Last week, the debut installment of A Guide to Recognizing Your Mascots dealt with the rookie level's Pioneer League and featured married owls, an alligator passing as a velociraptor and purple platypus cheering for a team called the "Ghosts." Somehow, almost against its own will, the Pioneer League's East Coast equivalent, the Appalachian League, makes things worse. Not that you'd get more than an eye roll and an "oh jesus" from people when you say "Virginia, West Virginia, North Carolina and Tennessee." I lived in and grew up in those states, and I do the same thing.
In case you didn't read part one, here's what you need to know. I am a sane, adult male of no particular disorder who loves baseball, and by proxy loves the ridiculous nonsense given flesh (or felt passing as flesh) by the world of mascots. I meet them, I take my picture with them, and I have no psychological reason for doing so, other than that time when I was six and had a chance to dance with the Smurfs at Kings Dominion and didn't and ended up feeling guilty about it for the rest of my life. Shut up.
Please click through and enjoy the Appalachian League, before the league presidents chase you down a river and make you squeal like a plush pig.
In case you're wondering (and I'm sure you aren't), yes, that's me in the photo with Blooper. Hey, I mentioned that I love and take pictures with these guys, so I was bound to make an appearance sooner or later. Wait until we get to some of the Maryland teams, I'm all over that. I was born in Danville, Virginia, and my Grandfather does some public relations stuff at their park. Yes, I moved away from Danville as soon as I realized art and fun and learning were things. No, I can't seem to properly grow a beard.
Blooper is... I'm gonna say a duck? An urban duck, because he has a baggy jersey and wears his hat to the side. He earned my undying love by spending at least an inning and a half literally lying on the dugout with his arms behind his head doing absolutely nothing. He also didn't realize that when he's sitting under the bleachers with his helmet off, people can see him. He also doesn't realize that the chicken dance is not fun to do and demeans us all.
Fun Fact: Danville briefly had a Carolina League team named the "Danville 97s," and their mascot was Alkaline Trio.
"Baby Bird" was the mascot of the Bluefield Orioles. He was also called "Baby Bird" because that was the most creative name the illiterate, borderline retarded eleven-year old who designed him could come up with. He looks like somebody took the Oriole Bird and said "okay, now make him look like he got a concussion like eight years ago and never fully recovered." He's fat, his face is all messed up, God only knows what his big googly eyes are looking at, he's clearly NOT any sort of baby and he's wearing his pants as low on the butt as physically possible. Maybe "Baby Bird" was his gang nickname? Maybe he's like Butchie from The Wire, and that's why his eyes are like that?
Long story short, the Bluefield Orioles are the Bluefield Blue Jays in 2011, which is more thematically appropriate because, you know, Bluefield has the highest number of jays in the state. Also, the f**king word "blue." But who knows what will become of Baby Bird ... the Orioles affiliates all have cool mascots, like the Keyote in Frederick and Louie the Booger That Walks Like A Man in Bowie. Maybe they'll ship him off. Maybe they'll paint him blue and pass him off as Cecil Fielder. Maybe a new Blue Jays mascot will hatch out of an egg on July 4th and entertain the fans.
I'm pouring one out for you, Baby Bird.
Dingbat, seen here without his Mighty Mutanimals partner Screwloose, is one of two things: a Yip Yip Alien from Sesame Street who was killed after falling from a great height onto a pile of sports equipment, or an Orthodox Jew who has drowned. Either way, the lifeless tongue hanging out of his mouth suggests death, the only imaginable refuge for people living in Bristol, Tennessee. The only things people can do for fun in Bristol are watch NASCAR, have premarital sex with a fat person, or die. Given the options?
Very little information exists about Dingbat online, to the point that I had to raid the Minor League Baseball "road trip" websites to find one. I guess I can't blame them for choosing "blue guy with bat jammed into face" as a mascot when you're the "White Sox." I know we just accept some of these team names because of history, but could you imagine the backlash if Bud Selig announced an expansion team in like, San Antonio and they were called the San Antonio Blue Pants, because they all wear blue pants? And it isn't even Socks, it's Sox. The San Antonio Blue Pantz. Would it make you feel better if I told you they'd be around a hundred years?
Bonus joke: Archie Bunker had sex with this mascot.
holy sh*t dude whatever you do, don't look to your left
Many who read With Leather are still getting to know me, but if you've followed my writing across the Internet (from either my five year run on The Dugout or my two weeks at ScoopThis.com) you know I am IN the Tribe™. I am a die-hard Cleveland Indians fan, so when I see that the Pulaski Mariners have a mascot named "Slider" and he isn't a flamingly gay hot pink Phillie Phanatic I am personally offended. It turns out he's a fox, and his name is "Slider" because "slider" starts with "sly" and foxes are sly. Dur.
Slider is a little bit... *waves hands in front of face* different. He debuted in 2009, replacing Pulaski's old mascot "Neon Leon," a bright green koosh ball man who had nothing to do with Leon Spinks OR the Sex Pistols. Although that reference would probably go over the head of the citizens of Pulaski. You could name the mascot "Barack Obama" and they'd think it was an original creation. And now, here is a series of jokes about calling him that!
Sometimes these jokes write themselves. If I asked you what sort of creature the mascot for the Princeton Rays would be, what would you say? You'd either say a manta ray, which last time I checked was still a functional animal, or some sort of vague furry nothing, right? A prince? A guy named Ray? Now what would you say if I asked you what the producers of Cartoon All-Stars To The Rescue would choose if they were in charge of mascotting a baseball team. Give up? They would pick a rooster, but make sure to note that he is a rooster who WOULD NEVER USE DRUGS.
