These are dark times for Miami Marlins fans. There's a raw, Jose Fernandez-sized hole in this franchise, and the one comfort that Fish fans could lean on this year — hated owner Jeffrey Loria's impending sale of the team — still looks a long way from happening. You'd forgive Fish faithful from feeling blue as they shuffled into Marlins Park for the home opener last night.
But then the antihero we all need came to the rescue. He's gray, he's wily, and he united Marlins fans into a roaring mass of approval as he skittered around the field, evading players and umpires alike, before scaling center field's grotesque home-run sculpture and hiding inside its garishly colored bowels.
He's Don Cattingly, the feline rebel we didn't know we needed. And just when Miami was ready to embrace him, he disappeared back into the Little Havana night.
Our new gato of the year magically appeared in the outfield during the sixth inning of the Marlins' battle against the Braves last night. As the cat crouched against the wall in center field, slugger Giancarlo Stanton and one of the umpires tried to coax him into their arms, but he wasn't having it: This was a street-tough Little Havana stray, not a cuddling-on-the-couch housecat.
As the crowd cheered, the cat scaled the display boards in the outfield and leaped onto Red Grooms' loved and loathed outfield monstrosity. TV cameras followed the feline's every move.
"Terrific stuff by the cat!" one of the broadcasters enthused.
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Eventually, the game went on, though the Marlins turned off the home-run sculpture while the cat hid inside. The internet rushed to name the new legend of baseball folklore, eventually settling on "Don Cattingly" and, naturally, setting up a Twitter account.
Many commenters hoped for a happy ending — an adoption for Don Cattingly, perhaps by Stanton or Christian Yelich. But Cattingly is not the type of feline content with a life of wet food served in a metal dish. He roams the dangerous streets of Little Havana, awaiting his city's next moment of need.
The Marlins won 8-4. But Don Cattingly won the night. Please give him a tasty handful of ropa vieja if you spot him wandering Calle Ocho today.