DETROIT, MI – The Yankees had their 5 game winning streak snapped here last night. But their inspired play of late has kept them close in the AL Wild Card race. What’s suddenly gotten into the Bombers? Not godsend Martin Prado or Stephen “I Threw $7M Away” Drew or even living embodiment of one man’s trash being Brian Cashman’s treasure, Brandon McCarthy. Nope. Rather it’s been the Horse Head. Like Michael J. Fox in the original Teen Wolf, apparently Yankee reliever Shawn Kelley suffers from a similar affliction. Kelley’s head transforms into a horse head instead of a wolf.
In today’s OCD culture, where synthesized snippets of highlights is all anyone is capable of tolerating, our sports more than ever are served with a big side dish of gimmickry. Everyone’s got a favorite rallying cry for his or her team. War Eagle! Roll Tide! Rock Chalk Jayhawk! Leave the Gun, Take the Canoli! One for the Thumb in ’81! 54, 40, or fight!
Remember Rally Caps? In 1986, the Mets concluded that they weren’t despised quite enough, so they started turning their hats inside out late in games they trailed. (Not very often as they only lost 54 that year). Fans started doing it and before long, this was the gimmick the ’86 Mets needed to cement their status as most-hated team ever. How about the 2002 Anaheim Angels of Los Angeles, or whatever they were called that year while winning the World Series. They had the Rally Monkeys to spur them on to victory! Having the Simian-featured Darrin Erstad in CF wasn’t enough, so they got themselves a rally monkey. That 2002 Angels squad by the way, is my favorite team of recent vintage given that they won it all while possessing the lowest team On Base Percentage in the AL that season. What in the name of [Real] Sandy Alderson was going on there? How can you win without walking 12 times a game? Monkeys. 1973 had Tug McGraw with the ultimate Met fans’ rally refrain, “Ya Gotta Believe!” The team that year was fading fast and in last place on August 31st. Only Tug believed the Mets still had a chance. Soon all of New York was shouting it and slapping their thighs and Faith Hill’s father-in-law was elevated to icon status forever in fans’ hearts.
Mascots have also long been a staple in sports whether Pro or college. I hate ’em. Always have. The San Diego Chicken’s Ted Giannoulas scared the crap out of me when I was a kid. What the hell kind of freakin’ mascot is a chicken anyway? And this was well before the red meat scare of 1987 when everyone and their mothers were opening a Pudgie’s skinless chicken stand. Or “Don’t cook tonight-call Chicken Delite,” a staple of outer borough life which I’m sure Angry Ward had on his rotary speed dial back in the day. Who can forget UGA I or UGA II? How about the Phillie Phanatic? He’s actually considered the “gold standard” for MLB mascots! Funny stuff? Yeah, watching him smash a plastic helmet with a mallet since 1972 is a riot. Is the Philly Phanatic the Jerry Lewis of Philly? Our own Mr. Met returned to prominence in 1994 again after nearly 30 years in hibernation. The Wilpon marketing gurus decided Mr. Met would put fannies in the seats. And Mr. Met has actually increased in popularity over the last 15 years. The guy’s got no game though and no skills. Plus he openly campaigns for Tea Party Candidates at the Amway shop on the Pepsi Porch. He prances around Citifield like he owns the place. I do like the whole Men of Troy USC bit. That’s cool. The rendition of Fleetwood Mac’s Tusc in the 4th Quarter-good stuff. The Oklahoma University’s Boomer and Sooner and the Conestoga Wagon at halftime gets me jacked up too.
But my venom is saved particularly for that son of a bitch “Cuppy.” Fans are asked to find Cuppy somewhere in CitiField every game. He hides, he mocks, he generally acts like a jackass. This A-Hole gave me some terrible financial advice in the late 90s and I’ll never forgive him for it. Cuppy violated my trust and faith, and now spends his days skulking around a near empty publicly financed crap hole of a stadium in Flushing. Payback’s a bitch, huh Cuppy?