poisonous and utterly ridiculous movie franchise that is going to make way too much money while simultaneously keeping Dustin Diamond's career alive (he'd play the washed up pitcher who somehow finds his fastball thanks to the squirrel).
And really, it's a symbol of your organization and the triumph in the previous season. Did the Phillies take that rout after 2008? No, of course not. Chase Utley isn't walking around town with a ring that features a speared stringray, is he?
Of course, it would be interesting to see what kind of animal the Phillies would put on their ring, should they win the World Series in 2012. Maybe an eagle, because of the historical impact that the city of Philadelphia had on freedom. Or perhaps a steed, representing the pitching staff, as Aces are often referred to as “horses” in baseball parlance.
What say you, readers of Philthy Stuff? What kind of animal would be most appropriate on the World Series rings of the Philadelphia Phillies?