Baseball is back. The X-Files is (almost) back. As Ben Lindbergh said in episode 649 of Effectively Wild, “the teams are kind of like the monster-of-the-week episodes of the X-Files.” He may have gone on to have a larger point but we didn’t catch it. Here is every team in Major League Baseball paired with its closest comparable monster-of-the-week episode of the X-Files.
Arizona Diamondbacks – Monster: Reverend Makey, Episode: “Signs and Wonders”, Season Seven
The Rev. Enoch O’Connor’s Church of God of Signs and Wonders handles venomous snakes. Members of the church, not unlike members of Arizona’s once-promising stable of young talent, keep getting snakebit. Rev O’Connor is the primary suspect and is shot by Mulder, but has just enough time to reveal that he is
taking a job as special assistant to the Reds not the culprit. It is the mild mannered, mainline Protestant Reverend Mackey who has the ability to control snakes to do his bidding and take out anyone who stands in the way of his Plan or doesn’t fit his vision. The D-Backs lost their failed snake-charmer in Kevin Towers, but their moves ahead of opening day raise the question: was Towers really the one calling the shots behind some of the stranger, “grittier” things the team did over the few years, or is there another evil power behind it all?
Atlanta Braves – Leonard, “Humbug,” Season Two
“Humbug” is the dark horse in the conversation for best X-Files episode. It’s the first time the sense of humor that permeates the show bubbled to the top, and is more focused on natural weirdness than supernatural spookiness. But that has little to do with why the Atlanta Braves are Leonard, the underdeveloped conjoined twin to depressed alcoholic sideshow freak Lenny (played by the incomparable Vincent Schiavelli). Leonard is functionally useless, but is actively killing other residents of the town in an attempt to separate from his brother and find a new body to support him. Lenny and Leonard both die once they are separated. There’s an easter egg in the credits where all the names form an acrostic that reads “THIS IS A METAPHOR FOR WHAT THE BRAVES ARE DOING TO THEIR TEAM IN ADVANCE OF OPENING SUN TRUST STADIUM IN 2015.”
Chicago Cubs – Parasitic Slug Worm, “Roadrunners,” Season Eight
In a remote town in Utah, a cult is worshipping a parasitic banana slug that they view as the Second Coming. The slug is constantly in search of a new host, and the town will find anyone they can and embed this thing in them to keep it alive. At the end of the episode, Doggett cuts the slug out of Scully and shoots it dead, but he doesn’t know that another cult has been following the same methods in the north side of Chicago, passing on “chosen one” status in since 1908 hoping for a second coming. Witnesses report that the parasitic slug was last seen attached to a young third baseman with dreamy eyes was on a bus to Iowa.
Cincinnati Reds – The Great Mutato, “The Post-Modern Prometheus,” Season Five
The Great Mutato is a monster, a legend in a small town that doesn’t understand him. While Mutato is smart, friendly, and relatable the residents of his town fear him and, fueled by their newspaper reporters and a wish for their town to be featured on Jerry Springer, form an angry mob to drive him off, not realizing that the real villain is the mad scientist who created The Great Mutato and tried to have him killed.
The Great Votto may be a monster, but the residents of Cincinnati, fueled by beat writers and comments from the team’s front office and staff, want him out of town. The Reds don’t understand where his power lies, and don’t seem to notice the real villains lurking in their midst.
Colorado Rockies – Pam, “Monday,” Season Six
Fans will remember that the premise to “Monday” is, basically, “what if Groundhog’s Day was an X-Files episode?” For reasons that are either unexplained or explained in a way that I can’t be bothered to remember, there is a time loop where a small time crook keeps trying to hold up a bank and ends up blowing up himself, Mulder, and sometimes Scully. Only the crook’s girlfriend Pam is aware that these events are recurring, but she is powerless to change the flow of fate. Rockies fans will see what their pitching staff looks like and get a sense of deja vu right before everything literally explodes.
Los Angeles Dodgers – Patrick Crump, “Drive,” Season Six
Vince Gilligan meets Bryan Cranston in this episode. Cranston plays Crump, a man whose head will explode if he doesn’t move west at ever-increasing speeds to reduce the pressure on his brain. The Dodgers are a team whose power over the league and the sport will explode if they don’t acquire talent and blow past the luxury tax at ever-increasing rates.
Miami Marlins – Parasitic Spores, “Firewalker,” Season Two
A silicon-based parasitic spore that kills the host by exploding an asparagus-looking thing through the host’s neck with amazing force. There are any number of monster-of-the-week parasites in X-Files episodes available to represent Jeffrey Loria, but this is the only parasite with a power tool comparable to Giancarlo Stanton.
Milwaukee Brewers – Morris Fletcher, “Dreamland” Parts I and II, Season Six
A UFO event causes Mulder to have a Freaky Friday-esque body swap with shadowy Area 51 operative Morris Fletcher, played by Michael McKean. In Fletcher’s body, Mulder finds out all sorts of government secrets. In Mulder’s body, Fletcher finds out that Mulder is kind of a creepazoid.
