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clark hatersIf you – or the Cubs – expected anything different, then you don’t understand the current state of Cubs fandom as it exists today, especially on self-selective platforms like Twitter.

I am referring, of course, to the predictable backlash the Cubs faced yesterday (most visible on Twitter, to people like me, anyway) upon the announcement of Clark the Cub, the team’s first official mascot in modern history. In the way that Jar Jar Binks was George Lucas’s obvious ploy to make Episode One accessible to small children, the Cubs were simply trying to come up with something to connect the team to little kids (and their parents). If you judged solely by the tweets yesterday, you’d think folks would rather have Jar Jar donning the backwards Cubs cap.

For the most part, that’s just the way Cubs fans are right now, for better and worse. Hostile and deeply cynical, but also very, very funny. Poochie jokes, pantsless jokes, #RejectedCubsMascot jokes, and on and on. I laughed. I even participated a little (with love and respect, of course). These kinds of rallying moments, ironically, are what remind Cubs fans that we do have a bond, despite the deep crappiness of the team in recent memory. Cubs fans just want to commune – and if it’s shredding Clark together, then that’s what they’re going to do. It was preordained, no matter what mascot the Cubs revealed. (Unless it was a .280/.360/.500 hitting third baseman on a reasonable deal. Or a ninja.)

Soon, the Clark-related anger will sublimate into Cubs-performance-related anger, and all will be well again. Er, not well. But, normal, I guess.

That is to say, this will all be forgotten by May. When folks see – or, more accurately, don’t see – that Clark is barely visible to the average fan who isn’t seeking out something to entertain their young kid, there won’t be any more furor. Clark the Cub will just be a thing that exists, and will be adopted into our world, eliciting countless shrugs.

You know who won’t be shrugging? Kids.

Last night, the Cubs demonstrated why they created Clark, and what he’ll actually do – last night, together with Cubs prospects in town for the Rookie Development Camp, Clark visited children at Advocate Illinois Masonic Medical Center’s Pediatric Developmental Center. Together, the Cubs said in a statement, they helped reinforce positive activities being taught to children with autism and other developmental challenges.

So, the next time you want to rip the Cubs for creating Clark, just remember that this is what he’s about:

  • Ballgame17

    Good reading some stories on how everyone became a Cubs fan. I was born in ’81 and raised a Cubs fan, so I’ve been rooting for them my whole life. I learned into 1989 what being a passionate fan is all about. I remember being pretty bummed when the Giants beat the Cubs in the playoffs and a few minutes after the game I go into the kitchen in my house and see my mom balling her eyes out. She couldn’t stand the thought of the Cubs season being over. Since that day, I’ve been all in!!

    As far as the mascot goes, I don’t see the harm in having one with the restrictions it has. Not allowed in stands, bleachers, or concourse during the games. So anyone worried about it taking away from the feel of the park, is mistaken. Why wouldn’t we want kids to enjoy the presence of a mascot when they come in the park? On Sundays, it’s Kids Run the Bases at Wrigley. There’s literally hundreds of kids who run the bases and I’m sure will never forget the experience. **Side note, just ridiculous when parents run around the bases with their kids. Just selfish IMO for them to run around the bases as well, assuming their kid does not truly need assistance. IT’S FOR THE KIDS, NOT ABOUT YOU!!!

    • ssckelley

      Aw crap, I was hoping people didn’t notice when I ran around the bases with my kids. Sorry, I will stop!

      (no I won’t)

  • Ballgame17

    Sorry, mascot not allowed in the bleachers, stands, upper deck…concourse and outside the stadium in where it’ll be hanging around..

  • hawkboy64

    It’s really nice for the kids I’ll agree and their wouldn’t be any backlash if not for the frustration of cubs fans of the lack if perceived progress on the ball club myb the cubs n rooftop owners can get somethkng done so the renovation can get going and begin the healing of cubs fans but I do stand corrected on Clark while the timing isn’t the best I see wht it’s for and myb it’ll encourage future generations if cubs fans to bring their kids to wrigley.

  • mjhurdle

    Billy Corgan ‏@Billy 3h
    I for one like Clark

    Clark the Cub ‏@ClarktheCub 3h
    @Billy Thanks, Billy! I’m a fan of yours as well!

    and now im following Clark on Twitter

    Hopefully we can work out something with the White Sox mascot where Clark can jack him in the jaw at home plate, Michael Barrett style :)

  • http://www.michigangoat.blogspot.com MichiganGoat

    My only complaint is they should have used a goat.

