Clark the Cub

In Defense of Clark the Cub

ChicagoSide Sports

January 14, 2014

Cubs fans, you are embarrassing me. And you’re really pissing me off, too.

It’s not because you’re drunk, or you’re wearing your hat sideways to show off your Sigma Chi neck tattoo, or you’re chatting with your so-awesome BFF about a sorority reunion in the bleachers, or whatever.

No, it’s because you’re freaking out about the Cubs’ new mascot, Clark. Everywhere I look, all I see is someone writing some oh-so clever diatribe against the anthropomorphized bear. You know things are out of hand when even the New Yorker gets in on the act.

News flash: IT’S A BEAR FOR KIDS. The mascot is for not you, you whiny little simps. This is not an indictment of the Cubs, or the ownership, or society writ large, or anything. It’s a bear for kids. Kids like cute, furry things. The end.

Ever since the team introduced Clark on Monday, here are some of the reactions I’ve seen:

• “Half Joe Camel and a third Fonzarelli…. [a] corporate perversity — this boardroom representation of what mirth might look like.”
—Will “Lord Sidepart Snodgrass” Leitch, Sports on Earth

• “[The] Cubs have spent the last while systematically eradicating everything that’s even remotely attractive about them…. Now they’ve unveiled a mascot, Clark the Cub, who looks like nothing less than the product of a design competition held at a furry message board.”
—Tim “Duke Monocle Hottentot” Marchman, Deadspin

• “If the ‘century of losing’ thing wasn’t enough to turn away Cubs fans, we’re guessing this won’t be the last straw for most of them. But it’s quite unfortunate that the franchise had the poor judgment to give the internet even more ammunition on a team that is historically the lowest hanging fruit in all of sports.”
—Dan “Harrumph McBloviation” Treadway, Extra Mustard

I can see why it would be tempting to go a little crazy here. I don’t begrudge that. Do your NSFW photoshopping (most of which are very funny — I especially like the Jay Cutler one). Have your fun.

Then do this: shut up.

Seriously, I haven’t seen this much pointless hand-wringing since two Star Wars fans beat each other senseless with their plastic lightsabers over whether Han Solo shot first. You’re acting like the team just airlifted Wrigley Field to Schaumburg and put a neon pink dome over it.

Look, I know it’s easy to hate on things (especially the White Sox).

But this goes beyond simple spitballing. Instead, I’m seeing posts about how this is this is the beginning of the Disneyification of Wrigley Field and the end of the Cubs as we knew them. This is proof that the Cubpocalypse is upon us.

Just so I have it right, let me see what the arguments are:

• “The Cubs shouldn’t have a mascot! They’re above such trivialities! They’re the last vestige of innocence in a vapid world that’s indulged itself…”

My response: Bite me, George Will.

• “This is the sign of a tone-deaf marketing department trying to shove some focus-group tested tripe down our throats.”

My response: Ok, sorry, I’ll tell them next time to draw Mitch, the tattooed indie hipster Bear. He’ll ride to the game on his fixie from Logan Square, root for the Cubs, then make fun of you for not drinking craft beer.

• “Look at the eyes! They’re barely smiling! Clark has the unshakeable melancholy of the Cubs fan, knowing he’s destined for psyche-destroying heartbreak!”

My response: …

OK, you might have a point there.

But the bear’s eyes (look at what you’re making me do here!) aside, is this really a big deal?

Other teams can have mascots, but the Cubs can’t? The Red Sox — the team every Cubs fan would give at least one extremity to trade places with — have Wally, the Green Monster. “Oooooh, the Green Monster is a wall, and his name is Wally! Real clever, marketing department!” The Bulls have Benny the Bull — how clever is that? The team’s name is in his name! NOT CLEVER!

See what I mean? Who really cares? Is this really the sign that the team has truly gone over the line — a cartoon-y bear? This is the proof that the Cubs are now just another faceless team run by the MegaBusiness SoulCrusher Marketingtron 3000?

Here’s what irks me the most about this Clark kerfuffle now: The Cubs suffer under one of the most egregious double standards in all of sports.

The righteously outraged act like the Cubs are supposed to be some charity upholding all that is good and right and holy and pure in sports. “Ohhh, Wrigley Field is a timeless cathedral! It’s a shrine to a day when life was simple and chaste! Don’t change a thing, you money-grubbing Lucifers!”

Then when the owners try to join the 20th century, people run to their fainting couches or throw down their bag of Cheetos and sprint to their mother’s basement to take to the blogosphere*.

Here’s the thing about the last century: THE CUBS DIDN’T WIN. OK? I don’t give a FUCK about Clark the fucking Bear, or a fucking Clark Bar, or that fucker Will Clark. I want the Cubs to win, and they haven’t.

There is no halcyon past to harken back to here. The past is sepia-toned photos of Wrigley Field, Babe Ruth pointing to the bleachers… and the home team is an afterthought. The Cubs have a lineage filled with some college of coaches bullshit or barely-above-little-league players like Mick Kelleher or the anguish of 2003 or… I can go on. And on.

So don’t talk to me about this idyllic paradise of Wrigley Field, and this pristine image that the ownership is daring to tarnish. Here’s your team’s image, and I say this as a lifelong fan: It’s a bunch of losers.

That’s what I want the ownership to change, and I believe that’s what they are working to change. And that’s what you should get excited about. You should read about Javier Baez or Kris Bryant and break out into a slight sweat. You should feel a little tingly when you envision Albert Almora patrolling center field and Jorge Soler in right and C.J. Edwards and Kyle Hendricks taking the hill.

That’s what you should be doing instead of getting your panties in a bunch about a bear.

A BEAR.

Christ.

*I know, I know… I can’t help myself.