Unsurprise: Cubs Unsurprised by Clark Backlash, Unsurprisingly Bothered by Nastiness

clark hatersAs I wrote yesterday, anyone who didn’t expect Cubs fans – particularly those on a self-selective medium like Twitter – to rip on any new mascot* the team would have revealed hasn’t been paying attention over the last few years. The fans, as an accretive mass, are pissed off about an interminably crappy team, and if you give them something easy to focus on, especially during an otherwise quiet offseason, they are going to pile on like rabid dogs. The good-spirited ribbing, to me, was fine. But it got really nasty. Call me an apologist for bear mascots that visit kids, but I’m down with what the Cubs are trying to do here. Building a future fan base is important.

*(Actually, make that anything the Cubs do that isn’t signing a superstar player for $100 million, or trading for a superstar (without giving up any top prospects). Even then, I’m not so sure. “Not Ellbury! I wanted Choo! Don’t trade that 25-year-old Boise left fielder! He’s got upside! My shoes are too tight!”)

And, since Cubs management isn’t as stupid as many of those rabid dogs would have you believe, they did expect the Clark backlash. Cubs VP of Communications and Community Affairs Julian Green told Jesse Rogers that the strong reactions were “predictable,” even if some of the photoshopping that happened – yeah, he’s probably talking about Deadspin* – was pretty bad. The good news, I think, is that Green says the Cubs know that Twitter is a “boisterous” platform, and not “a bell-weather for things we’re trying to accomplish. Nor should it be for any company.” Quite right. While Twitter and/or other social media are important for teams to monitor and keep a pulse on things (also, some pretty nifty and important ideas spread on Twitter), they are not necessarily a great way to judge your business’s success. Look no further than FacebookCubs to see what I mean.

*(For those who haven’t seen – and I’m not particularly inclined to link to it – you can imagine what folks might do to a cartoon bear that isn’t wearing any pants. I have an extremely broad sense of humor, but it’s not hard for me to see why the Cubs would be bothered that people were doing nasty things to a picture of kid-like bear cub that is designed to be a mascot for kids.)

And now the Cubs will face some backlash for being disappointed about parts of the backlash, and the cycle can start anew.

Brett Taylor is the editor and lead writer at Bleacher Nation, and can also be found as Bleacher Nation on Twitter and on Facebook.

68 responses to “Unsurprise: Cubs Unsurprised by Clark Backlash, Unsurprisingly Bothered by Nastiness”

  1. Bret Epic

    I was and have been open to the idea of a mascot, but this mascot just doesn’t do anything for me. It’s sort of ugly, sort of awkward, sort of sad looking. Had we something as epic as say…The San Diego Chicken, or Rocky (Denver Nuggets Mascot), then I would be pretty pleased by the decision. I’m not outraged by it or anything, I just see it as a decent idea that has been poorly developed. I just could not imagine being the person who made the Mascot, looking at it and being happy with it as the final result.

    1. mjhurdle

      The San Diego Chicken is designed as a mascot for the entire fan base. It is involved and visible throughout the stadium during the entire game.
      Obviously this was not the intent of ‘Clark’. Clark is designed for kids and kids only. I think that is the difference.
      If they were trying for a bear mascot to dance on dugouts and shoot T-Shirts into the stands, then they failed. If they were trying for a cartoon bear to amuse kids, then i think they did a decent job.
      The mascot doesn’t do anything for me either. But I like it that way. I prefer them make a kids only mascot to amuse that demographic, and let me keep my game experience absent of any contrived mascot shooting hotdogs into the stands or pulling pranks on fans while I am trying to watch.
      I think it is a win-win.

      1. Bret Epic

        I do understand wanting to maintain the integrity of baseball and I do think that by adding a kids only mascot, they’ll be able to do so. I just wish that it was cuter, more so along the lines of this (let’s see if I can get a link to work). bear-chocolate-costume-cute-doll-Favim.com-258938.jpg

  2. Jon

    Deadspin, is what it is. Love it or hate it. I love the site personally. I don’t even see the point of the Cubs responding to this, just ignore it.

  3. CubFanBob

    Best part of the Clark drama was I was able to clean up my twitter feed by unfollowing a good number of sports, media, and blogger personalities that just kept pilling on the Cubs for Clark as well as continuing the disrespect of what the mascot really represents . Slow news day ? Not getting the point its for children and sick kids ? I dont know what it was but it seems like the Cubs could sign the messiah and still get a ton of bad PR. I really question if some of these self appointed Cub media / sports / blog writers are really fans of the team at all considering the constant negativity I read or hear from them.

