Impressed with scouting reports of a recent victory over a kid in a race around the bases, the Los Angeles Angels have recalled Shelly, the pro-slavery horse mascot who sold out to big oil, and sent him to Salt Lake in order to give the Bees one more edge in continuing to amass one of the best records in professional baseball.
"We like a guy who can aggressively run the bases with total disregard for the consequences," said Angels manager/GM Mike Scioscia. "Shelly demonstrated by beating a little kid around the bases that he has the speed and moxie to play our style of ball, so we want to get him to Salt Lake where the organization is focused on winning and also have him ready in case the Angels need to hoard another mascot on our roster that currently has six outfielders."
Out of the goodness of their hearts, the Angels have promoted Aftershock from Rancho Cucamonga to Double-A Arkansas since the Quakes' other mascot, Tremor, was getting most of the on-field time anyway. Aftershock will join the team on the road in Tulsa, which is poised to quickly hand back the worst record in the Texas League to the Travelers.
The Arkansas Travelers make an extremely rare appearance as a brief topic in Thursday's Wally Hall column (so rare that this is probably the first time they've been mentioned in years), in which Wally writes:
The rivalry some hoped would develop between the Northwest Arkansas Naturals and the Arkansas Travelers is ridiculous. The vast majority of the players on both teams are only in the Natural State because they were assigned here. Both teams will want to win because it helps their pocket books, not because it gives them bragging rights at winter ball somewhere far away.
What is ridiculous is the assertion that a sports rivalry is primarily generated by the players. In almost all cases other than maybe in high school, rivalries are much more about the fans than the players. No one is suggesting that the players on the Travs or Nats will generate a rivalry or care about bragging rights in the Arizona Fall League. But the fans at both stadiums already seem to be into it.
Are the players in the Yankees-Red Sox or Cubs-Cardinals rivalries any different? They signed with those teams from all parts of the world and eventually got into the rivalries because the fans made the games important. Or how about Arkansas-Texas? Do you think any of the kids these days, even those from Arkansas, give a damn about this rivalry? No, once again, it is the fans who make it matter.
Furthermore, the players in the Minor Leagues are in it to get promoted, not to help their pocket books by winning, especially since the parent club doesn't even place an emphasis on winning at this level.