When Mascots Attack

So last week the Tennessee Titans mascot, T-Rac, hit New Orleans Saints quarterback Adrian McPherson with a golf cart. There are a few things that come to mind when I think of that. Firstly, and not to sound too much like Jerry Seinfeld, what is the deal with team mascots? The second, is, what the holy hell is a T-Rac?

That’s the thing with most team mascots. You can’t really tell what the hell they are. They are just college students in very hot and very fuzzy-looking costumes. The only mascot that ever did anything that made them sort of famous was the San Diego Chicken.

When I was a kid the White Sox had two mascots. I still, to this day, have no idea what they were. One was called Ribbie and one was Rhubarb. I remember one of them being very purple. Now, Ribbie, I can sort of understand from a baseball perspective. A lot of baseball fans call Runs Batted In (RBI) Ribbies. But I could never understand what a very hard-to-kill vegetable that some people use to make pies had to do with baseball.

Thankfully, at some point, the Sox got rid of these mascots. That is, until a couple of seasons ago, when someone decided that they needed a mascot again. So, they came up with something called Southpaw. Now, when I first saw a drawing of Southpaw it looked sort of like a dinosaur. It’s sort of green and the drawing made it look like a lizard wearing a baseball uniform. No dinosaur would ever be caught dead in a baseball uniform but at least I could understand the appeal of dinosaurs to kids. Then I saw the actual mascot and it was a fuzzy green thing and I am just not aware of any fuzzy green lizards. As such, I still have no idea exactly what Southpaw is supposed to be. Do kids actually like him? I know when I went to Soxfest this past year I saw more of Southpaw than any of the players.

Some mascots just don’t make much sense like that. You look at the Cardinals and that does make some kind of sense. It’s a guy in a big cardinal costume and they call him Fredbird. Get it? A cardinal is a redbird and the mascot is a Fredbird. Hard-de-har-har.

I don’t really understand what mascots are supposed to do. When you had the Chicken you got schtick. It was a little like the Harlem Globetrotters with the Chicken. You sort of knew exactly what he was going to do and how he was going to torment the refs or umpires and then he sort of followed his little script and did his thing.

The minor league team I like is the Windy City Thunderbolts. They have a mascot that looks a bit like that Aardvark from those cartoons you watched as a kid about the aardvark always chasing after the same ant and had the voice of Jackie Mason. He is called Boomer. He is blue and has a big nose and a Thunderbolts uniform on and a helmet with lightning bolts. I have no idea what kind of creature he is supposed to be.

I guess these things appeal to kids. My friend from Rockford, Tim, took his family to see a Rockford Riverhawks game and they have a guy in a bird costume. He told me his youngest just loved the thing. Whenever it went away she wanted to know where the bird had gone and what it was doing.

Another of my all-time favorite mascots was a guy who used to run around on the sidelines for an indoor soccer team that used to be here in Chicago. Yes, there was a time I used to go with friends to an indoor soccer game from time to time. They were called the Chicago Power. Their mascot? A guy with a creepy white mask wearing red tights and a cape named Captain Power. No big head. No fuzzy anything. Just a guy dressed like a second-rate superhero running around the sidelines posing. He had a physique like Adam West in the old Batman show, from what I remember.

If you go to a hockey game not only do you get a mascot but then the idiot in the costume has to know how to ice skate. The Chicago Wolves have a guy in a wolf outfit on ice skates named “Skates.” He dances to the song “Black Betty” at one point and it is pretty cool. He also holds these flares in his hands when fireworks go off. That has to be risky and might set the fuzzy costume on fire.

But really, what are these things supposed to be doing? None of the ones I see these days have scripts. They wander into the stands. The kids go nuts. They slap a lot of people high-fives. They shoot t-shirts into the stands using giant sling shots. Often the are accompanied by sexy women in revealing clothing, so I guess that has to qualify as a perk.

So you have to wonder who decided a college kid in a giant animal head, looking through a flimsy screen covering two eye-holes should drive around in a golf cart. Regardless of where this particular mascot was driving the damn thing you might as well blindfold a spastic old man and have him drive around the stadium. Maybe he could shoot t-shirts into the stands too. It is only amazing that the mascot didn’t kill anybody.

It appears that McPherson only has a bruise. He is also not their starting quarterback or anything of that nature. Still, it seems that after having survived hurricanes and other disasters it is very sad that the city of New Orleans had to go and get hit by something called a T-Rac.

It looks like a big raccoon. What the hell does a giant fuzzy raccoon have to do with being a Titan? Or living in Tennessee? Do they have a lot of those down there? If so, remind me to spend as little time as possible in Tennessee.

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