You know, it’s kind of funny. We have a holiday that is devoted to the meteorological stylings of a rodent that sleeps all winter but on one day in early February some dude in a top hat and a black coat yanks a woodchuck out of a box, talks to it then tells the thousands of waiting fans whether winter is over or if we are in for six more weeks of cold before Spring arrives.
What is even more confusing is that it would appear that I write about this holiday more than I do any other holiday. Who knew I was so fascinated with the weather, or the animal kingdom’s ability to predict it?
There are so many things flawed with this system that I barely know where to start. First off, whose bright idea was it to use a groundhog? I admit, I am not a zoologist so I may not be 100 percent accurate but last time I checked a groundhog was just a fancy name for woodchuck. If that’s true, why do we have such a fascination with this animal? We are asking it to predict the weather and we are constantly questioning the quantity of wood these critters could throw if they really could throw.
Personally, I am more interested in the wood throwing capabilities than I am about their weather prognostication abilities. Think about it, if you could find a rodent capable of throwing wood then chances are you could teach them to throw other things; like a baseball.
I looked at the rules of baseball and there doesn’t seem to be any rule against suiting up a groundhog and running him out on the field. Baseball teams are all fascinated with tapping the international market for players but there are more free agent woodchucks than there were Japanese players who were posted this off-season.
It’s a completely new market not just from a talent perspective but also from a fan base. With no other team having a woodchuck playing, the number of media outlets covering your team would be incomprehensible. From the first day they brought the woodchuck out of his hole until the final out of the season your team would be on the lips of every fan and weatherman in the world.
I can really only see two problems with this theory. First, groundhogs don’t have thumbs so it may be difficult for them to hold a bat. Of course you also have the whole woodchuck chucking wood dilemma meaning they may be called out for throwing their bat. Then again, the average woodchuck is 16 to 26 inches long including their tail so if you can teach them to not swing at anything that little guy would likely walk every at-bat.
Base running could really be where this guy earns his keep. They burrow underground so running from first to second they would never get caught since they would be underground. Can you imagine a second baseman trying to tag out a groundhog and all he sees is a tunnel?
The more I think about this, the more I think I may be on to something. Of course there will be some SABRmetrician out there that will bring up some advanced metric that describes why a groundhog wouldn’t work in baseball. As for me, I am going to take a traditional scouting stance and say from an eyeball perspective this has merit.
The only downside I can see is that you could only use a groundhog during night games because if he should see his shadow during the game he’d likely go on the disabled list for six more weeks.