Sunday, July 16, 2006

Mascot Envy

I’m back from the field trip and despite some mental and physcial trauma I think I will survive. It was actually quite a lot of fun and I definitely got to see some wonderful places, people and landscapes that were well off the tourist track. I could have done without riding in a van with 15 other people, lots of closeness and sweat is not always fun, but now that the adventure is over the romanticizing and nostalgia kick in and begin to soften the hard edges of the trip. Before I recap the trip, which will likely take a few days, I have to relate the story of the Oaxacan baseball team mascot.

One of my classmates and I (we were the only two who didn’t get dropped off at the beach) attended a baseball game last night to pass some time. Over a few beers we discussed our joy at having chosen to return to Oaxaca rather than stay and sweat at the beach. Incidentally, we are the oldest two members of the group so age and feelings of bliss generated by freedom from van travel with youngsters and silence in general might be related….who knows. Anyway, during the game they play little snippets of songs to motivate the crowd and the players, or at least I assume that is what they are doing, much like they do at sporting events in the U.S. The songs are sometimes in Spanish and sometimes from the States and generally seem to have very little to do with whomever is up to bat or the status of the game in general. For example, the Maroon 5 song, This Love, is always played when a particular batter heads to the plate. If you know this song you will realize that the combination of this love song and batting don’t quite mesh. This is the chorus…

This love has taken its toll on me
She said Goodbye too many times before
And her heart is breaking in front of me
I have no choice cause I won't say goodbye anymore

You can see why we might be perplexed at this particular choice of songs.

As we were sitting watching the game the Backstreet Boys suddenly come through the loudspeaker (don’t ask me how I know this) and I turn to my friend and say, “Isn’t this the Backstreet Boys?”. She didn’t really know, or didn’t want to admit to knowing, but pointed at the team mascot and said, “look at this!”.

The Oaxacan Guerreros mascot is named Tato and appears to be some sort of large bird with an eye mask on (like Robin of Batman fame) and bright, fluffy, yellow, afro-like hair. I’m not sure what a bird has to do with a team whose name essentially means warriors but I have ceased to question these type of inconsistencies in the world of sports. After all, we have teams like Stanford who are called the Cardinal and whose mascot is a tree which doesn’t make much sense to me either.

So I look over at Tato, dancing around on the field (it was between innings which is probably a period of time with a proper name but I don’t know what it is) and he is alternately shaking his butt at the crowd and gyrating his hips. These actions coupled with the Backstreet Boys was funny enough but all of the sudden he starts to yank on these red shorts he is wearing. Turns out the shorts have velcro on the side (or perhaps it was snaps) and he is doing some sort of striptease for the crowd! Unfortunately some of the velcro was a bit too secure and wouldn’t release, so while most of the shorts ripped away to reveal cow patterned undies, the shorts were wrapped around one ankle/foot/bird equivalent appendage and Tato was vigorously kicking his foot in the air and yanking at the shorts in an attempt to get them off this leg. Finally he decides to just leave the shorts bunched around his ankle and continue the routine. How do you top velcro rip-away stripper pants on a team mascot? Well, Tato turns his back to the crowd, bends over slightly pushing his cow pattern clad butt out and starts smacking his own ass! Smacking his own ass! It was hilarious! After several smacks he picks up the red stripper shorts (which finally managed to disentangle themselves from Tato’s foot) and runs off the field to cheers and hearty applause.

Now this incident alone was funny enough to write about but it gets better! The Guerreritas, sub-par cheerleaders (yes cheerleaders) for the team who are horrible at cheerleading but good at getting whistles from the men in the crowd, take the field and start dancing. Tato prances out of the dugout area wearing a black half-top with giant fake boobs underneath. Not only does he have fake boobs but he is also sporting some sort of pink headband with a bow in front and holding pink pom poms in each hand. He jogs/prances around the Guerreritas waving his pom poms in a very feminine manner (or his interpretation of a feminine manner) and then starts swatting the Guerreritas on the ass with the pom poms! The crowd of course loves it, cheers wildly and whistles as Tato exits the field. I keep wishing our sports mascots were as much fun.

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