Tag: Yankees

How One Cat Changed The Fortunes Of Two Baseball Teams

The Yankees were getting drubbed.

It was the eighth inning of a humid night in the Bronx, and the Bombers were facing yet another loss, this time in humiliating fashion — they were down 7 to 1 against the last-place Baltimore Orioles, who smacked four home runs off of recently-acquired starting pitcher Andrew Heaney.

Fans cried out to the Baseball Gods for intervention, and their prayers were heard: With Yankee slugger Aaron Judge at the plate, a tiny shape streaked across the left side of the infield, just behind the foul line.

“The one and two,” Yankees TV play-by-play man Michael Kay said as the Orioles’ pitcher delivered. “Uh oh…”

The shape moved, and the gait gave it away: It was definitely a cat.

“How in the world did he get out here?” color commentator Paul O’Neill asked.

For a moment it looked like play would continue. Then the stadium’s cameras zoomed in on the little interloper, a brownish tabby. The kitty took off toward left field and the crowd went wild.

Orioles left fielder Ryan McKenna stood and watched as the little guy streaked past him, heading for the outfield wall where a door — which remains closed during play — leads to the bullpen.

Seeing no way out, the cat paused, then jumped on the padding that lines the walls, drawing more cheers from the crowd, who encouraged him as he tried to leap the rest of the way over the fence.

By the time a quartet of Yankees security guards tried to corner kitty and he dodged them — not once, not twice but three times! — the crowd was pumped, shouting “MVP! MVP! MVP!”

Almost four minutes elapsed from the time the cat appeared on the field to the moment when a Yankees employee with some brains opened a side door, allowing kitty to escape from what was undoubtedly a stressful situation. Quite an adventure for the little guy.

The Orioles won that game and the troubled Yankees looked like they were headed for a bitterly disappointing season.

The cat changed both narratives, at least for the kind of people who put stock in sports superstition — a group that includes the players themselves.

Rally Cat
Rally Cat, as he’s become affectionately known, on the field at Yankee Stadium. Credit: Bronx Times

Since that Aug. 2 game, the Orioles have suffered through a historically brutal stretch, losing 19 games in a row before finally earning a win last night. That epic losing streak represents the worst run of futility in Major League Baseball in 16 years and stopped just two losses shy of a 21-game losing streak set in 1900. (For British and international readers, you read that right: No other sport is as meticulous as baseball when it comes to continuity and keeping stats. Those statistics go all the way back to the first professional games in 1869. While seasons have been interrupted — most recently last year when the schedule was reduced from 162 to 60 games due to the pandemic — only World Wars I and II have scratched entire seasons from the history books.)

Fearing a curse, the Orioles’ players tried all sorts of things to change their luck, most noticeably growing mustaches. (Note to the Orioles: Playing like a major league team tends to work better than growing facial hair.)

The Yankees, meanwhile, have experienced a renaissance that has them looking like the perennial championship contenders they’re supposed to be, vaulting over five other teams in the standings and breathing down the necks of the first-place Tampa Bay Rays.

With their win over the Braves on Tuesday night, the Yankees are 18-3 since Rally Cat (as he’s now known) appeared in Yankee Stadium, and they’re riding an 11-game winning streak, their longest stretch of wins since 1985. It’s a stunning turnaround for a team that had been disappointing all year, looking lifeless for long stretches.

As for the cat, it’s not clear what happened to him. Local shelter operators and animal rescue organizations haven’t heard anything.

One thing was clear to anyone who is familiar with felines: The kitty’s body language clearly conveyed fear and confusion, and he was desperate to find a way out. Any cat would be, with 35,000 humans making a ton of noise, lights and huge advertising screens everywhere, and additional humans standing on the grass in what must look to cats like some bizarre ritual.

Yankees security didn’t do themselves any favors by the way they were trying to remove the cat, Elyise Hallenbeck, director of Strategy for Bideawee Animal Rescue’s Leadership Giving & Feral Cat Initiative, told the Bronx Times.

