“30 Teams, 30 Posts” (2016): A Lost Year for Atlanta

In 30 Teams, 30 Posts, I write a post (of varying amounts of seriousness) about every MLB team in some way in the lead-up to the beginning of the 2016 season. Earlier installments can be found here. Today, the Atlanta Braves.

Yesterday, it was announced that the Atlanta Braves and Miami Marlins would play a regular season game at Fort Bragg in North Carolina. In most years, one would think this would mean the Marlins were giving up a home game. However, it’s the Braves who are.

And that seems fitting for Atlanta, a team that will be going nowhere this season as they turn their eyes almost entirely to the future. Defensive wizard Andrelton Simmons is gone. All-Star pitcher Shelby Miller is gone. Guys like Jason Heyward and Craig Kimbrel are now distant memories. The acquisitions by the Braves this off-season have either been entirely aimed at the future (former Number 1 pick Dansby Swanson, for example) or meant to fill a spot and keep the team from being a complete joke. Oh, Freddie Freeman is still there… although you can bet there will be talk of him possibly being traded, even if it could end up as just that: speculation.

The plan is clear: After this season, the Braves will move to the wealthier suburbs up in Cobb County, playing in a new stadium called SunTrust Park. The first year or two there, the thought is, will be a honeymoon, as people will go there just because it’s new.

The Braves hope that by the time the honeymoon ends, the team will be good enough to get people to come to games to see a winning team.

Only time will tell if they are right. But I don’t think it will take much time for the 2016 Braves to stink up the joint. It could get ugly really fast.

 

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30 Teams, 30 Posts (2016): What is Raymond?

In 30 Teams, 30 Posts, I write a post (of varying amounts of seriousness) about every MLB team in some way in the lead-up to the beginning of the 2016 season. Earlier installments can be found here. Today, I reveal the truth about one of the AL East’s mascots- Raymond of the Tampa Bay Rays.

Below you can see Raymond, the mascot of the Tampa Bay Rays:

You may be thinking that, given the fact that he is the mascot for the Rays, that he would be a Ray. You would be wrong. It turns out that he is NOT a Ray.

Here’s some information about Ray from Tampa’s website:

Screen Shot 2016-02-29 at 8.02.56 PMDo you see the relevant thing, here?

Screen Shot 2016-03-08 at 10.23.35 AMYes, he is, apparently, a “seadog”. However, according to Wikipedia, there is no such thing as a seadog. Oh, it’s a slang term for seals, or for people (or dogs) that spend a lot of time at sea, but there is no such thing as a sea dog. Nothing of the species Canus Manta Whatthefluffalus. In fact, there isn’t even a genis called Canus. There is, obviously, Canis, which is where dogs are, but Canus (Latin for “aging”) does not.

So, what is it, Tampa? What is Raymond? What scientists truly discovered him? Could he be… (GASP) a mere man in a suit!?!?!

Tell us the truth, Tampa. We know you are hiding something.

 

30 Teams, 30 Posts (2016): The Tale of Dandy, the Short-Lived Yankees Mascot

In 30 Teams, 30 Posts, I write a post (of varying amounts of seriousness) about every MLB team in some way in the lead-up to the beginning of the 2016 season. Earlier installments can be found here. Today, I speak of Dandy, the short-lived Yankees mascot.

Every team in MLB has a mascot, with three exceptions: the Angels (although they do have the Rally Monkey), the Dodgers… and the Yankees.

But, believe it or not, the Yankees did indeed have a mascot at one point! His name was Dandy, and he looked like this:

dandyCreated by Bonnie Erickson (who also designed Miss Piggy) and her husband and creative partner Wayde Harrison (together, they created the Phillie Phanatic, Youppi!, and other famed mascots), Dandy came to be in an attempt for the Yankees to replicate Phanatic Phever. With the Erickson/Harrison pedigree, a friendly and huggable shape, and a epic mustache, Dandy seemed destined for success. Even George Steinbrenner seemed interested in him, haggling with Erickson and Harrison to make sure that the color of Dandy’s pinstripes were the right shade.

And Dandy may have gotten away with it too, if not for that meddling Chicken. Two weeks before Dandy was to debut in 1979, Lou Piniella took umbrage at the San Diego Chicken (on loan to the Mariners) putting a hex on Ron Guidry and threw his mitt at him. After this incident, Steinbrenner declared that mascots had no place in baseball.

Still, a deal was a deal, so Dandy went into action- in a greatly reduced capacity. His opening debut, which would have involved a pre-set routine and theme music, was scrapped, never to be seen. The Yankees did everything in their power to make him as unimportant as possible, even saying in their team guide that he was just there to amuse the kiddies and stay as far away from the action as possible. True to their word, he was confined up in the cheap-seats.

To make matters worse, for a time Dandy was banned from the stadium outright because his mustache called to mind Thurman Munson, who died in a tragic plane crash.

