Of all the things to get baseball fans riled up in the dead of winter, it would be a mascot aimed at children.
That, my friends, is the life of the modern Cubs fan. As if they had not suffered enough. Leave it to the powers to be at Clark and Addison to release the image of a mascot that is seemingly inspired by one-hit wonderpup Poochie on a slow news day on the heels of the organization being clowned by a national writer.
That’s so Cub.
More than 24 hours have passed since Clark The Cub entered the world, and to be honest, my perception of the team’s firsts official mascot has shifted. But not by much. I stand by my belief that this mascot is silly and unnecessary. The Cubs were one of three teams (the Dodgers and Yankees are the others) without a mascot of any kind. I understand why the Cubs would want to reach out to a younger audience. Perhaps MLB itself should follow in the Cubs’ lead. But I still don’t think a mascot was the way to do it.
I didn’t need a token mascot to get into baseball. Sure, I might have been lured to America’s Pastime thanks in part to the team’s unofficial mascots (the busty blondes that caught Arne Harris’ eye in the production booth) but the thought “you know what this team could use — a mascot” never crosse my mind. Furthermore, I think it’s awfully hypocritical of an organization whose owner’s major selling points include a 100-year-old park and old-time day baseball to sell out and throw a mascot out there and expect overwhelming acceptance.
With that said, by all accounts, the mascot will be harmless. It won’t be dancing on dugouts. It won’t be prancing on the field. It won’t be shooting t-shirts out of a cannon. Instead, the mascot’s lone objective seems to be meet-and-greet opportunities with younger fans. And that makes Monday’s rollout of Wrigleyville’s newest creature a bit mind-boggling.
Not only was the timing a bit odd, the fact that it was unveiled via Twitter. Clark’s projected demographic aren’t Twitter fiends. Heck, I doubt most of his target audience doesn’t know what Twitter is, let alone use it to track breaking team news. Social media pushes can really expedite the reach of a product if you know your demographic. Kids might have loved the fuzzy creature for all I know. But it’s doubtful they were to find out about it around 3 p.m. via social media.
And that leads me to the thing that really ties it all together: Timing.
While the timing might have been good for the Cubs as they rolled out Clark The Cub leading up to the annual Cub Convention, it led to a whole bunch of illogical narrative which is what really seemed to drive the conversation Monday into Tuesday. And I couldn’t have been more disappointed.
Allow me to share this, via my personal Facebook page:
“I was originally going to focus this on Cubs fans, but since Cardinals and White Sox fans are chiming in, I might as well direct it to all.
The fact that I’m seeing numerous update from sport fans who don’t know that there is a clear separation between baseball & business operations is so disappointing. Don’t be stupid. There is no tie between the Cubs activity in getting a mascot and their inactivity in the free agent market/acquiring better players.
If you think that, then get off my lawn. Or something. Bunch of dopes.”
In short, my social media timelines were flooded with sentiments such as “Glad to see that’s what they’re doing with their free time” and “We should have gotten new players. What’s up with Theo?” and “They don’t ned a new mascot, they need better players.”
Yeah. As if Theo Epstein and Jed Hoyer had anything to do with this mascot ordeal.
Every time I think I can’t be more embarrassed as a Cubs fan, my fellow Cubs fans prove me wrong. It’s almost impressive.
Again, I think this whole thing is stupid. But there simply isn’t a tie between business and baseball ops. I think the Cubs went out of their way to conform in a way they never have before. And if they think a mascot will help branch out to younger fans, good luck to them because I don’t think that avenue will be as popular as they think. Then again, I’m a strict believer in the concept that winning cures all.
(Aside, one of the Cubs’ most popular children’s activities was the All-Star Kids Clinic held at Wrigley Field during the All-Star Break, which I attended annually as a child. Nothing helped connect me to the Cubs more than spending time at the park and on the field with my fellow little leaguers. The Cubs would be wise to bring that back in coming years.)
Between the mascot fallout and the hackjob that was Jeff Passan’s Cubs preview (more on that tomorrow) on Yahoo, it’s been a rough stretch for Cubs fans.
And to think: Pitchers and catchers haven’t even reported to camp.