Twinkie the Loon and Other Unemployed Baseball Mascots

The Philly Phanatic has used his charm to stick around the MLB for over 30 years. Other mascots have not been so lucky. Jonathan Dyer-USA TODAY Sports
The Philly Phanatic has used his charm to stick around the MLB for over 30 years. Other mascots have not been so lucky.
Jonathan Dyer-USA TODAY Sports

In these tough economic times, even the fun-loving and furry MLB mascots sometimes find themselves searching Craigslist for their next gig. Not all have the same leverage within the organization like the Philly Phanatic or San Diego Chicken to stick around no matter how bad things get. Here’s a look at a few of those mascots from baseball past.

Perhaps the Minnesota Twins would have been better off with a mascot called Siamese the Madmen or in these politically sensitive days, Conjoined the Schizophrenics. Instead they went with the gender-bending named Twinkie the Loon. Two short seasons in the early 1980s was enough to send Twinkie to the Mascot Asylum. Rumor has it, Twinkie hasn’t had a visitor since Kirby Puckett was in the lineup.

The New York Yankees attempted to introduce Dandy, a bird with a strong facial resemblance to their star relief picture, Sparky Lyle. Dandy’s tenure lasted not much longer than Yogi Berra’s 16-game managing career for the Yankees in 1985. Dandy later morphed into a bear and became known as Sparkee, the mascot for the Sparky Lyle managed Somerset Patriots in an Independent League. With Lyle’s retirement, fans wonder it the new mascot will resemble current manager Brett Jodie.

Failure to use the obvious Mr. Monopoly as a mascot; future efforts to find a mascot have failed for the Yankees, although, Don Zimmer was close in the late 1990s and early 2000s.

Mettle the Mule was a short-lived mascot for the New York Mets. Despite being a mule, there was no apparent connection with Yankees’ fans referring to Mets’ fans as the title of a popular John Knoxville show on MTV for many generations. Perhaps copy right infringement with the Oakland Athletics’ Charlie-O, a mule, led to the glue factory visit for Mettle and the creation of the beloved macrocephaly-headed Mr. Met.

Bill Dana, Chester Charge, Astrodillo, Junction Jack and Orbit; no these are not the nicknames of a new boy band, but rather a succession of non-descript mascots for the Houston Astros with Orbit still being employed and Bill Dana being a forgotten comic from the 1960s. Like much of the team over its history, these are cellar dwelling mascots.

Recently, one of the most popular mascots, Chief Noc-A-Homa of the Atlanta Braves, was retired and sent to sensitivity school for a lack of political correctness. Homer the Brave (such a wildly imaginative play on words) was anointed his replacement.

Unlike in the minor leagues where the mascots are a big part of the fun, major league mascots play only a small role in the game today as they wander around large parks for pre-arranged photo opportunities with fans. Perhaps they could take the lead of some of the best minor league mascots: Wally the Warthog, Modesto Nuts, Hamilton R. Head.

Here’s hoping we can have an old-timer's day for these retired guys, girls, and androgynous monsters from our nightmares.

2015 Breakdown Stars: Often Injured MLB Players

One of the MLB's often injured stars, Troy Tulowitzki Matt Kartozian-USA TODAY Sports
One of the MLB's often injured stars, Troy Tulowitzki
Matt Kartozian-USA TODAY Sports

Whether it was Corey Hart requiring stitches after stepping out of a hot tub or Ronnie Belisario fracturing his shoulder climbing out from a pool, oddball injuries are fodder for spring training Tweets. Hunter Pence shows us, even the always durable "Captain Underpants" is not invincible.

As impossible as it is to predict player injuries, certain guys seem more susceptible than most to a DL stint than others in the 2015 season. Eliminating all pitchers who throw with more velocity than Jamie Moyer did, and who have no doubt been on the waiting list for Dr. Andrews longer than fans waiting for New England Patriots' season tickets, the following position players appear likely to enjoy some time off this summer nursing an injury.

Catcher: Brian McCann, New York Yankees

Brian McCann's near career high of 140 games last year in 2014 was achieved by the 30 games as a designated hitter and first baseman. With Garret Jones and Alex Rodriguez in camp, those days of leisure will be much fewer for this 31 year old especially carrying a .232 average from last season.

