August brings the thrill of pennant chases to Our National Pastime, and not all of them happen at the Major League level. As exciting as last year’s finishes may have been for the Tampa Bay Rays and the St. Louis Cardinals, they were preceded by the even wilder finish that saw the unofficial Minor League team of Evil Squirrel’s Nest, The Richmond Flying Squirrels, qualify for a playoff spot in the Eastern League Western Division (Yes, that sounds like a paradox… though not in the way the NFL’s NFC West used to be) thanks to a rainout.
And we got to see it all unfold on my forum thanks to one of our members who hopped on the squirrel bandwagon and picked up the Richmond team as a favorite. The updates began early last August, and this poster (we call him Snaxx) would often change his avatar to something new RFS related, often pictures he took at the games. One of them was the following picture, a graphic the Squirrels’ scoreboard operator would often put up:
It’s supposed to be a flying squirrel, but the way the tail is colored, it looks more like a skunk, and one of our other members noted that and wondered if the Squirrels were turning to the “stinkerball”. After the Squirrels went on a losing streak shortly after the Stinkerball comment, I created an avatar hoping to break the jinx, saying it was time to give the hook to Stinkerball!
Stinky’s dejected look and the callous, uncaring attitude displayed by the manager (my own Winnie), really resonated with some of my audience, and Stinky grew from what was expected to be a one-shot character into an overnight sensation. And better yet, the Squirrels started winning some games, and took the wildcard spot by half a game thanks to a rainout they were not required to make up. His role as a good luck charm, puppy dog eyed cuteness, and his determination to never give up all etched his mark in the ES universe of crazy characters.
Stinky’s already appeared in one of my comics I’ve posted here, and should be an occasional character in the series along with Manager Winnie and catcher Sulphur. Though his appearances in my artwork have been minimal, with the Squirrels once again just barely on the outside looking in at the final wildcard spot in the Eastern Division (currently three games back of the Bowie Baysox, the same team they just edged out last year), it’s quite possible he’ll jump forth from my Paint program again soon. I’ll provide occasional updates on the Flying Squirrels’ fortunes here on the blog.