    • Jon

      [img]http://img.gawkerassets.com/img/19cgotkx8q94gjpg/ku-medium.jpg[/img]

      • mjhurdle

        this. is. awesome.

        good find Jon, i agree with Goat, it should be a Goat!

      • http://www.michigangoat.blogspot.com MichiganGoat

        Nice

        • MightyBear

          If he had a beer in his hand, I would have sworn it was MG.

  • rabbit

    I would have preferred a giant talking arm named Tommy John

  • http://bleachernation.com woody

    I think that the timing of the Clark announcement was bad. Right on the heels of the Passan article and with all of that dicussion forgive me for saying that it was kind of Mickey Mouse. But I’m sure it will be a big hit with the kiddies. I read a piece by Myles in the obstructed view that may interest some of you. http://www.obstructedview.net/commentary-and-analysis/are-the-cubs-29th-of-30.html .He tries to take a middle of the road approach on the stuff Passan wrote.

    • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

      For what it’s worth, given that Clark launched with a web page, a Twitter and Facebook account, an appearance that night (with a costumed employee), etc., the Cubs have had this rollout planned for a very long time. The date was probably set months ago.

    • ssckelley

      I am not sure how the timing could have been any better, people would have mocked it no matter when they announced it. But I would have liked them to hype it up a little better, they kind of sprung this on us. Perhaps an announcement at the end of last season that a new mascot was going to be unveiled at some point in the off season may have softened the blow. Instead they came out of nowhere, here I am at my daughters Jr High game and my twitter starts blowing up.

    • Scotti

      “I think that the timing of the Clark announcement was bad. Right on the heels of the Passan article…”

      The Passan article was a fly on a piece of dung in a large pasture. It was obsessed upon here but the vast majority of Cubdom never heard the horse pass gas much less noted the fly feeding off its results.

    • http://bleachernation.com woody

      Just for the record I have no problem with Clark the cub. Now if in the near future they have a female cub mascot giving lap dances in the bleachers then I will really be upset.

    • Brent Kennedy

      I’m pretty sure the timing has everything to do with the upcoming Cubs convention this weekend.

  • Ben G

    I am not a fan of mascots but if it brings kids to the sport then I can only see it as a positive. I hope a competitive team is all that is needed to drive attendance rather than a gimmick

    • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

      In the end, the only thing that reliably improves attendance is winning.

      • MightyBear

        I disagree. Winning doesn’t ensure high attendance or even improved attendance. See Tampa Bay Rays.

        • Edwin

          Tampa Bay is just one data point.

        • Brocktoon

          Just because Tampa doesn’t sell out every game doesn’t mean that winning didn’t increase their attendance.

          Since becoming a winning franchise, the Rays first winning season was in ’08. Their attendances in the 6 years of winning are all in the top 8 (out of 16 seasons) Only their 1st year and 2nd years outdo any of them, and there’s a clear shiny new toy effect in place for those.

  • terencemann

    My only question is if Theo Epstein ordered a costumed sized for him so he can make quick escapes if Tom Ricketts pisses him off the way John Henry used to?

  • Brent Kennedy

    To a cold April game last season I wore a full body penguin suit. I know this for sure, Clark is going to get a few girl’s numbers.

  • Tommy

    Take that, haters! To those of you that made a big deal out of a mascot – really?

  • Tommy

    Gravatar test.

    • http://www.michigangoat.blogspot.com MichiganGoat

      AhTwinkie the Kid you’ve been missed

      • Tommy

        awww, shucks! Thanks, Goat! Good to be back, buddy!

  • brainiac

    it’s really not that bad. just very very mediocre and unimaginative. like our front office.

  • Voice of Reason

    Our front office has imagination.

    Its the past regime that put us in a bad position with the bad contracts that put us where we are today.

    Now, the front office is using its imagination and building a farm system and improving the infrastructure in so many ways. THAT takes imagination.

    • Jon

      I love the urban legend of “those previous bad contacts that have put us in this position today”

  • Bill

    I wouldn’t call that imaginative, it’s what every single small market team does. I would call this FO very conservative and very risk averse.

    • brainiac

      yeah they’re just copping strategies of other teams without putting themselves on the line for blame. constant deferment. that said, i’m pretty sure it’s not their “fault”. we really do have to wait another couple years and watch this team slide even further, and watch our young talent flounder due to an unstable atmosphere while bizarre basement bloggers call it progress. something will give eventually, though, and we’ll be back to signing bad contracts and flipping assets for short term solutions. neither way works but at least the latter is fun.

