This subject came to mind out of a conversation I recently had per “Rabbit or coyote, which would you want to see in your backyard?” Especially now that we see wild animals reclaiming urban areas under worldwide shutdown. Rabbits will eat your plants, coyotes would prefer to eat those plant-ruining rabbits. But a rabbit won’t eat your dog.
(My late mom was a 9-1-1 dispatcher, and among the stressful, sometimes heartbreaking calls, she’d get bitterly funny ones. A recurring theme was “my neighbor killed my dog, I know it.” Is the dog dead on your porch, was it poisoned? “No, it’s missing, I know he did it.” Does the dog sleep outside at night? “Yes, that must have been when the neighbor took it.” Is it a large dog? “No, it’s a chihuahua.” Dude, that’s coyote.)
Anyhoo, so the concept is, what team name critters would you want in your backyard? Or to see when you’re taking garbage out to the apartment dumpster, disappearing into the woods, whatever. Example: the AAA Rocket City Trash Pandas. That means raccoons, and raccoons are truly vicious little jerks. The Univesrity of Minnesota Golden Gophers. Gophers suck (and badgers are worse). You get the idea. Here we go!
Blue Jays/Cardinals/Orioles: in the tree, fine. In the awning over our door, disease-carrying pests. Once a bird sets up its summer home above your door, you’ll forget it’s there until you’re coming home from a hard day at work. It’s all quiet, and you are just a few seconds from the peace of your refuge, you have your keys out, are wearily walking those last steps, then FLAP FLAP FLUTTER CRAP EVERYWHERE MAD CHIRPING MORE CRAPPING. Then there will be baby birds, at which point you can’t get rid of the nest with a long stick, because you’re not cruel to birds. One of those babies will die, because Nature is crueler, and you will have to shoe-nudge that dead baby bird corpse down the sidewalk into a sewer drain, which you’ll look around to see if anybody is watching because you don’t want them to think you enjoy playing horizontal hackysack with dead baby birds, it’s just that you don’t want to touch the garbagey thing. Bird’s nests are incredibly gross. They will absolutely put anything in there. I could say I’ve never seen a used condom in a bird’s nest I’ve dislodged, but this would be a Lie.
Sox: depends on color/number. A single sock, probably some bird dropped it. Two white socks means either you were way too drunk, or you came home before your spouse’s Special Friend had gotten fully dressed. Two red socks, that’d seem like a creepy mob message of some kind.
Angels: depends. Generally, when people say they’ve seen angels, the angels have saved them from a terrible mishap, which I’d like, or carried a soul to heaven. I don’t want to be dealing with no backyard murder victims. Although I suppose the spiritual angels could help the soul, biker-gang Angel’s dispose of the body, they probably killed the guy anyway.
Yankees: the correct side did win the civil war. A Yankee Highlander would be playing bagpipes, though. A fine and honorable musical skill, but LOUD. There’s no such thing as soft bagpipe music. They’d probably also play “New York, New York” loudly on bagpipes every morning at 6AM just because they know I’m a Twins fan and Yankees know how to mentally mess with Twins fans, it’s their superpower.
Marlins/Rays: would mean that Brad Radke commandeered my lawn, got a backhoe to dig down about 20 feet deep, installed a concrete pool, filled it with salt water, put some incredibly sad fish in it, and is now running his charter fishing boat around a backyard the size of a playground basketball half-court. Without my noticing. Or maybe I noticed and didn’t complain because, Brad Radke is cool. I’d feel bad for the fish, though. That’s really not a big enough space for marlins to be happy in. I seriously hope it would be big enough for rays, or else Tropicana Field is guilty of some pretty heinous animal abuse.
Cubs/Tigers: you’d definitely prefer tiger to cub. Tigers, so far as I know, don’t break into houses. Bears do. And if there’s a bear cub in your yard, there’s almost certainly a mama bear close behind. Plus bears dig through trash. Even assuming Animal Control comes to tranq the bear, they aren’t going to clean up your garbage.
Dodgers: what you’d get if you lived by a train line. I’ve lived by a few light-rail stations in my day, and while the convenience/eco-friendliness of light rail is wonderful (I’ve written game recaps on a train), the sounds have an annoying way of entering your dreams when you live near one. It’ll be the girl you had a crush on at 13, and you’re about to kiss her, then she says “the doors are closing” before walking away with a warning horn. This is disturbingly reminiscent of my entire adolescence.
Astros: rocket launching pad would incinerate you. But mission-control people saving Apollo 13, pretty cool. They’d probably be handy if a fire broke out or snowmelt was flooding your basement; they’d have a plan. I didn’t.
Twins: your backyard is now a Stephen King novel, “redrum” everywhere
Pirates: your backyard now has rum bottles everywhere, and that’s a pretty terrible beverage
Indians/Braves: live ones, great. Wise spirits of the dead ones, scary at first, probably worth listening to. Angry spirits of the dead ones, oh shit, am I sorry about the Dakota War of 1865. Besides, my ancestors were killing people someplace else.
