With the dead of winter surrounding us, we haven’t had much outside of righteous anger to keep us warm in the city of Chicago.
There’s always something to be angry about round here — for instance, after the recent deep freeze and snow, people are gonna be banging their suspensions in unexpected potholes for months to come — but nothing boils the blood and fortifies one against the ceaseless hawk like being pissed off at Chicago sports teams.
Funny enough, the thing that got under people’s skin most this week was indeed a “thing,” a suit of felt wrapped around some unfortunate bastard in the Cubs organization.
In time for the Cubs’ winter fan convention, which kicks off tonight, and well in time for the 100th Anniversary of Wrigley Field, the Cubs introduced their new, child-friendly mascot Clark this week to an overwhelming response of boos and drawn-on dicks. The Cubs are easy enough targets for their on-field record, its pretty sad that they couldn’t do a better job with the unveiling of this corporatized plunge into the pockets of their fans who have to bring rugrats to Wrigley.
To that end, it is ingenious, though. The Cubs are hardly as lovable and huggable today as they were when Harry Caray and Old Style defined the franchise along with interminable losing, so to bring what’s supposed to be a literal lovable and huggable symbol to a franchise that is looking to turn its historic stadium into a backdrop from Minority Report and is currently competing with the Yankees to sign the latest Japanese pitching phenom makes sense marketing-wise.
Plus, it is an easy way to engage and entertain the kids and there’s nothing wrong with that. But the design of the thing from head down is just horrible and indeed creepy for anyone beyond the youngest of us and the freakiest of us (furries).
You really can go only one of two ways with a mascot — either go way to the left into the surreal, like with the Phillie Phanatic, or go with impossibly cute and cartoonish depictions of animals, which can belie the extra-large size of these mascots, who if they were real animals would destroy everyone in the stadium (by the way, this original try at a Cubbie mascot does look like he molested several unfortunate city dwellers in the days before streetlight cameras).
Some of the facial features and the little “devil-may-care” puft of hair coming from Clark’s backwards ball cap make him delve too much into the creepy anthropomorphic area where the unidentifiable just makes everyone uncomfortable — maybe he should look more like a real bear cub and not like he was cross-bred with some grade-schooler in Andersonville.
Also, its not very authentic (no, I’m not really looking for authenticity in a Chuck-E-Cheese knockoff) or inspired. It seems like this Clark was just a product of board-room group-think, an unneeded and cynical addition to a long-defined institution. Simpsons fans would know what to make of all this mess.
The Cubs catch a deserving “L” for the design of this thing alone, the rest of this is just expected internet snark in 2014. As adults, we should be able to enjoy this thing too, beyond the furries. And to that end, before Clark hits up the convention tonight maybe they should put some pants on him.
Mascot misstep trips up Cubs (ESPN Chicago)
Cubs defend new mascot to critics (ABC7 Chicago)
Clark the Cub: Maybe not the worst mascot ever (Daily Herald)
Help wanted: Cubs search for Clark mascot (Sun-Times)
Follow Regal Radio on Twitter @regalradio1 and Kyle Means @Wrk_Wrt