      • Tommy

        Wow! Cynical much, brainiac? And I’m assuming that moniker is ironic.

        Do you really think that Theo Epstein is worried about putting himself on the line for blame? Where do you come up with this stuff – seriously!

        Baseless statement like the one you just made are just growing tiresome – you make generalized statements with no real substance because, and I’m assuming here, but because you just aren’t happy unless you’re bitching. Choose to ignore the money this new ownership is putting into renovating Wrigley field (something the previous ownership never did), the money it has already put into our minor league system – new stadium in Arizona and the DR (something the previous ownership never did), more money into the international draft than any other team, the highest signing bonuses of all time for the organization. Should I go on?

        All I hear is blah, blah, blah, I’m unhappy, so I want everyone else to be miserable just like me. Well guess what, we’re not miserable, and we do see the positive steps this organization is taking. Choose to ignore all the changes they have made (including the enormous additions to staff in the FO) and only focus on the ML payroll, failing to realize that high ML payroll does not guarantee wins.

        Let’s be honest, if you had your way, we’d be sitting here with Pujols, Reyes, Hamilton, etc, and you’d be complaining about the dumb FO locking us into a ton of albatross contracts that have hamstrung our organization for the future.

        This message is really meant for the general population of malcontents and not specifically for you, Brainiac. Your post just caught my immediate ire.

        Rant off.

        • brainiac

          the moniker is indeed ironic. but it’s all true. baseball moves slowly and the stakes are financially complicated, so we’re getting fed a series of deferments while “normal” baseball activities are on hold. the only ones left who don’t see it that way post here. but i have to admit that the unrelenting optimism and hope that some of you have is rather inspiring, if naive.

          • Bill

            Brainiac,

            Agree with your comments. It’s like having a milestone chart where the milestones keep getting pushed out to the right, and then we have people saying “all is good, everything is going right according to plan”. I think Theo/Jed would admit, all is not good, and their plan is taking far longer to bring ML results than they ever thought it would. IMHO, if that is the case, it’s fair to criticize Ricketts/Theo/Jed for the moves, or lack thereof, which have caused the milestones to continue to move out to the right.

            Some fans think one must constantly wear rose colored glasses, or they aren’t a true fan.

            • Rebuilding

              If your plan is to build through the minor league system in baseball then your rebuilding plan is minimum of 4-5 years. That’s just the nature of the game. The two guys closest – Alcantera and Baez are pre-Theo. you can argue with the plan, but it being what it is was always going to be a 5 year endeavor

              • Bill

                Well, I disagree with the plan but I also disagree with the 4-5 years. Yes, I think the plan sucks because it required unnecessary pain. It’s also a plan that is being utilized by KC, Hous, Miami, and about 15 other bad teams, and it’s not working out so great for them. Theo/Jed never said they were going to build the team solely through the minor league system. I seem to recall Theo saying something about parallel fronts.

                It’s convenient to say now, well of course it was going to take 4-5 years. What did you expect?”. Most fans, even the biggest Theo supports didn’t think it was going to be 2016 before this team competed. Before last year we were hearing the team could be .500 in 2013 and then a wildcard contender in 2014.

                This is why I said they keep moving the milestones out to the right. It’s not me, even Theo basically said this after the season. He’s conceded this is likely to take even longer than they envisioned prior to the 2013 season. He’s the one throwing the 2017/2018 out there as when the Cubs might finally win a division.

                Even if you think Baez is going to be good, he’s not going to carry the team in his first 2-3 years. Where are the stars to take the pressure off the young guys?

            • fortyonenorth

              By the same token, you don’t abandon a well-conceived plan simply because you miss the first milestone. It’s fine to disagree with the plan and constructive criticism’s fine (I’m sure there’s a lot of that going on within the FO, itself) but the “Theo’s stupid” and “Ricketts is a money-grubbing scumbag” crowd need to take a step back.

              In terms of “their plan is taking far longer to bring ML results than they ever thought” I’m not sure how that could possibly be. Theo’s been in charge for 26 months. I’m sure he would like to have the club in a better position now than it is, but I think the difference is marginal, at best. If you look at the biggest “issues” that have prevented the plan from advancing as expected, you’d have to point to the negative regression of Rizzo and Castro and the impasse with the rooftops. How would you have played these differently? Shit happens. You deal with it, make adjustments and move on.

