During the Twins’ pre-game ceremonies, a bald eagle was brought out to fly around be all American and majestic during the anthem. With the anthem still underway, the eagle decided it wanted to land but did not go back to its handler who knows how to handle huge birds.
Instead, the eagle targeted Mariners’ pitcher James Paxton who was standing in the outfield with his hat over his heart just observing the anthem as usual when he was accosted by an eagle. Presumably, Paxton does not know how to handle huge birds. But he handled it well!
At first, the eagle just flew near him and Paxton had the correct reaction of “whoa what the hell why is this eagle near my face” but the eagle landed in front of him and all seemed okay. That eagle wasn’t done though. That eagle wanted to be friends.
JAMES PAXTON BE MY FRIEND PLEASE WE CAN WATCH THE RESCUERS DOWN UNDER AND LISTEN TO THE LONG RUN TOGETHER.
With the eagle taking up residence on his shoulder, Paxton remained as calm as can possibly be expected from someone who is being accosted by a random eagle. Why the eagle singled out Paxton as a fill-in for the proper handler isn’t clear but there are two feasible options. One is that Paxton was standing alone in an open space which might have mimicked the environment of a handler’s training and usually strategy to the eagle.
The other possibility is that the eagle could tell that Paxton is Canadian and wanted to put a little fear in him. Later this season, a moose will probably stroll onto the field in Toronto and intimidate Felix Hernandez for a few minutes as Canadian retaliation.
Paxton seemed okay afterwards and luckily wasn’t hurt at all, although “one of our pitchers has a shoulder injury because of a ... freak eagle landing?” is one of the most Mariners-esque things that could happen at this point.
This will probably be one of the most entertaining parts of Seattle’s season so it’s lucky that Paxton is okay because that means we can laugh at this later. And also right now, because it’s perfect.