Covering the U.S. Olympic team track and field trials for 11 days and experiencing the joys, agonies and unmatched drama of our swiftest and finest athletes attempting to earn trips to the London Games left me with goose bumps so large I was pulled aside twice for mandatory drug testing. It also triggered a superb idea for an equally thrilling and inspiring athletic competition in baseball:
The Mascot Olympics.
Yes, I'm serious.
Hear me out.
First off, I'm not talking about team mascots like the Philly Phanatic or the Swingin' Friar or Wally the Green Monster. Please. I mean, no offense, but let's be serious. Those furry, feathered and finned creatures are usually so obese and anatomically-challenged they can barely walk through the buffet line, let alone sprint in a race. And I'm sorry, he may be in decent shape but there is no way Mr. Met would pass his drug test.
No, I'm talking about the class of seasoned, competition-tested mascots that originated with Milwaukee's beloved Sausage Race. The sleek, swift Bratwurst, Polish Sausage, Italian Sausage, Hot Dog and Chorizo have thrilled Milwaukee fans for years. They are so popular you can get racing sausage bobblehead dolls, T-shirts, hats and lunch pails. They also have inspired imitators around the majors.
We now have racing pierogis in Pittsburgh (Cheese Chester, Sauerkraut Saul, Jalapeno Hannah and Oliver Onion), racing hot dogs in Cleveland (ketchup-, mustard- and onion-covered hot dogs), racing U.S. Presidents in D.C. (Washington, Jefferson, Lincoln and Teddy Roosevelt), racing Texas Legends in Arlington (Sam Houston, Jim Bowie, Davy Crockett and that other famous Alamo fighter, Nolan Ryan), the rather lame racing Diamondback "Legends" in Arizona (Randy Johnson, Luis Gonzalez, Matt Williams and Mark Grace, aka Racing Gracie, who always loses) plus others in Minnesota, Miami and Atlanta. And undoubtedly more to come.