Mascots, in whichever form they take, are surprisingly polarizing. You wouldn't think something as silly as Fighting Okra would get people so fired up, but people tend to love them or hate them.
People who love them are more likely to be fun-loving optimists with a 'glass half-full' vision of the world. Even if they aren't especially fond of one particular mascot, it's not the sort of thing that's going to fill them with rage.
On the other hand, people who hate them are more likely to be angry sycophants who are addicted to be outraged about…things. Pretty much anything and everything. You name it, and they'll stir up some outrage.
The issue gets even more polarizing when you delve into the area of unofficial mascots. If you like mascots, you're probably going to welcome a few extra guests to the party. The more the merrier, right?
Well, unless you don't like mascots. Then you're probably going to call the cops to report the party crashers and run outside in your underwear to threaten them with a bat. "Get off my lawn, you little punks!"
So! If you love mascots, enjoy this gallery of 20 of the most adorable unofficial mascots in sports. And if you hate them, enjoy the outrage high it provides and consider it your official fix for the day.
They may be called the St. Louis Cardinals, but what has that ostentatious winged little sing-songer ever actually done for the team? Nothing, that's what (as far as I know—and as far as I want to know).
I certainly didn't see any flying around Busch Stadium for two consecutive nights during the Cards NLDS series against the Phillies back in 2011. Philadelphia was up 2-1 in the series before the Rally Squirrel showed up on the scene.
In Game 4, the squirrel interrupted the game in the bottom of the fifth inning by going blazing across home plate just as a pitch was delivered. Then an argument ensued about the impact it may have had on the pitch—an argument the pitcher lost.
Then the Phillies lost the game, forcing a decisive Game 5 back on their home field. They lost that, too. Which is why the famous (or infamous, depending on who you ask) Rally Squirrel was forever immortalized on the Cardinals championship rings after they went on to win their 11th World Series.
Ya know, some people say squirrels are just rats with cuter outfits. I say rats are just squirrels in need of a makeover.
I'm already getting the sense that a fair amount of readers are going to question my sanity in thinking that Dartmouth's unofficial mascot Keggy the Keg is "adorable."
Now, am I saying that an human animated keg of beer that likely promotes binge drinking is the best choice for a mascot? No. However, he's certainly not the worst. Keggy the Krack Pipe definitely would've crossed a line.
Plus, Keggy never said he was a role model (that I know of). Not to mention Dartmouth is in the Ivy League—if those kids are looking for guidance from a mascot, we've got a problem.
He's just funny and adorable in a way that I never imagined a keg of beer with legs, rubber hands, a deranged smile, that is stuffed with a human ever could be.
Listen, I'm not sure how official the mascot status of "Skittles The Middle School Cat" is because I found out about her on a Facebook page with 49 "Likes." She's listed as a public figure, though, so who am I to argue?
According to unquestionably reliable information likely provided by an 11-year-old, Ms. Skittles showed up to their school at some point in time and decided to stay forever. Then again, the page was created in late January 2013, so who knows how permanent this all is.
So far, things seem to be working out, though. Skittles has settled into her new life as the new unofficial mascot of a junior high in Venezuela and she's already had at least one litter of kittens.
The kittens are too adorable for words, but the power struggles to come could be fierce. Cat fight!
In June 2012, Mets relief pitcher Tim Byrdak tweeted out a video of a very confused looking chicken chilling out in the team's dugout. Apparently, he had someone buy the bird for a couple of greenbacks in Chinatown. The chicken wasn't the only one who was confused.
After Mets closer Frank Francisco referred to the Yankees as "chickens," Byrdak decided it would be a great idea to buy the bird and say it was sent by the Yanks. According to an ESPN report, the innocuous grade school insult "created a stir."
Obviously a terrible idea to begin with, at least Byrdak didn't add insult to injury by beating the chicken to death with a bat or something—thanks to the urging of former teammate Jason Bay. (The only thing Bay has contributed to any team in years, aside from eating up salary)
Quite the opposite, really. The team named chicken "Little Jerry Seinfeld," a hilarious reference to a hilarious episode of Seinfeld, and made him their temporary unofficial mascot.
