For the discerning Minor League Baseball fan, the South Atlantic League is clearly the league of choice. You can quote me on that. Who cares if it is the only Low A league in that region? Who cares if their logo looks like it came straight from an early 90s PC game? I love the Myrtle Beach Leisure Suit Larries. Maybe Maniac Mansion has a team in the SAL. Who cares that their old logo had Jon Arbuckle on it because they made it with that old Garfield comic strip maker? SAL is the league of choice, even if a league named "SAL" would probably play better in New York.
The A Guide to Recognizing Your Mascots series continues today with the South Atlantic League, culturally appreciated by everyone south of Pennsylvania. I wouldn't expect you Philadelphia Philistines to enjoy reading about golfing bees and transsexual crawdads.
Before you continue, make sure to catch up with leagues somehow even lower than this via the Guide to Mascots tag. Believe it or not, things are about to get worse. But at least we've got a good chance of making it through this league without running into any bears.
This is what happens when you let Michelle Tanner name your mascot. "We've got a new bear mascot for the Tourists, Michelle, what should we call him?" "Ted E. Bay-uh!" and then she gives a thumbs up. I guess a fat, middle-aged person with their head cocked back taking pictures of everything they see would be a pretty esoteric mascot. Unfortunately Ted E. doesn't get the trench and fedora of the classic Mr. Bear, nor the half-assed Canadianity of the Northwest League's Bob Brown Bear. He's just a bear named Teddy. He might as well be dead.
He's also the victim of one of the most unfortunate logo changes in modern history. The old Tourists logo was Ted E. carrying a suitcase, wearing Raybans and a Captain America hat, all Hawaiian-shirted out like so much Chunk from the Goonies, ready to tour the sights of Asheville. Or to leave Asheville, I guess. What is there to tour in Asheville? I know they have a zoo. But shouldn't he want to NOT see the zoo? Anyway, a few years ago they changed it to something that fell out of David Stern's asshole. Sorry, Ted E., the best way to illustrate tourism is "a ghost hitting a home run in the middle of the night."
Cal Ripken needs to be a little more selective when electing people to his Hall of Fame. I've never even heard of most of these girls. Are they gonna let in Billy? I think Cal Ripkens senior and junior should be the only people allowed into the Cal Ripken Hall of Fame.
Anyway, meet Auggie, the predatory wasp in plaid pants who represents the Augusta GreenJackets. The team is named the GreenJackets after the Augusta National Golf Club's Masters Tournament, wherein golf's elite play for a chance to put on celebratory clothing Dick Whitman wore before he got a job in advertising. Nothing better than a wasp to represent white, Anglo-Saxon Protestants, right? Auggie's name was chosen in the Augusta Chronicle's "Name that Mascot Contest." "Auggie" was seriously the best name in the contest. Auggie. They just took the first syllable of the city's name. Why not call him George? George A. Bee. "A. Bee" is still baseball terminology. Oh who am I kidding, f**king call him Homer.
I'm starting to notice a pattern here. I'm surprised the Asheville mascot wasn't named "Ashy." Also, I've been starting at this picture for twenty minutes trying to figure out which one of these people looks worse. The lady on the right looks like a bridesmaid in a sideways hat. Chuck Riverdog looks like they forgot to add a mouth when they were making his face, so they just tacked one on to the bottom. And the mesh in his throat makes him look like he has mange, or some kind of throat cancer. Okay, the lady is worse. I can buy that the mascot brought the hat when he delivered her valentine, but she was wearing that sweatshirt and ascot combo when he got there.
Teams in this league love cramming words together for no reason. Why can't they be River Dogs? Are you worried that we're going to read the name wrong, and think they're Dogs who play near the Charleston River? Same with Augusta. Are we going to think the team is just the "Jackets?" Don't be afraid of your space bar.
Last anal retentive observation (I swear): Does the "T" initial really add anything? Kermit the Frog insisting that "the" is his last name was cute because Jim Henson was a delivery genius. I feel like Charlie T. Riverdog could work as Charlie Riverdog. Or at least call him Charles T. Riverdog so I can imagine his middle name is "ton."
Delmarva named their baseball team after those little birds who land in the mud and dig around in it with their face until they find a maggot to eat, and they didn't even call them the "Waders." You had a Wade Boggs themed mascot right there, and you missed it. He could've tried to eat the Famous Chicken.
