An important thing I've learned about writing on the Internet is that 98 out of 100 people reading your work live in the U.S. Northeast. That seems like an exaggeration, but nope, it's all New York, Pennsylvania, D.C., New England. Person 99 lives in Los Angeles and is usually too busy with "life stuff" to read your stuff, and person 100 is my Mom doing Farmville on Facebook. That's it. When the Internet finally expands to the Midwest, it is going to be pretty cool (read: boring).
With that said, today's Guide to Recognizing Your Mascots covers the New York-Penn League, a league so white and privileged that Williamsport, Pennsylvania, gets a team. Williamsport is totally the mid-Idaho of Pennsylvania. You've got Pittsburgh to your left and Philadelphia to your right (or vice versa, depending on which way you're standing). Pick a direction and live there. The league is divided into the McNamara Division, the Pinckney Division and the Stedler Division, but I don't know what any of those words mean so I just glossed over that.
I appreciate a minor league mascot that requires children to know about the periodic table of elements. Ferrous follows in the footsteps of such greats as Uranium, the Fightin' Primordial Radionuclide of the Albuquerque Isotopes and "Boron," the mascot for Major League Soccer. For the uninformed, Ferrous (Fe2+) is derived from the Latin word "ferrum," meaning "iron." Ever wonder why your favorite carnival ride is called a "ferris wheel?" Because it is made of iron. Ferrous the mascot is a bird, because an airplane would make a pretty sh:tty mascot for a baseball team. Also, that thing about Uranium was a joke, as the Albuquerque Isotopes are nowhere near that funny.
As for the origin of the name, the mascot's bio page (which also lists "peanut butter and mayo sandwiches" as his favorite food... what the hell?) tells the story:
Ferrous, the official mascot of the Aberdeen IronBirds has been with the team since 2002. He was named by Glenn Dudderar of Aberdeen, MD. Glenn was one of thousands of fans who entered The Baltimore Sun's Name the Mascot Contest.
Other names that almost won: Homer, Champ, Slugger, Blooper, Boomer, Home Run, Base Hit, Southpaw, VORPie, Homer, Double the Improperly Bred Bovine and, for some reason, "Orbit." The IronBirds have a second mascot named "Ripcord," but that is a G.I. Joe and I am not dignifying that thing's existence with a response.
The Auburn Doubledays and their mascot, Abner, are named after Abner Doubleday the Civil War general and Auburn native credited with inventing the game of baseball. As Ken Burns' Baseball taught us, Doubleday had nothing to do with baseball and got credit because it looked good on paper, sort of like Arianna Huffington getting put in charge of AOL. The Doubledays never bothered to change their names, so they play in the New York-Penn League as sort of a living Columbus Day. I guess it's surprising how close they came to being the Auburn Major General George G. Meadies.
So, let's address the fact that this mascot is a HORRIBLE LOOKING MAN. The one on the left. I feel like maybe when your mascot is "human being" you should, Greendale Community College excluded, go with the Big Furry Muppet Nothing. Or have a boring historical type in period clothing standing at the gates of your park as Abner Doubleday, doing the Hall of Presidents thing to people as they enter.
Or better yet, correct your history! I know I'd like to see a horse mascot named "Cartwright."
Next we have the mascot of the Batavia Scooby Doo Exhibitionist Santa Clauses, Homer. Oh, I'm sorry, that thing is supposed to be a "Muckdog." Prior to the 1997 season, the Muckdogs were called the Batavia Clippers, and a fan poll picked both the current name and logo. A Google search of "what is a Muckdog?" in quotations or "what the hell is a Muckdog" bring you to an Answers.com page explaining that a Muckdog "a friendly warm blooded creature that wants you to watch him/her play baseball/softball!" Ugh, f**k you, Answers.com.
