Is your favorite team Jellicle or just another stray?
On July 18, 2019, the world was gifted the one thing that could heal the divide in our tumultuous nation, the first official trailer for Universal Pictures’ upcoming movie adaptation of the “beloved” Andrew Lloyd Webber musical, “Cats”. With “digital fur technology” in their tool belt and a misguided sense of purpose, the creators of what is sure to be the future record holder for most Academy Awards ever, created a masterpiece of meme-able content for the internet to enjoy. If you have yet to watch this tour de force of cinematic marvels, please do so now. I’ll wait.
That was absolutely bonkers, right? I could write an entire book about the glorious nonsense of this trailer but I’m choosing instead to write this, an important article where I compare MLB franchises to stills from this trailer. Now, let’s make like Tigger and bounce right into it!
“I am beautiful by monstrous cat standards and I demand more food and pearls!” That’s probably what this cat is thinking and is also pretty similar to what must be the team motto of the New York Yankees this season.
Currently sitting at 64-34, 9.0 games up in their division and slowly pulling away from any competition, the Bronx Bombers have been an amazing example of the value of organizational depth. Aaron Judge and Giancarlo Stanton have played only a combined 52 games this season. Miguel Andujar only played 12 games before being lost to a shoulder injury for the season. Didi Gregorious has only played 30 games this season after undergoing Tommy John surgery in October. Luis Severino has yet to pitch in 2019 because of a shoulder injury and a still-mysterious lat injury.
Taking their places and filling in more than admirably have been relative unknowns and newcomers to the organization. DJ LeMahieu has looked incredible while bouncing around the infield hitting .333 and driving in 68 runs. Luke Voit has continued his torrid hitting from the end of last season to the tune of 19 HR and 52 RBI and a .386 OBP that leads all Yankees hitters who have played at least 50 games.
Gary Sanchez is back to hitting bombs with 24 HR on the season after a disappointing 2018 campaign. Domingo German has come out of nowhere to become a tertiary ace for this staff with 12 wins and a 3.38 ERA. The bullpen has been nearly un-hittable at times, posting a 5.5 WAR, which leads MLB. They also have the second-best team ERA at 3.71 and the third-best K/9 at 10.15.
This doesn’t even mention the contributions from Gio Urshella and Clint Frazier(pre-demotion) who did their fair share of heavy lifting to keep the team afloat early in the season. This team looks like the team to beat in the AL and the scary thing is that they’re only going to get better as key players return from injury.
“Hey, what are you doing here?” That sentence applies to Sir Ian McKellen in this trailer and the San Francisco Giants in the Wild Card race. A month ago this team was eight games under .500 at 33-42 with a 0.2% chance to make the playoffs. Fast forward to today and they have gone 17-8 over the last month to reach 50-50, 2.5 games out of a wild card spot with a 5.8% chance of making the playoffs, according to FanGraphs. As someone who likes Bruce Bochy, this run makes me happy because at least they’re trying to make his last season a fun one. Similar to this trailer, though, I doubt anything good will ultimately come from this.
James Corden’s bow-tie cat represents the New York Mets organization spitting on their fans, laughing at them for believing that this season would be different. To be fair though, much like this trailer, the signs that it would be hard to watch were there from the beginning. Hiring an agent as GM? Odd choice. Bringing in Robinson Cano to anchor the lineup? Weird flex but ok. Jed Lowrie is gonna move around the infield and give us the gritty, passionate will to win that this team needs? Sure Brodie, go off I guess.
So far Brodie has pitched a chair in the locker room (that somehow the opposing team hit into the upper decks at Citi Field), Cano has played just 74 games and only managed a .243 average with 6 HR and 25 RBI, and Lowrie has yet to even step on the field for the Mets in the regular season. Pete Alonso is represented in this image by the orange cat in the background that just looks horrified. He is their lone bright spot of the season after winning the Home Run Derby and hitting .265 with 33 HR and 75 RBI so far.
At this point, Mets fans should just throw the nearest chair and include the towel while they’re at it because this season is going nowhere fast. Just like Garfield, everyone’s favorite lazy orange loaf. Though the New York Mets are giving him a run for his money.
I know, there aren’t any cats in this image. But this is arguably the funniest still from the trailer because it shows that the creators really thought we were gonna buy into this fantasy they had of a successful movie. Does that remind anyone of anything? Oh right! The 2019 Boston Red Sox.
