Some people resist change and some embrace it, even if it’s really not quite appropriate. Such is the case with the Chicago Cubs who unveiled and introduced their new mascot “Clark” on Monday. Immediate reaction by fans was less than positive.
Before we get into why the Cubs introduced a mascot and fan reaction, a little history lesson is needed.
This is not the first time the Cubs have had a mascot. When the Cubs moved into Wrigley Field (then called Weeghman Park) 98 years ago, the team actually had a real bear as a mascot. The 1908 Cubs also had a mascot, but it was a rather scary dude. Since then, the Cubs have not had an official mascot. In more recent years two characters have tried to make fans believe they were mascots and affiliated with the Cubs, which they were and are not. The first is the annoying Ronnie Wickers, also known as Ronnie Woo Woo. Since his last round of health problems, he no longer is able to annoy people with his Woo Wooing, to the delight of many regulars at Wrigley Field. The other is “Billy Cub” who walks around the ballpark posing for pictures with unsuspecting fans, who pay for the privilege of being photographed with something that has nothing at all to do with the organization.
Perhaps these are two reasons the Cubs decided they needed a real mascot of their own again. But there is another reason. The Cubs need to figure out a way to engage younger fans. The old ballpark is not a “fun” place for kids, especially those with short attention spans. Right now it has none of the amenities many other parks have for children. A mascot engages kids, and even some adults. At least it’s supposed to. And that’s what the Cubs hope Clark will do.
According to the Cubs, the team talked to fans who said more family-friendly amenities were needed at Wrigley. They held focus groups, and from that came the idea for a new mascot.
Clark’s “story” dates back to the original live bear, supposedly his great-grandfather. Clark was born with Cubs blood in his veins. Like all “kids” he dreamed of playing for the Cubs. One day he heard the crowds from Wrigleyville, followed the sound and saw the W flag being raised. The team, after seeing his enthusiasm invited him to be their mascot. The rest of the story is yet to be played out. You can read the entire story here.
Clark’s duties will be to welcome the crowds, especially kids, to Wrigley Field. He will be at the First Timer’s booth to welcome first time fans to Wrigley Field. He can be seen on the field when kids run the bases, and at Clark’s Clubhouse, inside Wrigley Field.
As expected, when Clark made his debut Monday night at Advocate Illinois Masonic’s Pediatric Development Center, along with some players, he was a hit with the kids. The purpose of the visit was to “reinforce positive activities being taught to children with autism and other developmental challenges.” He was joined by Cubs prospects Albert Almora, Javier Baez, Kris Bryant, C.J. Edwards, Kyle Hendricks, Pierce Johnson, Eric Jokisch, Mike Olt, Neil Ramirez, Armando Rivero, Rubi Silva, Jorge Soler, Christian Villanueva and Arodys Vizcaino.
But fan reaction has not been kind to the Cubs. The rendering that was first released has found its way to websites such as Deadspin, which held a contest for readers to desecrate the new mascot’s image. And why would they do that? Because fans are fed up with high ticket prices and a lousy team. They’d prefer to see one good signing this winter and more wins this season than a mascot that will entertain children. Even Keith Olbermann devoted time to “The Clark Crisis” in his show. In response, Cubs Vice President of Communications and Community Affairs Julian Green issues a quote that the team was disappointed in the reaction by fans, but was positive about the reaction by the children on Monday night. This does nothing to appease the fans who continue to make fun of the mascot.
"Clark the mascot does not alleviate the pain of being a Cub fan. In fact, it has the opposite effect, like salt in a wound, like the way that Will Clark stuck a dagger in the heart of Cub fans in the 1989 playoffs. The organization should have named the new mascot Grace,” said long time Cubs fan Mark Simon.
Change is inevitable for almost everything, but maybe some things should be left alone.