6 days until Spring Training: Do your mascot homework with the Orbit Prank Power Rankings
Spring Training is less than a month away! Let us keep you company until the first pitcher-and-catcher workouts on Feb. 18 with a team-by-team countdown of reasons to get excited for the 2016 MLB season. Today: The Houston Astros
Unless you've been living under a particularly baseball-averse rock for the past 12 months, you know about the Houston Astros. They're young, they're exciting, they have Carlos Correa , and after coming within six outs from an ALCS appearance last season, the arrow is only pointing up. (Did we mention they have Carlos Correa?)
But while the actual baseball players take up all the headlines, someone else at Minute Maid Park is busy making history of his own. His name is Orbit, and he's reinventing everything you know about mascots with equal parts adorable planet ears and banana-peel shenanigans. It's been a wild ride, full of tea parties and trophies and Twister, and this Orbit Prank Power Ranking documents it all.
10. Orbit desperately wishes that Jose Iglesias was a cat
The art of the prank is as much about technique and execution as anything. So what this gag before a game against the Tigers lacks in pomp and circumstance, it more than makes up for in elegant simplicity -- and a total dedication to treating a professional athlete like a pet:
9. Orbit desperately wishes that Mike Trout was an actual trout
The superior version of the athlete-as-animal prank, if only because it confirms that somehow, somewhere, there exists an Orbit-sized fisherman's hat:
8. Orbit desperately wishes that Kevin Pillar was an actual Blue Jay
Bird watching with the Blue Jays in town is a bit on the nose, but when Orbit commits, he commits -- note his pose for the camera and actual novelty birdhouse.
7. Orbit goes streaking
There's really no way to be delicate about this:
Thankfully, Houston's crack security was on the case:
What can we say: It was his birthday.
6. Orbit dances with the devil in the pale moonlight
Though touching Adrian Beltre's head remains one of our very favorite pastimes, it's well-worn pranking territory. Leave it to Orbit to add the necessary grace notes, though -- including a sign out of a Wil E. Coyote used for some air spanking.
5. Orbit inspires the Astros to victory
While the in-game entertainment is certainly appreciated, there is no more sacred mascot responsbility than rooting for the home team. Which is what bumps this prank up a few notches -- while it only required Orbit to find himself a seat during the ALDS ...
... his presence was enough to inspire Carlos Gomez to hit an RBI single:
4. Orbit strikes a blow for facial hair fashion
Looking to rally for a Wild Card spot during the 2014 pennant race, the Indians hatched an idea that flew in the face of basic decency and fashion sense: rally mustaches.
But we no longer have to live in fear, for one mascot was willing to stand and say enough was enough -- and Orbit was his name.
3. Orbit finds Chris Archer a doppelganger
Most of us merely see Chris Archer, MLB ace and hair maverick. Orbit, though, saw beyond that to get at the pain underneath the surface -- specifically, the pain of being kept apart from Archer's long-lost brother, Jaden Smith:
Now that you mention it, we've never seen Archer and Jaden's Twitter account in the same place at the same time. Really makes you think.
The More Time You Spend Awake The More Time You Spend Asleep.- Jaden Smith (@officialjaden) February 13, 2015
2. Orbit shows no regard for the well-being of other mascots
In some magical land, there exists a Museum of Pranks, and the centerpiece of that museum is this GIF on infinite loop:
The perfect timing; the casually disinterested toss; the three-mascot pileup; the commitment to continue eating the banana despite not having a real mouth -- it checks all the boxes. Alas, it could only come in second because ...
1. Orbit and J.P. Arencibia, a Shakespearean conflict in four acts
Act I: August 2014. Rangers vs. Astros. The on-deck circle, where we lay our scene. In time-honored mascot tradition, Orbit taunts J.P. Arencibia. It's all in good fun -- until Arencibia goes ahead and declares war:
Act II: August 2014. Rangers vs. Astros. Behind the on-deck circle, this time with 100 percent more Hunter Pence signs.
Act III: The Photoshop Theater. Arencibia struck the first blow:
Orbit responded with a vengeance:
Will no one be spared? Who will put a stop to this senseless photo editing?
Act IV: The Intervention. Sensing that this could lead only to mutually assured destruction, the two are able to broker a peace, signing the Mascot-Player Accord of 2014 in September. Tears were shed. Hugs were shared.
And there you have it: a Hall of Fame-caliber highlight reel over just three seasons. But Orbit doesn't look backwards -- he's a visionary, constantly looking for ways to push boundaries and go where no mascot has gone before. So what will 2016 hold? Will Orbit pay a visit to his home planet, pioneering the field of in-game space travel? Will he replace Tal's Hill with a model rocket ship? Or might he -- gasp! -- dare to actually touch Adrian Beltre's head this time? Scratch that last one. He's an alien, he's not crazy.