SBD/January 14, 2014/Franchises

Cubs Introduce First Mascot In Team History, As Decision Is Met With Mixed Reaction

Interacting with young fans will be a primary goal of the new mascot
The Cubs last night introduced the first mascot in team history, a young, friendly cub named Clark. The club surveyed fans and used focus groups of different ages to determine the interest and benefits of introducing an official mascot. The appetite for more fan-friendly initiatives was clear. Clark before and during games will greet fans as they enter Wrigley Field and stop by the Wrigley First Timers Booth to welcome new guests (Cubs). MLB.com's Carrie Muskat noted Clark was introduced during a visit to the Advocate Illinois Masonic Medical Center. The team said that the mascot will "interact in the community, engage with young fans and be respectful of the game." The Cubs said that Clark will be a "champion for Cubs Charities' mission of targeting improvements in health and wellness, fitness and education for children, and families at risk." Fans "won't see the mascot on top of the dugout between innings, or tossing T-shirts or hot dogs into the stands, and it won't disrupt the game." Muskat noted the three remaining MLB teams without mascots are the Angels, Dodgers and Yankees (MLB.com, 1/13).

NOT SITTING WELL: In Illinois, Bruce Miles writes, "Such gimmicks as mascots generally don't sit well with a fan base that has been around since 1876." Reaction on social media "included the 'face palms' and pained expressions of 'oh nooooo,' that would have done the late Ron Santo proud" (Illinois DAILY HERALD, 1/14). ESPN's Michael Wilbon, a devout Cubs fan, said the new mascot is "awful" and "pathetic." He also called yesterday a "sad day" in franchise history ("PTI," ESPN, 1/13). ESPN Radio's Jorge Sedano said, "I don't even know if it looks like a bear. It looks like a chipmunk." But ESPN Radio's Mike Golic noted, "Kids will like that. It's certainly not hurting anything" ("Mike & Mike," ESPN Radio, 1/14).

TWITTER REAX
: There are a variety of disparaging comments on Twitter regarding the Cubs and Clark, but not all the reaction was negative. NBCSPORTS.com's Craig Calcaterra wrote, "I was all tied up with A-Rod stuff yesterday and missed the Cubs mascot thing. Please tell me that's a joke." The L.A. Times' Bill Plaschke wrote, "Sad but unsurprising news from Wrigley. Organization finally so irrelevant, even the Ivy isn't enough." ESPN Chicago's Nick Friedell: "Mascots are important to some teams. People are glued to @bennythebull's moves at Bulls games. But Wrigley doesn't need a damn mascot." Rockies P Brett Anderson: "Let's make the new mascot kid friendly with a hint of uneasiness." CSN Bay Area's Ray Ratto: "Genuinely horrifying by any standard." ESPN's Darren Rovell: "Memo to Cubs: A winning team means more to kids than a new furry bear mascot." But Sporting News' Jesse Spector wrote, "I know we’re all supposed to crap on everything, but does anyone really think the Cubs’ mascot won’t be a huge hit with its target audience?" The N.Y. Times' Tyler Kepner writes, "It seems Twitter has decided the Cubs' new mascot is dumb. Totally disagree. Kids love mascots. Every team should have one, even the Yankees." WMAQ-NBC's Peggy Kuzinski: "Some may laugh at the Cubs new mascot 'Clark', but let me tell you the Cubs are long overdue in their 'kids' dept!"
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