First Base: Justin Morneau, Colorado Rockies

One of the feel good stories of 2014, Justin Morneau once again missed more than 20 games in 2014. Since 2008, he has played in more than 135 games only once. At 34 soon after the season begins, it seems likely he’ll be on Rocky Mountain Bye for parts of the season.

Second Base: Neil Walker, Pittsburgh Pirates

While Neil Walker comes into the season appendix free, “ouch that aching back “is still with him. In a position that demands mobility, let's count on at least one DL stint for this 29 year old with a 45 year old's back.

Third Base: Pablo Sandoval, Boston Red Sox

Welcome to those cold New England night games, Pablo Sandoval. Those hamstrings on a 250-plus body don’t stretch very well in April. At best we can predict a 140-game season, unless Big Papi gets off to a slow start and Big Panda can handle some DH duty to rest the legs.

Shortstop: Troy Tulowitizki, Colorado Rockies

No doubt, Troy Tulowtizki will be joining Justin Morneau on the golf course for a good part of the year. The most valuable Rockies player who has averaged fewer than 120 games since his rookie year has seen injuries that would challenge the doctor in the Operation Game. At least "water on the knee" can be repaired with a small pair of toy tweezers.

Outfield: Yasiel Puig, Los Angeles Dodgers

Too many non-breakaway fences to avoid for 162 games. With reckless aggression come painful DL stints. This is the Yasiel Puig Story.

Outfield: Torii Hunter, Minnesota Twins

Outfielder Torii Hunter is incredibly durable with 8 of last 9 years with more than 140 games a year. But at 40 in July, when most men are playing slow pitch softball or thinking of a spring fantasy camp, Hunter seems to have odds stacked against him this year. Plus, Minnesota weather cannot be good for anyone.

Outfield: Jayson Werth, Washington Nationals

Even with forgetting about his wacky offseason, Jayson Werth appears likely to spend more days on the DL than days he spent incarcerated this year. The move to left field might benefit him, but the 35 year old has yet to play a full season with Washington since his first year; and we remember how badly that went.

Panda Express or Panda Distress?: Pablo Sandoval Responds to Aubrey Huff

Just how sensitive is Pablo Sandoval? Greg M. Cooper-USA TODAY Sports
Just how sensitive is Pablo Sandoval?
Greg M. Cooper-USA TODAY Sports

Okay, so Pablo Sandoval has his feelings hurt because Aubrey Huff spoke his mind. Following The Kung Fu Panda's comments about how unhappy he was with teammates during his time as a member of the San Francisco Giants, a war of words has begun.

Huff, burdened with a given name that auto-corrects to Audrey for every sports writer, should be well-known to Sandoval. Without the “charisma” or cute nickname attached to him, Huff tossed up career numbers equal to The Panda while playing for the much worse Tampa Bay and Baltimore teams much of his career. The absence of fame, plus battling injury plagued years near the end of his career, make Huff the hero in this feud.

Only in postseason play do Sandoval’s numbers exceed Huff. The latter only had two postseason appearances which came at the end of his career with Sandoval sitting down the bench from him.

It's interesting to hear Sandoval act as if he doesn't know who Huff is considering their 162-game averages are almost identical career wise:

Home Runs: Huff 23, Sandoval 23

Batting Average: Huff .278, Sandoval .294

Slugging Pct: Huff .464, Sandoval .465

OBP: Huff .464, Sandoval .465

And so on. Close your eyes and look at the naked numbers.

The feeling is that Huff, one of the least controversial players in his day, is speaking more as a spokesman for active players who must abide the “speak no evil” code of professional sports. Sandoval is seen as a cuddling mascot and thought he could get away with insulting every teammate of his from San Francisco.

Here’s wishing Panda the best of luck in Beantown. Just remember you're leaving the Grateful Dead tunes of S.F to the Dropkick Murphy sounds of the Boston crowd.

And to Audrey, oops Aubrey, keep twitting the good words you feel. Makes us all long for the start of the season when the only hurt feelings are being pulled for a pinch hitter with the bases loaded.