What do President's Choice brand water, an apple, and the Stephen Hawking's A Brief History of Time have in common? Nothing. The answer is nothing. Good lord why would those things have any commonalities between them? I just kind of named three things that are sitting on my desk right now because I couldn't think of three things that shared no relation, and when you Google "three things that have no relation" all you get is dating tips. Or maybe all I get is dating tips, because that's what Google senses that I need. Question though--said apple has been sitting here for about three weeks...do you think it's still OK to eat? It feels normal to the touch and nothing is crawling on it, so that's probably a good thing.
Let's try again! What do sausages, pierogies, former Presidents of the United States of America, and sea creatures have in common? You were maybe going to guess food after the first two items listed, but former Presidents of the United States are certainly not edible, so there goes that.
The answer is that they are all featured characters in mascot races around Major League Baseball!
Mascots have been a large part of sport for a very long time. They provide entertainment for fans of all ages - not just kids. Heck, when the team is losing 14-5 to the Dodgers on a Monday night in the midst of a hugely disappointing season, the mascot might just be all that is keeping the fans interested at times.
There are many races throughout the major and minor leagues. I'll point out some highlights as not to bore you. Most of this info is taken off of team websites.
Sausage Race - Milwaukee
Bratwurst, Polish Sausage, Italian Sausage, Hot Dog, and Chorizo began as a video board race some time in the early 90s, then actually raced in the stadium starting in 2000. They start on the dirt by the seats at third base, and race around home to first.
The Brewers have done nicely to promote this and extend the ‘Sausage Race' product, as there is now a "‘5K Famous Sausage Race" and you can even book appearances for up to one hour for the sausages at a rate of $50 for non-profit and $100 for profit events.
Presidents Race - Washington
Large-headed mascots depicting George Washington (George), Thomas Jefferson (Tom), Abraham Lincoln (Abe), Theodore Roosevelt (Teddy), and newly added William Howard Taft (Bill) race from right-centre field along the warning track towards first base.
In 2008, two years after the race inauguration, Teddy had yet to win, prompting a ‘Let Teddy Win' fan campaign. Some causes for Teddy not winning included:
- Teddy running off-course across the outfield after being distracted by members of the opposing team;
- Teddy being tripped towards the finish line by a variety of costumed characters;
- Teddy being tripped right in front of the line by the rival Baltimore Orioles mascot;
- Teddy being disqualified for riding a motor scooter;
- Teddy running in to a wall despite being in the lead and eventually losing; and
- Teddy being beaten up by the four pierogies who race in Pittsburgh.
Teddy would eventually win towards the end of the 2012 season.
You can also book the Presidents for your own events, although price is not displayed on the website.
Wing, Cheese, Celery Race
Similarly in Buffalo, the ‘Wing, Cheese, Celery Race' occurs, pitting Chicken Wing, Atomic Wing, Bleu Cheese, and Celery against one another in a race for Buffalo stardom. Celery, like early Teddy, never wins, prompting public outcry.
Tuesday night update from Josh Gold-Smith:
Ozarka Dot Race - Texas
One of a few sponsored races, three "dot" would race from left field to first base, while literally beating the crap out of each other. Fans were given a red, green, or blue coupon, and whichever coloured dot won, fans with that coupon could redeem for free Ozarka water in store.
This race no longer exists, either due to the fact that the people running in dot costumes broke too many bones, or that Ozarka got tired of handing out free water.
D-Backs Legends Race - Arizona
Again large-headed, these mascots depicting Diamondbacks legends run from right field to the batters box along the first base line. Randy Johnson, Matt Williams, Luis Gonzalez, and Mark Grace race so that they can be freed the curse that depicts them as large-headed mascots, doomed to race for tens of thousands of slightly drunk, slightly obese Arizona fans. They just want to return to normal life where they don't have to use an entire bottle shampoo when they want to wash their hair. Especially Randy Johnson.
There are man more races across MLB, including the Great Sea Race in Miami, the Tool Race in Atlanta, and the Reds Race in Cincinnati, but there most certainly is not one in Toronto.
The closest we get to a mascot race here is the animated video of a Streetcar, Taxi, and I believe the mascot(?) Ace racing through Toronto, among other similarly-styled videos. Why can't we have a real race though?
Yes, we do have a sort of live-entertainment with the "world's fastest grounds crew" bit in the middle of the fifth, but here are some potential ideas for races involving mascots here in Toronto. Let's go with right field to first base as the route.
Similar to Arizona, Blue Jays legends from the Level of Excellence, mascots depicting Joe Carter, Roberto Alomar, Tony Fernandez, and Dave Stieb race. Joe Carter wins once.
Everyone loves the TTC! Characters displaying a likeness to a streetcar, subway, bus, and LRT race, and no one can tell streetcars and LRT apart. None of the characters ever win. This would be a good way to win the subway/LRT battle once and for all, though.
Honda and the Blue Jays are already partners for many events, both in game and outside of home games. Honda Super Camps, Instructional Clinics, and the Baseball Academy all exist to instruct adults and youth alike. Honda also sponsors opening night, holds a contest to fly two people to opening night, and even gives away a lawnmower (!) to a fan as part of an in game promotion.
I propose a race between mascots depicting a car, motorcycle, ATV, and Jet Ski, and Honda can still give away that lawnmower to a fan post-race if they so choose.
Toronto is well known for being multicultural, and nothing represents culture like food. A race between a gyro, penne pasta, spring roll, plantain, and pierogy would be rather hilarious, and the Jays could even sell those items at concession stands. Some sort of discount on the winning food item, perhaps?
Toronto has plenty to see, and plenty of fans from outside of the city come to game looking for things to do while here. Why not showcase what our city has to offer with a race between characters Eggplant Sandwich (St Lawrence Market), Directional Sign (Eaton Centre), CN Tower (CN Tower), Elephant (Zoo), and Roller Coaster (Wonderland). It's either roller coaster or pile of vomit, still undecided on that one.
Definitely the less kid-friendly version, but Toronto has plenty of locally brewed beers, and many are quite good. Mascot beer bottles of Mill Street, Steam Whistle, Amsterdam, and of course our good friends at Left Field Brewery race for your love and drunken affection.
This is the one I would actually like to see. Forget the others. This is the one. Drunken Rob Ford (Drunky), Cracked out Rob Ford (Cracky), Sober Rob Ford (Bobby), and Doug Ford (Douggy) all race. Bobby always wins when Douggy pushed Drunky and Cracky over and makes sure they don't make it to the finish line. The costumes follow the style of the small, round Raptors mascot who eats cheerleaders.
So what do you think? There is a poll below, please vote for the race you would most like to see!