“They should be grateful that they weren’t able to lay hands on it, because the cat would have won that,” Hallenbeck said. “The cat was severely and terribly, terribly, frightened.”

Rally Cat, wherever you are, we hope you’re in the care of a loving human and you’re enjoying some delicious yums. You deserve it.

 

 

International Cat Day: Interview With Buddy

Big Buddy (The Human): We’re here with Buddy the Cat to celebrate International Cat Day. Welcome, Buddy!

Little Buddy (The Cat): Thank you.

BB: I appreciate you joining us. I’m sure our readers do too.

Buddy: Yeah well, you told me no treats unless I do this interview, so let’s get it over with.

BB: I love the enthusiasm. Our first question is from Mrs. Caldwell’s third-grade class in Skokie, Illinois. Rebecca, age 8, asks: “Hi Buddy! What’s the best thing about being a cat?”

Buddy: Hi, Rebecca. Well, the schedule’s pretty good. Plenty of time for naps and siestas. The food’s usually pretty good too. But I’d say the best thing about being a cat is my status as an apex predator. No one messes with you because they know that you can decapitate them with a single paw swipe. Other animals don’t step to me because they don’t want to see their entrails spill out like a waterfall or their arterial blood sketching a map of Hawaii on the ground, you know what I mean? I’m a very ferocious creature.

BB: Ahem. Maybe we can take it down a notch on the questions from kids?

Buddy: My bad.

BB: Our next question is from Mr. Piper’s eighth-grade class in Rye, New York. Charles, age 13, asks: “Buddy, do you have any tips for getting puss…” Ah, Charles, this is a family blog! Sheesh. Your teacher approved this? Oh! Sorry. The whole question is: “Buddy, do you have any tips for getting pussy cats to come when called?”

Buddy: Sure, Charles. It’s really simple: Do you have any treats? If the answer is yes, then it’s worth our time to acknowledge you and approach. If not, well, we have napping to do.

bud_may2020

BB: That’s great, thank you, Charles. This one’s from six-year-old Cindy in Mrs. Cooper’s class in Bakersfield, California. Cindy says: “I have a dog. Woof woof! Do you like dogs, Buddy?”

Buddy: Yes I do, Cindy! I like them far away from me, in someone else’s home, dragging their butts across someone else’s carpet, preferably very far away so I don’t have to smell them.

BB: I can just feel the love, can’t you? Okay, now let’s go to 10-year-old Ashton from Mrs. Draper’s second-grade class in Lincoln, Nebraska. Second grade, Ashton? Really? Okay. Ashton writes: “Hello Buddy! As president of the Americats, are you happy that baseball is back this season? And who do you think is gonna win the World Series?”

Buddy: It’s a terrific thing that baseball is back, a tremendous, tremendous thing, okay? The American people love baseball, believe me, and we’re gonna have the number one baseball season in history, okay? It really will be. I like the Yankees, Ashton. I know a number of them personally and they’re tremendous people, just terrific people. They’re going to win the World Series over the Dodgers, and the Red Sox aren’t even going to make the playoffs because they’re losers. They’re fired.

BB: Okay. Finally, here’s a question from Lisa in Mr. Park’s fourth-grade class in Peculiar, Missouri. Lisa asks: “I love my kitty cat, Mr. Wobbles, and he loves me. Do you love your human, Buddy? What’s your favorite thing about him?”

Buddy: Hi Lisa! Do I love my Big Buddy? I love it when he feeds me treats and catnip! I guess you could say I love him even though the service is slow and sub-par around here sometimes. I’m very forgiving. Still, he could improve. My favorite thing about him? Hmmm. He’s a pretty good mattress.

BB: Oh, that lukewarm endorsement has moved me to tears! That’s all for today. Thanks to Buddy for generously taking time out of his busy napping schedule, and for all the kids who submitted questions. Don’t forget to do something special for your own cats today!