As Jerry Seinfeld said, we root for clothes. We want the players in the uniforms we like to beat the guys in the other livery, and oftentimes the people inside the laundry become secondary.
But what if we changed the settings and it was the mascots themselves doing battle? Which team’s representative would survive this battle royale to claim the crown?
To provide the answer, we’ll use intradivision battles to pare down the number of finalists to six, and then we’ll throw then into the ring and see which one emerges victorious. There will be some assumptions made and noted along the way, because really, what is (for example) a Red?
American League East
In this showdown, it’s the real-world champion that gets knocked out first. Sorry, Boston, but how intimidating is a red sock? It puts up so little resistance here that a little oriole takes it apart thread by thread and uses it to build a nest.
Unfortunately for Baltimore, orioles are relatively small birds, and blue jays are mean, nasty creatures. Feathers would fly in the fight, but most of them would be brown and orange, as Toronto’s mascot takes down the representative from the Charm City.
Now we come to our first debates. One, how would a bird (blue jay) do battle with a sea creature (ray). Is Tampa Bay’s mascot that aquatic animal, or is it simply a bit of sunshine? And how to best represent a yankee? What qualities and fighting skills does it possess.
We’ll tackle the last question first, which makes the others much easier to resolve. How? I’m giving the yankee a musket. Is this fair? Well, there seems to be some decent justification for this decision, so I’m running with it. Assuming the musket-wielding New Yorker is a decent shot—and he’s a soldier, so I think that’s reasonable—he can take down the blue jay.
As for the matter of the ray? First, I’m going with the sea creature embodiment, because a ray of light for a mascot is just absurd. And while New York is a long way from the warm waters in which rays can be found, we’re bringing these combatants together in suitable environments for them to face off. It may be unpleasant to think about fish guts, but that’s what we wind up with as the yankee emerges as the AL East’s champion.
National League East
This division is just weird. What’s a Phillie? How about a Met? And a National? And then there are the ramifications of stepping into the political morass of how best to represent a Brave.
Here’s how we will deal with these issues. A Phillie is an average Philadelphia sports fan, one who roots hard for its teams, loves cheese steaks, and throws snowballs at Santa Claus. A Met is similar, though the food of choice for the New York rep is huge slices of thin pizza with slightly burnt crust, and the weapon of choice is profanities (at least toward Boston teams).
For Washington, we’ll draw upon the old Senators nickname and go with a politician. Which means we’ll all be happy to see the Phillie and Met pulverize him.
So now we’re down to two big-city tough guys and a young, male Native American warrior from the outskirts of Atlanta. I’m putting the three of them in a boat, and as they begin to tussle, out of the water springs a marlin from Miami, which runs them all through at once with his spear-shaped bill and moves on to the next round.
American League Central
Another piece of laundry here, a white sock made in Chicago that a royal family member residing for some odd reason in Kansas City slips onto his foot and wears around until he gets a hole in the toe, after which he throws it into the fireplace.
While on a stroll one day, this regal personage comes across what he wrongly refers to as an Indian. Fisticuffs ensue over this misrepresentation, and the Native American from a tribe in the Cleveland area dispatches with the offending eminence whilst humming a certain Lorde song.
Traversing the wilds of Minnesota, our previous victor finds himself face to face with a pair of near-identical behemoths from the north (picture two Jim Thomesside by side). The odds in their favor, the twins take possession of the crown they find in his satchel.
Suddenly and inexplicably transported to Detroit, these two brothers are thrown into a (brief) battle with a tiger. It’s ugly, and it’s brutal, but at least it’s quick, as the large feline becomes king of the AL Central jungle.
National League Central
That long-time rivalry between the Chicago and St. Louis? It’s not nearly so long here once the cub gets a paw on the cardinal.
And now we arrive at the confusion I mentioned up front: what’s a Red? Let’s go with the Mr. Redlegs caricature used for so long by the team. As a mustachioed fellow originally from the 1800s, I assume he can handle his liquor pretty well. But when you encounter a man whose business is brewing beer, you’ve come upon some stiff competition.
With a barrel of beer in front of them, these two fellows engage in several drinking games. Eventually, all of this imbibing gets the better of the gentleman from the Queen City, and when he passes out, the Milwaukee native finishes him off.
However, into the bar saunters a certain pirate, who has sailed down the Ohio River from Pittsburgh in search of this duo. Not bothering to challenge the brewer to any drinking games, our buccaneer simply runs him through with his sword.
I’m not going to detail what happened to our furry little cub. Suffice it to say, the pirate moves on.
American League West
Is an Astro an astronaut? A cartoon dog from The Jetsons? Given Houston’s extra-orbital ties, I’ll go with the former. Unfortunately for this space traveler, upon splashdown off the coast of Seattle on a return from a lunar voyage, the waters surge over him and his pod as a mariner, looking a lot like this guy, takes him down to his watery grave.
Seeking justice, an angel straight from Orange County dives beneath the ocean’s surface and teaches the mariner about an eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth.
However, it turns out this is a fallen angel, and his corrupt nature is his weakness. While seeking souls in Texas, he targets a ranger, figuring he can turn a tidy eternal profit by flipping this lawman to the dark side. However, at the moment our Texan has his grandfather from Georgia visiting, and a brief musical showdown sends the angel packing.
These two Southerners are sitting down to a couple of glasses of sweet tea when an albino elephant on transport from a California zoo suddenly storms into the room and shows off his athleticism and strength by teaching the cowboy that a six-shooter isn’t nearly as effective as an elephant gun. And with that, our Oakland representative reaches the next round.
National League West
It turns out our jovial friar from the heavenly San Diego beaches is no shaolin monk. A shifty trolley dodger from Los Angeles—which of course has no trolleys—shows him his quick feet and hands, polishing off the padre despite his misgivings about fighting a man of the cloth.
His actions are quickly accounted for, as a diamondback snake slithers in from the Arizona desert and delivers a deadly strike. There’s not nearly enough venom to slay a giant, and this San Franciscan colossus delivers what is literally a crushing blow to his serpentine foe.
A bunch of mountains? Really?!?!? (Maybe I should have thought this whole idea through before starting.) Wait, what’s this??? The Russian judge is declaring the representative from the state of Colorado ineligible to compete!
Wow, what a stunning development. Otherwise we may have had to wait for centuries while the giant and his progeny slowly and methodically dismantled those mountains. Instead, our extra-sized human advances to the next round.
To recap, our final six contestants are:
- a musket-toting yankee - a marlin - a tiger - a pirate - an athletic elephant - a giant
We’ll throw the pirate and marlin against each other first, and the swashbuckler uses his cutlass to turn the marlin into a massive pile of sushi. (Mmm, sushi!)
Next into the ring is the giant. Despite his massive advantage in size, everyone knows a pirate can beat a giant, and that’s what happens here.
Something a pirate has more difficulty against, however, is a steel ball hurtling toward him at hundreds of miles per hour. And with that version of the shot heard ’round the world, the land-lovin’ yankee dispatches the scurvy seafaring dog.
The pale pachyderm charges into the ring next, and as the Texas lawman could have shared (were he still alive), tiny bullets don’t do much again a massive, thick-skinned beast. One well-placed stomp, and the fight is finished.
And now we have our final two, an elephant and a tiger. The big cat is outsized, but he has quickness, razor sharp claws and teeth, and an innate hunting instinct working to his advantage. It will take time and patience, but the bengal eventually will wear down and conquer his titanic prey.
And with that, the tiger claims the crown as the toughest mascot in baseball.