Category Archives: mantis

Tigers are AL Central champs, thanks to a little mantis magic.

photos by Samara Pearlstein

Here is a true story.

Yesterday a friend of mine came back to the studios after a trip to the grocery store. “Sam,” he said. “I have a present for you. It’s alive.” He opened his little Stop & Shop bag and there, standing on his groceries, looking up at me, was the most splendid creature imaginable.


Of course most of you by now know about the whole ‘mantises showing up at baseball games’ thing, how lucky this is, etc. Most of you also know that despite my interest in and love for this phenomenon, I have yet to see a mantis at a baseball game in person, and in fact had never seen one in the wild (somehow, despite the fact that everyone else seems to be finding them all the time). So this– a mantis, standing on my very own hand, waving its raptorial forelegs in my very own face, staring fixedly straight into my heart– mere hours before the Tigers were set to play the Royals with a Magic Number of 1…

It was magical, and joyous, and my little Tigers-fan heart was buoyed up with sickening things like Hope and Belief and Love For This Stupid Infuriating Team. My faith in the Tigers’ ability to not screw everything up and actually make the playoffs, which had been shaky at best going into the day, was strengthened. Because MANTIS.

You know what’s even crazier? I have a very large drawing in progress in my studio right now, and what is the largest figure on the left-hand side, standing just over Curtis Granderson and Stephen Jay Gould? YOU’RE RIGHT IT’S A FREAKIN’ MANTIS.

Of course the Tigers went on to defeat the Royals and secure the AL Central Championship. They have won the division. They are going to the playoffs. How could it have ever been otherwise, once a mantis appeared in my life?

Things of late, as Terrible Cartoons, of course.

illustrations by Samara Pearlstein

I’m just going to lead with that one because it makes me happy in my optic nerves. Everyone in the wide world of Tigers fans has his or her own opinion about the team. There is naturally a great deal of disagreement. But there is one thing upon which we can all agree, one thing that may be safely and universally acknowledged as an unequivocally beautiful sight: Alex Avila, pleased with his own walk-off hit, being doused in purple Gatorade by an almost unhealthily giddy Papa Grande. It is a fine thing, a fine thing indeed.

Especially when Avila’s jersey then gets all wet and it’s all sticking to his torso and it’s a home jersey so it’s white and bits get translucent when soaked, and you get all mad at FSD for not getting longer and more torso-inclusive shots post-soaking, and now I’ve said too much. Thank you, Papa Grande.

This keeps on happening, and I suppose it too is a fine thing. Every silver lining, of course, has its cloud, and Scherzer’s high K-counts are still tagging along with the logically attendant high pitch counts, but for now we will accept it.

Doug Fister injured his groin. The jokes came thick and fast and inevitably. Everyone is just real sorry about that, Mister Fister, but what do you expect from us? We are baseball fans. We are all ten years old.

Miguel Cabrera’s ankle has been sore for a while, and Leyland is finally paying attention, giving him some DH time and just now a day off. I haven’t seen anything more specific than “sore” to describe the State of Miggy’s Ankle, aside from this Mothership blurb earlier in the month:

During the Boston series, Miguel Cabrera fouled a ball off his left shin and, as a result, the third baseman has been experiencing some “drainage” in his ankle, head athletic trainer Kevin Rand said on Sunday morning.

“He’s just getting some drainage in his ankle from that,” Rand said. “His [lower] leg gets sore just the more he’s on it.”
Jason Beck/Anthony Odoardi,

What in the world does that mean? How can an ankle be experiencing ‘drainage’? That sounds anatomically difficult and worrying. I cannot know, I can only draw.

Drew Smyly is back! He got a spot start and should be sticking around in the bullpen even when he gets bumped from the rotation.

The persistence of Delmon Young’s mustache should be a source of concern for us all. But he has also been on a bit of a hitting tear lately. Does this… does this mean that the mustache is actually doing the hitting for him?? I think this is a possibility that we need to deeply consider. It would explain how that upper lip d├ęcor has hung around this long, despite (what must surely be) the strong recommendations of everyone who knows Delmon personally and also has eyes.

