By Don Sims
When San Francisco general manager Brian Sabean called his own team a group of "cockroaches", he meant it as a term of affection, oddly enough. "I could put nine of you in a microwave, turn it up for 20 minutes," he said, as reported by MLB.com "and eight of you are walking out." Sabean meant his team had great resiliency — at least, that's what we hope he meant — but bugs and baseball have a more tenuous relationship than the metaphor implies. How have insects affected MLB games in the past?
For each bee that adds a delicious drop of honey to our morning pancakes and cups of tea, several thousand more exist that only get in our way. Professional baseball players may get paid much more than the average person, but against the threat of bees, they're just the same as an ordinary Joe. A recent game between the Angels and Dodgers in 2013, experienced a buzz for all the wrong reasons. Fox Sports reported a 23-minute game delay caused by a swarm of bees that hit right field of Angel Stadium. There were no blooming flowers or honeypots to cause bees to capture these insects' attention, so it's possible the amount of pollen in the air caused them to swarm in the wind tunnel of the MLB stadium. To eliminate those pesky bees, it proved necessary to bring out a beekeeper in full gear to apply pesticide.
Sometimes the worst pests are not those who sting you, but those who swarm in such huge numbers they cannot be shaken off. This was the experience for Indians third baseman Casey Blake, who MLB.com reported had his corner of the diamond infested in midges during the second game of the American League Division Series in 2007. Cleveland won 2-1 in 11 innings, and Blake reported the midges seemed to affect the Bronx Bombers more than they did the Tribe. No pest control services were needed to take care of the midges, since they posed no threat to players or fans, but an insect control expert would have been a welcome sight for many of the players. The Yankees attempted to combat the swarm by applying over-the-counter bug spray, to little effect.
The biggest sluggers on the field can only do so much when they don't have a field to stand on. Such was nearly the case for the Arizona Diamondbacks in 2009, when a plague of grasshoppers descended upon Chase Field. AZ Central reported the groundskeeper would need to call an insect control company in the event of further infestations, since the grasshoppers had the ability to nibble the entire field down to stubble. Not only do these insects affect the quality of the grass, but they managed to get everywhere in the stadium, including the dugouts and even the press boxes, making it necessary to completely fumigate the entire field.