Sunday, June 10, 2007
It is time for me to go on a rant about one of my favorite/least favorite subjects: MASCOTS.
Or rather, THE APPROPRIATENESS OF VARIOUS MASCOTS IN RELATION TO THE TEAMS THEY REPRESENT.
Some things irrationally infuriate me. One of these things is a bad concept mascot. This is not to say that I don't appreciate a random mascot... I'm a huge fan of surrealism, y'know, and a completely wacked-out and random mascot can be a huge success. But some mascots are just A DEEP WRONGNESS. I don't ask for a lot. Usually I just want LOGIC to dictate the form of the thing, with something clever in the name of the mascot. You'd think that wouldn't be so hard to find, but you would be dead wrong.
So I have here compiled a list of Major League Baseball teams, the mascot I think they SHOULD have, the mascot they DO have, and why this actual mascot is, in my opinion, good or bad. It's been too long since I went on a pointless, inane rant around these parts. BCRS shall be rantless no longer.
The Mascots of Major League Baseball
Mascot they should have: An oriole.
Mascot they do have: The Bird.
How'd they do? Good job, Baltimore. Boring name, but it's an oriole. Bonus karma points for having a realistic design on the hats, and even MORE bonus karma points for having the mascot design refer back to the old, thankfully abandoned cartoony logo design.
Boston Red Sox
Mascot they should have: Red socks.
Mascot they do have: Wally the Green Monster.
How'd they do? As it turns out, the Red Sox DO actually have a pair of red socks mascots... I've seen 'em in the ballpark before. Wally's the main mascot, however, probably because those red sock things are completely terrifying. When I step back and try to look at Wally objectively, I guess he's OK. The Green Monster (the wall) is a very distinctive and well-known feature of Fenway... he's a 'green monster'... his name is 'wally'... ehhh. Let us not forget that when he was first introduced at Fenway, though, he was booed loudly and thoroughly. It's only through the efforts of Jerry Remy that he's become almost universally beloved in Boston.
New York Yankees
Mascot they should have: Satan. Alternatively, a giant dollar bill. I'm being mean. Really they should have a giant baseball thing along the lines of Mr. Met, because they consider themselves to BE baseball.
Mascot they do have: none.
How'd they do? The Yankees are too good to have a mascot, didntcha know? I can't fail them because there's nothing to fail.
Tampa Bay Devil Rays
Mascot they should have: A devil ray. I'd settle for a zoologically incorrect but thematically similar manta ray.
Mascot they do have: Raymond.
How'd they do? What is Raymond? His biography describes him as related to a dog, and I think we are supposed to assume that he's the product of an unholy mating between some sea mammal (dolphin, manatee, whale, walrus, dugong, take your pick) and a strong-swimming golden retriever, despite the fact that he looks like a giant fuzzy blue imagining of a sugar-high six-year-old.
I know what he's NOT, and that's a goddamn manta ray.
Bonus points for giving the mascot a blog, bonus points taken away for having it updated so infrequently.
I was going to fail Raymond, but then I thought about it more closely. He's got personality, backstory, and he definitely misbehaves... he hates Wally and always torments stuffed versions of him at Sox games. It's possible that, in time, he will reach the status of the Phanatic for sheer random beloved mascotness and I'm just being unfair because Raymond hasn't been around that long. However, the Phanatic comes from a team with no obvious mascot possibilities. Raymond comes from a team with a built-in mascot. I thus label him a
Toronto Blue Jays
Mascot they should have: A blue jay.
Mascot they do have: Ace.
How'd they do? Pretty good. It's a blue jay. The head design is a little aggressively cartoonish for my tastes (he looks like a freaking Hanna Barbera creation), but such is the mascot business. I assume he's "Ace" because he's a good pitcher or something. I don't know what this has to do with birds, but it has to do with baseball, so I guess I'll let it pass for now. Bonus points for using the actual scientific name of the blue jay in his profile.
Chicago White Sox
Mascot they should have: A pair of white socks.
Mascot they do have: Southpaw.
How'd they do? O HAI GUYZ LOOK ITS RAYMOND ONLY GREEN. Unlike Raymond, who at least has a backstory, absurd and moronic though it may be, Southpaw has no explanation available. What does he have to do with the White Sox? Nothing, so far as I can tell. What does he have to do with Chicago? Nothing. He's a lefty, presumably, and that's all we know.
