Big news! Cubs announce ... a mascot?
Judging by the frenzied Cubs traffic on social media Monday, you might have thought the team had signed Japanese pitching sensation Masahiro Tanaka.
No, but it was almost as important.
The Cubs announced they were introducing the first team mascot in modern franchise history. Name: "Clark," as in Clark Street.
"Clark is a young, friendly Cub who can't wait to interact with our other young Cubs fans," said Alison Miller, the Cubs' senior director of marketing, as quoted in a news release. "He'll be a welcoming presence for families at Wrigley Field and an excellent ambassador for the team in the community."
The Cubs unveiled "Clark" on Monday night during a visit with children at Advocate Illinois Masonic Medical Center's Pediatric Developmental Center.
Such gimmicks as mascots generally don't sit well with a fan base that has been around since 1876. It's also a fan base that hasn't seen a World Series championship since 1908 and one that likely will witness another overwhelmingly bad season in 2014.
Reaction on places such as Facebook and Twitter included the "face palms" and pained expressions of "oh nooooo," that would have done the late Ron Santo proud.
With the Cubs planning a giant video screen as part of their upcoming renovations of Wrigley Field, one has to wonder if kiss cams, noise-o-meters and marriage proposals during the fifth inning are next.
Perhaps anticipating a backlash, the Cubs tried to calm fears.
"Young fans may see Clark on the field when it's time for them to run the bases after games on Sundays, but you won't find this bear shooting T-shirt guns, riding an ATV around the warning track or disrupting fans' views of the field during the game," the news release states.
The team also said it surveyed fans and conducted focus groups to see if the time was right to introduce a mascot.
Whether this mascot idea turns out to be a disaster -- leading to more disasters -- or just a tempest in an Old Style cup will depend on how the Cubs handle it and how true they remain to their word about not making the mascot a distraction during games. Of course, if the Cubs are going to lose 100 games this season, the distraction might be a good one.
Now what about the pitching?
• Follow Bruce's Cubs and baseball reports via Twitter@BruceMiles2112, and check out his Chicago's Inside Pitch blog at dailyherald.com.