SIDELINE SLANTS

ORIGINALLY WRITTEN JOE KLEINSASSER
Kids love to dress up in costumes, so it’s probably appropriate that at most professional and many college sporting events, adults dress up in oversized costumes, a.k.a. mascots, for kids.

There’s no sense analyzing the usefulness of mascots. They don’t help a team win or lose games, but a good mascot can entertain fans of all ages.

The Chicken may be the best known mascot and entertainer and broke a lot of new ground.

Among other things, these mascots love to tease officials/umpires.

They’re always good for a few laughs.

Fans of the Kansas City Royals enjoy watching their mascot shoot hot dogs into the crowd. A mascot is a modern-day Pied Piper with children following close behind.

Many children appear to be more interested in watching the mascot than the baseball game.

I don’t envy the mascots who work outside in summer. The costumes tend to be oversized and hot with limited vision. (And don’t you dare say, “Reminds me of some officials I know.”)

Mascots became headline news this summer in what has been dubbed “Sausagegate.” Four mascots dressed as sausages and hot dogs took part in their traditional race after the sixth inning of a Milwaukee Brewers baseball game.

As the sausages ran past the Pittsburgh dugout, Pirates first baseman Randall Simon bopped a woman dressed as a huge Italian sausage with a bat, causing the meat of the savory Italian variety to fall to the ground and also trip up the hot dog in the process.

The Polish and the Brat somehow managed to escape harm.

A lighthearted article on ESPN.com reported that, “The Italian sausage was treated at the scene for scraped knees (sausages have knees?), and was last seen diving into a cab with a towel over its head and rushed to a local hospital with three members of its entourage. The hot dog also suffered scraped outer casing. The bratwurst won the race and refused to cooperate with investigators on the scene. Baseball commissioner Bud Selig declared the race ‘a tie’-as is tradition for all controversial events at Miller Park.”

Simon was fined $432 for disorderly conduct for a swing that got more attention than any other around the majors that night.

The 19-year-old woman who was knocked down showed an unusually good sense of humor. Mandy Block said, “It just seems ridiculous-it’s like a big sausage getting hit by a bat causes all this controversy. It just seems kind of funny to me.”

Josee Meehan of the National Hot Dog and Sausage Council was pleased by all the attention.

“I think it probably raised awareness that there are all types of sausages out there,” Meehan said. “But I had no idea you could race them.

“We were talking about it in the office today, about which one would win. We thought it probably would be the hot dog, because it’s leaner than the other ones.”

David Letterman included the Top 10 excuses of the baseball player who beat up the sausage. Here are some of them.

“It was a Brewers-Pirates game. Somebody had to liven things up.”

“The bratwurst gave me $50 to take down the sausage.”

“I guess I misunderstood the Atkins diet.”

“When a giant sausage is running at you-you act on instinct.”

I’m not aware of any mascot knockdown incidents in Hillsboro. But then, I’m not aware of a local mascot other than the Tabor Bluejay.

I don’t know if the Bluejay has ever been plucked by overzealous kids. It wouldn’t surprise me.

Here’s an idea. Why don’t local businesses sponsor a mascot race this fall and give the Bluejay some competition?

The Igloo could sponsor a mascot dressed as a snow cone. Olde Towne Restaurant could sponsor a mascot dressed as a verenika or bierrock. Daylight Donuts could sponsor a mascot appearing as a long john or twist.

I’d suggest holding the race at halftime of a football or basketball game. The event is sure to be good for a few laughs and might cause a rush of fans to the concussion, er, concession stand.

Consider this my free marketing idea for our local high school and college. Just remember, if the great mascot race flops, you get what you pay for.

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