The bird spent at least a couple of nights at an undisclosed location in the team facilities before, presumably, being relocated to a very beautiful farm way, way out in the country to live out the rest of his days in a chicken paradise.
Even though Little Jerry Seinfeld's presence was only temporary, I like to imagine Mr. Met shed a few tears through his giant baseball head at the time. I guess it's because I'm mean and don't like the Mets.
Beloit College is a teeny tiny liberal arts school tucked away in Beloit, Wisc. Calling it teeny tiny might actually be a little generous. According to their website, Beloit has approximately 105 full-time faculty members and roughly 1,500 current undergraduates.
In short, it's not exactly a college that is going to attract a lot of athletes and/or sports enthusiasts. So why bother coming up with a clever nickname and official mascot—right?
That's why Beloit decided to keep it simple and just declare the turtle statues on the College President's front lawn the unofficial mascots.
Although, not until after they outfitted the poor tetrapods with reins and topped them with garden gnomes. Otherwise, the whole thing would have just been ridiculous.
Whatever. At least the turtles are adorable and the gnomes are hilarious. Oh, not to mention far more dignified than the Banana Slug, the slimy-sounding mascot of UC Santa Cruz.
Dartmouth College's nickname is "Big Green," which makes landing on an official mascot more difficult than if they were named after some type of animal (Big Green's unofficial meaning has to do with how much cabbage tuition will set your parents back).
That's probably why those indecisive Ivy Leaguers have three unofficial mascots, the moose being one of them. An odd beast to target, but a 2003 survey found that over 30 percent of students favored naming it the college's official mascot.
Probably because it seems they roam free around campus, potentially attending classes and stopping in at the local underage watering hole. Anyway, it's been 10 years since that survey and they still have three unofficial mascots. Way to be.
In their defense, many within the institution are having difficulty letting go of the idea of having an Indian as their official mascot, which could be slowing things down. Wait…that wasn't a very good defense.
Colorado's own Justin Stank may not be considered adorable in the traditional sense of the word. First of all, his last name is Stank. That has got to be rough for a 16-year-old superfan traversing those pesky teenage years.
That being said, all that's gold doesn't glitter. Stank's unending enthusiasm and devotion to the Colorado State Rams led the New York Times to declare him the university's unofficial mascot in a March 2013 profile.
Think you're serious about your sports allegiances? Well, you've got nothing on Stank.
This kid practically lives in that Rams costume, which again has to be rough on the social life, and has been for most of his life.
All that created stank be damned, though; the fact that he "sweat[s] like a pig" in that thing is no deterrent. Stank just hands out Liz Lemon-esque exaggerated eye rolls to anyone who quizzes him on the hygiene issues.
Also not a deterrent? Traveling to the not-so-great state of Kentucky to see the Rams play, which is just one of the many trials and tribulations he's faced over the years. In fact, traveling with the costume in general is a chore in itself.
Don't you worry about Stank, though, he's doing just fine. Dude may have been chased down and nearly murdered by Colorado's mascot Ralphie, a grown-ass buffalo with an unpredictable temper, but then he was tended to and fawned over by the cheerleaders.
And boom goes the dynamite.
The Tulsa Drillers are a minor league baseball team located in…you guessed it…Tulsa, Okla. They're the Double-A affiliate for the Rockies, in case you were interested. I realize you probably weren't.
I wasn't able to find any information on the official mascot of the Drillers, but since they play in the Texas League, I just assumed it was probably an oil derrick and a bunch of sick and dying wildlife covered in crude liquid gold.
Please note that information has not been verified, though, so don't go tweeting about it and getting me in trouble. Or do, whatever. All press is good press, right? But I digress…
Whatever the situation is with the official mascot, or lack thereof, the Drillers have a new unofficial mascot these days—an impressively large stuffed Tiger named Lonnie. Apparently two players "found" Lonnie at a Texas truck stop during a road trip and felt a cosmic connection.
