It’s that tried and trusted baseball trick which never fails. You’re down in the sixth innings to the Kansas City Chiefs.
A potentially season-saving fourgame winning streak is in danger. Two outs and need some help. So, of course, you send on a feral cat to spice things up and refocus worried minds.
The use of animals, wild or not, is outlawed in the MLB but the little moggie which ran out at Busch Stadium in St Louis last week has already been adopted by the Cardinals as their new go-to good-luck magnet.
Whenever something foreign spurts onto the turf – a dog, snake, bugs, a human with a severe lack of clothing – there’s laughter and merriment in the stands. It often dies down quickly. Normal service is resumed.
“I thought there was a streaker on the field to be honest, but I was happy it was a cat.” said Cards manager Mike Matheny.
But no sooner had the cat scratched the hands of the brave ground staffer who deposited his new friend away from the action before heading to the nearest hospital for a few precautionary jabs, something even more exciting exploded from the bat of Yadier Molina.
From the very next pitch the Cardinals ace, with the bases fully loaded, launched a huge home run into the bleachers and in the blink of an eye, a 4-5 scoreline was instantly transformed.
It provided a platform for St Louis to keep their winning run alive and, crucially, helped them leapfrog Milwaukee into second place in the NL Central. “I’m not a cat person, but I sure like that one,” smiled Matheny afterwards.
“It’s amazing,” Molina added. “You see some animal coming through a field. You expect people to jump on the field but you never expect an animal. It was fun.”
Cardinals fans are big animal fans. Memories are still fresh and hearts remain dear for the rogue squirrel who made a shock appearance at a playoff game against the Phillies in 2011.
The little critter showed a wonderful penchant for timing, running across home plate as visiting pitcher Roy Oswalt was about to unleash at Skip Schumaker. Thunderous calls for ‘no-pitch’ were swatted away by the umpires.
What happened next? The Cardinals won the NLCS and then scooped the big one. That was the last time St Louis were crowned world champs so it’s hardly surprising that a frantic search for the magic cat was sparked on Wednesday once the Chiefs had been dispatched, even if he led everyone on a merry dance.
Once being hauled off the pitch, he disappeared into the arms of a fan who claimed it was hers. Proving a terrifically hard cat to mark, it slipped loose again and went missing in a city park called Citygarden.
But fear not. Enter the good people of the St. Louis Feral Cat Outreach to save the day. Six traps were set near where he wriggled free while volunteers staked out the area all night and eventually came up trumps.
“We are pretty confident that this is Rally Cat,” said Savannah Rigley, part of the outreach time who found the cat the very next day.
“This is cat-nerd stuff, but Rally Cat is a classic tabby, which is very rare, and last night we found a classic tabby kitten right where Rally Cat was last seen.” The Cardinals, to the delight of their now feline crazy fan base, triumphantly tweeted a photo of their new little friend, all safe and sound for the baseball world to see – and poke fun at.
The hashtag #RallyCat isn’t going away anytime soon. Friday night’s win over Atlanta helped St Louis keep right on the tails of reigning champs the Chicago Cubs.
The cat is already a hero and if the Cards go all the way this season for the first time in six years, expect the furry little guy to be moved into a palatial five bed mansion with enough canned tuna and milk to last a lifetime.
Yet beware. The Cubs blamed a cursed goat for 108 years without landing the big one. Pray for the cat. The little minx could well become an unwanted jinx.
First NHL. Then NFL, Now USL. Las Vegas has quickly jumped aboard the train after decades of worries over the area’s unsuitability to host sporting events.
And from next season in the USL – the second tier of US soccer which is aiming to rival England’s Championship – Sin City will have their very own team to take the league to a whopping 33 teams.
With MLS reserve teams giving the competition a serious feel of authenticity, the new team in Nevada joins up with fellow newcomers Nashville and Fresno in what promises to be a ram-packed push for honors.
The arrival of soccer is another feather in the cap for Vegas’ attempts to become one of the premier sporting destinations in the world.
The proposed names, however, need some work. Six are up for consideration: Las Vegas FC, Las Vegas Lights, Las Vegas Action, Viva Vegas, Club Vegas and Las Vegas Silver. Just keep it simple, chaps.
Basketball fans have been going kit crazy. With Nike replacing Adidas as the NBA’s official apparel supplier for the first of eight seasons this autumn, their designers have been busy showing exactly what will be on offer.
And with the introduction of the sportswear giant into the League, a number have changes have followed suit.
Teams will no longer have home and road uniforms – hosts can wear what they want while visitors just have to make sure there’s no colour clashes.
And just in case supporters don’t fancy the latest creation, salvation is on offer – there will be two new ones coming out by the end of the year. Some franchises – the Bucks, Hawks, Heat, Hornets, Lakers, Pacers, Suns and Warriors – will be releasing retro shirts.
Meanwhile, 12 of the 30 teams have signed up for a sponsorship patch although none will go close to the coolness of Milwaukee’s backers – none other than iconic motorcycle company Harley-Davidson.
Know more about Sport360 Application