On August 2nd, Aaron Judge was batting in the 8th inning with the Yankees trailing the Orioles 7-1 when a cat ran onto the field. The Bronx kitten’s wild sprint around the outfield lasted a little over three minutes. But since that feline fiesta, the fates of those two franchises have taken opposite turns: the Yankees have won 17 of 20. The Orioles have lost 18 in a row.
We would not still be discussing this cat three weeks later if the Orioles losing streak didn’t represent the seventh longest skid in Major League Baseball in the last 100 years. The Orioles are the worst team in baseball, so it’s possible this post-cat slide is a coincidence. At first it seemed like a fun, random event. But the fact that the O’s dropped 18 straight makes it feel like something shady is going on here. Was this cat sent by a baseball witch to curse the O’s? Let’s investigate.
While the cat was showered with MVP chants as it evaded capture, it did not make itself available for post-game interviews. On the Yankees radio broadcast last night, Suzyn Waldman said that several people called the stadium switchboard to offer to adopt the rogue feline. But after the cat was escorted off the field by the Yankees’ grounds crew, it mysteriously vanished. When reached for comment, a Yankees spokesperson confirmed that no one knows where the cat went.
Could an errant feline—even one that’s not black— really impact a team’s win-loss record? If baseball history is any indication: absolutely.
We only have to go back four months to find another feral cat running onto the field, this one during a Dodgers vs. Rockies game in April. That long-haired adult tabby seemed more interested in relaxing near the Dodgers resident zen master Cody Bellinger.
That happened on April 2nd. The Dodgers would go on to win 13 of their next 14 games, while the Rockies would lose 10 of their next 13.
“But Molly,” you ask, “Aren’t the Dodgers and Yankees good and the Orioles and Rockies bad?” And the answer is yes. But let’s look at the winning percentages of all four teams post tabby trot and compare.
Dodgers winning percentage in the two weeks after cat incident: .928
Dodgers winning percentage in their other 111 games: .585
Rockies winning percentage in the two weeks after cat incident: .231
Rockies winning percentage in their other 112 games: .482
Yankees winning percentage in the three weeks after cat incident: .850
Yankees winning percentage in their other 105 games: .533
Orioles winning percentage in the three weeks after cat incident: .000
Orioles winning percentage in their other other 105 games: .362
Stray cats provided the Dodgers and Yankees with winning percentage boosts of .343 and .317, respectively. Those same cats hurt the Rockies winning percentage by .251, and the Orioles’ by .362. There seems to be a saber-toothed reason for these four teams’ winning and losing streaks. (You can’t say this newsletter ignores all advanced metrics.)
This wasn’t the first season feral felines ran onto Major League Baseball fields, however. Perhaps the most famous incident of a cat running amok on the diamond occurred at the Kingdome in Seattle way back on July 14, 1983.
I’m not going to tally up the records of the Red Sox and the Mariners since that day, but one need only look at World Championships for incontrovertible evidence that this cat cursed the Mariners. The Red Sox have won it all four times since that night. Seattle is the only MLB team to have never made the World Series.
The St. Lous Cardinals understand cat power. In August of 2017 a cat ran onto the field with the Cardinals trailing the Royals 5-4.
On the very first pitch after play resumed, Yadier Molina hit a grand slam. The cat became such an instant legend that the team was soon embroiled in a custody dispute with a local animal shelter. The Cardinals lost that battle, but won the merch war. Fans were soon sporting rally cat t-shirts. Some even encouraged a member of the St. Lous Cardinals organization to go undercover and adopt the cat from the shelter.
The fate of the rally cat remains unknown, but its power was evident immediately.
In summation, after carefully scrutinizing the data, I am absolutely certain that cats change baseball seasons, not to mention the fates of franchises. I am equally certain that the Bronx feline from earlier this month is singularly responsible for the Orioles cataclysmic spiral into the abyss. As we all know by now: Don’t F*ck with Cats.
The only question remaining is whether a member of the Orioles front office planted the Bronx cat as part of a tanking strategy to get the team the first overall pick in next year’s draft. While rival evaluators view the Orioles ineptitude as an embarrassment, for these O’s a cat induced meltdown is probably just part of a larger plan.