MLB's best unofficial mascots
Now that the World Series is over, we can take a retrospective look, not just at baseball, but at the characters that surround it. The first and only time that Kansas City saw a seven game world series, they actually won it. Conversely, the last time San Francisco saw a World Series get farther than five games, it was a combination of Dusty Baker pulling ace Russ Ortiz and an unlikely rallying mascot – the Rally Monkey – that won the Angels their lone World Series ring. The Angels' Rally Monkey isn't the only unifying animal to propel a team towards victory. Let's take a look at the oft-overlooked unofficial creatures, features, and fans that added that extra bit of oomph for a team.
The Dodgers Bear
The Dodgers don't have a mascot, and if they did, its name would probably make for a really lame one: say, a guy really passionate about Photoshop or a Draft Dodger (or, more offensively, a streetcar-dodging hobo, which is their namesake). Seeking to amend this lack of pizazz, Mark Monninger, a lone furniture shop owner from Rancho Cucamonga looked up some basic mascot dance moves, acquired some off-Dodger blue latex gloves and a bear costume, and got to work entertaining throngs of Dodger fans in the eighth inning as the team went on to beat the Cardinals 3-0. Rally Bear's antics occurred during last year's clutch NLCS game three and cost him six months of Dodgers games. A breathy interview with KTLA (in which Monninger sounded like he'd just ran from Dodgers Stadium to the San Bernardino County suburb) fittingly occurred in his pea-green shop. Maybe the Dodgers would have done a little better this season if they had acquiesced to fan demands and freed the bear.
The Angels Rally Monkey
The Angels know how to pleasantly run a gimmick twelve years after its inception without fans absolutely losing it. The aforementioned story of the Rally Monkey is nothing compared to the ways that he's been used: juxtaposed in clips of Spaceballs, against the backdrop of PSY's horribly catchy “Gangnam Style”, and trapped on Gilligan's Island along with the rest of the SS Minnow crew. You could even say that the Rally Monkey is the first MLB meme (that’s it, guy. The term ‘meme’ is officially over). Unfortunately, despite the efforts of the MVP (most valuable primate), the Angels soon fell to the Kansas City Royals in a vicious ALDS sweep.
The A's Rally Possum
The Oakland Coliseum is a dump. In either my terrible imagination or in some sad section of reality (at this point I can't tell through the Moneyball tears), there was once a Current TV show with Ice Cube where, on a particularly filthy episode, he tried to clean up the Coliseum for a day. Didn't work. In my dream world, he vomited. What's actually going on at the Coliseum is a partial sewage leak and a total embrace of an outfield possum. The A's Rally Possum first reared its nocturnal head back in August to help the team propel itself to a walk-off victory against the Rays. The clubhouse adored him and, like all good citizens of Oakland, refused to rat the little guy out for essentially squatting in the Coliseum. Pitcher Jeff Samardzija even took to feeding him. So, where was the possum when the A's needed him in their post-season Wild Card game? Probably lost under the stadium or running through Oracle Arena, terrorizing the Warriors.
The Brewers' Rally Dog
Perhaps the cutest, most heartwarming unofficial mascot (turned real-deal, official mascot) has to be Hank the Dog. Hank's from Arizona and found the team during Spring Training of this year, when he wandered around the field and stumbled into baseball. The unlikely hero was adopted by Brewers GM Marti Wronski and the rest is history. Hank befriended fellow mascot Bernie Brewer as well as his namesake Hank Aaron, and the pooch has even participated in the legendary sausage race, where he attempted to upstage the actual hotdog by dressing as one himself. Though the Brewers first season with Hank was rather mediocre, we can only chalk it up to the team's best friend still getting his bearings up north. Hank didn't win that aforementioned sausage race, either, but that doesn't mean he won't be back and better than ever to kick some kielbasa butt along with the Brewers next year.
The Cardinals Rally Squirrel
No matter how cuddly, adorable, or curious a rally mascot is, no other team catalyst can say it's been diamond-encrusted. The Cardinals' Rally Squirrel has been so completely effective at doing its job that was commemorated in St. Louis' 2011 World Series ring. The Rally Squirrel has spawned a fan site, loads of merchandise, and has been hailed as the most exciting post-season player by loads of drunken Cards fans. His exploits are legendary – trolling Phillies pitcher Roy Oswalt, being the most well-known incident. It was his brazen scampering across home plate that helped propel the Cardinals to their most recent World Series.
The Diamondbacks' Luchadore
Hey Arizona fans: is Chase Field still the cheapest MLB park for beer? I thought so. Not to knock the tradition, honor, and bravado of lucha libre but it comes as a bit of a surprise that the Diamondbacks would latch on so strongly towards a Luchadore gimmick that they'd adopt the masked fighter as an additional, official mascot. The mascot may not have proven to give the Diamondbacks that extra oomph they're looking for: after being adopted as real deal mascot in 2013, the team had a legitimately mediocre season going 81-81, followed by a terrible one. Perhaps the one-two punch of new manager Chip Hale arm-wrestling and cutting promos with the Luchadore will do the trick?
Honorable mention: The Giants' anti-mascot, Crazy Crab
Not even hipsters in San Francisco's Mission District can ironically wax their mustache and wax poetic on the Crazy Crab. Much like the Dodgers organization, nobody wanted a mascot at the time the crustacean was unleashed upon the Bay Area. Though now the Giants have Lou Seal and loads of adorably nicknamed players, (Panda, Baby Giraffe, whatever in the world Hunter Pence would be in animal form) Crazy Crab was a beyond-desperate move to mock the mascot craze of the swingin' 70s and propelled the Giants straight into the ground. His inaugural season gave the Giants 96 losses and a poor attitude. Fans took to throwing garbage, if they showed up at all. Those of you decrying the cockroach nature of an every other year Giants World Series victory are easy to forget the years of turmoil the team squandered in once they moved across the country to the city by the bay.