Similar to the “Cats” trailer, this team looked great on paper. Just like this movie has a lot of star power; Jennifer Hudson, Judi Dench, Ian McKellen, James Corden, Rebel Wilson(does she count?), Idris Elba, and of course Taylor Swift, the Red Sox seemed to have a lot going for them this season. Mookie Betts, J.D. Martinez, Chris Sale, David Price, Andrew Benintendi(maybe?), Xander Bogaerts and their exciting youngster Michael Chavis looked ready to contend for a second straight World Series championship. But, much like digital fur technology, the idea was flawed from the start. Losing Craig Kimbrel proved to be a problem they had no answer for and they spent half of the season waiting for their big-name starters to earn their salaries.
Despite all of that, this team is clawing its way out of the bunker and starting to look like a playoff team. They currently sit at 54-46, 11.0 games back in the division but only 3.0 games out of a wild card spot. Their disappointing weekend series against the Orioles notwithstanding, the only question that remains is whether or not we’ll be believers this holiday season (Halloween).
The only question that is plaguing the Los Angeles Dodgers at this point in the season is whether or not they’ll throw their necks out trying to look back far enough to see any of their competition in the division. As I’m writing this, they currently have a 16 game lead on the second-place team, the Arizona Diamondbacks, and have a 100% chance of making the postseason according to FanGraphs. Their offense leads the senior circuit in RBI, and is in the top 3 of runs scored, HR, OBP, SLG. The pitching staff leads in wins and has the lowest BB/9 and team ERA. Much like the cat in this image, they really have nothing to do except look back in horror as the rest of the teams in the division scratch and claw for a wild card berth while hovering around .500.
With all the money that clearly went into this movie, you’d think they would have made something a little less cringe-worthy. Speaking of which, the Philadelphia Phillies know a little something about that. Jennifer Hudson represents this roster, big names that have a lot of talent on paper but are just hilariously misused and not shattering expectations like we thought they would (J-Hudson is amazing and I’m not shading her talents, just saying that not even she can save this nightmare of a movie). The rest of the Cats in this shot are the fans that are squinting their eyes and rage singing about how much better things should be. Ok, maybe not rage singing, but still pretty upset and in need of major theatrical catharsis.
Bryce Harper has been good and I refuse to engage in the “overrated” conversation because come on. However, the rest of this team, like the “Cats” trailer, has been a great example of how money does not always solve your problems and make a winner. The bullpen is a disaster and most of the lineup is about as dangerous and intimidating as Hello Kitty. Meanwhile, Gabe Kapler has been more like Nermal when the team needs him to be Grumpy Cat. There is still plenty of hope for this team though, as they’re only 0.5 games back of a wild card spot and have what could possibly be considered a bit of an easier schedule coming up, excluding the three-game series against the NL East-leading Atlanta squad this weekend.
At the beginning of June, Cleveland was 29-29 and 10.5 games out of first in the AL Central. Since then they have gone 28-12 and sit at 57-41, only 3.0 games behind the Minnesota Twins, who looked like a lock to run away with the division. Similar to this sneaky looking cat played by a man who is incapable of turning down movie roles, Idris Elba, Cleveland has snuck into contention and currently holds the top AL wild-card spot by 1 game. Since June 1st, Cleveland’s offense has the 4th highest AVG in the league at .274. They have also been top ten in OBP, HR, and SLG. The pitching staff has been top ten in K/9, BB/9, ERA, wins, and WAR. This team has gone from a non-factor in a terrible AL Central to a legit competitor for the suddenly vulnerable Twins.
Much like the “Cats” trailer, this MLB season has given us lots to dissect and critique. As we head towards the home stretch there are lots of questions still to be answered; which teams will cough up a hairball? Who will scratch and claw their way to the top? Which managers have put themselves in hairy situations? If your team hasn’t lived up to expectations, don’t get feral, there is still time to lick your wounds. I’m out of cat puns now so I’ll leave it at that. Whoever your team is, there is 1000% an image from this trailer that will sum up their season. Feel free to comment with the image that you believe best encapsulates your team’s season and let me know what I’ve missed.
For now, I’ll leave you with one of the greatest cats to ever grace the internet. Play us out keyboard cat!