Osipoff: ‘RailCatting’ foes becoming habit in Gary
By By Michael Osipoff 713-2485 or firstname.lastname@example.org June 26, 2013 8:50PM
Scott M Bort/Post-Tribune Gary RailCats Media Day Mugs RC TAGERT GREG 2 050610.jpg PTSPT
Updated: July 30, 2013 8:07AM
Somewhere along the line, the term developed.
In the form of a noun, a “RailCatting.” Or in the form of a verb, “RailCatted.”
Not sure who coined it. But even players on the team have taken to invoking it.
It’s difficult to define precisely, but you know it when you see it. To make an attempt, it essentially means manufacturing a run, or — more likely — runs, by executing fundamentals, often in the late innings, sometimes with the unusual factored into the equation, occasionally including mistakes by the opponent (and the RailCats capitalizing).
In the extreme, it’s scoring, say, three runs without the benefit of a hit. Maybe, say, with two outs in the ninth inning.
It’s beating an opponent via paper cut nicks.
The RailCats have become known around the American Association (and, previously, the Northern League) for this propensity; it’s become part of their history and tradition, their DNA.
And this season’s team might be among the “RailCatty-est” bunch of RailCats the franchise has seen.
“Just resiliency,” pitcher Will Krout said. “There’s no quit as a team right now. We can be down four runs, we can be down two runs, and there’s just no quit. We get a runner on, OK, next guy up, next guy up.
“Everybody’s picking each other up — we got you. If one guy doesn’t get it done, the next guy’s going to pick him up. That’s something we didn’t have last year. We’d get down and it would be, like, shoot; we’d get one out, crap; two outs, oh well. It would just steamroll after that.”
The baseball gods can turn in an instant. The game can be humbling from one day to the next.
But these RailCats seem to have a little magic about them. Of course, talent is necessary. And, yes, it’s a silly notion, but …
“We’ve had some special wins over the years, we’ve had some good clubs. But when you win a few games like this, there might be something to it,” manager Greg Tagert said.
“There is something to be said that if you have success in the late innings or you come back, and it happens once, the players believe it. And these guys believe it. I don’t know — it’s hard to put a finger on it, but it matters.”
Some of the RailCats’ recent wins have defied explanation.
Within the last week, they’ve had three walk-off wins — two against Saint Paul involving a closer who had been 16-of-16 in save opportunities in two seasons with the Saints, and one against Kansas City — ranging in degree of improbability.
“There is a belief system there that helps out in situations like that. But it also balances itself, because the other team feels, hey, those guys have come back a couple times,” Tagert said. “I don’t know if it translates when you play another club, in another series, but it can enter that one club’s mind.”
There have been other examples of RailCats rallies, including earlier this month at Fargo-Moorhead, when they scored eight runs in the seventh inning to overcome a six-run deficit, then broke a tie with three runs in the ninth to win the game.
Perhaps Opening Day provided an indication about the type of season it was going to be for the RailCats: They trailed 4-0 in the first and 7-2 in the second, before winning 9-8 with a run in the 11th, after there had been two outs with nobody on base.
“It’s hard to put us away, and when you have a team like that, that’s the beautiful thing about baseball — you have to get that 27th out,” third baseman Brian Kolb said.
“The majority of us, we’re not going to put one in the seats very often, so for us, it’s about getting the next guy on. We’ve had a few that we’ve just worn out some bullpens, and there’s that mentality that we don’t have to do anything that we’re not capable of doing — just get the next guy up.”
It’s how the RailCats have operated since Tagert took over, built on pitching and defense, in a stadium not overly friendly to offenses, particularly in terms of home runs. And this group has followed that blueprint exceptionally well so far.
“That’s just who we are,” outfielder Mike Massaro said. “We’re not going to give up until the final out’s made.
“You never know how it’s going to work. You just have to go out there every day, and grind and battle, and hopefully good things will happen.”