So last night, at the Durham Bulls' home opener, something really unpleasant happened - and no, I'm not talking about Tim Beckham's two-strike approach.
The Bulls have a mascot, the punishingly named Wool E. Bull, and he does the mascot thing you'd expect. He goes through the stands, he poses for pictures with kids, and in between innings he runs around on the field doing various things to keep the kiddies entertained. Whoever he is, he's good at it, and God bless him for it - I would NOT want to be the guy in a furry suit trying to do pratfalls in public in a North Carolina summer.
One of the regular Wool E. Bull routines involves racing a little kid from the stands around the bases. The kid always wins, of course, but it's fun and it's no doubt a thrill for the kid, and all that good stuff. Last night, as Wool E. came around third, one of the Gwinnett Braves players came out of the dugout and clotheslined him.
It's obvious the guy in the mascot outfit never saw it. I mean, going even half-tilt inside a giant bull head mask, your peripheral vision's going to be crap. And when this kid stuck his arm out, bam, Wool E. ran right into it and went down, hard.
It didn't look staged. It didn't look funny. The guy in the mascot suit fell down twice on his way off the field. To his credit, he was still playing to the crowd, but still. And the schmuck who hit him? Laughing as he went back to the dugout. From where I was sitting, it looked like a much harder hit than the one Randall Simon put on one of the racing sausages in Milwaukee back in the day.
Look, I can understand the near-insane desire to screw with people in funny costumes. I have vague memories of being the sort of 20-something kid who would find that particular audition for Death to Smoochy to be absolutely hysterical.
But come on. How much of a douchebag do you have to be to try to hurt someone whose job it is to entertain kids? Here's hoping the idiot who did it gets suspended a game or two. Failing that, here's hoping he runs into an angry bull in a dark alley.