It was a different world back in 1987.
No one had a cell phone. The Internet had not been invented. GM wasn’t broke. Barry Bonds had a normal-sized head.
And that’s when I learned to hate baseball mascots.
Some buds and I had tickets to watch the Pittsburgh Pirates play the Metsies. Now, mind you, getting a Buccos ticket back then was not the hardest row to hoe...the team was having trouble drawing in cavernous Three Rivers Stadium, which had all the charm of a Soviet era housing complex.
But these seats were behind the dugout...way past the budget of me and my Iron City brew drinking cohorts, who went to nearly every game that season in nose bleed nirvana. However, we had scored them for free from one of my customers at the bar I worked at back then while slogging through grad school.
The Bucs had put together a young, good club that later went on to win three straight division championships starting in '88 under manager Jim Leyland. The team had the aforementioned Bonds with a normal noggin, along with Bobby Bo, Andy Van Slyke, Sid Bream, and Doug Drabek.
Plus, we were all looking forward to a Mets team that was just off of an '86 series championship, what with Mookie, Hernandez, Daryl, and Dwight in their heyday.
So we sat down to watch the game...and the friggin’ Pirate mascot got up on the dugout in front of us. Again...and again...and again. We spent a good portion of the game trying to peer around some schmoe who thought he was being cute and entertaining.
Siddown, will ya!?
Mascots are part of the dumbass side of baseball. The marketing stuff that teams engage in to “spice it up” and make it “jazzy” for a generation of fans who can’t enjoy life without the Ritalin they grew up ingesting.
They got started with the Philly Phantic and San Diego Chicken (what the heck a chicken has to do with a man of the cloth is anyone's guess). Like fire ants and kudzu, which are also annoying, the trend seems to have spread through the majors unchecked.
Now, I’m a big fan of minor league ball. And somehow, the schmaltzy marketing crap doesn’t bother me as much at that level. It is the minors; after all...I expect some sideshow carney stuff.
But the majors?
Have some standards. It’s The Show.
Here’s my list of things that make a major league game...less major. Signs of the continued decline of our civilization.
I love you, you love me, we’re a dysfunctional family...if you want to watch big furry things, watch Barney on TC. What's next, free teething ring night?
"We Will Rock You"...
...and a bakers dozen of other really, really bad rock tunes played over and over and over again at the ball park.
At DC-10 volume.
What the heck ever happened to the organ, and conversing about the game during play? Nah. Let’s listen to some dead guy from England who wouldn’t have known a bunt from a swizzle stick back before he took the big dirt nap tell us how he’s gonna “rock us” whenever it’s rally-cap time. Bleeech.
Same goes for the stupid “Hey” song, sung by a guy who was convicted of pedophilia. Can it. Bring back the organ.
They look like a couple of softball teams...I kinda expected to see “Dizzy’s Tavern” or something like that emblazoned across the front.
The absolute WORST is the Red Sox wearing green...it’s just plain wrong.
Keep the classic uniforms classic. Home in white, away in gray.
Yeah, I know that other teams have created uniform visual assaults in the past...the Chi Sox in shorts, Pirates in the '70s with those goofy-ass hats, and the old Astros' LSD-inspired togs come to mind...but aren’t we supposed to learn from our mistakes instead of perpetuating them?
It was invented by drunk, stupid people in Seattle for the purpose of creating something to do during pro football television timeouts. Encouraging people to do it at baseball is also a dumb thing.
...or any variant thereof.
Is three-card Monte really so exciting? Watching people cheer to see the red dot beat the blue dot beat the green dot on a computer-animated scoreboard is, at best, an appalling demonstration of how the educational system in America has completely and utterly failed our society.
I mean...they’re friggin’ dots...on a friggin’ scoreboard...that a friggin’ computer generated. Mental masturbation without the orgasm. Go home and stare at some test patterns or something.
A Member from Every Team on the All-Star Squad
Classic case of the marketing guys overwhelming the common-sense nodes of the brains that run the game.
Sometimes a team sucks and really doesn't deserve to have a member on the team. Like the Pirates. It's not little league soccer, where everyone wins and we don't want to hurt anyone's self esteem. Best players should be on it. End of story.
No Beer After the Seventh Inning
This one is always marketed as "family-friendly."
The mommy state strikes again. If someone is drunk and disorderly, toss 'em. Otherwise, allow us grownups to drink beer until the end of the game if we choose to. Unless we're moving to Sharia law here in the states.
Brought to you by the robotic, control-freak NFL where everything must be controlled by Big Brother.
Except, you know what? Surprise—replay isn't perfect.
But at least when it was just the umps, it didn’t take five minutes to call it. Can the replay. Nothing can guarantee 100 percent accuracy, but that thing pretty much does guarantee there will be a long delay.
I wouldn’t mind, however, for some brave marketing person to do a re-run of that mother of all baseball promos gone bad, disco demolition night.
Just to see some stuff git blowed up.