So, perhaps it isn’t surprising that the few years that Dandy existed were ones of obscurity. As early as the 1990s, people who worked for the Yankees claimed that there never even was a mascot. At one point, during a rare public appearance, Dandy was attacked by a group of drunk bankers, causing the guy inside of the costume- somebody named Rick Ford- to hold it for ransom.

Amazingly, though, it wasn’t the Yankees who cancelled Dandy. It was Erickson and Harrison, who hated how marginalized their creation was. They took him and went home when his lease was up, despite the fact the Yankees were interested in renewing it. To this day, they still own the rights and design, so if you are an eclectic millionaire looking to have a obscure mascot at your next birthday party… give them a call.

Sources:

“Mascots R Them” by Erin St. John Kelly

“Not so Fine and Dandy: The History of The Yankees Mascot” by Josh Eisenberg

“The Short, Sad History Of The Yankees 1980s Mascot, Dandy” by Jen Carlson

“Yankees’ Long-Forgotten Mascot” by Scott Cacciola

30 Teams, 30 Posts (2015): Orbit of the Astros

In 30 Teams, 30 Posts, I write a post about every MLB team in some way in the lead-up to the beginning of the 2015 season. This is the third post of the series- look here for the rest. Today, I look at the one of the great rising stars of the Houston Astros- their mascot, Orbit.

The Astros are going to be something. Sooner than you think, they will have one of those “What The Heck” seasons, bursting onto the scene and into the playoffs like the Rays, Pirates and Royals of past years. They will revive pro baseball on the Gulf Coast of Texas, and teach everyone the true meaning of the unit of measurement known as the Altuve.

But until then, the Astros can at least rest easy knowing that they have one of the rising stars of the MLB Mascot Circuit- Orbit.

Photo by Matthew Britt. Used under Creative Commons (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-sa/2.0/)

Yes, Orbit, the Alien Muppet… thing. Once the mascot of the Astros from 1990 to 1999, he returned in 2012 by popular demand. And, since then, he has made his return worth it, using puns, slapstick, dancing, and mock-feuds. It is no coincidence that Orbit was brought along with the MLB All-Star Team to Japan for a recent tour, considering how great he was in 2014? No wonder, as our good friend Michael Clair once pointed out, that Astro won the Mascot of the Year Award.

Go below the jump for some thoughts and observations about some of Orbit’s highlights:

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Do you want to be a racing mascot? Well… GOOD NEWS!

There is good news for those of you who aim to win athletic glory while wearing a big-headed mascot uniform: the Oakland Athletics are hiring for just such a position! Yes, you can be a racing mascot, defeating your foes and amusing the masses while in a caricature version of somebody like Rollie Fingers, Rickey Henderson or Dennis Eckersley. Wait… no Connie Mack? No Jimmie Foxx? No Reggie Jackson?

Jeez, Athletics, are you even TRYING in this racing mascot thing? Oh well, I guess I’ll have to make due. Let’s see what this requires….

• Prior experience in promotions, performing in costume and customer service preferred.

Well, two out of three isn’t too bad, although one of those two I wasn’t a professi-… wait… preferred? Ha! That means it isn’t required! I’m good!

• Must be comfortable performing and interacting with fans in front of large crowds and on camera.

Full disclosure: When I was like eight, I jumped on top of a dugout and danced on it. Everybody thought it was hilarious except for my parents and the security guards. Tough crowd. So… I’m good!

• Must be reliable, punctual, courteous, have good listening skills and ability to multi-task.

Standard stuff, I’m good!

• Must have high energy, enthusiasm and excitement to promote the A’s brand.

I wrote an article on how the A’s brand should survive even if they move to San Jose! That’s total promotion and excitement about the brand! I’m good!

• Must have strong ability to work well with all employees in a team environment.

Okay, this may be a problem, because I think of myself as something of a method actor. If I’m in the costume, I am the costume. So, it’s entirely possible that I’d start referring to myself in the third person or something, which would be weird. Still, I’m sure I’d be able to manage it, so I’m good!

• Must have ability to run a minimum of 250 yards in a 50 pound costume. Running skills will be tested.

It wouldn’t be graceful at all, but I’d probably be able to handle it. So I’m good!

• Must have ability to perform and entertain while wearing a 50 pound costume for extended periods of time.

See above.

• Must be able to lift and carry items up to 50lbs.

Shouldn’t be too much of a problem, hopefully.

• Must be available to work during all A’s home games and outside appearances as needed, including days, nights, weekends and holidays, throughout the 2015 baseball season.

Hey, if they are willing to get me to Oakland, I’m willing to…

• Must have reliable transportation and live in or close to the Oakland area.

CRAP.

 

Well, maybe one day I shall win glory as a racing mascot. Maybe one day….