It’s not easy being a Cleveland Indians fan. Whether it’s the history of historic collapses, the questionable draft picks (until somewhat recently, I know—Francisco Lindor is a boss) and free agent moves, or the use of Jose Lopez when everyone but a certain manager had long realized his uselessness, we’re privy to moves and decisions that are downright head-scratching.
But amid all this, there’s the amiable relationship of fan and team. They’re there for me every summer giving me entertainment and a reason to be outside lying in the grass listening to the radio, and I defend them against those detractors in Detroit, those charlatans in Chicago, those crumbums in Kansas City. It’s fun, it’s exciting, and I actually have to care about the regular season. It must be tough being a Yankees fan like that.
There’s one thing though, that draws my ire on a level I thought impossible. Yes, the worst thing to happen to the Cleveland Indians since the trade of Rocky Colavito is Slider the Mascot.
We all know Slider. Perhaps you even like him. How that could be is beyond me, but his existence persists, so someone must enjoy his presence. But I detest him. He doesn’t even make any sense—a purple plush toy with jaundiced spots all about him, that frightfully gleeful face like that of an escaped inmate with the strange bushy nose, he’s like somebody ate a bunch of gummy bears and a Teletubby then threw up. His antics distract from the feats of athletic brilliance and intense mind-gamery on the field, and his choreographed dance routines are simply rejects from an avant garde version of West Side Story.
I just can’t believe he’s been put up with all these years. I’ve seen the antics of some of the better mascots in the business, from Youppi to Handsome Dan, and they range from silly pranking to sitting like a bump on a log because they’re actually just an adorable bulldog. Slider has not risen to the level of these legends, it would be wrong to even rate him in the middle of the pack. He was outdanced by Gapper, one of the many attempts at a mascot the Reds made before finally giving in to the Man with the ‘Stache. He can’t control his kids, and seems like a bad father, anyway. Not only that, he relies on trickery—he can’t even fly! What kind of a mascot is this?
The very fact he’s in the Mascot Hall of Fame is a travesty, a mockery of what could have been something great. Why, they didn’t even induct Mr. Met, whom many would consider a charter member of a club like that, on par with Rogers Hornsby and that other Hall until 2008! Looking through the members, there’s no Mr. Redlegs (not actualized until 2008, but still), no Crazy Crab, perhaps the greatest example of anti-mascoting the world has ever seen, and no Chief Noc-A-Homa! (Say what you will about ethnic sensitivity, the Chief is a piece of history and a key cog in the Braves 1995 championship.) The whole Hall is a debacle. It comes as no surprise the Philly Phanatic is in (no Green Man, another debacle) since Dave Raymond, the original Phanatic, created it. There’s nothing wrong with the Phanatic, he’s one of the all-time greats. But to pass over so many, not just in the world of baseball but in all sports, in favor of KC Wolf (the Kansas City Chiefs) or Clutch (Houston Rockets)? It’s just wrong. It’s embarrassing. Plus, no Montgomery Biscuit. That’s the greatest mascot of all time, and should have been inducted instantly, Koufax style.
It must be asked: Is Slider the cause of all the Indians problems over the last 20 years? Well, think about this, before he was around they hadn’t lost a World Series in decades and weren’t forced to trade away consecutive Cy Young winners. Not only that, but under Slider’s rule (or whatever you call it), the Indians’ record-setting sellout streak ended at 455! How can we not blame this on the Mascot? Who else could possibly be the culprit? What’s the saying, correlation equals causation? That sounds right. I say it now, end this tyranny, evict Slider from Progressive Field to wander the empty reaches of Browns Stadium and the Q. For the good of the team, for the good of the City of Cleveland and the whole Cuyahoga River Valley, get this done!
If I do ever get to meet him though, I’m still hugging him. The smell of mascot fur is like nothing else on Earth.