Homer is the most difficult mascot I've had to research so far for a couple of reasons. One, if you search for "Batavia Muckdogs Homer" you get the results of every Batavia game featuring a home run ever played. And I mean that's only like four results, but still. Two, every good picture of Homer is obscured by watermarks and crazy graphics by what I can only assume to be a local Batavia photography firm, feverishly watching over their Google Alert for "Batavia Muckdogs Homer" in case somebody wants to be funny about mascots on the Internet. So hey, Homer doesn't always wear a trench coat, he wears a baseball uniform, but I guess you're never gonna get to see it.
Are you tired of reading the word "Muckdogs" yet?
I don't ever want my observations to sound forced. When I see a bird mascot, what am I supposed to say? "Oh man, look at this BIRD! What were they thinking." Sometimes the team and the actor get it right. So for a situation like this, I hand it over to Jason Fry of the exceptional Faith and Fear in Flushing for his take on Brooklyn Cyclones mascot Sandy the Seagull.
Mascots are one of the only things the Mets have gotten right: Mr. Met has a certain Zen that's agreeable, particularly when the alternative is thinking about Madoff and Omar Minaya.
But the class of the organization, mascot-wise, is Sandy the Seagull of the Brooklyn Cyclones. Sandy's rotund and wears goofy sandals, but he's a recognizable creature, in colors found on Earth. Whoever created him didn't try too hard. (To see what happens when a pack of marketing stooges take an eh idea and screw it up, see the Staten Island Yankees' stupid mascot, Scooter the Holy Cow.) Sandy's a roly-poly bird in a baseball uniform. It ain't that hard, folks.
Sandy's hint of shambling Lebowski charm also fits nicely with the Cyclones' cheerfully bush-league vibe, which mixes Coney Island carny-barking with a certain gruff Brooklyn simplicity. Really, he's how a mascot should be done.
By the way, go there and read everything. Fry is one of my very favorite writers and his take on anything is better than mine. Except maybe Star Wars. I think I know more about Star Wars.
The Connecticut Tigers are the New York-Penn League affiliate of the Cleveland Indians. No, I'm kidding, it's the Tigers, but you can barely tell. I'm pretty sure the Staten Island Yankees are an affiliate of the Detroit Lions. Anyway, C.T. (named after his state's abbreviation and his team name, making his full name either Connecticut Tiger or Connecticut Tigers Tiger) looks and acts exactly like his Major League counterpart "Paws." I'd make a joke about them being related and the nature of tigers and their young in the wild, but after learning about the Phillie Phanatic's Japanese cousin "Slyly" I'm afraid to make jokes about anything.
C.T.'s official page seems desperate:
If you are interested in having "C.T. the Tiger" at your special event, please let us know. He is available for birthday parties, grand openings, company picnics, parades, community events, and other events to stir-up excitement for you and your organization or business.
I guess having a career after the Real World is hard. The Westboro Baptist Church should pay C.T. to stir-up some excitement at their next gay, famous or nice person funeral picket.
Here are some good mascot ideas if your team name is the "Renegades"
1. A guy who dresses like or pretends to be the Ultimate Warrior
2. A handsome, framed cop on the run on a motorcycle with an Indian guy in his sidecar
3. Warren Zevon
4. a jeep
1. A family of raccoons that live under the stadium
According to Wikipedia, this is the full rundown of the family. "Rookie the Renegade Raccoon" is the primary mascot, joined by "Rascal," Rookie's son, and "Rufus," Rookie's father. Rookie used to have a wife named "Rene Gade" (not a joke) but that ended badly. Rookie's rival it seems had broken his dreams by stealing the girl of his fancy. So Rookie showed up at a game equipped with a gun to shoot off this guy's legs, but ended up getting shot himself. Which sucks, because it was Gideon's Bible Night.
Okay, that part was a joke.
This picture poses so many questions. Among them, why is Grape Ape the mascot of a baseball team? Do they have a second little dog mascot that follows him around in a van? Why are his eyes stuck together like that? Why is a baseball team named the "Jammers?" Is it because they make jam in Jamestown? If so, was Jamestown originally named Jamstown? Is it grape jam? Is that why they have grapes on the hat? If it's a jelly-themed team, why is their mascot a monkey, and if they play in the New York-Penn League why is his name BUBBA? Why is Bubba standing beside Abraham Lincoln? Why is Abraham Lincoln elderly and Hispanic? And why is he making that face at me?
