What are mascots good for?
Unless you're five, they're not really that funny. They're not really entertaining. Mostly, they are annoying.
The truth is, we don't really notice mascots unless they do something like this.
Mascot stunts can be awesome when they go well. Seeing a person dressed in a sweltering fur or inflatable costume execute an epic trick shot or dunk is cool. Seeing a parade of mascots engage in an impromptu dance-off in the midst of a Korean baseball game is even cooler.
But when mascots stunts go wrong? That is when things get truly interesting.
Where else besides a basketball or football game would you see a giant furry creature catch on fire? Or fall through a basketball hoop? Or bounce down several flights of stairs on roller blades, then trip while trying to get up?
The hidden joys of sports. There's nothing like them.
We shall begin with the time Bango, representing the Milwaukee Bucks, tempted death and survived to tell about it.
During a playoff game in 2010, the daring mascot climbed a ladder taller than the shot clock, executed a back flip off the top of it, dunked on his way down and somehow landed on the ground while still alive.
There are so many ways this could have gone wrong. Props to Bango for not caring.
Back when the Pelicans were still the Hornets, they meant business with their mascot. A couple of summers ago, the NBA team in New Orleans (whatever it's called today) released a highlight reel of its mascot executing a series of trick shots.
Hugo can do it all. He can sink any shot from anywhere, including half court and the scorer's table. He can sink it from behind his back. He can even hit a shot from the rafters above the Jumbotron.
They're all impressive, but still, this video leaves us with several questions—like why the Pelicans mascot is wearing a dance recital costume of tights and a skirt.
It is unclear why the Tamp Bay Lightning's Thunderbug went on spring break and decided to harass a series of innocent beachgoers, but that doesn't make the results any less hilarious.
Seeing this inflatable mascot gleefully chase teenagers down the beach, kick sand at children and intentionally face plant after being poked by girls before chasing them away is nothing short of amazing. Almost as amazing as watching him faceplant onto a child and whip sunbathers with his antennae.
The "why" doesn't even matter.
So what happens when a longtime fan's birthday coincides with a home game? The mascot honors him, obviously. Or at least it tries.
Last year, at a Utah Jazz home game, the Bear attempted to deliver a birthday cake to longtime season ticket-holder Luke Larson.
Right as they were about to sing happy birthday, the unwise emcee suggested that Bear tilt the cake so the cameras could catch a solid glimpse of it, and per the laws of physics, the sheet cake slid off its platter and onto the heads of fans below. Which was way better than singing, anyway.
It's unclear whether this stunt was executed on purpose, but regardless, it's awesome.
Back to a stunt that actually went right.
The Nashville Predators' mascot, Gnash, is well known for his fearlessness in the face of potentially crippling stunts. Mostly, they involve hanging from a rope suspended from the ceiling and not caring about the possibility of hitting the ice with just the protection of a furry costume to cushion the blow.
Again, you have to ask yourself about the game plan in case something fails and Gnash ends up hitting the ice head first with incredible velocity, but until that happens…Gnash is the man.
Usually, when your school's mascot makes its way into the student section, it is annoying at worst, a solid camaraderie-builder at best. Unless you go to Vanderbilt, in which case the mascot making an appearance in the student section is a safety hazard.
In 2011, in the midst of a big win over Tennessee, this dude got hit in the face so hard by Mr. C that it gave him a bloody nose. All Mr. C was trying to do was pump up the crowd a little bit.
The comments on this video leave you to believe that maybe this fan deserved what he got, but still. Sometimes, it's necessary to keep things civil.
Thanks to Dude Perfect, we've seen plenty of epic trick shots executed by plenty of athletes, some of whom even hail from Storrs, just like Jonathan the Husky.
Perhaps he was inspired by their feats, so he decided to make a name for himself with a spectacular trick shot of his own.
Watch and revel as Jonathan sinks this water bottle into a garbage can from all the way up on the roof of Rentschler Field. Whoever lives inside that costume…someone get him a tryout.
Mascots dancing on top of dugouts is something you see every day.
Mascots falling off dugouts while moonwalking is not.
In 2010, in the midst of an exhibition game against the Arizona Diamondbacks' Triple-A affiliate, the University of Nevada's precious Wolfie was rocking out with his fellow mascot, Archie, when he misjudged his position atop the dugout. He moonwalked right off it and landed at the players' feet.
Poor guy. Finally makes it onto the big stage, and this is what happens.
Back when they were still in New Jersey, the Nets' mascot took a page right out of the Tampa Bay Lightning mascot's book and decided to spend one day in 2008 making some civilians very uncomfortable. The results were hilarious.
