The St. Louis Cardinals are in the heat of a real pennant race in baseball’s National League. As of September 12, they were in third place in the NL Central, four games back of the division leading Chicago Cubs, and two games back of the 2nd place Milwaukee Brewers.
The Cardinals, led by a resurgent Matt Carpenter, have been one of the hottest teams in baseball over the past six weeks, climbing from 8.5 games back in late July. They are 33-19 in the second half of the season.
Last weekend, we learned the secret to the team’s success.
During the 2011 NL Division Series, a squirrel scampered across the diamond at St. Louis’ Busch Stadium, and streaked past home plate (fur on, of course), during a game against the Philadelphia Phillies. The Cards went on to win the game and the series, and eventually won the World Series.
To commemorate the power of the potent rodent (yes, squirrels are rodents!), the Cardinals had a squirrel depicted in their World Series rings. Dad, what’s that on your diamond?
Well, the squirrel has struck again. Or his bushy-tailed relative has.
Late in last Sunday’s game, the Cards were facing a three-game sweep at the hands of the Detroit Tigers in the motor city.
And then things got squirrelly.
A squirrel sprinted onto the field and parked itself between second and third base. The game was temporarily delayed as Tigers’ infielders made efforts to shoo the squirrel away.
It was a veritable Animal Kingdom. Cardinals and Tigers and Squirrels, oh my.
Eventually, the squirrel moved into foul territory before escaping through right field.
The Cardinals knew it was a sign. They scored five runs in the seventh inning and beat the Tigers 5-2.
“I don’t think you can discount that factor,” Cards manager Mike Shildt said after the game. “The squirrel shows up, and we score five runs. We only had six runs in the whole series before that.”
And there you have it. The key to success in the big leagues, it appears, is Chip ‘n Dale.*You can find hundreds of fun sports facts in my new book, The Average Joe’s Super Sports Almanac at https://steveriach.com/products/the-average-joes-super-sports-almanac