Sherman the Shorebird is fantastic looking, but ill-defined. Most shorebirds are white or grey, with the closest birds to Sherman being a pale, brownish-red, certainly not blaze orange, and no bird on file has wacky confetti hair. If you took Rip Taylor out hunting and this giant bird had the foresight to wear protective clothing you might run into something like Sherman, but that would take a "Fabio and no-one else gets hit in the face by a bird while riding a roller coaster in Virginia" level of coincidence.
Also, the Shorebirds have a promotion going on where they're lording the safety of Sherman over the children of Delmarva, demanding that they bring in canned goods if they ever want to see him alive again.
That's so sad. The only thing Sherman loves is entertaining the fans! Come on, cheapskates of Delmarva, help a brother out, you aren't going to eat that Vidalia squash anyway.
I have to admit, I think I like this one. It could have something to do with how adorable that little kid is. As a complete aside, I took in my first game of the season last week, an exhibition game between the Texas Rangers and the Round Rock Express at the Dell Diamond in Round Rock. I'm waiting in line to get a Super Pretzel (basically the only thing I can eat at a ballgame) and there's a kid in line behind me with his parents, maybe five years old, doing baseball drills. He had a helmet and a glove and was completely precious. After a while I feel something tugging on my shorts, and I realize that the kid has accidentally grabbed onto me thinking I was his Dad. I looked down at him and said "Hi!," and he RUSHED behind his father, started SOBBING and demanded to go back to his seats. It was awesome and terribly sad at the same time. I'm sorry, little boy, I didn't mind the mistake that much.
Guilford the Grasshopper is named after the county of Guilford, the home of the city of Greensboro, which makes him the best county-themed mascot since the Cuyahoga Unconsumable WaterMoccasin. He is very cute, even though (and possibly because) he doesn't look anything like a grasshopper. You've really only got two options in a grasshopper costume: make them look like a green Heckle and Jeckle, or make them anatomically accurate, and then you end up with something that looks like that teacher who tried to kill Xander in season one of Buffy.
The only bad part about him is his entrance video, where you find out that he's a total Uncle Tom who works for the pest control industry.
Back when I was making references to The Comic Strip's Street Frogs in the Minnesota Twins Spring Training Dugout, I had no idea I would be writing about one in Mascots. But here we are, staring down the barrel that is Reedy Rip'it of the Greenville Drive, a frog because frogs are green and Greenville has "green" in the name, mascotting for a team that I'm pretty sure is also an emo band. If they aren't an emo band, they're an emo song. Maybe a Yellowcard song. Regardless, "favorite team" and "street you grew up on" shouldn't be the same on my survey.
As a South Carolina mascot, I'm sure this frog is the only person in Greenville who is "reedy." Mascot surnames are almost always an invitation to Pun Madness, and this might be the worst. I can't wait until these names are all outdated, and nobody says things like "homer" or "dinger" anymore, and we're stuck with a bunch of Sabermetrics mascot. Here's DIPS, the Defensive Independent Pitching Statistics Dinosaur! He's going to race LIPS, the Late Inning Pressure Situations Camel, and the winner will receive the best Speed Score!
Yes, I know, I'm an old man who is behind the times. Here is a video of Reedy doing the dance from "Pee-wee's Big Adventure."
Woolie B. of the Hagerstown Suns is advertised as a "woolly bear caterpillar," but a quick Google search (and f**k you for making me Google image search bears and caterpillars with my SafeSearch off) reveals that said animal has no arms, no legs, no gigantic eyeballs and no fangs. I think they should've just gotten a big orange shag rug, rolled it up and put a baseball jersey over it. Maybe get somebody to drag it around the stadium by a big string. That's how you do a caterpillar mascot. This guy is something from a scary hillbilly Sesame Street.
The saddest thing about Woolie B.'s existence is the explanation of why he has to. He debuted in 2001 when the Giants took over affiliateship from the Blue Jays, and Jay Jay the Blue Jay had to be replaced. They debuted Woolie to the excitement and enjoyment of a room full of kindergartners, but the reason for Jay Jay's departure was the worst.
The first order of business was to announce the retirement of Jay Jay, Hagerstown's longtime, blue bird mascot which had nested at the stadium for the last eight years.
"Jay Jay is in Florida," said Joe Kuchta, the emcee for the program. "He flew away and we think he's talking with Mickey (Mouse). We heard Minnie is now his girlfriend."
