Much to the derision of team fans and internet wise guys — two categories I happen to fit in — the Chicago Cubs unveiled a team mascot for the first time in decades on Monday.
It’s easy to see why there was backlash. Clark the Cub is quite a ridiculous looking character, and appears to be a knock-off of the character Kit Cloudkicker from the ’90s kids show TaleSpin.
But there are a couple of things that need to be taken into consideration here.
First, it’s my belief if this character had been introduced in 2008, when the Cubs were actually winning games, no one would really bat an eyelash. But when your biggest offseason acquisition is a mascot, people are going to get a bit surly about the thing no matter what it looks like. (No offense to the tremendous career of reliever Wesley Wright, who will no doubt be dealt for some Double-A benchwarmer around the trade deadline).
Also, this character is for kids. Back when I was a kid, the Cubs actually had players that made you get into the team like Ryne Sandberg, Andre Dawson, Greg Maddux and Mark Grace. Hell, even Shawon Dunston and his O-Meter. And let’s not forget the whole thing was being presented by everyone’s favorite drunken grandfather in Harry Caray.
What exactly do today’s kids have to get them into the Cubs? Luis Valbuena? Edwin Jackson? If that’s all we’re going on, prospective young Cub fans will find better hobbies to get in to, such as soccer, theater or placing plastic bags over their heads. It’s far from the worst marketing idea in the world.
And as it turns out, the real-life version of Clark the Cub isn’t nearly as distressing to look at as the cartoon version:
Granted, he’s no substitute for the last mascot to lead the Cubs to a World Series title:
Nor is he as awesome as having a live bear cub at the park, but you know how those PETA people get:
I have a feeling that by the end of the 2014 season, Cubs fans will come to the conclusion that Clark was the best thing to happen to the team all year. Because boy, is this year gonna suck.