Today’s excuse for blogging (as opposed to working) is a first: in a few hours, the Seattle Mariners will play in game #162 of the MLB regular season with a chance to wind up, when all is said and done, with a shot at making the playoffs. The Mariners have not made the playoffs since 2001, and have not made the World Series since ever, so — though their chances may be slim — I’m having some difficulty paying attention to, say, Property.
But this post isn’t about the Mariners, because the position in which the team finds itself has so little to do with the Mariners. You see, the Mariners have Marinered — but fortunately for them, the Oakland Athletics have Marinered even worse. Without their help, the Mariners would not be one game out with a game to play in 2014.
The magnitude of Oakland’s collapse is well-rehearsed, and I have no intention of repeating it here. Suffice to say that the team held a 10 (or so) game lead in the AL West at the trade deadline, made a series of moves that was widely applauded at the time, and now sits 11 games out of first place — just 1 ahead of Seattle. According to CoolStandings, an Athletics failure to make the playoffs would mark the second-worst collapse of all time, behind only the 1995 California Angels (the team that Refused to Win).
While many point to the trade deadline as the turning point in Oakland’s season, I think it makes a lot more sense to talk about a different date that came less than a week later: August 5, 2014. Sort of curious, since the team actually won that game with an extra-inning walk-off single and then won three of their next four, but I am absolutely certain that 8/5 was the date that portended the team’s doom. Why’s that? Because this:
Immediately, the creature was dubbed “Rally Possum”. Like the Rally Monkey and Rally Squirrel before it, Rally Possum spawned a cottage industry of stuffed animals, internet memes, fan art, t-shirts, and — inevitably — a Twitter account. Here’s a cursory sample:
In fact, the Rally Possum doesn’t just have its own Twitter account — the official @Athletics account couldn’t wait to get in on the action:
Until a few days ago — and I have no photographic evidence, but I swear to god I’m not making this up because it’s how I found out about the Rally Possum in the first place — that last image was the official avatar of @Athletics.
At first, I thought the possum was meant to be ironic. But then I did a little research and realized, no, the Rally Possum was really supposed to bring the team good luck. Predictably, things have gone south. Whatever happens in a few hours, maybe next time pick an animal whose name is synonymous with playing just about anything other than, well, possum: