In a scene that appeared to be a cross between a Walt Disney production and a Tim Burton film, Sluggerrr had his tail handed to him by the vibrancy of youth in the late innings of the Tuesday’s Kansas City Royals and Seattle Mariner’s game. The same person who created Sluggerrr probably thought that sending the mascot through a summer evening crowd with a large vendor’s tray of cotton candy as an incentive to raise crowd noise was a swell idea. After all, kids love sugar treats, especially when a carnivorous predator gives them away for free at a baseball game. And surely the little kids would not incite a riot and drag their beloved Sluggerrr to the hard pavement of the stadium aisles to take what they feel is rightly theirs. What the braintrusts behind this promotion failed to realize is that good things sometimes happen to bad people, even mascots with extreme moral fortitude.
Shortly after the seventh inning stretch, Sluggerrr’s goofy face appeared on the large Jumbotron between innings. There was the ferocious mascot, loaded with a tray of cotton candy on paper sticks, hiding in a ramp to the field box seats behind the home team’s dugout. How the youth rejoiced on this sweltering night! Their true hero, Sluggerrr, was about to give them cavity inducing rewards since that imposter Griffey Jr. was 0-3 on the evening. As Will Smith’s “Wild West” began reverberating over the loudspeakers, Sluggerrr burst upon the scene with his patented strut that even Simba could not duplicate. However, it was soon apparent to the 20,000 fans that Sluggerrr was doomed because the enormous paws of his costume would not allow him to pull the candy from his tray.
At first the children were patient as they were confident their hero would overcome this technical difficulty. But soon looks of trepidation were crossing their little faces as they realized the more and more kids were making their way towards their section. Soon the tranquil laws of the jungle gave way to the savagery of the playground a violent conflagration for free candy erupted.
At first, it appeared Sluggerrr would make it to the safe confines of the concourse by utilizing his dominant size. However, he was soon swarmed by a mass of pre-pubescent flesh that used sheer mass to stop the fleeing lion. Sluggerr’s foolish attempts at diplomacy could be seen on the big screen; the lion was trying to reason with the frenzied mob. This incensed the swarming throng, and a few of the more bold kids began snatching their own candy from the tray. The P.A. announcer’s voice began showing signs of consternation as Royals officials began to realize all was not well in camp.
What happened next will be forever remembered in these parts as Sluggerrr’s Folly. Seeing that his attempts at reason were failing miserably, the mascot made his fatal error by trying to make his final stand with a stairwell to guard his back. He raised the cotton candy above his head as if to say, “If you children won’t behave, none of you will get any cotton candy.” At this point, the smaller children began using their curtain climbing skills to work their way up Sluggerrr’s torso. He swatted a few of them away, which caused the P.A. announcer to audibly gasp. Other kids used their falling bodies as stepping stones to get closer to their treasured prize.
The curtain crawlers were not to be denied; however, as the smarter children had worked their way down the stairs to lean over the railing and grab the candy. This caused Sluggerrr to tilt the tray, spilling some candy. By this time children were on his shoulders, and one grabbed the tray in an effort to topple all the goods. But Sluggerrr, showing the dexterity that made him the King of the Ozarks, executed a perfect spin move while switching the tray to his other hand. This temporarily confused the children, and a hole opened as Sluggerrr made a burst towards freedom.
Sluggerrr just might have made it had he did not have a six foot long tail. Just as he was about the make the safety of the concourse, he was yanked backwards by bellowing children who were not to be denied. He was spun around, spilling all the candy as he went to the ground with children jumping on his back. At this point, the Royals management had the good judgment to turn off the Jumbotron to spare the crowd from the rest of ugly spectacle. However, Sluggerr did not rise to his feet; he had to crawl from this arena.
Gordon Lightfoot once sang about where the love of God goes when the waves turn the minutes to hours. As Sluggerrr was awash in this tempest of angry children, he probably thought his God had abandoned him. However, it is hard to feel any sympathy who dresses himself in a ridiculous costume for a meager paycheck. We can learn two things from Sluggerrr’s demise: 1) stay in school or else we might end up with a demeaning job and 2) the stampede of youth will eventually overwhelm even the king of the jungle.