Tuesday, November 22, 2005


Stupid Mascot Tricks

Due to a combination of lack of time and the Giants sucking, I only made it to one game at Mays Field last season, a turgid Interleague contest that saw the Giants lose to the Indians 10-2. In all my years of attending Giants games, it may have been the worst experience I’ve ever had at a ballpark. I’ve been through some stinkers before. I once saw the Giants lose to Carlos Perez and the Dodgers 1-0 in 1998 in a crucial stretch drive game. In 1999, I was at the game where the Diamondbacks clinched the NL West and celebrated as the Giants faithful sat and stewed in the stands. That sucked. In the final game at Mays Field against the Dodgers in 2004, I watched Wayne Franklin walk in the go-ahead run and then cough up a home run to Alex Cora (!) as the Giants lost a game with huge playoff implications. Driving home from that game was one of the most depressing experiences of my life. But this year’s game was probably the worst, and it wasn’t really because the Giants got creamed or because Al Levine made his last ashamed walk off the Mays Field pitching mound.

It was because of that damned mascot, Lou Seal.

You know the bastard. He’s a funny-looking, bipedal, pseudo-cool seal who romps around the field, shooting hot dogs and throwing T-shirts into the stands in between innings. We know he’s hip because he has oversized shades and wears his hat on backwards, and because his only means of communication is giving the thumbs-up to embarrassed fans who have the misfortune to be caught on the JumboTron with this monstrosity. He also bounds up and down the aisles, making young kids and old ladies laugh with delight as his gigantic pot-belly gyrates in bizarre directions as he does the hula. It’s really quite unwholesome when you think about it, and the perversion is magnified when you realize he has no pants on. He might be the most annoying, unlovable mascot in the major leagues. It’s hard to sink to the depths charted by the Krazy Krab of the 1980’s, but Lou Seal is getting there. The problem is that he doesn’t offer anything. Phillie Phanatic is the greatest because he’s funny, clever, and never misses a chance to take a cheap shot at Tommy LaSorda. In Milwaukee, Bernie Brewer dives into a giant beer mug. Even Stomper across the bay somehow exudes ten times the charm of the Seal simply because he entertains instead of irritates. All Lou Seal does is dance badly on top of the visitors’ dugout and piss people off. And did I mention he has no pants?

Unfortunately, I came face to face with this behemoth on this fateful June night. I was at the game with a buddy and had terrific (and pricey) seats in the second row of the bleachers in left-center field, with various fans around us hurling insults at Coco Crisp (mostly focused on his strange name). It was the third or fourth inning, and the Giants were having trouble clawing their way back from an early 2-0 deficit. C.C. Sabathia looked like he had his good stuff, and the Giants weren’t touching him. Then suddenly Mike Matheny walked and it looked like the Giants could finally get something going. I was excited. The top of the order was coming up, and Sabathia was starting to look wild.

Then suddenly this corpulent, furry mass comes waddling into my line of vision. Sure enough, it’s Lou Seal, dancing around, pantomiming in his own grating way. It was a nuisance, but I just assumed he’d go away in a hurry. No such luck.

The yahoos behind us began flinging (well-deserved) insults at the Seal, calling him a “girly man” and tossing other none-too-inspired jabs (at least, none as good as “Cotts-sucker”, which a friend of mine broke out at a White Sox-A’s game in July as Sox reliever Neal Cotts warmed up in front of us). As I gleaned from about five seconds of yelling, apparently the people behind me were regulars, season ticket holders who had constant run-ins with the mascot and this was only a strange continuation of their battle of wits. Since these same fans were immersed in black and orange and seemed passionate in their love for the Giants, it would be tempting to call them “die-hard fans”. Unfortunately, judging from the way these people (grown men, mind you, not kids) obsessively scaled the front row of the bleachers in between innings, hoping to get a foul ball, and from the way they so eagerly engaged the Seal in a verbal sparring match, I think I’d have to waver more toward the label of “losers”.

Anyway, Lou Seal decided this crap wasn’t going to fly. He started pointing fingers and slamming his chest, gesturing to his tormentors, in good old George W. Bush fashion, to “bring it on”, and any hope of him leaving in a timely manner had been blown sky high. Just when the embarrasment started reaching its apex, this asshole Seal came barreling right at me. Honestly, I thought I was going to piss my pants. Here I am, trying to enjoy a game at a beautiful ballpark with my favorite team, and I’m about to get steamrolled by this grotesque creature while the whole ballpark watches.

He didn’t trample me, fortunately, but he leaped right onto the bleachers to my left and began challenging some guy behind me to a bout of arm-wrestling. Meanwhile the Giants had just put another runner on and I couldn’t see what the hell was going on because this stupid mascot was obscuring my view of the field. The fans behind me continued lovingly pelting the Seal with insults as I tried to keep the Seal’s gigantic gray ass out of my face. I don’t know who won the arm-wrestling match, and I don’t know if the Seal got the last laugh, but what I do know is that this went on for ten fucking minutes! As I sat there with this awkward half-smile on my face, trying to make it look like I was having some sort of fun, as veins were popping in my forehead, I began thinking how ironic it was that a mascot designed to provide nothing more than a little added entertainment to a baseball game was instead acting as a total hindrance to my enjoyment of said game. I paid good money to watch the Giants play, not to have Lou Seal do a dance in my face while the Giants rally.

The Seal finally took off, but by that point the Giants had gone down without scoring and my night was effectively ruined. Moises Alou would hit a monstrous home run in the next inning, but that only brightened my spirits temporarily. The night quickly turned sour again as Sabathia himself doubled in two runs and Al Levine came on in the ninth and gave up five more in his last appearance as a Giant. And across the field, Lou Seal was jiggling around in front of some other poor sap who at that point was beginning to ponder the merits of becoming a Nationals fan. Final score: Indians 10, Giants 2. Lou Seal 1, John Ryder 0.

Before that night, every time I saw the Seal on TV I was merely irritated by him. Now, after his stink was so close to me, I loathe him. In 2006, I’ll once again make my way to Mays Field to take in a Giants game, and I’ll root for my team as passionately as ever. Nothing will stop that, not even the Seal. But I’ll be prepared for him this time, whether it be with earmuffs, or maybe a taser. If he tries that crap in my vicinity again, he’ll find himself tied to a ferry in McCovey Cove being mauled by Portuguese Water Dogs. It’s baffling why the Giants have introduced some of the worst mascots in the history of baseball, but I long for the day that Lou Seal finds himself at the bar, sipping whiskey and trading war stories with the Krazy Krab. Then I’ll be the one dancing around, wiggling my belly in joy, not the Seal.

Lou Seal, Scourge of China Basin

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