  4. TTH

    I’ve changed my tune on Clark. Anything that upsets the senile Rick Telander and that blithering A-hole Keith Olbermann can’t be all bad.

  5. wv23

    Some public relations advice (free!):

    The Cubs shouldn’t be addressing this publicly. By doing so, they extended the story another – and gave people something to react to.

    Better to let critics criticize. That’s what they do.

    No sense in being defined by the petty grievances of others.

  6. CubFan Paul

    The whole mascot this is ‘minor league’

    Next there’ll be fireworks after homeruns or trampolining dogs during the stretch.

    “but I’m down with what the Cubs are trying to do here. Building a future fan base is important”

    They had WGN for that.

    1. Chad

      yep, having a mascot is the end of it for the cubs. Is trying to make the ball park a more fun atmosphere for children a bad thing? NO. It’s a good thing for those kids that get to go to the games. FYI, WGN doesn’t make the game day atmosphere better for those at the games. Just those sitting on their couches. Is the mascot a great, no it is simply a thing for the kids. Why it bothers so many adults is beyond me.

      1. CubFan Paul

        “That’s good because I can’t think of one time I have ever agreed with anything you have spouted on here.”

        Don’t be a stalker. Stop replying please. I stopped replying to you a long time ago

        1. Chad

          Yet you seem to respond to my replies every time. I’m not stalking you. I just happen to see your posts on the recent comments and can’t believe what I am reading every time. You’re right I shouldn’t respond to your posts, but I just can’t believe what you say half the time and have to let my opinion be heard.

    2. jrayn

      Kids don’t watch live tv anymore and that trend will continue. The Cubs would be better off distributing through Netflix if WGN is still their ‘reach-the next-generation-nationwide’ strategy.

      1. CubFan Paul

        “Kids don’t watch live tv anymore”

        No one does, but everyone still watches the games (was my point)

    3. Noah_I

      WGN stopped showing every Cubs game because the ratings dipped and they couldn’t sustain the cost of it anymore compared to showing significantly less expensive to broadcast talk shows. Through most of the 1980s, when many didn’t have cable because it was very expensive and didn’t offer all THAT much, your options of things to watch when you got home from school at 3:30 were pretty limited. I first became an active Cubs’ fan in 1989 at age 7, when I lived in Pennsylvania (my family returned to Chicago that fall) and would get home from school or camp at what was about 2:30 Central Time, so the middle of the fourth inning or so. But I didn’t have many other options of what to watch.

      By the mid-1990s, though, cable had exploded, most middle and upper middle class kids had it, and they weren’t coming home and flipping on the Cubs games. They were coming home and turning on Nickelodeon or MTV. Heck, buy the time I was 10 or 11 I wasn’t coming home and turning on Cubs games. I was coming home and turning on Batman: The Animated Series.

      Just having games broadcast on WGN isn’t enough anymore for the same reason that boxing is no longer a popular sport: people have options to do other things. You have to work harder to convince kids that going to a baseball game is fun because they have so many options regarding how to spend their time.

    4. itzscott

      “but I’m down with what the Cubs are trying to do here. Building a future fan base is important”

      CubFan Paul….

      I also think that’s a pretty bogus rationalization. The Cubs didn’t need a mascot in the past to build future fan bases. Where’d the 3+ million attendance and the waiting list for season tickets come from???

      If they were sooooo bent on incorporating a stupid mascot into their branding, I just wish they’d have chosen something that didn’t appear to feed off of and perpetuate the cuddly, lovable loser image.

      1. Amie

        The Cubs didn’t hire the mascot to bring in future fans or anything of the sort. They mascot was hired first and foremost to work with Cubs Charities, visiting hospitals and sick kids. If you’d read the press release instead of just reacting or piling on like everyone else is doing, you’d see that growing a fan base is not even mentioned. They don’t have to worry about that. http://mlb.mlb.com/news/article/chc/cubs-introduce-new-mascot-the-unbearably-cute-clark?ymd=20140113&content_id=66536324&vkey=news_chc

    5. MichiganGoat

      The impact of WGN cannot be understated for that generation that few up with 30 cable channels and the only way to watch baseball was to watch games regularly was after school on TV and WGN hooked millions of fans as kids. Now that is gone (it’s been gone for a long time) as cable channels increased regional sports channels appeared and the internet exploded. Now the Cubs don’t have a captive audience after school they have competition beyond TBS. So creating a face for kids to identify with and capture their hearts like Dora, Mickey, Doc, Bubble Guppies, My Little Pony, and freaking Chica (welcome to the Goat’s TV) do to kids is a great thing. I hope the create cartoons to watch, apps to play, songs to learn, and merchandising, merchandising, merchandising. It’s a great way to get the kids to think about the Cubs beyond just a team, it turns the Chicago Cubs into a brand. GoClarkGo!

