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An Unforgettable, Enchanting Night at the Ballpark: Rally Cat, Meet the Rally Catcher

If I may quote from the immortal Dr. Seuss and his classic, “The Cat in the Hat.”

Look at me!

Look at me!

Look at me NOW!

It is fun to have fun

But you have to know how.”

I don’t think our town’s instant sensation, the rally cat, had much fun Wednesday night during it’s terrifying run over the the Busch Stadium grounds. But this adorable — if highly agitated — kitty delighted a large audience inside the ballpark.

The cat got plenty of face time on Fox Sports Midwest, even if Al Hrabosky called it a squirrel. Over in the KMOX booth, the beloved Mike Shannon thought he saw a raccoon instead of a cat. Where have you gone, Marlin Perkins?

At that point, That Darn Cat was nothing more than a curiosity. I mean, some overly stimulated anonymous cat runs into an out — nothing new at this particular ballpark in 2017 — and gets scooped up by a member of the grounds crew. Big deal.

(Side note: I hope the dude is healing from the bites and scratches. It ain’t easy being a human scratching post for a berserk cat. Don’t try this at home.)

The cat show was kind of cool … but that didn’t make lil’ frisky an animal celebrity with a book deal and film in the works.

Just because a cat wants to use Busch Stadium for a litter box, it it doesn’t make it Garfield, or Heathcliff, or Sylvester, or Grumpy Cat, or Figaro … or even DeNiro’s toilet-trained cat in the movie “Meet the Parents.”

It was an entertaining moment, for sure. But this stray cat wasn’t about to displace Ted Simmons, aka Simba, as the most prominent member of the cat family to perform at Busch Stadium I, or Busch II.

Hell, the Rally Squirrel had nothing to worry about either.

This was a sideshow. It wasn’t a memory that would last a lifetime. It wasn’t the single-best moment of the Cardinals’ season.

It was up to Yadier Molina to complete the cat trick and make this an unforgettable scene.

After stepping out of the batter’s box to point to the unidentified flying fur ball and wait for the little rascal to get taken out, Molina dug back in and waited for the next pitch.

The cat was probably headed to The Humane Society.

Molina was about to do something inhumane to the Kansas City Royals.

Hello, Kitty!

With one swing, Molina gave the Cardinals a grand-slam homer, an 8-5 comeback win over KC, and another triumph that pushed the team’s winning streak to five games.

With one swing Molina hoisted the Cardinals to within a game-and-a-half of the first-place Cubs.

With one swing Molina turned an ordinary baseball game into an enchanted evening that we’ll be talking about, and smiling about, for a long time.

Molina’s swing elevated rally cat to Rally Cat status.

Molina made the kitty famous. Dr. Seuss couldn’t have penned this one; the story of The CATcher and the Cat is just too crazy to believe. Molina and the Cat to Be Named Later have gone viral.

In a wild, unpredictable and strange season, this makes a lot of sense.

As I typed on Twitter: According to legend or mythology, cats have nine lives. The same could be said for the mysterious 2017 St. Louis Cardinals.

How many times have we counted them out?

And how many times have we counted Molina’s birthday candles and fretted over his age and decline?

Remember: This is a Molina.

So when you wonder how Yadier can continue to do this — push back on age, repair his body, reverse time, restore his power and bounce around like a big cat — well, it’s in the blood.

That deep Molina reservoir of talent, pride, intensity, dedication and competitive ferocity. Each day that Yadier goes to work, the game becomes a platform for honoring his late father, the great man the Molina boys lovingly call “Pai.” This undying devotion will motivate a man to do special things.

Remember Molina’s excellent second half in 2016, after it appeared that age was getting the best of him?

We’re talking a lot about the Rally Cat today.

What about the Rally Catcher?

Molina is making another proud and defiant stand.

After batting .270 with a .714 OPS with a poor wRC+ of 82 in the first half, Molina is a man on fire since the All-Star break. After turning a ripe 35 on July 13, right before the start of baseball’s second half, Molina is one of the best players in baseball right now. At any position.

In 88 post-All Star plate appearances Molina is batting .325 with a .554 slugging percentage and a .918 OPS. He’s lined four doubles, hit five homers, knocked in 14 runs and is batting .353 with runners in scoring position.

Molina has a wRC+ of 140 in the second half. Or to frame this another way: Molina was 18 percent below the league average offensively before the break, and he’s 40 percent above league average after the break.

In the second half, only the Cubs’ Wilson Contreras, at 173, has a better wRC+ than Molina among MLB catchers. And only Contreras has more WAR (1.4) than Molina (0.9) since the turn.

Among regular Cardinals position players, Molina’s second-half 140 wRC is third to Matt Carpenter’s 145 and Tommy Pham’s 142. And after barely getting a day of rest during the All-Star break, Molina is tied for second on the team in homers, RBIs and OPS and ranks third in slugging.

And what about the defense?

It’s gold. It’s platinum.

It’s pure Molina.

Since the All-Star break Molina has cocked his right arm to throw out five of the 11 runners that had the audacity to attempt a steal on him. That’s a throw-out rate of 45.5 percent.

And of course, there’s this: after the Instagram hit on Cardinals manager Mike Matheny on the morning of July 28, Molina is batting .341 with a .386 OBP and .683 slug. And he’s 76 percent above the league average offensively during that time with 176 wRC+.  Oh, and Yadier has ejected four of eight stealers (50%) since the Matheny dustup.

Is it any surprise that Molina was the first player on the field to notice a cat sprinting across the field?  If any living thing is trying to run on his turf, Molina’s hawk eyes won’t miss it. I’m surprised Molina — as is his custom — didn’t throw the cat out. He did something better. He hit the ball out. By the time that grand-slam landed, even dog people became cat people.

We saw something truly unique.

Cats do not like birds. Cats drool at the chance to go after birds.

Outdoor cats are relentless predators. They’ve attacked many redbirds.

Wednesday could have been a first.

When Top Cat met Top Catcher, this had to be the only time in history when a cat turned into the best friend a Redbird ever had. 

Thanks for reading …

–Bernie

More – Rally cat: Molina slam after cat runs on field leads Cards

  • keith walker

    this was great entertainment and who the hell are these guys? suddenly the cardinals are playing solid if not great D, timely hitting, stealing bases and playing smart bb. had good starters and now the bP especially the left handers are outstanding and MM can do real matchups that pay off. plus the Cubs are choking on it and that is always a special thing.

    go cards!

  • SW

    Dude. Bernie. That was a fun read. Nice work!

  • Pammer

    Great fun, Bernie. For #PlayersWeekend, maybe they should sell a Meowlina jersey.

  • geoff

    Nice writing Bernie. Isn’t there an old saw that goes ” the rumors of his demise have been greatly exaggerated.” Funny how some base hits and a timely home run quash some of the dissent. He his still the best catcher in baseball. I didn’t get to see much of Pudge, but I will cede to LaRussa who said Yadier Molina is the best to ever squat behind the plate. The Cardinals are a fun team to watch right now.

  • LawrenceKScardsfan

    Love it! Molina is really kicking petunias. The team seems to be finally playing to its potential offensively.

  • Mark Lee Arbogast

    I’m still trying to understand why Bernie likes Tommy Pham so much. His batting average is way too high!!!

  • ken

    the rally cat meets the rally brat.

  • BEERGOD

    Bernie! This might be your most lyrically fun to read article yet! And hardly an advanced metric mentioned. Hmmm. . . . .

  • JDinSTL

    When does the clock strike midnight?