If you know one thing about me, it’s that I’m scared of birds. But also, after catching a few episodes of the show “Stranger Things” on Netflix, and since, apparently, I’m, like, 6, I’m also pretty scared of the dark (ghosts, aliens, demogorgons messing with my soul, Democrats messing with voting ballots, etc.).
So, needless to say, when I arrived at Indian River High School for the soccer match between the Indians and Sussex Tech last Tuesday, I was more or less terrified to find out that, not only had the stadium lights gone out, but that a dead buzzard was the most likely culprit.
With a dead bird on the ground and circuits more or less fried, it didn’t exactly take Johnny Cochran to prove what happened.
And even though the game went on, and even though I’m starting to get kind of suspicious of those mystery tacos I was offered for the price of “on the house” at halftime, it’s actually not the first time an animal has nearly ruined a game.
It’s also not the first time my ornithophobia (fear of birds) has flared up, so to speak. So, with that in mind, let’s check out some of the “stranger things” that have gone down in sports — some of which are far more unsettling than the notion of free buzzard tacos.
Randy Johnson explodes a bird
What’s more terrifying than a bird is a bird exploding everywhere and getting all over the place, and maybe having your windows down on a nice day and then suddenly and without warning having, like, a mouth full of unexplained feathers and having veering off into oncoming traffic appear surprisingly preferable to coming to grips with the fact that what you’re tasting right now is raw and unencumbered sky-rat.
Leave it to the guy with the 102-mph fastball to connect with a flying bag of what most likely started the Black Plague when Johnson was on the mound and the Arizona Diamondbacks were taking on the San Francisco Giants back in 2001.
That’s when “the Big Unit” launched a fastball that, in some strange display of aviary-suicide, made contact with a bird on its way to the plate, sending feathers all over the place in a not so awesome explosion of what is very obviously one of my worst fears, right after either Hillary Clinton and/or Donald Trump becoming the next president of the United States (of America).
Pigeons are getting smarter
While I was probably scarred for life by the Pigeon Lady from the movie “Home Alone,” who, for some reason, lives with a disturbing amount of pigeons (one or more), and lets them, like, climb all over her and stuff, and feeds them whatever pigeons eat, and who, by some miracle, never contacted candidiasis (a real pigeon-type thing), I think that we can all agree that pigeons are the most terrifying animal on the face of God’s green earth, aside from chickens… and geese… and probably snow geese, too… and also, ostriches…
But somehow even less settling is the fact that they, as in pigeons, are clearly getting smarter, made evident in 2009 when a stubborn pigeon not only refused to leave the field during an NFL game between the Raiders and, somewhat ironically, the Eagles, but actually followed a bunch of players all the way down on a kickoff — like, right on their heels and kind of tried to get in on the tackle, followed them. Like, Taylor Swift on Instagram, followed them.
While I’ve not decided whether the Pigeon Lady from “Home Alone” is responsible for this, needless to say, if it was me on special teams for Oakland that day, it’s likely I would have Forest Gump’ed it right out of the tunnel.
‘Air Bud’ was a lie
The movie “Air Bud” would suggest that dogs playing soccer is a perfectly acceptable idea but, surprisingly, it turns out that, no, it is not.
That was the case in 2013, when two golden retrievers inexplicably ran out on the field in the middle of a match between two international teams — the names and representative counties I’m not sure, because the announcer was also speaking a language that I was not sure — and they, as in the Air Bud impersonators, delayed the game while the players just kind of just petted them and laughed and probably kept saying like, "who's good boy?" and other canine colloquialisms in whatever language it turned out to be, until the refs finally got the dogs off the field and the game going again.
There were a few other examples weirder than buzzards that I found, too. A surprisingly amount of dogs playing soccer, some pretty curious squirrels making their way onto the baseball diamond and a staggering number of oversized anthropomorphic animals leading cheers and YMCA dances and stuff on the sidelines of professional and collegiate games for some reason.
But, rather than go through the rest, I’m pretty sure I should go have my stomach pumped while I think about the reasons why I would accept an unspecified free lunch from a stranger. I guess more so than “free tacos,” still, there could be stranger things.