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updated: 1/14/2014 8:10 PM

Cubs' mascot lets cynics swing for the fences

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  • Clark, the first mascot for the Chicago Cubs, hugs children during his debut at Advocate Illinois Masonicís Pediatric Developmental Center in Chicago.

    Clark, the first mascot for the Chicago Cubs, hugs children during his debut at Advocate Illinois Masonicís Pediatric Developmental Center in Chicago.
    Photo courtesy of Chicago Cubs

 
 

Surely you didn't think the news would pass without a few comments in this space.

Seriously, the Cubs hung a piñata from Wrigley Field's upper deck and said, "Go ahead and take your cynical, skeptical, sarcastic cuts."

Glad to oblige.

As you already know, his name is Clark. He's the Cubs' new mascot, also known as their latest lovable loser, an image they supposedly were trying to shake.

(I say "he" because Clark is a male name, which raises the question of what would be wrong with Clarkette?)

Anyway, here's a take from someone who attended his first Cubs' game in Wrigley Field at 5 years of age. Once over the surprise of everything being in color instead of black and white like on TV back then, there were a few more surprises.

One was that this place should have a retractable dome.

Yes, I was a kid ahead of his time.

After settling onto my seat -- eating hot dogs and licking the beer that a fan spilled on me -- something mystified me.

Where's the mascot?

It became one of the great voids of my childhood. I have been in therapy ever since because there wasn't some sort of furry, fuzzy, cuddly Cubbie running around Wrigley Field.

This summer there will be, and the Cubs say Clark's purpose is to make the ballpark more family friendly, to entertain kids and presumably to keep a new generation of fans out of the psychiatrist's office.

No, "entertaining kids" doesn't mean making young prospects Javier Baez, Kris Bryant and Albert Almora more comfortable when they arrive in the big leagues. The Cubs want kiddie customers to enjoy a rewarding experience even though it most likely won't include a Cubs' victory.

The franchise failed miserably at previous attempts to install a mascot. The Riot and Little Fontenot weren't much fun, and Hector "The Calorie Collector" Villanueva kept busting out of the costume.

As playful and pirate-like as he is, current Cubs' pitcher Jeff Samardzija would make a perfect mascot on the four days between his pitching starts.

That fifth day is a problem, however, so the Cubs had to come up with a full-time, full-service kid pleaser. My suggestion would have been to steal Chief Wahoo from the Cleveland Indians.

When a team like the Cubs hasn't won a World Series in 105 seasons, how much more offensive could they be? The question is rhetorical and the Indians -- Cleveland variety -- denied rumors they are phasing out Chief Wahoo anyway.

So Clark it is, named for one of the streets that borders Wrigley Field.

Which begs the question of why not Addison, or the hybrid Clarkison, or even the nearby Grace if you want to get back to the boy-girl issue?

Calling him Clark doesn't seem appropriate if he's supposed to appeal to kids.

The Clark I know has a drinking problem. He features enough taverns -- Bernie's, Casey Moran's, Sluggers, etc. -- to be called Lush Street.

The Cubs will come to understand that block for block, crosswalk-for-crosswalk, pothole-for-pothole, Addison always will be more family friendly than Clark ever dreamed of being.

(By the way, let's face it, when the Wrigley Field renovation plan collapses and the Cubs move to Rosemont, Clark will be renamed River or Mannheim anyway.)

The biggest question of all is whether the Cubs need a mascot in the first place.

You probably know the answer: Certainly they do. Anything that distracts from the what's happening on the field is welcome.

Then again, anything with the potential to distract Starlin Castro from what's happening on the field is problematic.

That's as cynical, skeptical and sarcastic as I can get.

mimrem@dailyherald.com

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