Publish date:


Chickens! Fish! Giant Baseball Heads! If you could just slide
down your ropes into your seats, we're ready to start. Uh,
Phillie Phanatic, could you do me a big favor and put the two
busboys down? Terrific. O.K., welcome to the emergency meeting
of Mascots Organized for the Protection of the Species (MOPS).
As you all know, we are here to discuss the recent increase in
abuse of mascots. Suddenly people act like we're cartoon
characters. They think they can whap us over the antlers with
hockey sticks, and we'll just spring back like Daffy Duck.

We've always been punched, kicked, flattened, tweaked, pinched,
pushed, hosed down and torn up, but lately it's gotten worse.
Last month a professional miniature golfer got a measly $25 fine
and a 30-day suspended sentence for punching Diamond Duck, the
Richmond Braves' mascot, in the stomach. The guy said he never
thought it would hurt. How would he feel if somebody put a bend
in his putter?

Benny Beaver of Oregon State, are you out there? Right. Benny
got smashed twice by football players last season, once by a
6'6" 330-pounder from Cal. And all Benny did was tap him on the
head with an inflatable hammer. This is the kind of stuff that
sends a guy to Disney on Ice. Last August a woman dressed as a
shark mascot took a right cross in the gill from boxer Gentleman
John Sully at a New Haven sports complex. Sully says he was just
playing around, but Sharkie got whiplash and couldn't work again.

Burnie, the Miami Heat's mascot, has been through hell. Poor
Burnie pulled a woman out of the stands to dance. She said he
jerked her arm or something and sued him for $1 million! Burnie
also had a gig at an adult birthday party, and some of the more
overserved guests pushed him into the pool. You get in a pool
with that woolly suit on, it starts filling with water, and you
sink like a piano. If Burnie hadn't been near a ladder, he would
have been extinguished forever. People have to understand that
just because a guy is 7'6", covered with orange feathers and has
a green honking basketball for a nose doesn't mean he can walk
on water.

Do I see Swoop, the Philadelphia Eagles' mascot? Better watch
yourself. Before you were around, the Eagles had unofficial
mascots--fans who dressed up in feathers. One was set on fire by
an irate Dallas Cowboys fan with a Bic lighter. Ace Ventura
punched another one for laughs in a movie. When film stars can
go around punching innocent fowl, what kind of message is that?
It's a lack of respect, is what it is. Crazy Crab, the San
Francisco Giants' old mascot, quit because he got sick of fans
throwing things at him, including golf balls, carrots, beer
bottles and balloons filled with substances from the men's room.

Look, the job is hard enough as it is. In summer, temperatures
in our costumes reach 115[degrees]. The suits are scratchy, and
you can't see out well, and once a day some kid comes up and
sticks his finger in your blowhole and you've got a black eye
for a week. Slider, the Cleveland Indians' mascot, fell six feet
from the rightfield wall and tore up his knee. The Seattle
Mariners' Moose Rollerbladed into the leftfield wall and broke
his ankle. The Anaheim Mighty Ducks' Wild Wing tried to leap
over a barrier of flames and didn't quite make it, setting his
feathered suit on fire. You think anybody sent him flowers? Or
even barbecue sauce?

We shouldn't be surprised when bubbleheads abuse us, but we
shouldn't be doing it to each other. Is the Stanford Tree in the
house? You and Cal's Oski the Bear tangled at a basketball game
two years ago, with Oski cutting you down with a cross-body
block during the game! Guys, it's got to be solidarnosc, paw in
branch, forever!

Anyway, the Grievance Committee has put together a list of
demands for you to take back to your team: 1) We want each home
club to run our antiabuse message on DiamondVision every 30
minutes during every game. Our new slogan is This has gone fur
enough! 2) When we're injured we want no replacement mascots.
The Phillie Phanatic had a Phil-in a couple of years ago who
tackled some old codger from behind and practically broke the
guy's back. Now everybody thinks the regular Phanatic did it. 3)
A hug cap of 100 per game.

If management refuses our requests, we go to Plan B: the fun
slowdown. Remember, this means a) loosening the springs on your
minitramps for a noticeable lack of height in your stunts, b) a
drastic cutback on zaniness and c) a halt to rubbing bald guys'
heads. Remember, if there's any rough stuff, you've always got
your giant slingshots.

Hey, if anybody wants to mess with us, they'll pay the price.
After all, we weren't sewn yesterday. O.K., that's it! Everybody
to the back room for a free shampoo and vac!

COLOR ILLUSTRATION: EVANGELOS VIGLIS [Drawing of boxing gloves shaped like basketball, baseball, and football punching sports mascot]