It was April 13, 2009. Citi Field was hosting its first regular season game between the Mets and the Padres. The team was intact and ready to make a run at the division title. The Phillies' two-year reign as National League East champions was going to be a fading memory once the Mets steamrolled over the opposition. A funny thing happened on the way to the coronation. Citi Field had an uninvited guest on Opening Night as a cat found its way onto the field near the Mets dugout.
(Click here for the video of the Opening Night cat at Kitty...I mean Citi Field.)
Now I wouldn't have had a problem if this orange cat had been a crimefighter. If his alter ego was Clark Cat and he worked at a major metropolitan newspaper, then all would be fine. I would have felt safe with him running around on the field. I'd assume he was trying to protect the Mets.
However, this cat was clearly not super in any way. In fact, it may have been related to the cat that supposedly cursed the Chicago Cubs in 1969 at Shea Stadium. At Citi Field, photographers captured the cat as he worked his way onto the warning track near the on-deck circle. Notice the similarities between that picture and the picture of the black cat walking near the Cubs dugout in 1969.
The Citi Field cat ran behind Mets third baseman David Wright as he was on deck. The 1969 black cat walked behind Cubs third baseman Ron Santo as he was on deck. Wright is arguably the best third baseman in Mets history. Similarly, Santo is considered to be the best third baseman in Cubs history. After the black cat made its appearance at Shea, the Cubs went into a freefall as the Mets passed them in the standings and eventually went on to win their first World Series.
The Citi Field cat decided to take a jog on the Mets side of the field. The Mets were healthy before the cat cursed them. Now half the team is getting hurt, both on the field (Niese and Sheffield today) and coming off the field (Luis "I now use two hands, but not on the handrail" Castillo).
Forget the trainers and medical staff employed by the 2009 Mets. The CAT-astrophe that this season has become is all due in part to the events that transpired in the third inning on Opening Night at Citi Field on the 13th of April. (It had to be on the 13th as well!)
Cats have a way of deciding the fate of baseball teams in New York. It's too bad that this particular tabby chose to curse the Mets this season instead of the rest of the National League!
P.S. There is no truth to the rumor that the orange cat that infected the Mets season in 2009 was a zombie, even if this picture says otherwise.