Mascot they should have: Um. Let's put it this way. Chief Wahoo should not be their logo, so despite the fact that he IS, I'm not gonna say that he should be their mascot. I think it could be cool for them to have a spider as their mascot, you know, recalling the Cleveland Spiders of old. Or something generically baseball.
Mascot they do have: Slider.
How'd they do? It's pink. It's hairy. What is it? Nobody knows. Beyond the pink and the hairiness there is a vacant, soulless creature. It only exists because the actual logo/mascot is a racist holdover of a bygone era and nobody in the Cleveland marketing department was clever enough to come up with something actually relevant to the team or city.
Mascot they should have: A tiger.
Mascot they do have: Paws.
How'd they do? Good. DO YOU GUYS SEE HOW EASY IT IS WHEN YOUR TEAM NAME IS AN ANIMAL AND YOUR MASCOT ACTUALLY IS THAT ANIMAL?? Why do so many teams have trouble with this simple, simple concept? We may never know. Anyways. Paws recently underwent a redesign, which is good, because his old incarnation was actually an incredibly deformed and disturbing-looking version of a tiger. He's still not great (how can you screw up a TIGER costume? only in Detroit), but he's getting there.
Kansas City Royals
Mascot they should have: A king? Now I'm getting mental images of the Burger King guy leading the wave at Kauffman Stadium and it's just a bad scene.
Mascot they do have: Sluggerrr.
How'd they do? A lion is a clever take on "royals", I'll give them that. And "Sluggerrr", while cutesy, also works. MAJOR point loss for the fact that he's a MUTANT LION WITH A CROWN GROWING OUT OF THE FLESH OF HIS HEAD. I get that the crown over the scoreboard is a major feature of the ballpark, but I think a regular old gold-colored lion, sans crown, would have done just fine. Or even a lion WEARING a crown. The idea that his skull is deformed out into a crown form is just disturbing.
Mascot they should have: Twins, maybe. I dunno. Freakish siamese twin baseballs. That would be insane and amazing.
Mascot they do have: TC Bear. All of poor TC's photos seem to be red-x-ing... are they phasing him out of existence? Here he is.
How'd they do? Not bad. I think the bear thing refers to a number of Minnesota landmarks which are named after bears, right? They should have two, though. Identical twin bears.
Los Angeles Anaheim California Western US Region Angels
Mascot they should have: The name is religious, but the mascot shouldn't be. So they shouldn't have an angel. 'Tho I must say that a giant 3D dancing version of their logo- an A with a halo 'round its top- would be hilarious.
Mascot they do have: Rally Monkey.
How'd they do? Good. It's got nothing to do with the name or the city, but the Rally Monkey is a freakish, idiosyncratic LAAWhatever Angels phenomenon. It's random, and they've embraced it. Perfect mascot material. Bonus points for having a real monkey, or at least video of a real monkey, instead of a guy in a cartoon suit.
Mascot they should have: I got nothin', beyond some generic big muscular guy. Someone who knows something about the Oakland area could maybe suggest a mascot, but I know very very little about Oakland (except for the fact that apparently it's terrible and the team needs to flee it).
Mascot they do have: Stomper.
How'd they do? Good. It has nothing to do with Oakland or athleticism, but the elephant nickname is a part of the team's history, and as such makes for a unique yet topical mascot. Top work, Oakland.
Mascot they should have: A mariner. Anything nautical. A ship. A giant freaking anchor. A compass, like their logo. Anything along those lines.
Mascot they do have: The Mariner Moose.
How'd they do? They try to claim that the moose has tenuous ties to the "forests of the great Northwest". Yeah, OK, how many forests are there in Seattle? If they were the Washington Mariners, maybe. As they are, nope. Sorry. Doesn't work. They FREELY ADMIT that the damn moose was chosen as a mascot because a 14 year old girl thought that moose "are funny, neat and friendly. The Moose would show that the Mariners enjoy playing and that they still have a few tricks up their sleeves. It shows they're having fun no matter what the situation." You know what else is funny, neat, and friendly? My dad. Why isn't he your mascot? He has exactly the same amount of claim on the position as the moose does, because guess what the moose actually has to do with the team? NOTHING.
