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It is becoming de riguer for a baseball team to invoke the image of an animal as a rally figure. The LA Angels were the first, unveiling their Rally Monkey way back in 2000. The Tampa Bay Rays have DJ Kitty - a rally cat. The St. Louis Cardinals went so far as to include their own Rally Squirrel in the design of their World Series rings.
And now, the Miami Marlins may have found their rally bird. During Sunday's come from behind victory over Houston, a bird fell to its death in the top of the eighth inning. It landed in the outfield with the Marlins in the middle of a bases-loaded jam and already down 2 runs.
Rightfielder Giancarlo Stanton and centerfielder Emilio were the first to see the deceased bird. Stanton summoned groundskeepers to remove the bird between pitches.
"I swear, it was like somebody shot it out of the air," Stanton told the Miami Herald. "We looked up and there was a poof of feathers. It went head first, cracked its neck."
"It scared me," Bonifacio told the Herald.
Immediately thereafter, reliever Mike Dunn escaped the jam, then Hanley Ramirez hit a game-tying two-run home run in the bottom of the inning. Ramirez would eventually finish off the Astros with a walk-off, bases-loaded single in the bottom of the 11th inning.
"Rally bird!" Marlins closer Heath Bell allegedly exclaimed after the game.
No one knows much about the actual bird, however. Stanton was asked about it after the game, and he replied, "Not sure what kind of bird it was, a dove maybe. It didn’t look like a dirty old pigeon. I just know I wasn’t touching it."
Marlins owner Jeffrey Loria jokingly said the team plans on giving the bird a proper funeral on Tuesday. If the Marlins continue their winning ways this week, the team might want to consider giving the rally bird a little more profile.
At the very least, they might be able to sell a bunch of plush toys.