Ooh, armadillo crushed on the shoulder. Recent invaders to our state, they are kind of funny animals. Maybe there's something there. Ah, but armadillos have kind of a Texas flavor to them in the public eye. I suppose we could do a turncoat angle, but I just don't trust 'em. Any animal wearing that much armor is clearly looking for trouble. Piss off, armadillos.

Thought about possums, but in extremis they fall over and pretend to be dead. Maybe a Jake Westbrook mascot, but not for the whole team. Saw a deer heading across a field and stopped to tell it about my mission, but it just talked my ear off about how much he hated the designated hitter and saying, "Dude, seriously, is my rack not looking awesome this morning? You have any idea how many does I'ma pull with this shit?" It was a little creepy. Also, he was totally down with Ryan Braun's clothing line. No go.

After my aborted encounter with the buck, I headed off into the woods for inspiration. Met an owl, and he seemed wise. Said the key to a Cardinal victory might just be avoiding having to pitch to Nelson Cruz with the game on the line. I was encouraged, but after that he just wanted to talk about Tootsie Pops. Not helpful. Saw an actual Cardinal and thought maybe we just go with Fredbird, but he's kind of a lame mascot already. Plus, I'm pretty sure the dudes in those suits are sporting erections, like, way more often than they let on, and I'm a little uncomfortable with that.

This crop of October Cardinals just beat 
the Beast, but now they need a new animal.
UPI/Brian Kersey
This crop of October Cardinals just beat the Beast, but now they need a new animal.

I came across a beaver and took a long hard look at him. Kinda cute, really. Funny tail adds to the charm. Industrious. Midwesterners love high-effort types. David Eckstein equals beaver of the baseball world. Sans the dam-building prowess, of course.

So maybe this beaver was the answer to my long search. I walked over, thinking I might offer him the job, and he stopped his little beaver-sized crane and stared over at me.

"Um, hello, M-Mr. Beaver," I began. "I'm here on behalf of the Riverfront Times and a mysterious group of elder journalists to offer you a job."

"Yeah? Well, buddy, I got a job," he replied, gesturing to his construction equipment. "It may not be some fancy-pants writin' job, but it puts food on the table. Which I gnawed myself, thank you very much."

Surprised at facing such a prickly animal outside the porcupine world, I was somewhat taken aback. "Well," I tried again, determined not to be put off by the beaver's brusque attitude, "this may be a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. Especially since you guys only live, like, five years anyway, right?" That earned me a dark look, but I forged on. "How would you like to be the Cardinals' mojo mascot for the World Series?"

He spat, stretched his back and spat again. I thought perhaps no answer was forthcoming, but then he spoke.

"Cardinals? Huh. You do realize the Texas Rangers' offense put up significantly stronger numbers than the Cards, right? The Rangers' team OPS was a full 34 points higher than the Cardinals' number. In fact, the Rangers posted a team OPS of .800, one of only two teams on the season to have an .800 or better, along with the Yankees. Their team wOBA was second in all of baseball as well, behind only the Red Sox, and sixteen points higher than the Cardinals."

Ah, crap, I thought. I knew beavers were notorious statheads, but had forgotten. I had to find a way out of this situation. "Well, that's true," I started, "but the difference is largely due to the DH and park factors, so..."

"Combine the Rangers' offensive firepower," he said, cutting straight through my argument with the polished ease of a veteran debater, "with the Cardinals' horrific struggles in the starting rotation, and this series could get ugly."

"Well, yeah, the starters have had a rough time, but the bullpen has been on lockdown. They need to get the starters going deeper, no doubt, but the relievers have stepped up and held the opposition night after night."

Again he glared at me. "Sure, the 'pen has been good, but how long is that going to last? And in case you didn't notice, the Rangers have a pretty solid bullpen of their own. The closers are probably a wash, but I'm not sure the Cards have a second reliever as good as the Rangers' Alexi Ogando. The Cardinal relief corps may be deeper overall, but Texas has a better one-two punch."

"Oh," I answered, realizing he was right again. "Well, the Cards have several hitters who mash left-handed pitching, guys like David Freese and Albert Pujols, and the Rangers' rotation is full of lefties. That could very well swing the needle back our way."

"Really? You're going to bank on a St. Louis Cardinal team bashing left-handed pitching? That's a terrible argument." I grimaced, not having much of an answer. He turned back to his crane. "Listen, bub, it was nice of you to stop by, but I gots to get this dam finished up tonight. Take 'er easy."

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