The Cubs lighten up

The Chicago Cubs, bless their hearts, are sports’ most lovable losers.

They haven’t won a World Series since 1908, three years before my father was born. When I think about that in those terms, it’s almost unfathomable. Teams, every once in a while, stumble into championships, don’t they?

The new and friendly Cubs mascot, Clark.

The new and friendly Cubs mascot, Clark.

As a fan of the St. Louis Cardinals, it is my responsibility and duty to loathe the Cubs. But it’s so hard to do because the Cubs usually aren’t good enough to evoke much emotion one way or the other.

I don’t want to say the Cardinals are superior to the Cubs, but the Cardinals are superior to the Cubs. And so is almost every other professional sports franchise in the history of sports.

Which makes what the Cubs did Monday funny. And sad. And desperate.

The Cubs, for the first time in their 138-year history – which seems like 238 to long-suffering fans – announced an official mascot. His name is Clark, a “young, friendly Cub” who wears a baseball cap backward and will greet fans as they enter Wrigley Field.

Some will turn right around and leave.

Somebody in the Cubs’ marketing department obviously thought a mascot was exactly what this franchise needed. I say it needs a couple of starting pitchers and a few guys who can hit the ball out of Wrigley Field.

“The Cubs are thrilled to welcome Clark as the team’s official mascot,” Cubs senior director of marketing Alison Miller said in a statement. “Clark is a young, friendly Cub who can’t wait to interact with our other young Cubs fans. He’ll be a welcoming presence for families at Wrigley Field and an excellent ambassador for the team in the community.”

Young and friendly seem to be important elements of the Cubs’ new mascot. I suppose old and crotchety wouldn’t fly, although those are certainly traits shared by many Cubs fans who presumably would welcome more baseball success at the expense of a mascot, no matter how young and friendly.

According to reports, as the Cubs prepared for a $300 million renovation of Wrigley Field, they partnered with Northwestern University to conduct a survey and found that there was a desire for the 100-year-old park to be more “family-friendly.”

If you’ve seen the shenanigans that go on in the bleachers during a Cubs game, you know that “family” and “friendly” aren’t always in the mix. And I suspect alcohol consumption at Wrigley will not show a precipitous decrease because fans are feeling more friendly.

The Cubs have gone 61-101 and 66-96 the past two seasons. They are in another rebuilding mode and one loses track of how many of those the team has embarked on during its history.

This is a team that has won 90-plus games only four times since 1984, five times since 1969 and six times since 1945.

A broadcaster, Harry Carey, is arguably the biggest star in the team’s history.

Now there’s new star in town. Clark the Cub, named after the Clark and Addison intersection where Wrigley is located.

The Cubs probably will continue to lose. But they’ll be so cute, cuddly and friendly, no one will care. Right?

 

The Cubs say Clark’s great-grandfather Joa was the franchise’s original live Bears mascot in 1916.