The Drillers opened the season 1-5. Then they found Lonnie at a truck stop and went 5-1 over the next six games. That was as of May 1, 2013. I wish I cared enough about the Drillers to find out how they've been doing since then.
But I don't. Sorry.
In December 2009, Kenai, a wicked adorable Siberian husky, was named the unofficial mascot of an alternative school in Kokomo…Indiana. Who knew the Beach Boys had a soft spot for the Hoosier State?
I'm not sure if McKinley Alternative School had any athletics to begin with, but I'm guessing they probably didn't. My high school boyfriend got sent to alternative school and most of the kids were only allowed to write with crayons.
Not that they aren't deserving of their very own mascot—even if it's unofficial. Kenai was initially brought to the school by a teacher who had adopted him from a rescue group. In an interview with the AP, the teacher said attendance went up significantly after she started to bring the dog to school regularly.
The kids learned practically applied lessons in geometry, as well as the value of teamwork, by participating in projects like building a dog sled. And Kenai gets a dog sled! Everybody wins!
Unfortunately Kenai's official blog hasn't been updated since March of 2012. Though I really hope the mascot thing is still working out there. And I really hope none of those kids stabbed him with an errant pencil in a fit of rage.
The George Washington University Colonials' official mascot is George Washington. A horrible, big-headed, undignified version of the very first president of these United States is portrayed by an unhinged student who runs around acting like an idiot.
There's also an inflatable balloon type version of him known as Big George. As I typed the last few sentences, I'm quite certain that the great President Washington was turning over in his grave just a few miles south of me in Mount Vernon, Va.
Being a history buff (and a history major) living in D.C., I chose to willfully ignore GW's official mascot and embrace their unofficial mascot instead—a bronze hippopotamus statue at H and 21st Street NW. It's awesome because you can sit on it and get your picture taken! Seriously, I've done it dozens of times.
The strange thing about the hippo statue is that it's there because as "legend has it" they used to live in the Potomac River and George and Martha Washington enjoyed observing them as they frolicked in this mosquito-infested swamp on hot summer nights.
Apparently being a liar in the nation's capital has been the standard since day one, because I know for a fact that the only things that lives in the Potomac are snakehead fish, otherwise known as the "fish from hell," and giant sharks.
Welcome to hell. That hippo statue is the only good thing we've got going around here.
Here you probably thought Jack Nicholson was the Lakers' only unofficial mascot. Well, guess what, dummy—he totally isn't. Get with the damn program.
I'm just kidding! I had no idea, either. So either you're not a dummy or we're both a couple of dummies together. Either way, we're square.
Anyway, so according to a Sports Illustrated Kids (yes, that exists) blog post in February 2011, George the Bulldog actually rivals Nicholson in popularity at the Staples Center among adults ages 25 and up. And he flat out kicks Nicholson in the crotch when it comes to attracting the attention of kids of all ages and very hot girls.
Those statistics, much like George's mascot status itself, aren't what you'd call "official," in that I made them up. So I can't prove any of that. But you can't not prove it either. Plus, it sounds relatively legit—doesn't it?
Anyone else wondering what George thought of Dwight Howard's choke fest in the playoffs this year?Yeah me neither, obviously. He's a dog.
If we're speculating though, he probably had mixed feelings. George is obviously a Kobe Bryant fan, but he must recognize that injuries and age are catching up to him and if Howard isn't the future of the franchise—then who is?
Ohio's Kent State University athletic teams are known as the Golden Flashes, or just the Flashes if you're feeling lazy—which, let's face it, you probably are. You really can't go wrong with naming a bird of prey as your official mascot.
Having been descended from a subspecies that was known to hunt wolves, the Golden Eagle is obviously pretty bad ass. That being said, it's also a bit predictable.
Wanna know what's not predictable? The story behind Kent State's unofficial mascot, the black squirrel. The campus is loaded with them today, which is interesting because the species isn't even native to the area.
According to their official website, in 1961 they were imported by the university's ground superintendent via a mission dubbed "Operation Black Squirrel." Clever name.