During the holiday season, Sly spent the day at the mall getting into the Christmas spirit with some shoppers. Or not. Mostly, he terrified them by standing completely still and then, while an innocent shopper attempted to take a picture of him or touch him, jumping out at her.
His specialties also included shooting Silly String out of his mouth at one shopper and headbutting another.
What happens when you're a mascot and you try to pretend-fight David West?
In 2012, Cleveland Cavaliers mascot Moondog engaged in a "play fight" with the then-Indiana Pacer, according to The Cleveland Plain Dealer. The results were unfortunate. Apparently, the two were "exchanging playful punches," but one of the punches Moondog took was a little too powerful. He had to be taken to a local hospital with an apparent eye injury.
West told the Plain Dealer:
He jumped at me so I thought we were playing around and then the next thing I know he went down. It was definitely an accident.
Atlanta's mascot wasn't fighting anyone, but he still suffered the same fate as Moondog: An injury suffered during a stunt gone wrong.
In March of 2012, Sky Hawk was close to executing a pretty impressive dunk after front-flipping off a spring board (you can see a video here), but on his way down from the dunk, his beak got caught on the rim and he suffered a rough landing. Team officials rushed to his aid as he lay on the ground, and a bewildered group of players looked on in horror.
According to Deadspin, he had to be helped off the court. Poor guy.
This is the trouble with inflatable costumes. You just never know when they're going to lose their steam.
But watching this Tampa Bay Rays banana mascot try to escape from the field before he completely deflates is spectacular.
We should probably start by talking about the banana's dance moves, which are pretty stellar and consist mostly of imitating Jason Sudeikis in a "What's Up With That?" SNL skit. We should also talk about his repeated attempts to engage the security guard, who is just not having it.
But then things go wrong, fast. The banana's head appears to lose steam first, resulting in a bizarre near-collision with the outfield wall, and his sad attempt to hop the fence before the crowd sees him completely devoid of air while a confused batboy stares at him is the icing on the cake.
Minor league mascots can fail just as epically as the ones in the big leagues. Look at what happened to Bingo the Bee.
In 2009, the mascot for the Mets' Double-A affiliate in Binghamton got a bit too enthusiastic while celebrating a grand slam by Lucas Duda. Bingo embarked on his usual post-homer boogie, which includes hopping over the outfield fence.
Except this time, he didn't quite make it over. Just watch and shudder.
So…maybe sledding down the stairs of a basketball arena isn't such a good idea.
Occasionally, this feat ends up going well. The Utah Jazz bear has executed the stair-sledding stunt with success in the past.
This time, though—not so much. The bear was almost at the bottom when his sled got caught, and he ended up going head over heels down the remainder of the stairs, suffering a nasty-looking neck injury in the process.
What many of us fail to realize is that the stunts mascots attempt to pull off on a daily basis are really dangerous—and hard.
But perhaps that's also why rollerblading in the outfield while attached by rope to an ATV isn't all that wise.
During the 1995 ALDS against the Yankees, the Mariner Moose—the mascot for Seattle—got a bit too carried away with his usual routine. Check out the 30-second mark of this video: He lets go of the tow rope and goes crashing into the outfield wall, suffering a broken ankle.
These days, Mariner has abandoned the rollerblades in favor of simply driving an ATV around the warning track himself.
This one really had to hurt.
Some of Bango's stunts are super impressive and go really well, but once upon a time, he learned the hard way that no mascot can be perfect all the time. And when you fail, it can be extremely painful.
In the midst of a routine at the celebrity game during All-Star Week 2009, the Charlotte Bobcats' mascot hit a shot off the front of Bango's costume while Bango stood on the rim. As Bango stood there celebrating the feat, he lost his footing and completely fell through the hoop. He lay writhing on the court in pain before limping his way off.
The team later reported that Bango had torn his ACL on the stunt-gone-wrong and would require surgery.
Now on to a truly amazing fail.
In one of the most notorious stunts-gone-wrong in the history of sports, the Toronto Raptors mascot attempted to roller blade down some stairs because why wouldn't you try to roller blade down stairs?
It didn't go well. Not only did the raptor fall on his back, requiring assistance from a member of security, but when he finally got down to the floor, he faceplanted there, too. The maniacal look on his inflatable face just adds to the awesomeness.
So…this is why you should never try to jump over a pit of fire when you're wearing a costume that's most likely made of polyester and plastic.
In October of 1995, Wild Wing—proud mascot of the Anaheim Ducks—attempted to jump through a "wall of fire." Brilliant idea.
Obviously, things went awry. Wild Wing tripped prior to jumping, landing in the pit and catching on fire.
Because nobody could've seen that coming.