The winner of this year’s World Series will be a flock of European Starlings flying with precise coordination across a road near where I live…
They’ve never been the champions of Major League Baseball before, ever since 60 of them were introduced in 1890 Central Park by a guy who thought all the birds mentioned in Shakespeare deserved to exist in North America. In fact for 126 years they’ve come in last place.
I mean they are small birds playing a sport against the strongest and most accurate human beings professional scouts can discover. They weigh less than the baseball itself. And their tiny yellow legs can’t even hold a regulation sized Louisville Slugger, let alone swing it and make contact against a 95 mph fastball. And the glove, well, most seasons the Starlings find them to make better nests than a tool for fielding ground balls.
But they’ve also made all the questionable moves of any bad team. Selling off their pointy yellow beaks to make end’s worms. Trading their iridescence for busted prospects with names like Far Away Silhouettes. Losing their mating calls in free agency to the New York Yankees.
Some years the Starlings have been so bad they’ve just forfeited all their games and retired to the nearest powerline.
“Invasive species!” Their opponents have laughed and then defeated them.
“What are you? Some kinda crow?!” The sportswriters have written. “Plentiful, common, valueless, too dark. Be more Blue Jay or Oriole or Cardinal.”
The birds have still had a small but faithful following. Some are geographically bound. If you’ve grown up anywhere near exactly 27 starlings facing the same direction on a traffic light you’ve hadta root for them whether you’ve liked it or not. While other fans are the type who are somehow more comfortable with things which are supposta soar but always end up grounded instead. Regardless, these people have just hadta wait patiently for a little avian to somehow overpower the earth’s dominant species.
Then suddenly this season something happened… a flock of European Starlings flew together across a road near where I live with such precision and coordination they actually started beating professional baseball teams.
There were so many at once making such quick and agile moves so closely together but without even a wing-to-wing graze. Why did they make such swoopy motions? Why all together? Why just from a hayfield on one side of the road to a hayfield on the other? No one could say for sure. But they did it so gracefully and gorgeous the best players in the majors suddenly could not score enough runs or throw enough strikeouts to beat them.
It was finally the real Pop Fly!
They were Shooting Starlings!
Some guys watching playoffs from the barstool next to me were like, “They’re just birds. What the fuck?!”
But others were like, “I’m going for the Starlings. They’re the most beautiful. They’re due.”
And others lifted up their binoculars to the broadcast and shook their heads, “How have I not noticed them before. Were they always in the league?”
But you can’t deny them now. They’ve been taught to speak, “Homer!” 150 million on the diamond at once, getting safe, coming in relief, landing home…
They’re finally gonna win it all. And when they do there will be a big parade in the sky, and the Magpies and Grackles and Juncos will suddenly have hope, and the humans, like you and me, will finally feel like everything will be different now. Somehow better.