The Cubs announced that the team has come to an agreement with much sought-after mascot Clark the Cub.
A multi-year deal, the details of which are as yet undisclosed, was announced yesterday afternoon by the Cubs, as described on the team's website by Carrie Muskat.
The Cubs state that "Clark," named after all-time Cub favorite Dave Clark, who also has a Chicago street and CTA bus line named for him, will represent the Cubs at charitable events, and will not be visible on the field, or on the roof of the dugout. He is poised to replace unofficial stuffed animals that have wandered the perimeter of the ballpark in seasons past.
Speculation is that the decision to sign Clark was based in part on the revenue collected in an Igloo lunch box by the "unofficial" furry creature pictured above. Similar to the opening of a team-owned Cubs store across the street from the ballpark, and proposed new restaurants and bars in and around Wrigley Field, the addition of Clark reflects Cubs management's belief that if someone else is making money off their product, like independent souvenir stores, rooftops, and bars, the Cubs have the right to put them out of business.
The Cubs are confident that Clark will enhance the Wrigley Field experience for kids and families. The fact that high ticket prices have made it almost impossible for families to attend games was not discussed.
Reaction from fans and the media has been swift and severe.
"Revolting and sad"
"My vote now goes to PNC Park as the best (ballpark) in baseball."
"I hate it. I think I will be glad (I live) in NY if they give it a squeaky voice and run it on TV constantly. It looks like Boo-Boo in a Cubs hat. I’d rather have Yogi if they have to have a mascot at all, which they don’t."
If you'd like to read more reactions, check out the comments at the end of Muskat's post. Or go to BleedCubbieBlue.com or this collection of Tweets. It is the most entertaining Cubs reading in recent memory.
The signing of Clark the Cub will no doubt add significantly to the Cubs' payroll burden, projected to be one of the lowest in baseball (26th of 30, as reported by Jeff Passan on Yahoo! Sports) on Opening Day, 2014. It will, it is hoped, add to their operating profit (can you imagine the number of different, overpriced Clark souvenirs they're going to roll out?), the highest in baseball as reported by Forbes. We also now better understand why the Cubs need a Jumbotron to sell ads to help finance Cub salaries.
When this blogger first heard the news, my reaction was a tad negative. I responded to an email query this way:
"The Ricketts have no clue. They are from out of town and they've consistently brought in out-of-town marketing people and non-Cub fans to give them anti-Cub-fan advice. Instead of keeping the things that make Wrigley Field unique and a destination for fans everywhere, they are systematically transforming the Wrigley Field experience into the same as any other vanilla ballpark."
But I have since calmed down.
Clark made his first appearance last night at Advocate Illinois Masonic Medical Center's pediatric developmental center, where he resembled an adult moose more than a young bear cub.
He will be introduced to the Cub faithful at this weekend's Cub Convention in Chicago. Based on fan reaction thus far, I trust the Cubs will provide adequate security.
I once had a chat with some Sox fans about mascots. They related how one of their friends was thrown out of old Comiskey Park for punching either Ribbie or Roobarb (they weren't sure which), and how the current Sox mascot, Southpaw, is also an embarrassment. One Sox fan stated that Southpaw should get on the Red Line and head to Wrigley Field because having a furry, lovable mascot is something the Cubs would do, not the Sox. I calmly pointed out that the Cubs have never had an official furry mascot. End of discussion.
Sox fans must be the happiest of Chicago sports fans today.
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