Apparently it used to be worse. Their original mascot was the Tazmanian Devil. I am not sh:tting you. They only changed the logo to a bunch of grapes in 2006 after twelve years of people asking them what the hell a "Jammer" was. And one of the other names in the contest to name the team was the "Furniture Makers." How awesome would that be? A big chair with googly eyes.
And hey kids, come around back behind the stadium and meet the Analigator!
"Did you know the Lowell Spinners became proud parents of Canaligator on January 19, 1996? He was born in the Canals of Lowell, getting his name from the nearly sox-miles of canals in Lowell. After just a few days in the canals, Canaligator crawled up the banks and over to LeLacheur Park where he has been ever since. During the off-season, Canaligator can be seen throughout the Merrimack Valley, frequently visiting schools, hospitals, day care centers and more. While his favorite past-time is baseball, Canaligator has never met a camera he didn't want to smile for or a child he didn't want to hug or high-five."
During the off-season, Canaligator loves to climb up through your toilet and high-five you in the asshole! I'm not sure why a yarn-themed team needed a Roger Corman SyFy Channel beast from the canals as their mascot, but they don't just have one, they have several. They have Canaligator's wife "Allie Gator" (suggesting that the Canaligator had to at least be married if he was going to be Godless around the children) and their daughter Millie. Having two female mascots gives you a 1000% chance of seeing "she'll never tell!!" or "it's not polite to ask a lady!!" in their vital stats. Mascot creators LOVE the idea that women are uncomfortable with their weight. She can f**k an alligator, but she can't tell me how much she weighs. All right.
The one on the left. We aren't talking about Slider yet. Yes, the mascot of the Cleveland Indians is the gay friend or roommate or cousin or whatever of the Phillie Phanatic. He is hot pink and has a muff nose and hangs out with a bunch of giant hot dogs. No, for now we must discuss the most masculine mascot imaginable: a construction working dog with an underbite who must be restrained by chains at all times.
Scrappy, who I'm gonna go ahead and say is the nephew of that Batavia Muckdog, is the mascot of the Indians affiliate Mahoning Valley Scrappers, named after the most important thing a baseball player can have if he's bad at all statistics: scrappiness. I'm surprised I haven't come across a team named the "Intangibles" yet. Their mascot could be the idea of something awesome.
According to the Scrappers website, Scrappy is a "junkyard dog," meaning you should not purchase or try to eat cakes around Scrappy, because he will grab them. His bio also clearly hasn't been updated in a while, because he lists his favorite player as "C.C. Sabathia or Victor Martinez." Me too, Scrappy, me too. Now he needs to log in, change his favorite player to Luis Valbunea, and go off on a Comic Sans MS rant about the depressing state of Cleveland sports.
I'm sorry, did I start reviewing the mascots for local community pick-up leagues? State College isn't a city that should have things named after it, it should be where sitcom characters end up when they have to go to college but can't get the licensing rights to a real school. Wikipedia waxes philosophic on the meaning of "Spikes."
The name "Spikes" has a threefold meaning. The club's official logo depicts a young white-tailed deer, for whom a "spike" is an undeveloped antler, symbolic of a young team member who may develop into a Major League Baseball player. The name also refers to a railroad spike, similar to the way the name "Altoona Curve" commemorates the famous Horseshoe Curve on the Pennsylvania Railroad. Finally, baseball players have long worn shoes with spikes.
Also, spike is what you can do to a football when you score, and the players in State College often score. Finally, the name can suggest the clandestine addition of alcohol to a punch bowl at a freshman party, a situation that happens often on sitcoms where the egotistical but well-meaning son goes off to State College and ends up confronting one of his friends about the dangers of alcoholism when they get "out of control." In conclusion ...
I don't know, man, that thing looks dangerously close to disrobing and having sex in a messed up cartoon I hate from the 70s.
