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Ryan Inzana

3 Animals on the Baseball Field

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Ryan Inzana

Back in the 1880s, one clever Phillies fan enlisted carrier pigeons to keep his colleagues at work updated with the latest scores. But other critters haven’t always been that welcome at the ballpark.

1. FOWL BALL

It takes less than half a second for a ball to leave a pitcher’s hand and reach home plate. Which means it took a supremely unlucky dove to fly headfirst into one of Randy Johnson’s overpowering fastballs in 2001. The incident was ruled a nonpitch, as though it never happened—a call the bird community no doubt protests.

2. BAD NEWS CUBS

Ryan Inzana

The Cubs haven’t won a championship in over a century. Most fans would blame that drought on the owners or players, but the Cubs have a different scapegoat—a real goat. In 1945, William Sianis brought his pet, Murphy, to Wrigley Field. Late in the game, officials removed the pair, citing the odor. Sianis vowed the Cubs would never win a World Series as long as goats were banned from the stadium, and, after 105 years with a championship title, the curse seems to be working.

3. SAFETY GNATS

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The midges in Cleveland root for the home team. Or so it seemed during a pivotal playoff game in 2007. With the Yankees nursing a one-run lead over the hometown Indians, a swarm of bugs descended on the field, seemingly focusing their attention on Joba Chamberlain, New York’s rookie pitcher. The gnats were so distracting that Chamberlain threw a wild pitch that tied the game, setting up the Yanks for an extra-inning loss.

This story originally appeared in an issue of mental_floss magazine. Subscribe here.

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Fox Sports, YouTube
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Pop Culture
The Simpsons's Classic Baseball Episode Gets the Mockumentary Treatment
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Fox Sports, YouTube

Opinions vary widely about the continued existence of The Simpsons, which just began its 29th season. Some believe the show ran out of steam decades ago, while others see no reason why the satirical animated comedy can’t run forever.

Both sides will no doubt have something to say about the episode airing Sunday, October 22, which reframes the premise of the show’s classic “Homer at the Bat” installment from 1992 as a Ken Burns-style mockumentary titled Springfield of Dreams: The Legend of Homer Simpson.

As Mashable reports, “Homer at the Bat” saw Montgomery Burns launch his own baseball team and populate it with real major league players like Wade Boggs, Steve Sax, and Jose Canseco to dominate the competition. In the one-hour special, the players will discuss their (fictional) participation, along with interviews featuring Homer and other members of the animated cast.

It’s not clear how much of the special will break the fourth wall and go into the actual making of the episode, a backstory that involves guest star Ken Griffey Jr. getting increasingly frustrated recording his lines and Canseco’s wife objecting to a scene in which her husband's animated counterpart wakes up in bed with lecherous schoolteacher Edna Krabappel.

Morgan Spurlock (Super-Size Me) directed the special, which is slated to air on Fox at either 3 p.m. EST or 4:30 p.m. EST depending on NFL schedules in local markets. There will also be a new episode of The Simpsons—an annual Halloween-themed "Treehouse of Horror" installment—airing in its regular 8 p.m. time slot.

[h/t Mashable]

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Great Big Story, Youtube
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Seattle Mariners Fans Are Going Crazy for These Crunchy Grasshopper Snacks
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Great Big Story, Youtube

Seattle Mariners fans have more than warmed up to the newest, offbeat addition to the Safeco Field concessions menu: toasted grasshoppers covered in chili-lime salt.

The crunchy snack, which sells for $4 and comes packed in a small container, has only been available for less than a season but has already sold 300,000-plus orders to date. That's about 1000 pounds of grasshoppers. 

Frequenters of Seattle's popular Mexican restaurant Poquitos will know that this delicacy—which first started as a novelty item on its menu—has actually been available to the public for six years. But it wasn't until local chef Ethan Stowell was hired to give the Safeco Field menu a hip retooling that the salty bugs found new, fervent popularity at the ballpark. (Also on the Safeco menu: fried oysters drizzled in hot sauce.)

Great Big Story met up with Manny Arce, the executive chef of Poquitos and visionary behind this culinary home run, to discuss the popularity of these crunchy critters. You can watch the video interview below:

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