As I write this, it’s been roughly 12 hours since O’Fallon resident Lucas Hackmann ran from center field at Busch Stadium as 40,000-some fans watched an angry cat bite and claw his arms.
Moments later, Cardinals catcher Yadier Molina belted a game-winning grand slam and had no choice but to yield all the credit to craze that already has St. Louis all a-Twitter — the “Rally Cat.”
Just as swiftly as one local grocery chain capitalized with an offer of discounted cat food, social media’s no-fun-nicks started piling on the so-called Best Fans in Baseball.
“Oh please,” pleaded one BND Facebook poster, “don’t let this get out of hand like the stupid rally squirrel!!!!”
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And this one: “Ugh! Only in St. Louis!”
Let me say that, in principle, I agree.
If, 49 games from now, St. Louis somehow finds itself champions of the National League’s Comedy Central, this feline phenomenon will blow up into a full-fledged kitty mania.
There will be red Beanie Baby kittens at the ballpark and Rally Cat bobble heads. Someone will co-opt the saccharine sweet “Hang In There” poster to bear the likeness of manager Mike Matheny. And there will be Cardinal red t-shirts bearing a bizarre reboot of the Cats on the Bat (oops, here they are already).
It’s kind of ridiculous, especially to an avowed dog person, such as myself.
But “only in St. Louis?” C’mon man.
Seems I can remember manager Mike Scioscia himself carrying a stuffed “Rally Monkey” to the top step of the dugout as his Anaheim Angels played their way to the 2002 World Series championship. And is it not these same Angels we can now blame for those obnoxious Thunder Sticks?
The Kansas City Royals in 2016 found a praying mantis in the trash can, won five out of their next six games, and started taking the insect on the road with them. When the Rally Mantis died, the club played a tribute video on the Kauffman Jumbotron.
Were it not the Pittsburgh Steelers who brought us the Terrible Towel? We’re talking inanimate bathroom linen here, folks. Next you’ll tell me Steelers fans tailgate at Bed, Bath and Beyond.
And, of course, what about the Chicago Cubs? Through 107 seasons of futility, they blamed their inability to win a championship on a goat.
“Only in St. Louis?” Indeed.
Goofy traditions are as old as baseball itself and as universal as our love of the game. So I’m going to do my best to lighten up a little.
I’ll roll my eyes quietly to myself and otherwise dismiss the Rally Cat as good, clean fan fun.