|Stinger in training|
Yuma Sun reporter Edward Carifio became Stinger, the mascot for the Yuma Scorpions, for a day. Movement in the padded costume is limited, so training is a must. Video by Jared Dort, Edward Carifio, and Janet Chasse
So how many layers are there to a mascot's costume? Lots! Yuma Sun reporter Edward Carifio learns just how many when he becomes Stinger for a day at a recent Yuma Scorpions game. Video by Jared Dort, Edward Carifio, and Janet Chasse
|Stinger for a day|
Yuma Sun reporter Edward Carifio had the opportunity to become the Yuma Scorpions' mascot, Stinger, at a recent game. Here he shares his triumphs and shames as Yuma's most lovable dancing bug. Video by Jared Dort, Edward Carifio, and Janet Chasse
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The stinky joy and joyful stink of being Stinger
The unimaginable smell rose up from under my shirt, forming a wall as it escaped from underneath and nearly knocked over the poor sap who was helping me adjust it.
Of course, I was in a foam rubber costume of a bullfrog with a tail attached (thus making it a scorpion) and that poor sap was photographer Jared Dort, who was helping me hook up my three layers of shirts to incredibly baggy suspenders, which came loose when I tumbled on the infield to lose the mascot race.
That's right ladies and gentleman, you're humble columnist got to don the Stinger outfit last week at a Yuma Scorpions game, taking over the role from (spoiler alert!) a couple of teenagers.
Jared and I headed out on a beautiful Tuesday evening to undertake this multimedia endeavor. Speaking of which, be sure to check out YumaSun.com for video and a slideshow and page A2 for even more awesome photos. End cross-promotion.
What started as a lark quickly turned into something headed for disaster, before I remembered the sage advice of the professional Stingers saved the day.
Here is the story of that day.
'It's way funner than actual life'
At about 5:30 p.m., an excited Jared and myself arrived at the clubhouse at Desert Sun Stadium. The Scorpions are taking on the Calgary Vipers after losing 12-5 the night before.
We get to the clubhouse and immediately are given into the care of clubbies Oscar Alvarez and Dylan Casiano, both of who are entering their senior years at Cibola and both of whom trade off being Stinger. They run through some basics - always dance, have fun, try to mess with drunk Marines because it's hilarious. Then came the best advice.
"No one can blame you for anything you do" Casiano said. "It's way funner than actual life."
So I put on the costume, squeeze my size 13W feet into the size 11 shoes that come with the costume, and work with Jared on some pregame "training" footage.
Of course, that was the plan. But as the shoes foreshadowed, this was not a costume made for a 6-foot-2, let's say 220-pound man. Neither Alvarez nor Casiano are that bulky, and neither are that tall. So my arms are clearly visible through the sleeves, which are about two inches too short.
And my gigantic noggin can barely fit through the gigantic fake head - which by the way has some loose ends and has caused some scrapes and cuts to Alvarez and Casiano, but that's part of the fun. So I can't wear my glasses, making me blind. I would have been anyway I'm sure, since the operator of Stinger has to look through his nose, which is pretty opaque and has a wire support frame over it.
Then there's the chinstrap. It's set up for a normal-sized head, so it was going into my mouth. I never knew what stale teenager sweat tasted like, nor had I ever wanted to know. But I do now.
After putting on the costume, I head out into the clubhouse. I have found there is not a moment of my life that can't be summed up by a "Simpsons," "Family Guy," or "Anchorman" line. Tonight, it was Ron Burgundy's classic "I immediately regret this decision" that came muffled out of Stingers' gigantic head as I made my way though the Scorpions' clubhouse.
Running with danger
That fear, amplified by the inability to see or hear anything, stuck with me. I quickly lost my "handlers" and found myself on my own. In the stands. And it's just before the start of the game, and, sadly as is typical with the Scorpions, the crowd was in the double digits. If kids were running around me or what not, maybe I would have been more comfortable.
