Victor Robles of the stripped-clean Washington Nationals took the field in the ninth inning Monday night with a huge praying mantis perched on his cap. There's no punchline coming, nor is that in any way a metaphor. A huge praying mantis climbed onto the cap of Victor Robles during the bottom of the eighth inning, while Robles watched from the dugout; after the third out, Robles left the majestic passenger in place and jogged out to his place in center field.
Before you ask whether Robles was aware he had a huge carnivorous insect chilling on his head while playing professional baseball on television, yes the hell he knew about it! Here he is seen reminding the mantis of the number of outs, like a good teammate:
While this is all very cute and/or disgusting, it should be noted that the last such appearance of a gigantic dugout mantis at Nationals Park coincided with a huge ninth-inning offensive explosion for the visiting Marlins. A mantis landed on the shoulders of Clay Hensley and quickly made his way onto the pitcher's cap; the last-place Marlins, already up four runs, ran a conga line around the bases, plated another five runs, and cruised to an 11–2 victory.
The rally mantis worked to similar effect Monday night. The mantis appeared in the dugout prior to the start of the ninth inning, the juice tilted all at once in favor of the visitors, and suddenly the Phillies were piling up hits and turning what had been a one-run Nationals lead into a comfortable 7–5 victory. Philadelphia collected four hits and drove in three runs before the Nats collected a single out in the decisive ninth, all with the nightmare critter perched spookily atop Robles's cap. The Nationals have now given up 10 runs across two ninth innings when a praying mantis is on a player's cap in their stadium. You do the math!
It's clear to me that Monday's mantis is the selfsame son of a bitch who cursed the Nationals back in 2011, returned once more to stick a fork in the miserable, underperforming home team. I don't know what this vile insect's problem is with the Washington Nationals, but in the interests of competitive fairness he must be hunted to the ends of the Earth and destroyed.