The blooms are blooming, the air is filled with the smell of cut grass, and Matt Harvey bladder-tracking is now a pastime. Yes, folks, it’s baseball season, the most fantastic time of the year. And that means spending more time with some of the sport’s favorite mascots. Mr. Met! The Pirate Parrot! The San Diego Friar! Of course, for every cherished mascot out there, there are mascots that just shouldn’t be. Behold, the baseball mascots who make us wish the sport had a Robin Lopez figure to fight them on our behalf.
Dinger, Colorado Rockies: The ’90s were a crazy, experimental time, which explains why Major League Baseball put a team in Denver, despite the fact that Denver’s thin air made it comically unsuited to pitching, which is half of baseball. So of course to add to the madness, the Rockies wound up with a dinosaur mascot that, as the ’90s hangover ended, people came to hate. Despite being grounded in team history (triceratops bones were found on the stadium construction during excavation), Dinger is about as polarizing a mascot as you’re going to find. Google “dinger colorado rockies,” and half of the results on the first page are articles about how people hate the dinosaur named for the thing pitchers hate the most about Coors Field.
Gapper/Mr. Red, Cincinnati Reds: The case against Gapper, some kind of bloated red monster haunting Great American Ballpark, is pretty simple. Of the four mascots the Reds have representing them, a Cincinnati Enquirer poll found only 6% of fans liked Gapper the most. It’s no surprise that Mr. Red came in second, though, because anyone who claims they could like the blank-faced demon baseball masquerading as a mascot probably was rooting for the killers in The Strangers.
Paws, Detroit Tigers: Having a tiger as a mascot for Detroit makes plenty of sense, I’ll grant them that. However, a brief poll of baseball-loving friends revealed a deep dislike of Paws, a distaste that even extended to a Tigers fan/booster of all things Detroit. Paws just didn’t do it for him. As he pointed out, the mascot was invented in 1995, a time when the organization was desperate to point to anything other than on-field product. It syncs up: Paws’ debut coincided with an era of Tigers baseball where they made a run at the most losses in a single season three out of eight years.
Raymond, Tampa Bay Rays: Raymond shares one thing in common with the team he represents, which is an utter paucity of support from the fans — judging by his 6,223 Twitter followers. Unlike the Rays, who make the most of their small payroll and low attendance, Raymond is unloveable and horrifying. Raymond is supposed to be a seadog, a description that brings to mind Arby’s “ocean meat” horror more than anything that’s cute. In true penny-pinching fashion, the person playing Raymond has been fired twice in his existence, which makes one think the Rays’ owners don’t even like him.
Billy the Marlin, Miami Marlins: Like his sea-dwelling cousin, Raymond, Billy the Marlin can’t seem to get much social media love, which also fits in with Miami’s apathetic support of a team that art dealer/owner Jeffrey Loria treats like some kind of elaborate performance art prank. Despite “massive fins” and a “sharp, pointed mouth” (kid-friendly aspects any mascot should shoot for), it’ll cost you $300/hour to hang out with Billy.
Dandy, New York Yankees: The Yankees are known for commercializing everything (NYY Steakhouse, anyone?), but they still didn’t know what the hell to do with the sad, deflated bowling pin that was Dandy. Sent to live in the upper deck from 1982 to 1985, Dandy’s unique combination of a sadness-tinged face and floppy, alien body ensured a quiet end for the Yankees’ totem.
Clark the Bear, Chicago Cubs: It is never (ever) a good sign for your mascot when days after you roll him out, you get a headline like “Cubs stand by Clark the mascot.” But that’s the situation the Cubs found themselves in after debuting the pants-less bear in 2014. Clark caught on with the media from there, but, again, not in a way the Cubs would have liked. It’s never a good sign when Deadspin hosts a NSFW photo contest featuring your mascot placed in terrible situations.
Phillie Phanatic, Philadelphia Phillies: Yeah, yeah, allegedly everyone loves the Phillie Phanatic, but here’s the thing: Tommy Lasorda kicked the crap out of the Super Mario 2 villain-looking alien thing in 1988, a move that every Phillies-hating fan in the Western world wishes they could pull off.