So there I am alone. Sweating in my coffin. And, frankly, not knowing when I'm going to be called upon for one of those wacky Stinger events. I do what anyone would do in that situation - run and hide in the ticket office.
You see, the ticket office was the one place they told me I could go to take my head off. Stinger can't talk, and Stinger certainly can't take his head off. So I hide, get some water, and eventually meet back up with Alvarez.
Then, before I can do anything else, I'm rushed onto the field for the mascot race. It's only the first inning, and now I have to run around the bases.
For those who don't know, a mascot race usually involves a couple kids starting to run around the bases on first, the mascot on second, and the winner gets a prize. Of course, the mascot invariably does some crazy thing to lose - trip, get talked by a player, run into the outfield - funny, funny stuff.
Of course, the Scorpions' PR dudes have decided that Stinger doesn't get a head start. So I'm racing two young boys - maybe 10 year olds, but I can't be sure. By the time I get to third I'm losing by quite a bit. So I dive. Why not make it look good. I think I threw a little tantrum - faked crying, banged my hands, but I can't be sure.
Now at this point I'm certain I'm going to die. Or at least vomit in my mask, which was a particularly unappealing option. So I'm trying to boogie to get to the ticket office to die in peace, but of course NOW children are deciding to talk to Stinger, commiserating about my loss. I don't know what sounds escape that suit, but no kid should have to hear the panting coming out my mouth at that point thinking it was Stinger.
Eventually I make it to the office. And I want the night to end there.
A kick in the pants
Which brings us back to the beginning of this tale. Dort is helping me fix my pants - Stinger's pants, to be fair. The smell knocks him back, and I have my first smile of the night. So that gets me to head back into the stands.
I wave, and I mess with some people - stealing hats, rubbing heads, whatnot - but I'm still not feeling it. And I guess people can tell, cause they're not feeling me. Figuratively, of course.
I plop down in the bleachers to watch the game. Or at least, make it look like my blind self is watching the game. I can tell from the crowd when something good or bad is happening, so I try to pump them up or boo the umpire or whatever.
But obviously I'm not into it. In an inning that took forever, I'm sitting there like a lump. So Dort starts needling me into needling someone between innings - he sees an acquaintance sitting by where we are.
Well, I don't want to bug that guy. So I start through the stands toward home plate. And it's finally clicking. Some kids are skittish at first, but I play peekaboo, pop up from behind seats, basically do the things that make my daughter laugh to endear myself with some of these children.
Quick aside: My wife and 5-month-old daughter were at the game. My daughter usually fears no stranger, but cried when she saw the gigantic foam rubber scorpion heading toward her. So she cried and cried and cried. So they go down to the box office during one of my first-inning scaredy cat breaks, and I take the head off to show her it's me. More crying. She kind of figured out it was daddy in there, but kept crying. Near the end, she came over to me, in full costume, and said dada through cries and hugged me with the saddest hug you could possibly imagine. Heartbreaking and cute at the same time.
Stinger at last
Brushing aside the ordeal with my daughter, I go on unperturbed. And it's fun. I play, I frolic, I do the things a good mascot does. At least, I'm pretty sure I do. For two innings, I'm on top of my game and loving it.
I even got to dance on the dugout during "YMCA." It's a very lame thing the Scorpions do around the fourth or fifth inning, but who am I to argue? And of course, having no rhythm and not knowing the choreography (well, the obvious part I know) I probably stank.
If only I had been more relaxed early, if only I heeded the advice of the professional Stingers, if only I had a normal-sized head, I probably would have been flat out awesome.
The really fun part of this story is I wasn't done working after I took the Stinger costume off. Warned ahead of time I was "going to smell like (use your imagination to finish this quote)," I still wasn't prepared for how wet I was. But I got a change of clothes and fresh deodorant from my wife, assured my daughter I wasn't a gigantic lizard, and returned to the office to work.
I was sore. I was battered. I was humbled.
I was Stinger.
And done properly, it's funner than almost anything real life has to offer.