Guys like fictitious characters for two reasons: (1) “I want to f*** her,” and (2) “I want to grab a beer with him.” We like Matthew McConaughey in “Dazed & Confused” and John Belushi in “Animal House” because we’d love to party with them. We like Jessica Rabbit and Lara Croft because…boobies.
It’s nearly impossible for a sports mascot to be both family-friendly and sexually attractive, so baseball teams focus on that first half, creating mascots they think kids will like. But let’s be honest here: Nine innings of baseball can be long and boring, and in the absence of cheerleaders, you better have a damn hilarious guy in a furry suit on hand to keep the grown-ass men in the crowd entertained. Because if a father likes the mascot, his kid will too. For the record, any baseball team in the market for a new mascot should follow the formula set by these five.
Pop Culture Equivalent: Matthew McConaughey in “Dazed & Confused”
The Milwaukee Brewers mascot obviously has to be at the top of the list. Bernie is a brewer, but he won’t bring fancy microbrews to your party. He sports a handlebar mustache and drinks PBR, but doesn’t do so “ironically” like hipsters. That’s just what he’s done since 1970. He’s from another time, but defies any era–a classic man’s man. Only Matthew McConaughey could make an older, blonde-mustachioed guy creeping on high school students seem cool. Only Bernie Brewer could make a curly slide into a now-beer-free “splash zone” still seem manly.
Pop Culture Equivalent: John Belushi in “Animal House”
The Phanatic is a fat, green, indistinguishable blob-alien that is every bit as obnoxious as Phillies fans. What makes him great is he embraces it and everyone loves him for it. More than even John Belushi, the Phanatic reminds me of my friend Omar. Once in front of my mom and dad, Omar shot-gunned a beer and whipped the empty can off my parents’ porch into their yard. Instead of getting angry, my dad asked Omar to teach him how to do that. The Phanatic is that same lovable a**hole. Go out with him and you may get alcohol poisoning, or in a fight, or end up in Mexico, or all three, but you’ll never be bored.
The Swinging Friar
Pop Culture Equivalent: Ed Helms in “The Hangover”
I realize Helms’ character Stu is a dentist in “The Hangover” and not a man of the cloth, but the analogy holds true. Stu is a responsible, if not uptight, person. He’s the friend who is boring 99 percent of the time, but you continue to hang out with because that other 1 percent of the time is epic. He marries a Vegas stripper, pulls out his own tooth, gets banged by a tranny, etc. The Swinging Friar seems like the same type of buddy. He’s religious, wears a camouflage cape at Sunday games to honor the military and doesn’t get angry when the San Diego Chicken crashes his parties. However, you know every once in a while, The Friar drinks too much mead, pulls up his robe and streaks a middle school. He’s nicknamed “Swinging” after all.
Pop Culture Equivalent: Eric Stoltz in “Kicking and Screaming”
This movie reference is a bit obscure, but Stoltz in “Kicking and Screaming” (not the Will Ferrell soccer movie) plays a thirtysomething bartender in a college town. He’s savvier than the students and they seek him out as a barroom oracle. Mr. Met is the oldest mascot and is one of three MLBers in the Mascot Hall of Fame (along with Phanatic and Cleveland’s Slider). He’s not flashy or the most popular, but he’s genuine. The Reds and Braves have tried to copy him with their mascots Mr. Redlegs and Homer, but both seem fake. Just like guys who try to fake being dive-bar scholars. Mr. Met and Eric Stoltz don’t try to be anything, they just are. You need weekly happy hours with those friends to put things in perspective.
Pop Culture Equivalent: Michael Madsen in every movie
Elephants aren’t known for being particularly athletic, so it seems odd the Athletics would pick Stomper as a mascot. But everyone has that chubby friend who is surprisingly coordinated despite being drunk much of the time. They also still get ladies despite looking like crap. He’s great to play pick-up basketball with because other teams always underestimate him. Michael Madsen is like an elephant. He looks like a dive bar drunk, but we always know he’s the movie’s badass. Stomper and Madsen are those friends you want in your corner during a fight or a drunken dodgeball game.