Apparently, he just happened to spot them in his travels at some point and was taken with their unique color and saddened by their pathetic inability to dodge predators. The survival-skill-lacking squirrels had to be fed and tended to for decades, but apparently they've finally learned not to die all on their own.
Props to Kent State for all of that, honestly. It takes a lot of time and patience to continually kick Darwinism in the crotch after a rogue employee infested your campus with a non-native species for no reason whatsoever.
Nevertheless, the squirrels are adorable and in 2011 they celebrated their 50th anniversary of being imported from God knows where Canada to God knows where Ohio.
Stanford University's official mascot, if you can call it that, is the "Cardinal." Not the Northern Cardinal, as in the common North American songbird appropriately named for its distinctive hue. That would make too much sense.
The "Stanford Cardinal" refers simply to the color of the bird from which it takes its namesake from. When your mascot is an abstract concept, like a color, it makes developing an actual mascot nearly impossible.
They could always just adopt a red crayon as their official mascot, but that would probably require some serious negotiations with those Crayola folks. Nobody wants to deal with those uptight suits from Big Crayon.
So instead they decided to go with the Stanford Tree, an unofficial mascot that is so truly bizarre that its actually inexplicably endearing.
Yes it's got the crazy eyes of a meth addict and the unhinged smile of Dr. Giggles, but somehow they combine to make something good…something pure.
The University of Redlands in California formally adopted the Bulldog as its mascot in 1946. Meaning they went without an official mascot for nearly 50 years before they appointed a Bulldog named Deacon, God rest his soul, to the post.
Prior to that time, the university had a a few unofficial mascots to fill the void in the lives of the students. General Haig, God rest his soul too, was drafted into service in 1918 and was responsible for Redlands taking on the Bulldog mascot to begin with.
The General was followed up with Muggs, God rest his soul as well, the adorable little puppy you see in the photo. If he isn't the sweetest thing you've seen all day, well then you have no soul.
In April 2013, a story out of Westbrook High School in Maine hit the interwebs in a big way. It was one of those clickable headlines that went viral because the title indicated a human interest story that would tug at the heartstrings.
It delivered too. The story of Simba, the loyal 15-year-old orange tabby cat that has wandered the halls of Westbrook High, meeting and greeting everyone who enters its doors for over a decade—well, it's a critically acclaimed indie movie waiting to happen.
Everyone at the school loves the cat, particularly the superintendent, which is why Simba serves as their unofficial mascot. He's given free reign of the joint too, meandering from classroom to classroom throughout the day—and sometimes settling in for a little cat nap on someone's textbook.
Odd as it may be, Simba keeps a pretty regular schedule. He doesn't live at the school. The cat actually belongs to a local resident, a woman he leaves each morning to clock in at the school at "7 a.m. sharp," and returns to each evening—probably expecting a hot meal on the table.
No word on where Simba spends the summers. He probably eases up on the work load, though, and clears his schedule for a little "me time."
The only thing unfortunate about the story that went nationwide was the head-slappingly ridiculous headline that accompanied it on many sites: "Westbrook High's unofficial mascot is the cat's meow."
Whoever came up with that should be fired. Or at least slapped around a little.
Xavier University's huggable Blue Blob isn't exactly an unofficial mascot, but he certainly isn't the official mascot, either.
That honor belongs to a ridiculous version of the Musketeer D'Artagnan with a comically oversized head. Standard issue mascot fare.
Surely the powers that be at Xavier have their reasons for this, presumably very stupid reasons, but there's no question The Blue Blob has the heart of the student body.
On one hand, the site of a baby bear chained up for the amusement of Ivy League rich kids at Cornell, their safety school, is a little sad. It's just not the kind of thing we're used to seeing these days—thankfully.
On the other hand, an adorable baby bear cub! Squeeeeeeeee!
Like many of the universities in the Ivy League, Cornell doesn't even have an official mascot, just a color: The Big Red. They adopted a live bear as an unofficial mascot in 1915 and named it Touchdown.