Royals: not the really rich, super-publicized ones. Somebody like the ceremonial queen of Norway, sure. Best would be a guy 40th in the line of succession at a Pacific island nation with all kinds of interesting tattoos.
Phillies: what does that mean? A backyard full of possibly sentient cheesesteak sandwiches? My personal fitness level is at an all-time low. If I ate nothing but cheesesteak sandwiches for more than a day, my heart would probably go “screw you” on general principles and quit out of protest. But both people in this house grew up poor, so we never waste food. Ever. Once a terrible item has been purchased or resulted from a misguided kitchen experiment, it will get eaten, every time. No matter how disgusting it is. (I accidentally grabbed Worcestershire sauce for my fried rice the other night instead of soy sauce. It was atrocious, and I did eat it.) If the backyard was full of cheesesteak sandwiches, you betcha ass I would eat them. Even if they were sentient and their silent thoughts were “please, no, every bite is inconceivable agony,” well, I didn’t put all you sandwiches there, blame the god of Loaves And Meats who suddenly summoned you into being on my lawn.
Mariners: my favorite bar in the world is a sailor bar, so definitely yes. Although there it’s less “Norm!” than “Gertruddlesdottir!” (It’s not in Boston.)
Rockies: cool to look at, more snow than I care to shovel
Reds: I’m basically often accused of being one, so sure.
Brewers: a friend of mine once said “give a man a beer and you help him waste a day. Teach a man to homebrew and you help him waste a lifetime.” This is certifiably true. There are also beer nerds, who are fun, and beer snobs, who are not.
A’s. Athletics are often nice people, although they do remind me how terrible I am at sports. When I’ve played sports with much better athletes, it’s either them taking it easy while saying “there you go!”, which is fun but embarrassing, or whupping my butt and screaming “yeah!” like they just dunked on Shaq.
Giants: would mean my beanstalks did better than last year, when rabbits ate them
Diamondbacks: no, nothing poisonous. Possibly true story, told to me by a then-90-year-old lady who went to the Angels some years ago: according to her, Jesse Ventura was a kid on her block. He and another kid had found a little garter snake, and the two kids were fighting over who got to take the snake home, put it in a terrarium. Ventura’s mom, sick of the fighting, came out and chopped the snake in half, saying the kids could split its deadness. (Like Solomon, for those who know their Bible, except a threat carried through.) This story almost sounds too psychotic to be true, except that this lady wasn’t prone to telling weird stories. Most of her memory stories were completely normal. And it didn’t come up in any political context, either, it was long after Ventura had been governor. The anecdote was sandwiched between other stories about how other things were in the 1950s, TVs and phones and such. So, is it true? I’ll leave that for you to assess — the first thing I learned when studying history is that people’s stories aren’t necessarily reliable. But I couldn’t immediately write it off as “definitely false.”
Padres: the quiet beer-making kind, absolutely. The forcibly-converting indigenous people kind, not. Incidentally, Father Louis Hennepin may have been the first European to see Niagara Falls. Seems to have been more interested in anthropology than converting anyone. I’m fairly neutral on the Minneapolis/Saint Paul feud, although I think Hennepin County was named after a better guy than Alexander Ramsey.
Rangers: mostly, historically, pretty bad. But this Drunk History segment was neat. The inspiration for the “Lone Ranger” character may have been a real person (it’s hard to say). Grown-up Urkel is in it, he’s very funny.
Just for fun, a few more sports teams, only Minnesota ones:
Lynx: maybe the ideal. Would eat rabbits and raccoons (also plant-murdering fiends), be less terrifying than coyotes.
Wolves, Lower: here’s a house to put, wolves at the door. I absolutely expect nobody to get that 1981 reference
Wild: to live in the wild, I’d have to master all kinds of survival skills I’m not interested in mastering. On the plus side, it’d probably mean Glen Perkins would be around somewhere, bringing the occasional gift of a homebrew he made from barley/hops he grew himself, in a wooden hand-carved mug. On the downside, the mug would have antlers for handles, making it pointy.
Vikings: I had a Danish friend try to BS me by saying “skol” was the Danish word for “skull.” Because Vikings drank mead from the skulls of their enemies. Of course, it’s not, it means bowl, as in a drinking vessel used before glassware. I did buy it for about five seconds....
And, oh, yeah, Nationals/Mets: Since everybody is a national of some country, and I’m someone who lives in a metropolitan area, this could apply to me. Do I want myself in my backyard? Maybe, kinda sorta. I like having a place to live, for now (knock on wood). Mrs. James could have done better, though, so I sometimes feel like a squatter. Except when I successfully grow plants, which isn’t the norm (I have about a .333 OPS, or “outdoor plant survival” career average.)
If we go from Nationals to Senators, yeah, there’d be a few I wouldn’t mind having around. Wellstone could motivate me to get off my butt more often. Although maybe I wouldn’t like that either. “Stop pressuring me to improve the world, Paul! I’ve got a dang dead baby bird to kick into the sewer!”