That is the most rudo sh:t of all time. Jay Jay abandoned his home and the people he loved to run away to Florida and break up Mickey and Minnie Mouse in some sort of awful Internet thing. But he's still "talking to Mickey (Mouse)," which puts the "girlfriend" part of his relationship with Minnie into question. Talking to him? What does that even mean? Man, I really don't want my minor league mascot to abandon me and get into a Requiem for a Dream thing.
The look on that kid's face says it all. You'd think a team called the "Crawdads" would have a better chance of a gender-nonspecific fuzzy Muppet thing as their mascot, especially over teams with names like the "Suns" or the "Gnats." But nope, here's the transsexual mash-up between Bosko and Dr. Zoidberg that you've been looking for, Conrad the Crawdad, the only minor league mascot sexually terrifying enough to walk around with his shirt unbuttoned. Who thought the crawdad mascot needed eye shadow? And seriously, why is his shirt open? HIS SHIRT IS OPEN IS ANYONE ELSE SEEING THIS
I can't get any verification on a storyline, but there appears to be a dark-eyed, masculine variation on Conrad used in some of the team's graphics. I don't know if this is a Legend of Zelda situation where he's the dark version of Conrad, or if it's a BxB Hulk thing where Conrad turns into the Dark Conrad when he gets really mad. Regardless, Dark Conrad sort of looks like Zach Braff, and honestly I'd rather get foam raped by one than have to look at the other.
Update: Conrad has a girlfriend (and I use that in the "friend who is a girl" sense) named "Candy." So if I didn't already tell you how much of a dork I was with the Dragon Gate comparison, the Conrad and Candy to Dark Conrad situation could be like the old Pac-Man cartoon, where Super Pac just randomly showed up in a wormhole and messed everything up.
From Tim E. Gator's Facebook page.
I am the Mascot for the Kannapolis Intimidators Baseball Club in Kannapolis, NC. We play in the South Atlantic League and are the Single-A Affiliate of the Chicago White Sox.
Hey, thanks for clearing that up. Now, if you don't mind answering a few quick questions, such as
1. Why are you an alligator
2. Why is the mascot of a Dale Earnhardt-themed team an alligator
3. Is your middle initial "E" because you want to honor Dale Earnhardt but the Earnhardt estate, the same people who drive around in cars with beer logos on them, thought calling an alligator Dale or Earnhardt trivialized his memory
4. How is it that an alligator can walk upright like a man
5. Why are you wearing clothing, is it an issue of dignity, like that orangutan from Babe: Pig in the City
6. Why are you wearing a hat, but no pants
7. Is this getting too close to reading like a Chuck Klosterman novel
8. Why is a baseball team named after Dale Earnhardt, actually, because I get that he was born in Kannapolis but he pretty much didn't play baseball, he drove a car in a circle (except for one time when he drove straight)
9. Does anybody think your name is the "Time Gator" when they're looking you up on the Internet
10. How much more awesome of a mascot would a time-traveling alligator be
11. Why is your name Tim, Dale Earnhardt's name was Ralph
If you don't mind sending the answers to these questions to email@example.com I would appreciate it. Thank you, Tim!
Remember when I mentioned how you'd think the Hickory Crawdads would have a Muppet guy instead of man-sized freshwater crustacean? That's the road the Lakewood BlueClaws took, going for the most obvious and stereotypical harmless minor league mascot imaginable, an orange (again with the orange) furry nothing with a name that means nothing who does nothing. And the portmanteau'd their name while they were at it! You can be the Blue Claws, I don't think anybody will wonder where the city of Lakewood Blue is. The worst part is that the BlueClaws play in New Jersey, which is being pretty liberal with the term "South Atlantic."
And the worst part of THAT is that the BlueClaws used to play in North Carolina as the "Cape Fear Crocs," giving them a legit South Atlantic location AND a reason to have an alligator mascot. Is that why the Intimidators have Tim E. Gator? Because the Fear Crocs moved to New Jersey and he got really into racing?
As you can see, Buster, like most residents of New Jersey, don't have anything better to do than separate and dispose of the trash within what they find themselves living. "Sorry Buster, no birthday parties today, go shred these documents."
"Man" mascots never work. Look at Bernie Brewer. He's fine, but he needs the slide to stay over, and he's less popular than the Racing Sausages. Why? Because of the uncanny valley, and because a large man you can't quite understand brings back confusing memories from childhood. So what happens when you take the slide and the mobile pork away from Bernie? Big L, his low rent equivalent from the South Atlantic League. Maybe when the Legends hit a home run, Big L slides down a slide into a big pool of Just For Men hair color.
