One of the most frustrating aspects of modern sports journalism is the connection of sports to real world events. There are a million sports analysts and almost none of them do any analyzing. Instead, the Saints win the Super Bowl as part of the healing process for Hurricane Katrina. Spain's World Cup win unites Catalonia and the rest of the country. Barbaro has God on his side. In The Tenth Inning, Ken Burns said the 1998 home run chase was a welcome distraction from Monica Lewinsky. Baseball been very, very good to Bill Clinton.
Maybe not everyone wants to read about, say, how defensive positioning helped in the game, but I'd rather read a good strategy column than the latest from a columnist who insists sports be the event to unite people after a tragedy. Except, of course, when it involves cats. While a black cat did run across Citi Field while the Mets stretched one game, not one cat ran onto the field during a game this year. But that's not what I'm interested in (for once): Great things happen when you have a cat in your life (unless you're allergic).
Right? If you want to make it on the Internet, it helps to have a cat mascot. Example 1: Snacks the Cat, from ubiquitous-on-your-Twitter-feed Best Coast. Example 2: Cat Stairs (pictured), who has no doubt helped me get at least a little attention. (In each case, there's probably some underlying talent there. But it's mainly about the cat.)
Why do I bring this up (other than an excuse to run a photo of Cat Stairs)? Well, before Cat Stairs as an unofficial secondary mascot, the Phillies never won back-to-back pennants. Look, if we as sportswriters are allowed to connect one event to another with impunity, why not go all out and credit wins to a cat?
To put it another way... Matt Stairs, missed playoffs. Cat Stairs, best record in baseball.
For all my life, the Phillies were almost always one of the worst teams in baseball. With the exception of one steroids-fueled fluke World Series appearance in 1993, the Phillies were pretty much out of it by late May for most of my life. In 2000, they led the division in June but eventually fell apart. But a weird thing happened: They kept having winning seasons. Except one 80-81 year, the Phillies kept coming close to the playoffs and missing them throughout the decade.
You know the rest. The Phillies won an improbable division title in 2007, the World Series in 2008 and another NL crown last year. This year, for the first time in 128 seasons, they finished with the best record in baseball. Look, Ryan Howard and Chase Utley and Roy Halladay are great, but I explained it: There are external forces at work here. Cat Stairs.
We should thank Cat Stairs' owner; this regular season was definitely the best in Phillies history. Don't believe me? Here's what happened: Several fantastic catches of foul balls by fans, a toddler drinking beer, a dude faceplanting in the stands behind home plate during a game, a dude running onto the field and being tased, another dude running onto the field in a complete red outfit, a fan vomiting onto an off-duty police officer and his daughter (intentionally), multiple curse words picked up by the mics throughout the season, Jayson Werth cursing out a dad and his son (and a whole section) after missing a foul ball, a dude grabbing his girlfriend's breast on live TV in celebration, a million instantaneous jokes about the team on Twitter, et cetera, et cetera. All of this was broadcast in 1080i high def.
I'm sure some stuff happened on the field, too. But no way the Phillies finish with the best record (after being 48-46, no less) and all of that awesomeness happens off the field without Cat Stairs. I fully expect the Phillies to go 11-0 in the postseason, which will help the healing process of the city's current terrible economic situation.