Ray Ratto

Choosing the cat over the Cardinals

Choosing the cat over the Cardinals

People like animals, often for reasons beyond the fathoming of normal folks.
Thus, you are allowed to be amused and disgusted simultaneously the news that Rally Cat, the feral kitten who disrupted a St. Louis Cardinals game and then allowed the Cardinals to win it, has been in the middle of a custody battle and has finally lawyered up.
Or, more specifically, been lawyered up on its own behalf.
The St. Louis Feral Cat Outreach, which has resisted the Cardinals’ attempts to appropriate the cat for its own nefarious marketing schemes, has gone to court to fight for the cat’s right to be owned by someone other than the Cardinals.
Me? I side with the cat. If only I knew what the cat wanted.
To date, there have been no discovery motions made by the cat, no quotes from the cat, no appeals from the cat to be adopted by someone who will not then turn the cat over against its will to either the Cardinals or the Outreach people.
And until I learn that, I side with the cat.
For one, nobody knows if the cat liked being feral; it’s not a choice I would make, but I’ve never been a cat. For two, the Cardinals have always been a bit too weighty for their britches, and being able to appropriate cats must surely be beyond their purview. For three, the lawyer, a guy named Albert Watkins who was described by Deadspin as “media friendly,” seems like the sort of person who would not be averse to using the cat for his own marketing ends.
So I wait for the cat. Maybe there’s a cat whisperer out there who can decipher the context and inflections of what seems to us to be your standard plaintive meow, someone who can show us that the cat is capable of  thoughts as complex as, “WHAT THE HELL AM I DOING WITH A LAWYER? I CAN’T PAY A LAWYER! PLUS, I DON’T HAVE ANY IDEA WHAT BASEBALL IS EXCEPT THAT IT’S LOUD AND PEOPLE SPILL BEER ON ME. SCREW BASEBALL!”
In the meantime, I await the A’s trying to claim eminent domain on an ocelot – just because at this point of another bygone season, even weird publicity beats none at all.

Odds are relatively strong that Belt actually doesn’t have the longest at-bat ever

Odds are relatively strong that Belt actually doesn’t have the longest at-bat ever

Brandon Belt’s 21-pitch at-bat in Sunday’s Giants’ 4-2 victory over the Los Angeles Angels is the stuff of nerdley legend. It must also have made Rob Manfred pull off his own head in exasperation.

Baseball games are quicker this year because of the new speed diktats, all of them part of the Manfredian compulsion that pace is the thing that is keeping baseball from becoming the cool kids’ sport.

But here is Belt, laying down a 12-minute batting opus that droned on so long that Belt admitted later that he hates that sort of thing when he is in the field. He, too, understands where Manfred’s bread is buttered.

But it was also described as “the longest at-bat ever” by people who should know better but clearly don’t. It might have been the longest at-bat ever, but people have only been counting this for 20 years, and there have been long at-bats before. The odds are that there have been longer at-bats in baseball history, and that Belt’s extended soliloquy doesn’t rank first, but maybe 12th, or 29th, or 214th. According to BaseballReference.com, there have been 14,689,043 at-bats, so the odds are relatively strong that Belt actually doesn’t have the record at all.

So what we have here, then, is a fascinating oddity but not necessarily an epochal one. Frankly, if Belt really cared about the record, he would have fouled off seven or eight more pitches and made a better claim for having a record that nobody actually can make.

But every day is a new set of at-bats, and while Belt can never truly have a totally true record, he could make Rob Manfred turn purple with rage. That’s better than any record right there.

The meaning of Sean Manaea's no-hitter

The meaning of Sean Manaea's no-hitter

Sean Manaea has a memory that will last him forever. The Oakland Athletics have a touchstone they can use to trump whatever other misfortunes befall them.

That is the beauty of a no-hitter, which Manaea threw at the Boston Red Sox Saturday night in a 3-0 victory before a healthy crowd of 25,746. It means a lot for one day, then its magnificence fades, and the season plays out as it must.

In the meantime, it is an exemplary moment for a middle-of-the-road team trying to find its core. It doesn’t lead to anything else, it doesn’t change the course of a season, it is simply one moment in time for a player who has just had his one shining moment, and a team trying to figure out what will resonate with its fan base.

And Manaea’s performance will remind the customer base that anything can happen on any given day over the course of a six-month season, and that when in doubt, going to the ballpark to take in a game is not all that bad an idea.

And that, for anyone outside the circle of Manaea and his immediate family, friends and teammates, is the lesson. No-hitters are a singular and individual moment, and Manaea has one. That never fades...for him.

For the A’s, though, it can mean whatever they want it to mean. Maybe they learn more confidence in Manaea. Maybe he becomes the go-to guy they thought Kendall Graveman would be. Maybe subduing the best hitting team in the American League provides a level of confidence that the A’s need to be thought of as more than just a modest also-ran.

Maybe all these things happen. Maybe none of them do. But this is immutable:

9 0 0 0 2 10 108-75 1.23

That is Manaea’s box score line, and whatever other explanations result from this performance, the line still speaks for itself.

Put another way, a game with free admission doesn’t hold a candle to a no-hitter. Sean Manaea is now an official badass on a team that can use all it can get, and you need to take that at face value because face value is the only thing in which no-hitters pay. It’s a moment that can be much more, or just what it is, but what it is is more than sufficient.