I think the scariest part of Big L (besides his name, which makes him sound like someone from Gangland) is his mouth. Look at that hole, there should be teeth and some blackness in there to suggest an oral cavity, but nope, just a sheet of solid white. So either he's eating a large block of Styrofoam, or he's an uncomfortable picture in the margins of the Porno Tube. Ha, you know, and as I write that, I'm really happy that "porno tube" can be an actual thing to reference, and not a horrible masturbatory tool.
Big L is still better than the Legends' old mascot, Big O, who kept inadvertently destroying Whitaker Bank Ballpark with his giant robot fights.
Good job not having a Native American as your mascot, Rome Braves, this smiling Rastafarian guy is clearly fine. He looks like he belongs on the butt of Kofi Kingston's tights.
The Rome Braves website offers no explanation to the origins of Romey, besides that whole thing where he's named "Romey" because nobody in Georgia has the creative brainpower to come up with "Homer." I'm surprised his name isn't "Bravey the Rome Braves Man." The site does mention an incident where he went missing in 2005, causing the community, the Rome Braves organization and the Floyd County Police to go on a nationwide manhunt. It failed, and Romey returned to the stadium a short while later with "a lovely lady we have all come to know as Roxie."
Okay, three major questions here.
1. Why did Romey pull a Balloon Boy and disappear without a trace simply to find a girlfriend? Was this a 25th Hour situation where he thought he was going to go to prison? And shouldn't we be madder at him for wasting our public resources?
2. If Romey disappeared to such a degree, why did he come back with a girlfriend that looks exactly like him? I mean, my girlfriend looks like she could be my sister too, but she doesn't have my exact face.
3. If "Romey" was getting a girlfriend, why didn't anyone think to name her "Michelle?"
I applaud the Sand Gnats for having a space in their team name, even if it's there to keep people from wondering what the hell that G is about. Gnate is a literal interpretation of what one might think a Sand Gnat to be, to the point he becomes less a proper Minor League Baseball mascot and more like a local power company spokesplush who showed up at the game to hand out some fliers. I've met everything from a Blue Cross/Blue Shield Bear to a walking bag of groceries at minor league games, and I'm guessing Gnate (not to be confused with the Green Lantern) is a holdover from some Savannah Cheerios factory that went under.
Gnate loses massive points for being the only mascot on Facebook with an operable Farmville game, and a folder of photos of his farm. I can't even begin to tell you how mad that makes me. I JUST typed about how I met a walking bag of groceries, with a plastic piece of celery and a plastic steak sticking out of his head, and even I would have to think twice before high-fiving Gnate over this. Let me guess, Gnate the Gnat just answered a question about me, and I have to log in to SECRET ANSWER QUESTIONS to find out what he said. The question was "is Brandon stupid enough to click this link," and the answer was yes, followed by "you jerk."
Their website doesn't give me much information on Chuck, but that could be because I lived in Parkersburg for a year, and I owe the West Virginia Power like $300. From what I could gather, the Power's logo involves a bunch of lightning bolts, and they're an affiliate of the Pirates, so their secondary logo is a baseball wearing an eye patch and a pirate hat. They also play in West Virginia, which is neither South nor Atlantic. The mascot is that baseball, but as a furry man. And I guess his name is Chuck because they play in Charleston? Weak.
From the Charleston Daily Mail:
Chuck made his grand appearance in the middle of the second inning, riding into Appalachian Power Park on a Suzuki four-wheeler. The Davisson Brothers Band welcomed him to the stadium with a special adaptation of their song "Big City Hillbilly."
Yep, that is pretty much Westerginia in a nutshell. The worst thing about Chuck is that he (according to the same article) replaced "the Power Pack: Hydro, Gusty, Axe, Charlie and Pyro." I don't know who these guys were or what they looked like, but they would've given me so many great jokes about comic books, Kirby video games, Ring of Honor pro wrestling and Demolition. But instead I've got a yellow guy named Chuck who rides a four-wheeler in West Virginia. I want fun at my baseball games, not people I'm related to.
That wraps up the South Atlantic League. Join us back here next Friday for a look at the Low A California League, featuring a timely team known as the "Quakes." Nationalistic fun for all!