As Kansas City Royals Hall of Fame announcer Denny Mathews likes to say, “There’s nothing like fun at the old ballpark.” One would have to imagine he slipped that old phrase in regarding the cat on the field incident last night. Yes, that is right. There was a cat on the field at Busch Stadium during last night’s game during a high leverage situation.
A Cat at Busch Stadium Broke the Tension of an Intense Royals v Cardinals Moment.
The Stage is Set
It was the sixth inning with the Royals holding a narrow 5-4 lead. Brandon Maurer had struggled and had runners at first and third with one out. Peter Moylan, a ground ball specialist, was called upon to clean up the mess, hopefully with a ground ball double play. A passed ball allowed one runner to advance to second, eliminating that possibility. Moylan did manage to get Paul DeJong to strike out on a nasty slider that looked more like a Frisbee than a baseball. Right handed hitters have hit .168 against Moylan this season, so switch-hitting Dexter Fowler was given a free pass, loading the bases for Yadier Molina.
Send in the cat!
It was a kitten, really. A smoky gray kitten prancing through the infield and out past a smiling Lorenzo Cain in center field. How could you not be amused by it? Fans were left wondering the name of the young man who was assigned the task of retrieving the cat. He was met with the cheers of 40,000 fans watching his every move, along with the TV audience the entire internet. The kitten was no match for the competent cat wrangler and was caught without much of a chase. As you might expect, the kitten was not going peacefully. It took great exception to being carried like a football and dug its tiny razor-sharp claws into the torso of the brave young man. One has to admire the composure of the kid who looked like he wanted to slap the kitten. He did not. He did change his technique for carrying the kitten to a less cuddly posture. It wasn’t completely claw-proof but lip-readers will tell you that the subsequent attacks yielded fewer profanities. The young man and the kitten exited the field without further incident. It was the climax of the evening up to that point.
Return to the matter at hand
Bases loaded, two out, one-run lead, and a guy with a bat in his hand that has a knack for making big plays in big moments. Moylan, who probably hates cats today if he did not already, left a slider up in the zone for Molina, and it landed in the left field bleachers. Social media was instantly flooded with disdain for the cat and even a few cat conspiracy theories. The cat was absolutely a distraction. It was disruptive. It probably did affect Moylan’s tempo. But it also did the same to Molina’s at-bat. It temporarily sucked all of the tension out of a very tense moment for both teams. When all was said and done, Molina overcame the distraction better than Moylan and won the match-up.
The kitten will never appear in the official box score for the game but it may have been the deciding factor. It will be remembered and talked about for years to come by all who were in attendance. It has become part of the lore of the Royals vs Cardinals rivalry. There’s nothing like fun at the old ballpark.
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