              • Bill

                I’m not suggesting they abandon their plan but I’d hardly call it “well-conceived”. It’s a plan that is currently being tried by Hous, Miami, KC, and about a dozen other teams who are bad. Sometimes you need to adjust the plan if the milestones start to slip.

                I don’t think Theo’s stupid, in fact, part of my frustration is that he’s not stupid and this is a plan that seems built more out of ego than necessity. IMHO the need necessitates needless pain over the next 4-5 years. It was possible to put a decent product on the field AND build up the farm system. Theo talked about parallel fronts very early on, but as what is often the case, it seems to have just been lip service.

                Why do I think the plan is taking far longer than they thought? Because Theo basically expressed those points at the end of the season. He said they aren’t nearly as far along as he thought they would be before the 2013 season. He’s now talking about 2017/18 as when the Cubs can compete. Maybe Rizzo isn’t that good of a ballplayer. Maybe he didn’t regress but this is what he is and that falls on Theo/Jed and his scouts. It’s not like Rizzo set the world on fire during his first trip to the majors. Castro’s problems can most likely be traced to Theo for trying to turn him into a “patient” hitter. No matter the reason, they were slow to react to abandon this strategy and Castro struggled for a year and half because of it.

                Stuff happens? Absolutely correct. “You deal with it…”. Correct. Bill Walsh called it plan for the unexpected. Think about what could happen and then plan contingencies. He didn’t do these AFTER the fact, he did these BEFORE they happened. This is why his team was so able to handle diversity, they had already strategized what to do in those situations.

                • brainiac

                  the thing that gets my goat is that it’s not a plan at all. it’s just a PR stunt that’s branding a really ridiculous and painful economic makeover taking place in the organization as someone beneficial to the team. it’s really silly, and that people are indignant about and spending all day defending PR strategies makes me lose my faith in humanity just a little bit. yet, it also shows just how dedicated cubs fans are to the team, in spite of it all. that’s why i’ll always love the team and its culture. we’re a bunch of buffoons but our families love us.

                  • Bill

                    True, and then so many people act like this is a brilliant “plan” that only he could have come up with. Like I said earlier, there’s probably at least 15 teams who are using the same plan as Theo. This would include Hous, KC, and Miami. Do we really want to be those teams?

                    My biggest problem with this “plan” is that it’s just as off the mark as the opposite end of the spectrum (call that approach the Yankee plan). People criticize Hendry for spending money unwisely and trying to buy a championship. Ok. Theo is trying to do the opposite. He’s ignoring the major league product and trying to do it solely through the farm system. Both approaches are wrong IMHO. You shouldn’t put all your eggs in either basket. It should be a mix.

                    So, with Theo’s model, under the best case scenario, the team is terrible for 4-5 years and then the prospects come up and the Cubs win and win often. This is fine, if those prospects come up and produce and produce right away. What happens if Baez and Bryant are busts (possible given their high K rate)? Almora comes up and is a decent player, but not an all-star type player. Maybe some others come up and are decent players, but none are all-stars or studs.

                    What does he do then? Keep waiting for prospects, or does Theo overpay for an aging veteran, who has been a stud, but who’s best days are behind him? Meanwhile years are slipping by and the Cubs don’t have a playoff caliber team.

                • DocPeterWimsey

                  On field football tactics and long term player decisions do not have much in common. It really is almost impossible to have major contingency plans when supply is so unpredictable. Not to beat a dead horse, but it has been three years and no good 3Bmen have been available. Almost no good 2bmen have been available. All of the available CFers have had major warning labels attached. Remember, the 2011 Cubs were a bad team that was multiple pieces away from being decent: and some of those pieces still have not become available.

                  As for the other issues, Rizzo’s problems were low BABiP. He should regress to expectation next year: the probability is just as high (well, low, really) that he will exceed by as much as he underachieved last year.

                  As for seeing if Castro could develop pitch recognition, we cannot say that the experiment lasted too long: it is, I suppose, possible that it might have worked over another month or so. Trying to get a batter to develop pitch recognition is uncharted territory: so few ball players have shown major improvements in this area that the simplest explanation is that every few hundred ballplayers we see a one in a few hundred player event. A Castro with a good OBP becomes a potent top-of-the-orde weapon; the 0.300/0.330 slasher is a plus ata SS, but that should be batting 7th in a solid lineup.

                  • Bill

                    Walsh’s philosophy wasn’t just for on the football field. In fact, the article he wrote about this was in a business magazine.

                    It’s not almost impossible to have contingencies, even in regards to ballplayers. He put all his 3B eggs into Ian Stewart. He wanted to double down on him last year but the injury prevented. I’m not saying you always have great options, but you always should have contingencies.

