The MLB All-Star Team… Of Mascots
Ah, the All-Star game. Like all sports, baseball has its own block of days when it honors its best players of the year. Or, if not the best players, at least Hall of Fame-bound players who used to be great and are retiring after the season ends.
It used to be a fine couple of days of nonsense in baseball. A line of players would do their best to screw up their swing in the Home Run Derby, then the National League would play the American League for bragging rights. Then Bud Selig decided that the All-Star Game should decide home field advantage for the Word Series that year to make the All-Star Game relevant, and the world was never the same. The fun of the game became semi-serious. The best players suspiciously came down with vague ailments that sidelined them for that block of days. The Home run Derby became second rate.
Luckily, I know the best way to get the ridiculousness back into the All-Star Game: mascots.
Most hardcore baseball fans get annoyed by mascots. They find them ridiculous and childish, a distraction from the game. Well let me tell you, that is exactly what I hope for these days. When I was six, I wasn’t able to enjoy mascots. My grandfather took me to baseball games and taught me to fill out a scorecard. There was no time to enjoy the clownish antics of a man in an animal suit doing somersaults. I was doing serious business so that I could take over as manager of the team, writing numbers, circling them, and drawing lines around a 1/4″ x 1/4″ baseball diamond.
But now I’m reliving my childhood and all those games that I missed out on mascots. Here is my All-Star team of MLB mascots. This is serious business. Why? Because I gave them specific positions. I’m ready, Grandpa. I’m ready to manage the team!
Pitcher: Southpaw (Chicago White Sox)
When you have a name like Southpaw, it’s hard not to get labeled as the best pitcher of the year… for mascots, but that is exactly what we are doing with the symbol of the Chicago White Sox.
I say symbol not so much to honor this mascot, but because I can’t figure out what it actually is. It’s like a furry, green hippopotamus on a diet, wearing a White Sox uniform. I have a suspicion that furry, green hippos haven’t been seen in Chicago since the Ice Age thawed to create Lake Michigan.
We can only hope that the rival lineup isn’t only made up of right-handed hitters.
Catcher: Bernie Brewer (Milwaukee Brewers)
Since the dawn of baseball, games have been both won and lost at home plate. It has been a place of both victory and defeat, honor and embarrassment, celebration and tears, or brawls because that’s how baseball players do it.
All of these results call for one thing to help celebrate or forget: beer. This would make Bernie Brewer, the mascot of the Milwaukee Brewers, a prime candidate as catcher for our all-star mascot team. This was a character that use to slip down a slide into a giant mug of beer. What other position would you trust him at, anyway?
First Base: Mariner Moose (Seattle Mariners)
Most mascots have a hard time playing field positions in baseball. This is due to their extremely large heads. How can you possibly throw a ball with any velocity or aim if you’re banging your arm into your ear every time you wind up?
Mariner Moose, the mascot for the Seattle Mariners, has it even worse. He has antlers. He also seems like he could cover the field fairly well, so Mariner Moose goes to first base where he will have to throw the least.
Second Base: Lou Seal (San Francisco Giants)
In baseball, second basemen are a focal point of the field. They back up the pitcher on line drives. They are the gatekeepers to the left side of the field where runners usually end up scoring if they find themselves there with less than two outs. They are the center of the transition plays that end with one, two, or sometimes even three, outs.
It would make sense that the mascot that has been the focal point of all other mascots should take on second base. That mascot is Lou Seal of the San Francisco Giants. This is the mascot who was saved by Bat-Kid, was jokingly injected with PEDs by Bill Hader in a sketch by Saturday Night Live, and was named the best mascot in sports by Forbes in 2008. Plus he has an awesome pair of sunglasses.
Third Base: Mr. Met (New York Mets)
Giant heads and baseball seem to go hand in hand, like big heads and Barry Bonds.
While Mr. Met of the New York Mets may not be under suspicion for PED use, he may be one of the most perfect mascots in baseball history. He’s perfect: a man with a giant baseball for a head. It’s so simple that every team should follow suit.
And with a normal-sized body, Mr. Met is perfect to track down hits along the third base line, like David Wright.
Shortstop: Mr. Redlegs (Cincinnati Reds)
It may seem ridiculous to put two baseball-headed mascots so close together, but my unconscious pairing probably has to do with memories of Alex Rodriguez and Derek Jeter patrolling the same side of the field, with A-Rod being bumped to third base even though he had been at shortstop for years. This is how I feel about Mr. Redlegs of the Cincinnati Reds.
While Mr. Met may represent the first time a human being ran around with a ginormous baseball for a head, Mr. Redlegs predates Mr. Met as a logo. So he gets the honor of the illustrious position of shortstop.
Left Field: The Oriole Bird (Baltimore Orioles)
It’s hard not to think of outfielders as birds. They’re fast, they get air, and they crash into things all the time, hurting themselves in the process.
So it stands to reason that most mascot outfielders should be birds. The Oriole Bird of the Baltimore Orioles takes the first position, left field. It’s not the flashiest outfield position, and it’s not the most athletic. But that’s what The Oriole bird is: a lumpy foam bird that doesn’t even have a flashy mascot name.
Center Field: T.C. Bear (Minnesota Twins)
T.C. Bear of the Minnesota Twins may not be a bird, but he has a reference that is absolutely necessary: Kirby Puckett.
Kirby Puckett never looked much like a center-fielder. It’s the position that needs the most ground covered, so the player is usually fast and slender. Slender is not a term usually associated with Khirby Puckett. Fast? Yes. Able to track a ball? Yes. Able to hit the ball out of the park dead-center? Absolutely.
All of that, combined with six Gold Gloves and six Silver Sluggers, helped get Kirby Pucket inducted into the Hall of Fame. In honor of that, I’m giving T.C. Bear the same chance.
Right Field: Ace (Toronto Blue Jays)
To play right field in baseball, you have to be able to cover a lot of field and throw a baseball like your arm is a cannon. This means that you need to be limber and powerful all at the same time, like Superman, except also able to catch a baseball.
Out of all the mascots, Ace of the Toronto Blue Jays seems best suited to play this position. He may not be Yoenis Céspedes, but Ace had plenty of time to train with Vernon Wells back in his prime.
Designated Hitter: Wally the Green Monster (Boston Red Sox)
In baseball, or at least the National League, hitting is only half the game. Usually you have to be able to play in the field, too.
Luckily for players that look like Tom Hanks on a deserted island when they’re in the field (aka David Ortiz) the designated hitter role has continued to grow. So why shouldn’t it be a part of our mascot all-star team?
Our designated hitter coincidentally hails from the same team as David Ortiz. He is Wally the Green Monster of the Boston Red Sox, a mascot so huge that he can crowd a plate with ease but can’t seem to patrol first base without trying to jog to second.
Due to David Ortiz being snubbed for the official All-Star game, perhaps this will be a respectable honoring.
Mascot: Phillie Phanatic (Philadelphia Phillies)
When it comes to mascots, no one can deny the Phillie Phanatic’s place in team spirit history. Unfortunately, the mascot of the Philadelphia Phillies doesn’t seem to have any athletic skills to make him useful in a slightly serious all-star mascot team.
My solution? Make him the All-Star mascot. Now the rest of the characters can play their semi-best and allow the Phanatic to do what he does best: everything except play baseball.
Patrick Emmel is a sports humorist who once punted a soccer ball fifty yards to his teammate, who then scored the only goal for his college intramural soccer team’s season. Seriously, that kick was placed PERFECTLY. He is also still a believer that Colt McCoy is going to break out as an NFL quarterback. You can read more of his obnoxious commentary at This Jeer In Sports and heckle him on Twitter @Patrick_AE.