      1. jp3

        MG I’m 33 years old and grew up in North Carolina. That is exactly how I grew to being a diehard Cubs fan. Having basic cable I watched the Cubs after school being taught the game by (love him or hate him) Steve Stone and listened to Harey stumble over names such as Jose Viscaino and Steve Buechelle. We’ve got to get an influx of young fans from somewhere, apparently it won’t be from winning a lot.

        1. MichiganGoat

          jp3 – exactly. We had WGN to watch baseball we became fans now kids have so many teams to watch so having Clark could become the new competitive edge.

          1. CubFan Paul

            “We had WGN to watch baseball we became fans now kids have so many teams to watch so having Clark could become the new competitive edge”

            I smell sarcasm.

            1. MichiganGoat

              No sarcasm, if Clark reaches and connects to kids it’s a great thing. It will never be as powerful as WGN did to a generation but into days world finding ways to attract and engage customers (and that’s what all fans are customers) and those customer are kids then yes it a huge advantage.

            2. MichiganGoat

              Which is to say I hope they go all in with Clark and make him a household names with children, I want Clark to mesmerize my kids like Tigger does with my son and the Disney Princesses do with my daughter then that’s great for the Cubs brand.

        2. blublud

          I’m also from NC. I’m 32. I grew watch Family Matters, Full House and Save by the Bell episodes on WGN. In the summer time, the shows wouldn’t come on some days because the Cubs games were on and I got hooked. The Cubs had something then that most teams didn’t. A way to connect to outer market baseball fans. Times have changed. They need others ways to connect to the young kids, and hopefully Clark is the first of many steps they take to accomplish this.

          1. CubFan Paul

            “Times have changed. They need others ways to connect to the young kids, and hopefully Clark is..”

            I’m not sure a mascot gets the ratings of a nationwide channel

            1. blublud

              Maybe not. But what is there to be mad about? OK, so its a “stupid” mascot. If you don’t like him, when you at at the game, don’t go see him. If I choose to take my kid to see him, what will that do to you? I just don’t understand a grown ass man being mad about a item designed to attract and entertain kids. I can think of many things, unneeded war, world poverty, kids being abuse or molested, politics and many other things, to be mad at than a bear mascot.

              1. CubFan Paul

                Who’s mad?

                1. blublud

                  So then what are you complaining about. Just trying to get responses on a blog? What’s your point?

                  1. CubFan Paul

                    Saying: “I’m not sure a mascot gets the ratings of a nationwide channel” is not complaining, just an observation.

                    1. blublud

                      “Next there’ll be fireworks after homeruns or trampolining dogs during the stretch.”

                      Making comments like this symbolizes more than a person who thinks a beat won’t help with ratings. But whatever makes you happy.

                    2. CubFan Paul

                      “Next there’ll be fireworks after homeruns or trampolining dogs during the stretch.”

                      Translation: I thought the Cubs were better than that (a mascot)

                      “Making comments like this symbolizes more than a person who thinks a beat won’t help with ratings”

                      I wish people would stop with the psych-evals on a message board

                      “a person who thinks a beat won’t help with ratings”

                      I hope you don’t believe a bear will help or replace ratings. I’m not psychoanalyzing, just saying..

            2. MichiganGoat

              Of course Clark will not gain a nationwide audience like WGN did. Nothing will ever match what WGN did but Clark is a progressive step toward reaching and connecting kids at a younger age, and that is a great amazing thing. GoClarkGo

              1. CubFan Paul

                “but Clark is a progressive step toward reaching and connecting kids”

                at the ballbark. The topic was WGN, the national station.

        3. CubsFaninMS

          Dude, the one he REALLY had problems with was Jim Eisenreich! He would clear his throat uncontrollably every time he said his name. And I second your comment. I am also 33 and the reason I became a Cubs fan all the way over in Louisiana is because of WGN. When I first begun watching them is roughly the same time Eric Show plunked Andre Dawson in the face and the Hawk charged the mound.

  7. Webb

    I’m sure they mocked up a version with blue jeans. I wonder how that meeting went. “No, I prefer him without pants. He’s more kid-friendly that way.” They were in for it no matter what, but avoiding the deadspin/comcast sports broadcast fiasco would have been preferable. Especially if they “predicted” the backlash.

