On Sunday, April 10, the Royals celebrated Sluggerrr's 20th birthday with a party that involved several of his mascot friends. The event was immortalized in this image from the @MLB Twitter account.
Innocent enough, right? These sorts of celebrations happen throughout the sports world every year.
But a closer look at this image raises some important questions and casts a shadow on the mascot that Royals fans have supported for — as they claim — 20 years.
How old is Sluggerrr?
Twenty years old, if you're to believe the hints the Royals are giving out. But it is important to note that Sluggerrr's birthday isn't listed anywhere on the Royals' website. The screenshot below, from the Royals' website, lists Sluggerrr's rookie year (1996) and first game (April 5, 1996) but never says anything about when the mascot was actually born.
It seems the Royals have been celebrating Sluggerrr's birthday around that April 5th date, usually during a weekend home game. And that's perfectly fine, plenty of kids have birthday parties on the weekend because celebrating on a school day wouldn't be any fun at all.
But when those kids celebrate birthdays, they're aware that the birthday isn't actually the day of the party. They wouldn't say that "today is my birthday!" They would say,"I am celebrating my birthday today" or "the anniversary of my birth was earlier this week, but we are recognizing it today because I was occupied with my fledgling education during that specific date."
Sluggerrr doesn't say any of that. Sluggerrr appears to think that his birthday is whichever date the Royals host a party.
Not only does Sluggerrr not understand how RTs work, Sluggerrr does not know when his birthday is. And neither do the Royals. Ten years ago, they celebrated in June.
Back in 2006, the Royals made Sluggerrr's 10th birthday a big deal. They made it into a three-day event. Why didn't they make more out of his 20th birthday? I am not even sure the Royals have acknowledged that this is Sluggerrr's big 2-0. It is almost like it is overshadowed by the success on the field.
The Royals have all but admitted that they have no idea how old Sluggerrr might be. And this makes sense. Sluggerrr's birthday couldn't possibly be after April 5, 1996, because that is when he appeared in his first game, impossible for a lion cub of that age. That also makes a birth date of exactly April 5, 1996 highly unlikely as well. Lions don't reach adulthood until around three years old, so Sluggerrr was likely born in 1993 at the latest. But there is no way of knowing for certain until he (or someone else) produces his long-form birth certificate.
We need answers.
Does Sluggerrr actually have any friends?
Don't take the controversy surrounding Sluggerrr's age to suggest that the lion is not to be trusted. Further research suggests the mascot might actually be the victim. From the looks of Sluggerrr's profile on the Royals' website — which is curated by his own team! — the media has already spewed plenty of vitriol in Sluggerrr's direction.
As best as I can tell, just one of those listed publications actually exists. The other quotes appear to be completely fabricated. The people within the Royals' organization appear to dislike Sluggerrr to the extent that they will craft backhanded compliments and insult his intelligence on his own profile page. Nobody has yet come to Sluggerrr's defense.
If Sluggerrr cannot find friends within his organization, at least he has those furry friends who were invited to his party, right? Maybe not. Further investigation reveals that each mascot has an ulterior motive for attending. Let's take a closer look at the mascots in this picture:
1. K.C. Wolf (Chiefs): If anybody is Sluggerrr's friend, it is K.C. Wolf. He lives right across the parking lot and isn't doing anything this time of year. He was always going to show up to Sluggerrr's party. Too bad he's hamming it up in the front row rather than offering a friendly arm across Sluggerrr's shoulders.
2. T.C. Bear (Twins): T.C. Bear probably only showed up because he got to watch the Twins play after the party. On the other hand, why he would want to watch the Twins in more than his required 81 home games remains a mystery.
3. Fredbird (Cardinals): Do you remember how, in third grade, your sworn enemy invited you to his birthday party because his mom made him invite everyone in the class? And then you had to show up, because your mom made you go? That's what's going on right here.
4. Orbit (Astros): Orbit's appearance doesn't signify friendship. It just means that whenever there's a party, Orbit is going to be there.
5. Clark the Cub (Cubs): He just reached the MLB circuit in 2014, and you know he's only showing up to this party so he can fit in with the older kids.
6. Toro (Texans): I don't understand this at all.
7. Drew Butera: Wait, Drew Butera?
What is Drew Butera doing in this picture?
Here's a question we may never be able to answer. We can only hope that he's being a supportive friend to Sluggerrr, as the mascot's life is more complex and mysterious than anyone could have imagined. Or maybe Drew Butera is moonlighting as a mascot in his numerous off-days. It is a mystery that just adds further intrigue to this dark conspiracy.