Mascot they should have: A ranger. Cowboy hat, boots, spurs, fake guns, badge, the whole hokey shebang. It is the Mascot Way.
Mascot they do have: Rangers Captain.
How'd they do? OK. I guess this is the horse the ranger rides in on? Boring, but serviceable. Loss of points for the most boring mascot bio in existence, and the resemblance to an oversized plush chess piece.
Mascot they should have: Er, this is another thorny one. A dancing Native American is not the route to go here. A giant anthropomorphic tomahawk isn't much better, but it seems to be what the Braves have set themselves up for.
Mascot they do have: Homer. Homer doesn't seem to have a page, but you can see him in the photo accompanying the article here.
How'd they do? Mr. Met is a Braves fan? Or is it the Cincy Red dude? Either way, it's a blatant knockoff inspired by the fact that, like the Indians, the Braves' old mascot was too racist to be allowed to exist. Sorry, guys, no sympathy here. Update your shit and get with the times.
Mascot they should have: A marlin.
Mascot they do have: Billy the Marlin.
How'd they do? Good! Florida Marlins... Billy the Marlin... good lord it's LOGICAL! Small loss of points for having two flipper-like feet instead of an actual tail. You could totally have a guy in a suit where his feet go in the ends of a huge one-piece tail. I could design it. It would be a little awkward, but it could definitely be done. Heck, even keep the legs separate and just have the tail in a kind of skirt down to the ground... you gotta problem-solve, guys!
New York Mets
Mascot they should have: Since Mets is short for Metropolitans, I would love to see a big plush walking city skyline. You may not be able to picture that but I could design that suit in a second. A giant apple would work too. Big apple and all that, and they do have that apple that comes up in Shea when someone hits a homer.
Mascot they do have: Mr. Met.
How'd they do? He's an institution. And it's kind of hard to argue with a baseball as a mascot for a baseball team. I do wish they'd done something a little more specific to the team and city... put him in a different uniform, and Mr. Met could represent any team in the league. But he doesn't fail because he is, as I said, at least a long-standing Met.
Mascot they should have: Tough, tough. A giant plush liberty bell.
Mascot they do have: The Phillie Phanatic.
How'd they do? What does the Phillie Phanatic have to do with anything? Nothing. I can find no reasonable explanation for his design, and I think this is probably because none exists. The name makes sense, at least... it's a reference to insane Philly fans. But the creature himself? No reasoning can explain it.
And yet. Unlike Raymond, who comes from a team with a built-in mascot possibility, there is no ready answer for the Phillies.
The Phanatic is beloved BECAUSE it is so random. It eats people's heads! It misbehaves gleefully! It has an enormous tongue! It is AN ABOMINATION AGAINST NATURE, and this last is perhaps exactly why it fits. Philadelphia fans are ALSO an abomination against nature. It begins to make sense.
The Phillie Phanatic also manages to get Tommy Lasorda's manties into a twist, so whatever inclination I had to fail it is immediately nullified based on that alone. That is solid win.
Mascot they should have: Lots of choices here. The capitol building! Abraham Lincoln! Anything patriotic!
Mascot they do have: Screech.
How'd they do? OK. It's a bald eagle. Totally works. I actually especially like the feet, or at least the fact that he HAS talons and not some comically oversized sneakers. The only problem I have with him is that he seems to be less of a bald eagle and more a... well, an eaglet. He looks like a baby eagle. Why couldn't they have had an adult eagle? You know?
Mascot they should have: A baby bear.
Mascot they do have: none.
How'd they do? I couldn't quite believe it. I guess I just hadn't thought about it before, but despite the fact that several of their logos have bears in them, and despite the fact that they have a ready-made easy mascot in their name, the Cubs... do not have a mascot. Huh. Wow.
I guess this is a "we're so old-school we don't need one" kind of thing, and is the same reason why the Yankees don't have one, and why it took so long for the Red Sox to get one.
Mascot they should have: Reds is short for redlegs, IIRC, so... more red socks, I guess.
Mascot they do have: Mr. Red and Gapper.
How'd they do? Mr. Red is a classic, especially his incarnation with the mustache. Gapper is a pointless, inexplicable and superfluous hanger-on. Why would they team a vague fuzzy anthropormorphic nightmare up with their classic guy? Only the twisted minds in Cincy can tell.
