ALCS Preview: Like Their Teams, Royals', Orioles' Mascots Desperately Seeking Redemption
Rick Chandler 11:15 am, October 09th, 2014
The year was 2009, and the Kansas City Royals were once again mired in mediocrity in the American League Central -- they would lose 97 games that season, finishing 21 1/2 games out. But then, as if a gift to sportswriters everywhere, the team's mascot hit a fan in the eye with a hot dog launched from a hot dog cannon.
The meaty projectile, fired by their lion mascot, Sluggerrr, struck one John Coomer -- the man later suing the Royals, claiming that the mishap caused him to suffer a detached retina. The case went all the way to the Missouri Supreme Court, which ruled in favor of Coomer, maintaining that a fan does not assume inherent risk when struck by a hot dog at a Major League Baseball game.
Sadly, next to their 1985 World Series title, which included the infamous Don Denkinger safe call at first against the Cardinals, the Royals are best known for Sluggerrr's errant weiner launch.
But the Orioles would soon endure a mascot controversy of their own. In 2012 the team dropped the realistic Oriole bird logo on their hats and went back to the cartoon bird, which had not been used since 1989. The team had not won an AL pennant in that 24-year stretch with the classic bird, and if they do so now, well, would that not be a feather in the cartoon bird's cap?
The Royals, meanwhile, have not been to the postseason in 29 years -- which had been the longest stretch between playoff appearances in all four major U.S. sports. Sluggerrr would like his court case to stop being the most noteworthy thing to happen to the franchise in the past 29 years.
Of course no one in their right mind predicted this: The Royals emerging from the Wild Card game and then swept the highly-touted Angels, winning three extra-inning games so far ... the Orioles destroyed the favored Tigers, outscoring them 21-10, in the ALDS. Who will start on the mound for KC in Game 1? May I introduce to you, the one and only James Shields, who will be making his third playoff start. Baltimore will counter with Chris Tillman, who went 6-1 in Aug. and Sept.