                    We’ll see about Rizzo. He strikes out a lot. He certainly doesn’t look like a corner piece to build around as the organization sold to the public after the trade.

                    Since you’ve been preaching for years that pitch recognition is something that can’t be taught. Well, the experiment didn’t start at the beginning of 2013, it started during the 2012 season. So, I’d argue that it should have been abandoned at the start of the 2013 season. It’s not like Castro’s bat was Darwin Barney. We are talking about a guy who hit around .300 his first two seasons. He was a low strikeout, low walk guy. One of the reasons Dale gave was they wanted Castro to hit for more power (more HRs). He plays SS, a guy who hits a lot of HRs is a luxury not a necessity. He looked totally lost at the plate. He’s the kind of guy who needs to rely on instinct. He’s got quick hands, so he will more often make contact, even if he’s not swinging at great pitches. They had Castro thinking, instead of reacting at the plate. It was an ideal that should have been abandoned long before it was.

                  • DocPeterWimsey

                    Again, there have been no good 3Bmen available. Teams needing a good long-term solution at 3rd have had 2 options over the last 3 offseasons: hope that at reclamation project surprises, or hope for a prospect. There ca

                    Issues about Castro’s quick hands are irrelevant. He was not going to maintain the 0.340 BABiP that he had his first two years. For Castro (or anyone else) to be a good top-of-the-order hitter, he needs a higher OBP: and given that his BABiP almost had to regress towards league average, this meant he needed to draw more walks. If it is even possible for a guy to gain pitch recognition, we do not know: but it probably takes MORE time than they alloted Castro. Castro’s toolkit is good for a 7 hitter (especially if he can develop a little more power), but it is far from “ideal” for any hitter, particularly not for a 1 or 2 guy.

                    • Bill

                      The higher BABiP probably wasn’t a fluke since it was over 2 seasons (not a small sample size). Let’s say it does come down a little, then you expect Castro to hit in the .280 range, not in the .240 range. The quick hands are very relevant because it means he’s able to put the bat on the ball. He’s able to foul off tough pitches. It led to lower K’s and also more weakly hit balls. Castro is exactly the type of guy who could routinely have a BABiP of .340.

                      You can’t make a guy who throws right handed, throw left handed. This is basically what they were doing with Castro’s approach. Something that you’ve probably written 100+ times here about not being able to teach pitch recognition. He is what he is. Who gives a flying you know what if his OBP doesn’t make him a number 1-2 hitter. Fine, then don’t put him in that part of the order. Make him a 6-8 hitter.

                      Sorry, they spent over a year trying to get him to gain pitch recognition. That is ample time. They turned the kid into a basket case at the plate. It’s likely this also carried, in part, to the field. It was like trying to take Matthew Stafford and turning him into an option QB. It was a huge mistake. Hopefully Castro can get past this and return to the good hitter he once was.

                      Your point about 3B is a strawman’s argument. There were other options at 3B, maybe not long-term solutions, but that Cubs didn’t need that since they had Baez (and now Bryant) in the system. They needed a good short-term solution. Contingencies don’t always involve long term solutions. In football, if the defense is giving you the short pass, take the short pass. You don’t need to throw deep to win.

  • Tommy
  • Jon

    So evidently the Cubs (Via Julian Green) are really mad about those nasty images spoofed of “Clark” lol

    • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

      His quotes didn’t strike me as all that mad, but can you blame them for not liking that a penis and balls were placed on their image of a young kid mascot (for kids)?

      • Jon

        Would it make me a terrible person for laughing at some of those pics on Desdspins page?

        • brainiac

          i agree, it’s not really that bad or that good of a logo. but it’s for kids. this is what they have to find when they search google for the cubs? gimme a break. place the tool kit on the owners’ face or something if you’re pissed at the team, not on a family cartoon.

        • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

          Nah.

          Your comment earlier today was pretty low, though.

          • Rebuilding

            I enjoy Deadspin. I was around that place long before they were bought by Gawker when it was just Leitch and Daulerio posting Brett Favre selfies and ESPN internal drama. But this is them at their worst. This is a baseball bear for kids in cancer wards – who gives a shit if he has pants

        • Patrick W.

          No. *That* doesn’t make you a terrible person. :)

      • hansman

        Wow, that is some real comedic genius. It’s almost The most hilarious, insightful and original thing EVAH.

  • bushybrows74

    The video of the cub playing with himself was a unique take on the mascot.

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