HILLARY SMITH: Don't be surprised by subdued RailCats

2013-09-08T21:00:00Z 2013-09-09T23:41:13Z HILLARY SMITH: Don't be surprised by subdued RailCatsHillary Smith Times Columnist nwitimes.com
September 08, 2013 9:00 pm  • 

In years past, the RailCats have celebrated postseason milestones with the ferocity of a championship.

Making the postseason was worthy of champagne showers and a rowdy locker room.

Winning the first series only made the first celebration look like a third-grade birthday party.

Not this year.

After two years without even the slightest whiff of a champagne smell permeating the clubhouse, it's almost as if the RailCats are too focused to celebrate. 

Subdued is the best way to describe the celebration after Saturday's American Association semifinals were wrapped up with a shutout win over Fargo-Moorhead.

The wild card RailCats beat the Northern Division champ RedHawks in four games, with dominant pitching and offensive outbursts.

The only way to tell that this wasn't a typical mid-July win was that they played their postgame victory song in the clubhouse three times instead of once.

The RailCats are bottling it up. They're saving their celebration faces for the big one, the real one, and it's not here yet.

They're not acting like a team that has missed the playoffs the last two years, or one that was swept the last time they were in it. Instead, they're playing like they've been here before.

Of the 23 players on the roster, only two were on the team in 2009 when the RailCats last reached a championship, against Fargo-Moorhead in the Northern League. None were on the team in 2007, the last time the RailCats won a championship.

For veterans like Mike Massaro and Cristian Guerrero, they're not going to be happy until the goal is complete.

"We're at the final goal now," Massaro said. "Our goal is to win a championship and we got (to the championship), and we're not satisfied yet."

There's no sense in over-celebrating.

As the RailCats head into their final series of the season against Wichita, they're acting like a veteran team and not one with eight rookies. There's no sense of awe at the playoffs, only a sense of expectation.

They expected to be here. They expected to still be playing.

They don't expect champagne celebrations and over-exerted joy when their final expectations aren't fulfilled.

Just wait until it really happens.

The flood gates will open. There will be no holding back.

That's what the RailCats expect to happen.

This column solely represents the writer's opinion. Reach her at hillary.smith@nwi.com.

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