Just throwing this one in for good luck. The mantises have been back in attendance, all over MLB, and yes, they have been spotted– and occasionally photographed— in Detroit. Praise be!

The Royals are no friend of Betemit’s, plus your first September cats.

illustration by Samara Pearlstein

The game is tied. There is a man at second base. Alex Avila is up, with Wilson Betemit batting behind him. The Royals take a moment to think about this.

Wilson wasn’t a bad hitter with us, they think. He was all .280ish and sometimes he hit for extra bases and whatnot. But Alex Avila… that cat is terrifying. Anyways, we know the ways of Wilson Betemit, for he used to be one of our royal family. The Royals decide to walk Avila to get to Betemit.

THEY DECIDE WRONG! WILSON BETEMIT HAS HIS ROYAL REVENGE! DOUBLE TO RIGHT, ONE RUN SCORES, almost two as Avila was thrown out at the plate. In any event, the Tigers scrape a slim lead, and after going back-and-forth all day (thanks in no small part to the efforts of Austin Jackson on one side and Eric Hosmer on the other) they finally manage to hold on for the win. Disrespect Wilson Betemit at your own risk, especially when you are Kansas City.

Important Insect Updates

First: this may have been part of the reason why the Tigers won yesterday. I received an email from a Tigers employee at the start of the game, containing the following image:

THAT’S RIGHT, IT’S A MANTIS. Apparently it was in the tunnel behind home plate, scouting the pitchers. I don’t KNOW that it interacted with the Tigers players at all, but the fact that it was observed and photographed by Tigers personnel was surely working in our favor. This is serious business, folks. Mantis business.

Also, the flying swarm was back in Cleveland.

It’s September call-up time!

The first round of Toledo refugees are here. Thus far the Tigers have welcomed back

all photos by Samara Pearlstein

And right-handed reliever Luis Marte, but I don’t have any photos of him.

What can baseball mantis do for you?

illustrations by Samara Pearlstein

First off: Scherzer pitched really well last night, yay. Andy Dirks has been sent down to Toledo and Brandon Inge has returned. He will be splitting time at third and subbing in defensively, but NOT at catcher, because his knees are reportedly not good enough for such strains. Deep breath. Remain calm. Accept. OK. That is the news.

Now on to the point: mantises in baseball.

Perhaps you are already aware of this phenomenon. The most well-known example, of course, was the confrontation between a mantis and Logan Morrison in the Marlins dugout earlier this season (if you somehow have not seen video of this yet, I suggest you watch it immediately). More recently, a mantis showed up near the Red Sox bullpen while they were in Kansas City, much to the amusement and horror of the Sox broadcast team.

Mantises live in many climates and people take note of them because they look even weirder than most of the mascots in the park. A friend of mine saw one at Citi Field this year. They have been photographed in St. Louis, Philadelphia, Washington DC. At baseball games. Why are they always at baseball games?

Mantises have very large eyes. They are visual creatures. And although they are fearsome predators, their hunting strategy most often involves sitting very still and lying in wait. In other words, they have perfected the art of patience. They are evolutionarily primed to be baseball fans. It is only natural.

MAYBE THIS IS WHAT THE TIGERS NEED: MANTISES. Just think of what they could do for the team!

Giant bug eyes would make for entertaining staring contests during those long, boring stretches of time out in the bullpen!

The mantis’ hard exoskeleton and long reach make it well-suited to catching duty, so Alex Avila can finally take a break!

They could even use their immense grasping forelegs to protect precious natural resources!

And there’s so much more. Yes, this could be a real game-changer for Detroit. Get some mantises interested in the team, invite them to the ballpark. Heck, they like to watch games from the netting, they don’t even need ticketed seats. They will entrance and entertain the fans, they’ll frighten the opposition, they’ll help the Tigers… they can even improve the Comerica Park experience by preying upon other, more annoying insects.

I see no possible downside here. The Tigers should begin looking into ways to increase mantis attendance and interest in the team immediately.