Baseball history is filled to the brim with animals who enjoyed a brief celebrity when their appearance at a ballpark sparked a home team to victory. There’s been a rally rat, a rally squirrel, a rally cat, and a rally goose, just to name a few. The pattern is clear: Rally animals have supernatural powers. But one hopeful bird ran into an even more powerful entity: the Philadelphia Phillies bullpen.
The bird—which the amateur bird-knowers at Defector believe to be a gray catbird—appeared after a very bad start for the Phils. The first inning saw the Marlins hit a pair of homers off Zach Eflin to get out to a 4-0 advantage, and when the home side had the bases loaded in the bottom half, J.T. Realmuto snuffed out the excitement by grounding into a double play.
So in the second, it was already looking like this could be a bit of a dull loss for the Phillies. (Quick sidenote: It’s nowhere near as embarrassing to get wrecked by the Marlins as it used to be. They’re slowly getting kind of fun!) But optimism arrived, as it often does, during an ad read for the app that MLB makes you download if you want to use a ticket you’ve already bought. The Phillies’ broadcast director chose a shot of the diamond from center field, on a smaller camera tucked within the ivy, as the background for this interruption, and the timing could not have been better. A pretty bird, whom I have chosen to name “Robin” after Phillies pitching great Robin Roberts, flew right up to the lens and stayed there for several seconds, delighting viewers with its curiosity.
Noted play-by-play man Tom McCarthy, cryptically: “There’s the bird that attacked Larry the other day.” (Presumably he means Phillies radio analyst Larry Andersen.)
This was neat! And with the Phillies down 4-0, what else were fans going to do but admire the bird? Except, within just a few innings after its appearance, the Phillies were no longer losing. A Realmuto fielder’s choice drove in Kyle Schwarber in the third. Rhys Hoskins smashed a three-run dinger in the fourth to tie the game. And in the fifth, a parade of hits got another four runs across. Suddenly, it was 8-4. The rally bird was ascendant.
Then the Phillies bullpen—a weak spot all year—collectively let the win slip out of their grasp not once, but twice. In the seventh inning, Jeurys Familia let two guys on and then watched a Jacob Stallings blast sail into the left field seats. Immediately after he was replaced by Seranthony Dominguez—usually the most reliable arm they’ve got—Jazz Chisholm Jr. sent a fastball flying out to tie the game at eight.
Channeling the power and the bravery of Robin the bird, Hoskins made use of his lumber again with a solo shot to make it 9-8 in the bottom of the eighth. But the save flew far away in the top of the ninth when Corey Knebel let the first three batters reach base and then allowed an RBI single to Garrett Cooper that knotted the game once more. Andrew Bellatti tried to at least salvage the tie but doomed Robin to obscurity with this unfortunate sequence, in which Realmuto dropped a pop-up in foul territory and Jesus Aguilar capitalized with a double two pitches later.
Tough luck for our friend Robin. But perhaps this doesn’t have to be the end of their career as an impromptu baseball mascot. They’re playing pretty well over in Queens, I hear, and that’s just a short flight away.