Earlier in this slideshow (I hope you've enjoyed clicking through quickly to avoid the words) Jason Fry mentioned Scooter of the Staten Island Yankees as the screwed up idea of marketing stooges, and frankly, I just don't see it. Scooter's full name is Scooter the Holy Cow, and he is venerated by Mahatma Gandhi. He said: "I worship it and I shall defend its worship against the whole world," and that, "The central fact of Hinduism is cow protection." He regarded her better than the earthly mother, and called her "the mother to millions of Indian mankind." Other than being the mascot for a Yankees team and not a Cleveland team, I'm not sure what the problem is.
Scooter's contemporary is Red, named after Red Barber, the famous Communist hairdresser who attended Yankees games between 1954 and 1966. They have entertained the Staten Island fans for years through a combination of "running the bases, wrestling one another, or creating all types of mischief." That sounds more like the Mets than the Yankees, but still, not much of a problem.
Oh, wait, I know: they're marketing f**king wacky cow mascots to dickhead Yankees fans who can't communicate the fun of baseball to others without spitting and waggling their crotches about. I'm sorry, I understand now. Yankees fans don't want puns, they want drunk driving and excuses about how much pressure the media puts on you. Here's a pitch for the new Staten Island mascot: Jim Leyritz, covered in Muppet fur.
I'm shocked we've gotten this far into mascot reviews without more cats named "Southpaw." The picture above sort of skirts the line between what I consider a fun, acceptable mascot and what I consider 4Chan.
To the far left, we have a person dressed in an oddly-colored horse costume. It looks like pajamas with a horse head, so immediately my brain goes "sexual deviancy and not the good kind, woop woop woop" and I click away. On the far right we have a chicken suit, which doesn't make me think it's going to have sex with me, but it does make me feel like something unfunny is about to happen, and that's almost as bad. Second from the left is Southpaw, the mascot for the Tri-City Valley Cats, and he is a cat who has paws and "southpaw" is a baseball term. That's the sweet spot. I'm not afraid of him and I don't think he's going to make my day worse, so I'd like to high-five him and take a picture.
Between Southpaw and the infamous chicken is something called "Puckman," a local hockey mascot who doesn't look like a puck, wears a construction hat and has "RPI" written across his chest. It stands for "Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute," but I'm going to keep pretending it stands for "Runs Patted In." And the line between enjoying a mascot and f**king it gets thinner. Oh, but did you know that Pac-Man's original name was Puckman? Come closer and let me tell you about it.
From the Jamestown Jammers of the WNBA to the Vermont Lake Monsters of the American Hockey League. Their mascot is a dinosaur named "Champ," because I guess technically a dinosaur could be a lake monster.
Theory: The original teams in the New York-Penn League all had normal names. They were, like, the Vermont Cardinals and the State College Astros and the Jamestown Royals. Right? But then sometime in the late 90s teams with wacky names like the UC Santa Cruz Banana Slugs and the Carolina Mudcats got popular, and local teams realized the power of unique branding and started naming folks whatever the hell they could. That's how we almost got a team named the Furniture Makers.
Anyway, Champ is named after the legendary not-Loch Ness Monster, and I only know what "Champ" is because of that one episode of the Venture Bros. I'll be honest with you, I didn't even know Vermont had lakes. I mean, I guess it makes sense, but the thought never crossed my mind. Does Oklahoma have a sand dune? I'm sure they do somewhere.
This godawful thing from my darkest nightmares is Boomer, mascot of the Williamsport Crosscutters, the team that replaced the Williamsport Costcutters when they couldn't cover their overhead and went out of business. The Crosscutters name "reflects the logging heritage of Williamsport," so what better mascot than a wolf who has been physically ravaged by a saw blade. Boomer is walking roadkill, and you can tell by his horribly-scarred cock-eyes, his cold, dead grin, or the fact that he's surrounded by a bunch of chubby white teens from the middle of Pennsylvania.
There isn't much more I can type, so here's a video of Boomer performing a magic trick. I've got to warn you; I haven't watched the entire thing, so it might involve him jamming a pencil up somebody's nose.