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Cubs fans trying to grin and bear mascot

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The Chicago Cubs might have finally found the missing piece to their World Series puzzle.

You know, the postseason puzzle that is always a piece or two — or 10 — away from completion.

All this time, we thought it was the lack of good players, the abundance of inept management or even a goat that kept Chicago’s Northsiders from postseason success. We were wrong.

No, the Cubs could not win because they didn’t have a mascot.

Problem solved.

Meet Clark, the new mascot of Major League Baseball’s most frustrated, yet beloved, franchise.

Clark was introduced to fans this week, hopefully ending a futile century during which the primary form of comic relief at Wrigley Field was the players, not a mascot.

The kid-friendly cub bears a striking resemblance to Brother Bear of Berenstain Bears fame with a touch of Yogi Bear thrown in for the old-timers. He sports a backward Cubs cap that doesn’t quite cover his too-big ears and a wide grin that reveals his baby fangs.

As Cubs fans know, Clark takes his name from the street that runs by the third base side of Wrigley Field.

As the legend goes — er, as it was created in a news release — the new mascot is the great-grandson of the team’s original mascot from 1916, which happened to be a live bear kept in a cage outside the stadium. Insert your own Honey Boo Boo joke here.

The fact that management took a bold step in becoming the 27th MLB team with a mascot is to be commended. (The Angels, Dodgers and Yankees are mascot-less.)

The way they went about it, though, is most un-Cubs-like. Chicago conceived and created their new mascot. It would have been much more authentic if they, instead, signed an over-the-hill malcontent mascot from another team and gave him a multimillion-dollar long-term contract.

Chances are that this new hire is making much less.

The mascot’s duties will be off the field, not on it, primarily welcoming fans into the stadium and promoting the team in the community. The persona will be much more low-key than the Phillie Phanatic or others of the comedic persuasion.

“Fans won’t see the mascot on top of the dugout between innings or tossing T-shirts or hot dogs into the stands, and it won’t disrupt the game,” said a club news release that claimed the cub to be “unbearably cute.”

For a team that has seen attendance dwindle in recent years (down 5,000 a game in the past two years), a mascot is a small step in marketing the team.

“Still figryuing out how 2 tyype with these big pawz. Will gett lessons from @Cubs,” Clark typed in his first tweet not long after his introduction. (He already has more than 6,000 followers.)

Of course, Cubs fans love their tradition, even in losing. So it is not surprising that a new mascot was not welcomed by all.

Huggable Clark sports a Cubs jersey, but no pants, a fact seized upon by some disgruntled fans as a source of displeasure.

“With his arrival, Wrigley will now be known to Midwesterners less as a green cathedral than as a house of nightmares through which a freakish, perverted bear will chase you, forever,” Deadspin wrote.

The fact that Clark’s bottom is bare — or bear — is the least of worries. For a franchise that has spent the past century in World Series hibernation, just waking up fans to a new generation of Cubs baseball is a bear of a task.

Now that they have the mascot issue solved, Cubs management might want to turn their attention to the product on the field, which lost 96 times last season en route to the third-worst record in baseball and its 105th year without a title.

No cute cub mascot can hide that unbearable fact.

Bob Johnson is a correspondent for the Daily Journal. His columns appear Tuesdays and Fridays. Send comments to letters@dailyjournal.net.

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