(But we’ll totally be there for the Chris Farley bobbleheads.)
Having won their sixth straight game Sunday night, the Madison Mallards are on a hot streak right now. Back in May though, the team’s season got off to an early (and embarrassing) start off the field when the front office found themselves having to back-pedal their way out of some social media hot water when an insanely over-loaded and wildly under-paid internship went viral. To add insult to injury, the team’s usual grand slam lineup of ingenious promotions designed to entice the otherwise baseball averse into the stadium is looking more than a little strained this year compared to previous seasons. They axed both Hot Sauce Appreciation Night AND Bacon Appreciation Night, the latter of which was a personal highlight of the past few years. That means the whole season is all but a washout for this fan of willfully regrettable culinary decisions, unless you dare try the Mallards’ new fried bull testicle snack.
Let’s lead off with some of the highlights, which peak with a Chris Farley bobblehead that will be handed out later this week at the Friday, June 10 game against the Wisconsin Rapids Rafters. We here at Tone Madison are justifiably big fans of the hometown comedy hero, and this is admittedly a perfectly affectionate way to celebrate the SNL legend. I can’t help but think he would’ve been happy with how ridiculous an homage this is had he lived past the age of 33. It’s a little morbid, but in the fun way, if such a thing is possible. That evening’s “Chris Farley best dressed costume contest” is all but guaranteed entertainment gangbusters, if only for the shreds of “fat guy in a little coat” jackets that will no doubt litter the field afterwards. In a perfect world, the winner will be whoever shows up repping Jimmy No-Nose from Dirty Work, but I find myself already lowering my expectations.
The following Friday, June 17, the Mallards take on the Battle Creek Bombers and the main entertainment will be “Whiplash the Dog Riding Cowboy Monkey.” Do I need to write anything else here? It’s a monkey dressed up like a cowboy that’s riding a dog. What’s not to love about this? I can’t help but wonder if LSM Chiropractic, which sponsors a tumbler giveaway later in the season, was offered this night as a tie in with “Whiplash” (for obvious reasons) and passed. You left money on the table, LSM! Dog riding dressed up monkey money! On second thought, maybe LSM Chiropractic knew what they were doing after all by dropping that tumbler giveaway on Wrestling Night, Friday, July 8, which boasts an appearance by WWE’s legendary hall of famer Million Dollar Man Ted DiBiase, one of whose signature moves was called The Backbreaker! Excellent work there on your #BrandSynergy, LSM Chiropractic! [insert triple clap emoji]
That’s kinda it for the really good stuff this year, to be honest: a Chris Farley bobblehead, a monkey riding a dog, and the good goddamn Million Dollar Man. There is of course the usual gang of middle-of-the-road carnival performers peddling their shananiganneries. This includes Juggling Josh Horton (Thursday, June 9) to Human Cannonball (Thursday, June 23, which is also “George Foreman Grill Night,” FYI) on up to a half-dozen nights featuring post-game fireworks. If you’ve been to a random Mallards game in the past, you’ve probably seen these before, but if not... enjoy! In the event that themed jerseys are your thing, this year the getups range from the presumably generic “patriotic” (Saturday, June 18) to the pop-cultural, with both “Star Wars” (Thursday, July 21) and “Harry Potter” (Sunday, July 31) getting the three-quarter-sleeve-button-down treatment. The game-used team gear will be auctioned off afterwards for good causes, so dig deep if you wanna rep a crisp look and a clean conscience out at the Vitense batting cages this summer.
The non-Farley bobbleheads range from the inexplicable TV tie in “Balking Dead” zombiefied Maynard (Thursday, June 30) to the “Madison State Capitol” Maynard (Thursday, June 16), which manages to ride the line between being either phallic or mammarian in its immediate reference points, or maybe I just have a dirty mind. Four years back fans were offered the opportunity to choose between bobbles of either Obama or Romney but this year, presumably thanks to the painfully protracted nomination process, we get donkey / elephant versions because what the world needs now is for something as agreeable as “our national pastime” to be divided along party lines. Full disclosure: If there was a Trump bobble up for grabs, I’d make that leap in a heartbeat with zero regrets (I was the only member of our party last time around who grabbed the Romney bobble, for archiving purposes naturally). Have they made a Green Man bobble yet? They should!
OK, so now let’s talk about the one promo this year that I think crosses the line from good clean fun into the realm of mildly offensive. Am I talking about the “baseball themed soccer ball” giveaway? Sadly, I am not (Mating a baseball with a soccer ball? Who are you to claim the powers of the gods?). Nah, we’re talking about the “80’s Night” theme lined up which will apparently feature a tribute to Prince (Wednesday, June 29). I have better things to do than spend my time policing the ways people choose to publicly mourn celebrities, so if you say that you’re making a point to pay respects to The Purple One over two months after he passed away from an overdose of painkillers then yeah, I’m seeing a couple of red flags pop up, but I’m ready to assume you have the best of intentions... that is, right up until I see that it’s paired with the “Mullet Night” promo (“Get $1 off a hot dog for every inch of your authentic mullet. Do the math and we’ll pay you to eat a hot dog!”), at which point it’s officially in bad taste, so far as I can see. You can just have an 80s night, guys. There’s no need to use Prince to prop up the attendance numbers at this point.
The Mallards are consistently one of the most electrifying teams in the Northwoods League, so no matter how silly (or occasionally off-putting) these promos are, catching a game is generally guaranteed to be a good and relatively inexpensive time. That said, the usually wonderful promos are a bit threadbare this time around, in my opinion. Bring back Bacon Night!
Correction: This article initially misstated the Mallards' record so far this season. They are currently 6-0.