I'm driving to Peoria tonight to watch my favorite men's college basketball team, the Bradley Braves, (presumably) get hammered by the undefeated Wichita State Shockers. But, yajusnevero what will happen. (Only a longtime BU fan would get that one.)
Saturday in Peoria, there was a spectacle of a different kind on the arena floor. And, frankly, it was a bit embarrassing. Sort of like the Bradley basketball program the past few years.
Before the Braves' scintillating 55-38 win over lowly Loyola, the university unveiled its first mascot since 2000. Because having someone suited up as an Indian no longer is acceptable in college or pro sports (unless you're Florida State), Bradley has struggled in the mascot department since, well, it last dressed up a student in an Indian suit. It's tried Tommy Hawk, Brad E. Lee (seriously) and the Bradley Bobcat. It's hard to believe none of them had staying power.
On Saturday, the university unveiled ... Kaboom. A gargoyle. Because gargoyles leer at students from the roof of Bradley Hall. Because Bradley's fantastic longtime radio announcer, Dave Snell, yells "Kaboom" whenever a Brave dunks the ball (which happened more often in my college days than it does today). Oh, you get the point.
I love my alma mater, I really do. But I thought the gargoyle was a bad, lame idea when it was conceived. And I felt even worse about it when I watched in stunned silence Saturday as Comcast Chicago televised Kaboom's unveiling to the Midwest.
Probably all you need to know about Kaboom is captured here by Keith Olbermann. It's worth a watch, I'll say that.
You would think enduring Kaboom's unveiling would have made me think of the list I'm going to share with you today. It did not. That thought came courtesy of former co-worker Kevin Murphy, who sent me a message overnight requesting a list of best/worst sports mascots. Perhaps Kaboom was his inspiration.
So here, Kevin, and readers, is a list of my favorite and least favorite sports mascots of all time. I'm going to reserve further judgment on Kaboom.
You'll notice that there are more "least favorites" on my list. It's easy to make a bad mascot, much more difficult to come up with a good one.
Favorite Sports Mascots
1. San Diego Chicken, San Diego Padres
2. The Racing Sausages, Milwaukee Brewers
3. The Stanford (University) Tree
4. Sparty, Michigan State
5. WuShock, Wichita State
6. Purdue Pete, Purdue University
7. Benny the Bull, Chicago Bulls
8. Uga, the University of Georgia bulldog
9. Mr. Met, New York Mets
10. Wally the Green Monster, Boston Red Sox
Least Favorite Sports Mascots
1. Rally Monkey, Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim
2. Otto the Orange, Syracuse University
3. Chief Illiniwek, formerly of the University of Illinois
4. Chief Osceola, currently of Florida State University
5. Clark the Cub (moving up, with a bullet)
6. Pierre the Pelican, New Orleans Pelicans
7. Reggie Redbird, Illinois State University
8. Bernie Brewer, Milwaukee Brewers
9. Pistol Pete, Oklahoma State
10. Brutus the Buckeye, The Ohio State University
11. Peter Puck, formerly of the Peoria Rivermen (more on him later)
12. Phillie Phanatic, Philadelphia Phillies
13. Youppi, the now defunct Montreal Expos
14. Sebastian the Ibis, University of Miami
15. Go the Gorilla, Phoenix Suns
Like a lot of things the go into a list, mine here are subjective. I might despise the Rally Monkey; you might love it. So feel free to share your thoughts on the best and worst sports mascots.
As for Peter Puck? Some guy dressed up as a hockey puck that used to entertain/harass fans at Peoria Rivermen hockey games. One quarter beer Saturday night, Peter's antics didn't sit well with a particular fan, who proceeded to punch the Puck and chase him out of the Peoria Civic Center onto the street. Legend has it Peter Puck escaped unharmed. Never to be seen again.
Some mascots probably deserve hazard pay.