Sports mascots and sports cards are similar: most are generally harmless, and some are so patently nutso and terrifying that you don't understand why anyone ever thought they were a good idea. These days, they both live within the periphery of sports, completely trivial but always there.
It makes sense, then, that sports cards and mascots would find one another.
Jamzy! Boy, check out this fella. Seems like a pretty "radical dude," what with the fingerless space gloves and the rockin' shades and what have you. I bet he's got one heck of a story! To the back of the card!
Oh! Uh ... oh! He lives in a bank. Well, not just a bank, but a bank skyscraper. For those who don't frequent the region, know that every town in or near Appalachia has a) a low-A baseball team, and b) a 14-story baby skyscraper named after a bank that is 11 stories taller than every other building in the city. They are all exactly the same. You can move from Lexington, Ky., to Roanoke, Va., and immediately know exactly where everything is, save, of course, for a good reason for being in either city to begin with.
OK, right, goofy baseball cards, sorry. Baseball card manufacturers like to "have a little fun" (a terribly dangerous phrase in this industry) once in a while, and historically they've indulged themselves by printing Famous Chicken cards with approximately 500 chicken puns on the back. From his 1983 Donruss card:
Oh man, guys. He's on fire. Keep it going! You got chickenpun momentum, son! TIME TO THROW DOWN THE HAMMER!
BOOM CHICKENS LOVE PIZza wait what
All right, all right. Nobody is looking to mascot sports cards for quality literature. They're just for fun, and they're completely harmless. Except, of course, when the mascots resemble demons from another world that are guaranteed to give you nightmares.
In this nightmare, you're in the laundry room of your childhood home, sitting on the washing machine. Your childhood friend walks in and you begin to reminisce on old times. Then your parents walk in, and then President Clinton. The small room is now crowded. There is no room for Grant Hill, so he stands outside and chats through the window.
Suddenly, you hear Ace of Base's "The Sign" emanating from the dryer. It's different. You can't understand the words. It's a slow, warbled melody. President Clinton opens the dryer to investigate, and a blue-sleeved arm grabs him by the necktie and pulls him in, to his own abject terror.
You look inside and see a monstrous, round-headed, round-eared creature. He screams. The satellites fall from orbit. The sky turns red, the nuclear arsenals detonate, and all of Mankind is consumed. A thousand years later, you witness only the image of him standing on a pile of rubble, motionless, until the end of time. You awake in a cold sweat.
You're on a long road trip with Ron Gant. "We're going to Montana," he says. "They're building a new Burger King, and you and I are going to have the best god-damned sandwich we've ever had." You ask whether you will each have a sandwich. "No," he says ruefully. "We will share one sandwich. I brought a butter knife, so we can cut it in half."
As you cross Iowa into Illinois (Montana is an island, near Maine), Gant suddenly unbuckles his seatbelt, crawls to the back seat of the car, and lies down to take a nap. "What are you doing?" you ask. "Oh, don't worry," he says. "I turned on cruise control. We don't have to worry." He falls asleep.
You look forward, and hundreds of miles into the horizon, you see an enormous baseball with a lipless face on it. It is smiling and unmoving, save for the frenetic darting of its browless eyes. The car is driving right toward it. It will not stop. The doors lock, and will not unlock. Gant begins to laugh. "I'd like to introduce you to a friend of mine." He laughs louder, for five hours, and the baseball looms larger and larger, until you fall into its mouth, and down through a bottomless void, never to die, and never to find the ground again.
You wake up. That morning, when you climb into your car, you stare at the cruise control knob on your Honda, and you freeze.
You're serving at the restaurant you worked at when you were 18. You are assigned an eight-top. You look at the food window. There are 17 plates of food. You look back at the table. It is now a 20-top. You look back at the window. There are dozens of plates of food pouring out of the window and crashing onto the floor. You look back at the table. It is a tower of 300 tables, stacked on top of one another. It grows larger with every second.
You look back at the window. Unhusked corn and uncooked rice and dead chickens cascade forth, and a voice from the kitchen screams at you to "get cooking." You turn back to the table. The manager hands you an entree orders you to scale the tower, which is now five miles into space, serve the entree, ask for drink orders, and then hurl yourself off the edge.
A voice shrieks behind you. "COULD YOU PLEASE TURN THE TELEVISION TO THE EXPOS GAME? WHERE IS THE EXPOS GAME?" Something isn't right. The Expos don't exist anymore. You turn and find a nameless creature, too strange and horrifying for words. "CAN I PAY FOR A MEAL WITH A CHECK?" He screams louder. "PARTY OF SIX, PLEASE. I'LL JUST HAVE ONE BUFFET PLATE AND SHARE WITH EVERYONE." His head explodes into fire.
You wake up screaming. That morning, you eat breakfast in the closet.
Click here to read more adventures in Sports Cards For Insane People.