Monday, February 15, 2010

When the competition is two foods and a fraud, Mets can race to the front with felines

We’re hearing all kinds of rumors – mostly from reading Metsblog– that the Mets are planning to add some kind of race to add to the in-game excitement.

Sadly, our team no longer employs Steve Trachsel, because we could have enjoyed races between pitches, rather than between innings. Marathons, even. At least a 5K.

Granted, a competition between costumed racers is not the most original idea out there. But anyone looking at our ballpark knows that originality isn’t exactly the Mets’ forte. Heck, if anything, we’ve made swiping from other teams an art form.

The Brewers, of course, have the racing sausages. Brett Wurst the bratwurst, Stosh the Polish sausage, Guido the Italian sausage and Cinco the sombrero-wearing chorizo, when not offending entire ethnic groups by their stereotypical outfits and names, battle Frankie Furter.

That would be a giant hot dog and not the Tim Curry character from the Rocky Horror Picture Show, who would be so much more entertaining.
Sadly, going "El Kabong" on Guido was the defining moment of Randall Simon's career.

Randall Simon of the Pirates tried to make the race entertaining without resorting to singing “Sweet Transvestite” by whacking Guido with a bat, well, tapping him actually. But you have to stick with the stereotype. The stricken sausage fell to the ground, taking the leather and fishnet stocking-less Frankie with him.

The Pirates, no doubt in an effort to rehabilitate Simon, created their own Great Pierogi Race, featuring Jalapeño Hannah, Cheese Chester, Sauerkraut Saul and Oliver Onion.

I’ve witnessed both of these races, and they are indeed fun.

Then there is the gross miscarriage of justice that is the Washington Nationals’ racing presidents.

Anything that combines my twin passions of presidents and baseball would be glorious, one would think. And when you add that the competitors are the quartet from Mt, Rushmore – with Long Island’s own Theodore Roosevelt -- well, you’re looking at Hall of Fame worthy ballpark tradition up there with watching batting practice, singing “Take Me Out to the Ballgame” and paying $4 for a Diet Coke in a plastic collectible cup.

But, no. As they most always do unless they are playing the Mets in a crucial September game, the Nationals fail miserably.

You see, the team has made our hero the butt of jokes. President Roosevelt is famous for never once winning a race. There’s even a Web site called "Let Teddy Win"

Friends, is there any doubt that the Rough Rider would be dee-lighted to kick the butts of all three of those other commanders-in-chief? In real life, there would be a Web site called, “Theodore (no one called him ‘Teddy’) Let Someone Else Win Once in a While.”

So this is the competition the Mets face. Two foods and a fraud. The Amazin’s can do so much better.

I asked my loving family for suggestions. Wise guy son suggested various wounded Mets on crutches and in casts, but I insisted we’ve turned the page from last year.

They also offered vice presidents – since we’re stealing shamelessly anyway – and zombies, because, well, teen-agers love them.

We also suggested various superheroes who call New York home, like Batman and Spider-Man. But then you have issues with licensing rights and sidekicks, and before long you have the Wonder Twins and Wendy and Marvin tagging along for no good reason.

They also suggested various New York-based rock stars. As much as I’d like to see Twisted Sister, Kiss and Billy Joel taking turns embarrassing Neil Diamond, I’m not sure it would work. “Heart Light” only proved that Neil might not be capable of being shamed.

I went right for my New York icons, which I cling to dearly, decorating my living room and desk area at work with their images. Co-workers need to be reminded daily that one of us is from New York and it is not them.

We could have Lady Liberty racing the Empire State Building, a Big Apple, the Unisphere and, dare I be so bold, a giant poppy seed bagel!

Alas, this was dismissed at the dinner table as being too clichéd.

Then my wife had a fantastic thought, inspired, perhaps by Tug, the family pet.

Racing cats, she suggested. Brilliant!

Cats have a long history with the Mets.

Remember the black cat that ran out in front of the Cubs dugout in 1969, placing the dreaded "Fading in September Curse" upon them?

Remember the cat that made quite a stir during Citi Field’s nationally televised debut? It appeared on the field out nowhere, jumping on the screen behind home plate. He would have scared the heck out of Gov. Patterson had Patterson been able to see him!
This kitty was the only life form to step onto the Citi Field turf and not end up on the disabled list.

Remember, the beloved Shea Stadium was legendary for being the home to dozens of otherwise homeless cats.

The way I see it, we could have giant mascot cats, each named after a beloved Mets player of the past. You’d have Mookie running against Choo-Choo, Casey, Rusty, Tug and Benny Agbayani. (Hey, I wanted someone from each era). They’d each be wearing a jersey with the name and number on the back.

And they’re cats! You can’t herd them. They’ll run all over the ballpark every which way. It’s all part of the fun. Then a mouse dressed like Derek Jeter can appear near the finish line and the now-focused kitties can pounce on him like hard rain.

It’s marketing gold, I tell you! Think of all the merchandising opportunities. And it would show that the Wilpons know something about team history, which would be nice.

So Brewers and Pirates, keep your mobile concession ads. Nationals, continue to insult one of our finest heroes. We’ll have a borrowed idea of a promotion with a hometown twist and a nod to our traditions and history.

At least it is better than the animated taxi race on the scoreboard.

My family is standing by for any other consulting needs the Mets might have.


Anonymous said...

Dave, with all due respect, Honest Abe and General George would have Tedd, er ... THEODORE pantsed before he got halfway to the finish line. TJ would be too busy creating a country out of thin air to care.

Now on to more important topics.

The Columbus Clippers started a hot dog race years ago, where interns would dress up in really cheesy foamy hot dogs, with velcro "ties" of red, yellow and green (think: ketchup, mustard and relish). The race would start on the video screen through the streets of Columbus until the dogs made it to Cooper Stadium. At that point, the real dogs would take over, running out of the visitors' clubhouse area and down the third-base line to home plate.

The crew in 2004 was, in a word, inspired. They did all sorts of nutty stuff. Three faves:

1.) On wrestling night, when the Clips had really low-level pro grapplers come in after the game, the two losing dogs took their defeat, shall we say, a little poorly. The winner might have received a chair to the back and then a double flying elbow pile on. by the less-than-sporting losers.

2.) The Clippers at the time had some promo babes who threw T-shirts and stuff into the crowd between innings. Once two of the dogs came out way ahead of the third when, all of a sudden, the babes appeared on the visitors dugout. Naturally, the two slowed and tried to pick up said babes by engaging in a pose down. Meanwhile, the hapless last place dog raced by to trip the tape -- and steal the babes -- much to the dismay of the other two dogs.

3.) Same basic scenario: two way in front, the third one hopelessly behind when the third one pulls out a cellphone. Phone rings. Hot dog in the lead stops and whips out his cellphone. Second dog stops to see who's calling. Third dog races by to the finish line, again to much dismay by the duped dogs.

Good stuff.


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Tom said...

Hilarious. I want Cats!

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