Call me old-fashioned, but I think that sports merchandising has finally jumped the shark, even if it was for a good cause. On Wednesday evening, the Philadelphia Phillies submitted the following post on their official Facebook page:
“The Phanatic and Mr. Met put aside their differences and Stand Up to Cancer.”
“About time. Things between those two were really getting out of hand,” said nobody at all.
Major League Baseball has a bit too much invested in fan loyalty on this one. For one thing, it’s really hard to celebrate the end of a war when you were never aware that there was any combat in the first place. As a lifelong Phillies fan, I have always known that the Mets are a main (and usually pathetic*) rival, but I never realized that the conflict extended to the mascots’ relationship. Who knows, you have an anthropomorphic baseball and a pot-bellied seahorse creature—who is to say that they are not mortal enemies? Perhaps each is the last of his species, the lone survivor after millennia of galactic warfare, and that is why the team rivalry exists in the first place, just to satiate the timeless bloodlust of two dying alien nations.
That is the kind of backstory we need. Instead we have nothing but a history of the two dancing on dugouts and falling over at comically inopportune moments. Not quite the kind of behavior that leaves a whole lot of room for political analysis.**
The bigger issue, however, is that their reconciliation supposedly has some impact on the global quest for a cure for cancer. You would almost think that their fighting has been the only thing holding us back. As if these are the medical messiahs we’ve been waiting for. All we ever needed to do was stick these two in a room together overnight with a blackboard and—PRESTO—magic would happen. We had the right technology all along, but it wasn’t until we taught two enemies the meaning of friendship that we were able to put it all together. Bravo!
But in the end, the feigned camaraderie of sweaty men in cartoon suits does offer a feeling of unity for a worthy aim. Besides, what else could these two provide for humanity? Advanced technology? Groundbreaking philosophical insight? Teams with decent records? No on all counts, but it could be worse. At least we’re not relying on the Miami Marlin, who’s likely living under a bridge and pooping in a cardboard box right now. And for that, we are thankful. God bless America, and God bless baseball.
**Unless you host a cable news talk show!*