Perhaps it was the fact that I grew up in Chicago and had to listen to the legend of the 1945 Curse of the Billy Goat or the black cat of 1969, but when I heard Rally Squirrel for the Cardinals I was skeptical…However, after re-thinking the circumstances, there might be something to this one squirrel (or four that have since been caught).
You can go back to my previous article of how the Phillies scored three runs in the next inning after the Rally Squirrel first appeared, or how Skip Schumaker was hurt and hasn’t played in the NLCS after the squirrel ran between his legs.
Let’s examine what has happened since then. First, Schumaker did start game five, when I thought he would be out of the game for sure. It was his double that drove in Rafael Furcal after his leadoff triple that led to the Cardinals only run in their 1-0 Division Series clinching win at Philadelphia. (Where a squirrel was also spotted roaming the grounds during the pregame.)
Schumaker did leave that game five and was replaced on the roster by pitcher Lance Lynn for the NLCS. We know what Lynn has done.
In the sixth inning of game one, Lynn gave up a leadoff single and with one out and a runner on first, he intentionally walked Prince Fielder. Lynn then got Rickie Weeks to ground into an inning ending double play, stopping further damage. Then in game two, after Arthur Rhodes loaded the bases by walking Prince Fielder, Lynn came in again as the Brewers were mounting a rally and got Weeks to ground into another inning ending double play (even though replays showed Weeks was clearly safe at first).
The fortunes of the Cardinals are turning because of that squirrel. I’m starting to believe so. Had Schumaker not been forced to sit out this series, Tony La Russa wouldn’t have added Lynn to the roster. In reality, it brings fun back to the game of baseball. Even La Russa, who likes to play it straight, is seeing the importance of how something like this can keep the players loose and excited the fans. La Russa talks about the Rally Squirrel and he even likes the “Beast Mode” display by the Brewers and how much their fans like that.
The Cardinals are so wrapped up into the Rally Squirrel, they will be handing out 40,000 white towels with an image of the furry rodent on those rally rags for game three.