And yet this season their most galvanizing figure is a little squirrel that scurried into the collective hearts of Cardinals Nation. Known as the Rally Squirrel, this little varmint has taken an entire sport by storm. The Rally Squirrel made his Major League debut in early October, stopping play to scamper around Busch Stadium during St. Louis’ loss to the Philadelphia Phillies in Game 3 of the National League Division Series.
One night later, he came back, burrowing his way into baseball lore.
During the fifth inning of Game 4, the squirrel showed up again, this time crossing home plate distracting Phillies right-hander Roy Oswalt who was in the middle of a pitch. Oswalt protested ‘squirrel interference,’ wanting a dead pitch, but the home plate ump said no. The errant pitch counted. The Phillies ended the inning unscathed, but the rodent’s run became a death knell.
Although the little critter has not been seen lately, it’s likeness has become ever-present with the Cardinals’ push through the postseason. “I think it’s good. The fans are having fun,” said Cardinals manager Tony La Russa. “There’s so much attention and pressure on the players that the squirrel provides a much needed distraction.”
In deciding to debut during baseball’s most high-profile month, the Rally Squirrel managed to maximize its media exposure and has left his paw print on a sport that embraces superstition.
Not all baseball-animal stories end happily, however. The best examples come from Cardinals rival, the Cubs, who have not won it all since 1908. Chi town’s lovable losers have two of the sport’s most unfortunate animal anecdotes: the Curse of the Billy Goat in 1945 and the infamous black cat incident in September 1969.
In summary, it’s all been nuts! And that is the bottom of our news on this Friday, October 21, 2011.