Friday, March 20, 2015

On Yard Goats And Crappy Cabernets


Now this is a badass mascot-worthy goat. That's a goddamn mountain he's jumping off.


So there's now a minor league team called, and I quote, "The Hartford Yard Goats". Leaving aside any opinions one might or might not have about Hartford and why it's a travesty they didn't name the team "The Whalers", it is, to be blunt, ridiculous. As mascots go, a "yard goat" - literally, a goat that someone keeps in their backyard - is about as inspiring as calling your team "The Shrubs" or "The Goddamn Opossums That Keep Getting Into My Garbage Cans" or "The Crabgrass". It's not the sort of mascot you rally around, it's not exciting, and it's not traditional, and even as we speak a zillion baseball bluehairs are frothing over how the Yard Goats (who had the perfectly good name of Rock Cats until earlier this week) are a disgrace to our proud baseball history of Lugnuts and Sand Gnats and Isotopes

To which I say, you're missing the point. The reason we now have Yard Goats, and Muckdogs and Iron Pigs and all the other ridiculous names for minor league baseball teams is simple, and it's the same reason you're seeing an explosion of things like wines with stupid names and worse logos, or beers with convoluted cutesy names and labels. They're pitching to an uninformed consumer who doesn't know the product but might latch onto a cool/cute image, and will make purchasing decisions - whether we're talking a six pack of tickets or a six pack of beers - based on identification with and affection for that image. Nobody who looks at a bottle of red based on the fact that it's from Flaming Nazgul Biker Vineyards knows boo about wine; they know that they like the name and the picture of a Ringwraith on a Harley that's on the label, and they're pretty sure that to them it's going to taste exactly the same as every other bottle of cab in the $12-$15 range. And in the meantime, that biker Nazgul is going to be a nice ha-ha-ain't-that-wacky conversation starter when the bottle's propped up on the counter. 

Now, transfer that same logic to Scranton/Wilkes-Barre RailRiders gear, which features - against all logic - a raging, angular porcupine, and you'll see the congruence. Maybe you're not the biggest baseball fan in the world, but hey, a hat with that thing on it would be kind of cool. And if you've got the hat, you might as well catch a game, and...

And there you go.

So bring on the (El Paso) Chihuahuas and the (Akron) Rubber Ducks. Give us (Richmond) Flying Squirrels and (Montgomery) Biscuits and (Brevard County) Manatees. They don't change the game on the field one bit, no matter how goofy the logo is. And if they get someone to care a little less about the biker Nazgul on the label and actually think a little bit about what's inside, well then, it's a win for everybody.

Except maybe Sauron, and the hell with that guy. His cabernet sauvignon sucks anyway.

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