The Brewers went through their own body swap, spending most of 2014 in first place in their division before reality snapped back in and they finished the season in 3rd and out of the playoff race. They’ll try again in 2015, but most likely the wave of normalcy has returned and the real Brewers were hiding behind that first place team all along, only to be revealed at the end of the season.
New York Mets – Eddie Van Blundht, “Small Potatoes,” Season Four
There are two reason the Mets’ best comp is Van Blundht, the shapeshifting janitor born with a vestigial tail. First, Van Blundht can change his appearance and seduce even the harshest skeptics (he gets farther with Scully in like 5 minutes than the real Mulder could in 9 years), but he’s still kind of a bumbling fool who can’t hide his true self. The Mets’ front office, exciting pitching staff, and players like Juan Legares have seduced a lot of smart baseball fans into believing they can make it all the way this year, but this is still the team who gave up a draft pick to sign Michael Cuddyer the second the offseason started, is still owned by the Wilpons, and is still responsible for some of the LOL’est baseball moments of the past decade.
The second reason is that Matt Harvey is basically Luke Skywalker and his fastball/slider combo can make you pregnant.
Pittsburgh Pirates- Robert Patrick Modell, “Pusher,” Season Three
“I need you to do something for me,” says Robert Modell, aka the Pusher, before using the power of suggestion to force an FBI agent to light himself on fire. He causes another agent to have a heart attack over the phone. He convinces a secretary to mace AD Skinner in the face. He convinces Mulder to play Russian roulette.
After a life spent achieving nothing, Modell develops his abilities through a medical condition that will kill him if he doesn’t treat it. However, the power has finally given him the influence and strength he’s craved for so long.
Have the Pirates found the same skills as Modell? They influence opposing teams to hit into the shift even when the teams know it’s coming. They influence players like Starling Marte to take unbelievably team friendly contracts. Ray Searage can influence once-broken pitchers to improve their performance to nearly unexplainable levels. After a lifetime achieving nothing, they’ve acquired a power (be it McCutchen, their farm system, Huntington’s leadership, or some combination of forces) that can finally push them toward the success they’ve craved.
In the end, Modell is brought down by another person who has the same power, in the season 5 episode “Kitsunegari.” The Pirates have mastered the ability to influence outcomes, but other teams are gaining the same skill and may put an end to the Pirates’ plans before their mission is complete…
Philadelphia Phillies – The Übermenscher, “Arcadia”, Season Six
There was an X-Files episode where the monster was a sentient pile of rich peoples’ garbage. This is what it looks like.
St Louis Cardinals – Mrs. Paddock, “Die Hand Die Verletzt”, Season Two
The parents and teachers of a New Hampshire High School find their Satanic cult is in trouble as teens start dying. Mrs. Paddock, the mysterious substitute teacher, has been using her devil magic to manipulate people and events to get the evil, otherwise-unexplainable outcomes she desires. At the end of the episode she disappears mysteriously before Mulder and Scully can confront her. She was last seen being hired by the Cardinals.
San Diego Padres- Rob Roberts, “Hungry,” Season Five
An insatiable monster who needs to feed on brains and just can’t help himself, Rob Roberts is simultaneously one of the most freaky and most sympathetic monsters in any X-Files episode. He truly tries to curb his appetite, going so far as to join an Overeaters Anonymous meeting, but keeps giving in and eating the brains of the living.
It turns out the hunger fueling Roberts is also driving A.J. Preller. We knew he was hungry for talent based on his role with the Rangers, but ever since joining the Padres he’s revealed his true monstrous form and feasted on the outfielders, catchers, and relief pitchers of any team foolish enough to answer his phone calls. At the same time, it’s hard to look at what the Padres have become in one winter and not root for them. They have been trying to fight this hunger for so long, sitting dormant in San Diego with that gorgeous stadium and those horrid uniforms. Finally they feast, and we all sit and watch, hoping they will succeed while worrying that the talent from our favorite teams might be next.
San Francisco Giants – Henry Weems, “The Goldberg Variation,” Season Six
The Giants won the World Series in 2014. In 2014 they scored the 12th most runs in baseball. In 2014 they collectively slashed .255/.311/.388. In 2014, by FanGraphs’ oWAR, they were almost exactly average with an offensive rating of 4.0. Their pitching staff collectively put together an ERA of 3.50, a FIP of 3.58, and an xFIP of 3.59 which is remarkable solely for its lack of remarkability. The Giants won the World Series in 2014. They’ve done this a few times, actually. They are Henry Weems, the luckiest man in the world.
Washington Nationals – Ray Pearce, “Salvage,” Season Eight
Ray Pearce is a man in process of transforming into an unstoppable machine. Scully and Doggett are as powerless as the NL East and basically don’t do much of anything in this episode except discover the wreckage Pearce is leaving behind him in his quest for revenge. In the end, he uses his last remaining shred of humanity to destroy himself, much as the Nationals have done in the past 2 postseasons after crushing the rest of their division.
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