Mascot they should have: A rocketship! A star. Something related to NASA or astronomy.
Mascot they do have: Junction Jack. His photo there is red-x-ing, so here he is.
How'd they do? IT'S A DEFORMED RABBIT IN A TRAIN CONDUCTOR'S OUTFIT
IT'S A DEFORMED RABBIT IN A TRAIN CONDUCTOR'S OUTFIT
IT'S A DEFORMED RABBIT IN A TRAIN CONDUCTOR'S OUTFIT
Mascot they should have: A brewer. Or a giant beer bottle.
Mascot they do have: Bernie Brewer.
How'd they do? Awesome. I think Bernie Brewer is the only mascot in baseball to be based on an actual guy. The suited-up mascot is a little terrifying; what's up with those INSANE eyes? But the concept is too cool.
Mascot they should have: A pirate. A ship. A cannon. A parrot. Anything piratey.
Mascot they do have: Pirate Parrot and Captain Jolly Roger.
How'd they do? Good. Both mascots are piratey to the max. The parrot is the classic... I'm not sure why they felt like they needed another mascot to go along with him, but I guess when you're the Pirates and you draw 3,000 fans per night or something, you need all the mascots you can get.
The guy behind the parrot in the mid 80's used to smuggle cocaine to the players. The rumor is that he did this by hiding it in the beak of the parrot suit. Now THAT'S mascot history.
St. Louis Cardinals
Mascot they should have: A cardinal.
Mascot they do have: Fredbird.
How'd they do? OK. Bird teams are 3-for-3 when it comes to actually using their name as their mascot. There's one thing about Fredbird (I assume a cutesy take on "red bird") that worries me, though. Why are the feathers hanging from his arms/wings yellow and blue? Not nearly enough to fail him, but I do wonder.
Mascot they should have: A diamondback snake.
Mascot they do have: Baxter.
How'd they do? Why. Is it. A bobcat? YOUR TEAM NAME IS A SNAKE. YOUR TEAM LOGO IS A SNAKE. IN FACT YOU HAVE SEVERAL DIFFERENT SNAKE OR SNAKESKIN-RELATED LOGOS. HOW DO YOU GO FROM ALL THAT TO A BOBCAT??? This is exactly what I mean when I say that you'd think it would be easy for a team with an animal name to have a mascot, but it apparently is not. A bobcat?? WTF? Not only that, but Baxter in "person" is incredibly disappointing. He doesn't even have a bob-tail sticking out the back.
He also looks a lot more like a furry than most MLB mascots.
Mascot they should have: A mountain crag! Or a giant boulder. A boulder with eyes, you can't tell me that wouldn't be amazing.
Mascot they do have: Dinger.
How'd they do? Uhhhhh.... OK? It's a triceratops? Colorado is indeed known for having several important paleontological sites, with dinosaur fossil deposits, so. I guess it works, although the whole 'purple dinosaur' thing is dangerously Barney-esque. Loss of points for the completely ridiculous name of "Dinger".
Los Angeles Dodgers
Mascot they should have: A trolley car.
Mascot they do have: none.
How'd they do? Another grandfathered-in mascotless team.
San Diego Padres
Mascot they should have: The name suggests a padre, which I think is a priest of some sort. I'm still uncomfortable with religious figures in baseball though.
Mascot they do have: The Swinging Friar.
How'd they do? Fine. Uninspired, but it fits, and the friar's been around for a while. It's just awfully hard to beat out the Chicken...
San Francisco Giants
Mascot they should have: A giant.
Mascot they do have: Lou Seal.
How'd they do? Good. This is a blatant slap in the face of the team name, but I assume it's a reference to the fact that the ballpark is on the water, and... well, I assume there are seals in there. It's a little bit of a stretch, but it makes more sense than the Mariner Moose, and makes a whole heckuva lot more sense than, say, Slider. Can't fail it.
So there you have it. Out of 30 MLB teams, you have 6 outright FAILs, one half FAIL, and one potential FAIL... and that isn't even getting into the design issues many of these mascots have. If we went into that, we would have many, many more FAILs and partial FAILs. The moral of the story is that marketing departments are filled with idiots.
Labels: baseball, mascot, MLB, rant