Does that differentiate him from the numerous roosters we interact with daily who casually use drugs? I'm not a cockfighting farmer, but I'm pretty sure you can't grow a six-foot man-rooster without pumping him full of steroids. At this point in my life I think everyone in professional sports is on steroids. The last time a six-foot cock to brag about how he wasn't on drugs was Rafael Palmeiro, and look how that turned out.
I'm not an advocate of cockfighting, but I would pay hard money to see Roscoe cockfight Foghorn Leghorn on pay-per-view. I was going to make a joke about how I never saw Foghorn Leghorn using drugs, but he's pretty clearly using a ton of meth. Come on, he's big, naked, racist and from the South. All he needs is a Hatebreed CD and he's half the people who went to my high school.
Foul Ball Freddy catchin' everybody's fly, Kingsport playin' I said "my my." Fultz is fast, Fultz is cool, Francois c'est pas Fultze non due. Okay, I'd better stop, they aren't paying me to write this.
The rookie league Mets have an exotic bird mascot and they don't name him Tug Macaw. Parakeith Hernandez. Come on, I can do this all day. Larry Stahling. They also didn't give him a mascot suit outside of the head, which I guess comes in handy when they have him legging it out, retrieving errant shots from whatever horrid rural bunker Kingsport boasts. I guess "you're gonna be a bird," isn't the worst thing you can hear when the Mets make you a mascot, because the most affable guy in the organization has an enormous ball for a head. And after Fred Wilpon, who else do they even have? Mr. Met?
Oliver Parrolets. That's a good one.
I'm not going to make fun of Jay Cee, because he's perfect. The team is the Cardinals, he's a Cardinal. The Cardinals play in Johnson City, so he's "J.C." And I applaud them for putting more work into him than his big league equivalent, Fredbird, who looks like he was put together with construction paper by a fifth grader about three minutes before his debut. His name also reminds us of Jesus Christ, whose father so loved the world that he let us evolve to the point of needing guys in animal costumes super-soakering us in the eye with a hot dog to enjoy our national pastime.
The only downside of Jay Cee is that it looks like he broke his neck trying to get out on the field, and might be a cardinal-themed version of that crappy hay-stuffed-into-my-old-clothes pissant scarecrow I break out every Halloween. And hey, while you're looking at the picture, check out that guy in the background in the far right, dressed like Rog from f**king What's Happening, reclining back with absolutely no idea we're a yawn and a closeup away from full on scrote.
Excerpt from the Greeneville Astros bio: "Tennessee Tex has been with the Astros since June 2004 when the team moved to Greeneville, TN. Tennessee Tess, Tex's little sister, traveled all around the country trying to find Tex until she surprised him by catching up with him at a game at Pioneer Park during the 2006 season. Tess fell in love with Greeneville and decided she was going to stay to help Tex cheer on the Astros."
My theory: Tennessee Tex has been with the Astros since June 2004 when the team moved to Greeneville, TN. Tennessee Tess, Tex's little sister, went to mascot school for the Appalachian League but was used for sinister scientific experimentation, and they jammed needles into her forehead and used her natural proclivities for high-fiving and hugging to turn her into a living weapon for the Minor League Baseball Alliance. Tex broke into their headquarters and rescued her, and now they're traveling around with the Astros, dancing to "Rocky Top" and making your corporate event fun and keeping a low profile. But little do they know, MiLB is on their trail. Two by two, hands of Bluefield...
A theory for the rest of you: God created Tennessee Tex, but he was lonely, so God put him into a deep sleep, took one of his ribs, stuffed it into a T-shirt gun, shot it into the crowd, and created Tess.
Thank goodness Rookie is the mascot of the Elizabethton Twins. If he was the mascot for the Nationals, they would've brought him up two weeks into the season and made him high-five fans until he ripped his elbow to shreds. Then we would've had to hear Terence Moore's stupid opinion about it.
"The Nationals thought Rookie would make them contenders.
I don't think so.
It turns out they were wrong."
And then he just keeps hitting enter until the article publishes itself. Anyway, Rookie looks like one of the characters from B.C. had sex with a radioactive llama, and he loves helping kids learn to read. He also doesn't have a picture wider than 300 pixels on the Internet. I e-mailed the Twins, but the only e-mail address they had was to the city of Elizabethton, and I have to imagine that everyone in that city is busy having mixtape road trips and tap dancing at funerals to wonder about my mascot series.
I hate that the series has already come to this, but the people who made this guy should be ashamed of themselves. Here is their entire creative meeting: "Make him a thing, and call him baseball."
And now we come to a mascot imagined by an autistic child.
There is no "free space" when Bingo is near. My suggestion is that when you find yourself in Burlington, North Carolina, you jump on "I-85" and leave immediately. Bingo is the mascot for the Royals, who play about two blocks away from the Coat Factory, and he looks like something that would be on a No Fear T-shirt or slumming around with the Peace Frog somewhere in my central Virginia mall in the mid-90s.
I can't even joke about this. Every version of the Royals is blue, and this Myrtle Beach-looking motherf**ker is blaze orange. All he is is a suit with googly eyes, and they don't even google. It's like they started with the shell of a mascot and couldn't come up with one single thing to add. They couldn't have given him a funny hair or a baseball theme or even a stat name. How hard would it be to call this guy "Balk?" This name comes from this conversation: "I tried to draw the worst mascot in history. Is this it?" "Bingo."
It is saying something when you are worse than the dead Wyoming Rockies platypus.