  8. notcubbiewubbie

    clark schmark who cares???? much ado over nothing.sometimes stuff like this makes me feel cubfans who complain about a mascot are total losers.peolpe are laughing at us.

  9. When The Musics Over

    I’m curious how involved the mascot will be during games.

  10. Norm

    What an asinine thing to be upset about. Can we get back to the good old days where people freaked out about the signing of a non-roster invite 5th catcher or something related to the actual MLB/MiLB product?

    1. beerhelps

      This exactly.

  11. jp3

    I’m sure this has been discussed at nauseam but IF this turns out to be another 90+ loss season which there are no indications or signings that predict otherwise, when does theo/Jed’s time start running out? Someone has to be held accountable for these terrible teams and obviously the owner can’t be fired.

  12. Isaac

    Man, and I thought the Tanaka story was tiresome (necessarily to cover, I get it)….

  13. sdcoddi

    If I were the Cubs, I would consider a lawsuit for that Deadspin image. That’s totally distasteful.

  14. JB88

    “*(For those who haven’t seen – and I’m not particularly inclined to link to it – you can imagine what folks might do to a cartoon bear that isn’t wearing any pants. I have an extremely broad sense of humor, but it’s not hard for me to see why the Cubs would be bothered that people were doing nasty things to a picture of kid-like bear cub that is designed to be a mascot for kids.)”

    I find this comment sort of ironic, given that online sex games seem to be the ad de jure on this site over the last two weeks …

  15. JB88

    Oh, I know (about the advertising cycles). I wasn’t knocking you and it was meant more tongue in cheek. I should have added an emoticon as sarcasm/dark humor doesn’t always translate in words.

    1. hansman

      If you end the comment with a healthy amount of ! and 1 strung together, that generally gets the point across.

      (Yes, I am REALLY trying to make this the internet sarcasm indicator)

      1. Kyle

        Also, start with “but but but.”

  16. woody

    I am a cubs blog junkie so I’m not really a good barometer to understand what is happening in the minds of fans across the spectrum. But seeing that cub fans seem to be as well informed as say cardinal fans (OOF) I have to believe that the same issues are dominating conversations of average cub fans, as the ones we have discussed here. I’m sure the roll out of Clark was planned to coincide with the convention etc. . Buy is it just my imagination or did the Passan article rachett up the anger of cub fans a few notches? Most of the things said in that article had been addressed before on all of the blogs, but that was the first time to my knowlege that a mainstream writer has ripped the ownership a new one publicly. That was Scott Boras on steroids. I’ve been reading the other team articles from Passan and he hasn’t come close to being as harsh on other teams. I guess what I am trying to say is that for me, the announcement of Clark came at the same moment as the discontent over the teams lack of spending and payroll were being questioned. Fans have been eager to hear news of a signing of some significance and instead Clark gets signed. So that’s just my take on the timing and the mood that fans are in.

  17. cubmig

    Two (or has it been three?) columns on a mascot. What ever happened to putting together a team that is capable of not losing 90+ games? Are we “there” already? [snark]. Are we in the next phase of the “rebuilding”? [more snark].

    Forget the mascot s—-. Let the dads-n-moms who take their kid(s) to see the game be the cheerleaders-teachers for their experience at the ballpark. A mascot is one more extension of what the jumbotron function—-cue response.

    Put a team that wins on the field. That’s the BEST” mascot” to spark joy and loyalty.

    just my 2¢

  18. D-Rock

    If the Cubs were a good, competitive team this year and had a history of being “lovable winners”, not the “lovable losers”, then this whole mascot thing would not have turned out like this.

  19. Khross

    “(Actually, make that anything the Cubs do that isn’t signing a superstar player for $100 million, or trading for a superstar (without giving up any top prospects). Even then, I’m not so sure. “Not Ellbury! I wanted Choo! Don’t trade that 25-year-old Boise left fielder! He’s got upside! My shoes are too tight!”)”

    I lol’ed at this.

    1. baldtaxguy

      I did as well. Rule of 3 in comedy.
      How to rip the FO:
      (1) A free agent signing whine (or lack thereof)
      (2) A major trade whine (or lack thereof)
      (3) (umm…I need a 3rd thing to whine about to make my whining relevant….)
      “My shoes!”

  20. Patrick W.

    Did anybody notice that CSN aired the Deadspin version of the pic?

    1. DarthHater

      Sour grapes cuz the Cubs will be switching to Fox.

      1. Patrick W.

        I mean…. REALLY SOUR Grapes! And a twig.

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