Video catches bald eagle landing on a Seattle Mariners player during the National Anthem
You might expect America's national pastime to be football, basketball or Tide pod eating competitions. But actually, it's baseball. Multiple generations grew up playing this sport, which has survived the industrial revolution, two World Wars and the Trump administration (so far). Sure, baseball isn't the most exciting game, but it's rooted in American culture. Everyone knows the song "Take Me Out To The Ball Game." The greasy stadium food is iconic. And every day, we use baseball lingo like "home run," "strike out" and "Abigail let me get to second base!"
In an effort to make the game even more patriotic, the Minnesota Twins decided to try something different during the opening ceremony. The plan was for a bald eagle to take a ceremonial flight around the stadium while the National Anthem was played. The handlers stood on the pitcher's mound, ready to summon the eagle in for safe landing. However, once the bird was released, it didn't soar to the mound. It flew to the outfield, landing directly on Seattle Mariners pitcher James Paxton, as you can see in the video below.
While Paxton stood with his hand over his heart. the eagle, whose name is Challenger, flapped up in his face. Startled, Paxton ducked, and Challenger scrambled up his back, perching for just a second on his shoulder. Then the eagle bailed on using him as a roost, and settled down the grass a few feet away. One of the handlers ran up, summoned Challenger to his forearm, and took the bird away. It's fun for us to watch, but must not have been fun for Paxton, considering he was so close to the eagle's powerful beak and sharp. But surprisingly, he didn't panic.
"I guess the eagle knew I was Canadian," joked Paxton, in an interview about the incident.
"I kind of ducked it so it wouldn't fly into my face. It was, I think, trying to stand on my back. And then I thought, 'OK, if I can stand up slowly, maybe it'll just rest on my shoulder.' But as I stood up, he kind of fell off my back a little bit and was kind of clawing to try to get back up on my shoulder. But then as I stood straight up, it fell back onto the ground."
"The talons, I don't think, punctured me. They were kind of sharp on my back. I don't have any scratches, I don't believe. That's not the first time I've seen a bald eagle, but it was the first time I've had one try to land on me."
Well, this isn't the worst eagle-related incident to happen to Minnesota's new stadium. Last year, the Philadelphia Eagles beat the Minnesota Vikings in the NFC championship. Then they came back to Minneapolis two weeks later, and won the Super Bowl. Since I was born in Minnesota, I can speak for everyone in the state: No more eagles!