Earlier this week, the Chicago Cubs broke down after more than 100 years and unveiled a mascot. The mascot, which was named Clark the Cub, after the street which Wrigley Field is on, was predictably met with backlash. There were several complaints, like the sudden departure from traditionalism in favor of focus group adherence, the fact that it doesn’t wear pants, which sports site Deadspin had a field day with, the fact that the Cubs care more about a mascot than fielding a winning team, the blatantly obvious resemblance to a TaleSpin character, the backwards ball cap, basically every complaint under the sun, you’d swear that the poor thing was the love child of Meg Griffin and Scrappy Doo.
Which gets me to my point, is Clark the stupidest mascot ever?
Let me start off by explaining my stance on the universally despised furry. I’ll be honest, it sucks. Just because the crosstown rival White Sox did it, doesn’t mean that you have to do it. The Cubs have always been staunch on tradition, never fully dabbling in innovation, with the exception of blue softball style jerseys, and for them to suddenly doubt themselves and go for a focus group shows that they really don’t understand the Cub way.
I will say this though, Clark the Cub was clearly intended to entertain little children, and judging by early press photos, he seems to get that part of the job description done well. Then again, these are little kids, kids who probably don’t have the attention span to last through nine or more innings. Still, he seems to be doing better this year’s other new sports mascot (shudder).
But I digress.
A mascot’s purpose is to entertain younger fans, not adult fans, Adult fans may hate a mascot, but sometimes it ends up that they embrace it. Look at Wally the Green Monster, when it was introduced in 1997, older fans hated it. Flash forward 17 years, and Wally is a big part of Red Sox culture. Now, obviously there are teams that feel that a mascot is a bad idea. The Yankees brought in a mascot in the 1970’s and it failed miserably, even to the point where the man in the costume was assaulted. But here lies the problem. Not everyone is going to like what you do. And it’s not just with mascots, it can be with players. Cardinals fans obviously were upset when Albert Pujols left for the Angels, but now they’ve come to embrace the player who replaced Pujols, Michael Wacha.
So while Clark the Cub may be stupid, at least he’s doing his job so far, and that’s entertaining kids. And if the staunch traditionalists don’t like it, they don’t need to pay attention. As someone who has been to several baseball games where a mascot has been involved, I can tell you, the best way to deal with a mascot if you hate it is to ignore it. That is, unless that mascot is a total pain in the ass. (And yes, I’m referring to a certain Philadelphia based mascot that looks like a cross between a Sesame Street and a Dr. Seuss character.)