According to an article in The Cornell Daily Sun from 2006, legend has it that Touchdown had some fun of his own back in the day. He was known to climb the goalposts at halftime and enjoyed traveling with the team—he had his very own seat and enjoyed soaking up the sights.
He enjoyed snacking on honeycombs and popcorn fed to him by pretty ladies. TD was also known to get loose and terrorize anyone in sight. He once got loose in a Detroit hotel and went charging through the dining area, sending everyone fleeing for their lives.
He also broke free once in Atlantic City, charged down the boardwalk, broke into a saltwater taffy shop for a snack, and horrified the owners in the process. After which TD decided to go for a swim in the ocean, requiring quite the elaborate rescue mission.
After some idiot students decided to ship the bear to Ohio for a game in a dog cage in 1939, the Animal Protective League made enough waves to convince the university to set the animal free and replace it with a costume stuffed with an undergrad.
The Red Sox had one heckuva bad year in 2012. That Bobby Valentine fiasco was a season-long nightmare and their midseason salary dump on the Dodgers proved they packed it in long before October.
That's baseball though and, Boston fans in particular, are used to that kind of epic failure. The team can always come back next season, right?
Tragically, the Red Sox lost something (or someone?) in April 2012 that they couldn't get back in 2013. Brewzer the Bulldog died unexpectedly of an illness; the dog, who belonged to their minor league equipment manager, had been the unofficial mascot of the club for years.
According to a report by the local CBS affiliate in Boston, Brewzer was "often more popular than many of the players." Something I don't doubt for a second. Hmm…Josh Beckett certainly comes to mind.
Beckett probably poisoned Brewzer with tainted fried chicken skins because he was jealous of his popularity and naturally lovable disposition. Granted, that's just a theory…but I think it's a good one.
In any event, RIP Brewzer. You're the only thing the Red Sox lost in 2012 that is missed and can never be replaced. Josh Beckett could be replaced with a rabid raccoon.
Baylor University's official mascot is the bear, because lots of mascots are bears. It makes sense. Bears are big, tough, territorial and aggressive.
Just the type of attributes a sports team wants to convey, whether they actually apply to a particular team is irrelevant. Though they happened to legitimately apply to Baylor athletics in 2012.
Their football team was coming off an impressive year with Heisman-winning quarterback Robert Griffin III, and their women's basketball team won the NCAA Championship led by Brittney Griner.
Unfortunately, that success didn't carry over to the university's baseball team early in the season, but that all changed when an adventurous beaver rolled up to the Baylor Ballpark one fateful day. The brave rodent made his rounds through the parking lot looking for some grub—and it found plenty of fans willing to oblige.
Fox Sports reported that the timing of the beaver waddling into their lives just so happened to coincide with an impressive Bears win streak, which stood at 24-0 as of April 21, 2012.
"Feed the Beaver" became a catchphrase embraced by fans and players alike, and the bucktoothed rodent earned unofficial mascot status at Baylor.
They should just dump the bear altogether and adopt the beaver officially. How adorable is he?!
The Grizzlies were one of the teams profiled by Sports Illustrated in a behind-the-scenes feature during the 2013 NBA playoffs. A breakout star from Memphis emerged in the immediate aftermath of the piece.
Although, it wasn't a player or even a coach. It was Buckets, a Husky puppy owned by Quincy Pondexter, who occasionally tagged along with him to practices. The dog became an instant sensation because it's the most adorable thing in all of Tennessee.
Buckets became the official unofficial mascots of the Grizz right about the time he got his very own Twitter account. He's been a member all of three weeks and already has more followers than me. Which…I'm sorry…is total BS.
Apparently Buckets is also active on Instagram, despite the fact that he's a dog and can't operate a computer or mobile device. Oh well, I suppose I'm just splitting hairs here.
Buckets is a baller, actually he's the dog of a baller, and I don't begrudge him his success. Any of it. So what if he's a puppy and already more successful than me—it's not his fault that I unsuccessfully attempted to retire immediately after high school.
That's obviously my parents' fault.
**Also. Follow me on Twitter, please. It'll help heal the wounds of childhood. Follow @blamberr