Perhaps nothing should come as a surprise after a team chooses Chihuahuas as its nickname. But the new El Paso franchise, still more than two weeks away from its Opening Day, managed just that while introducing its mascot Monday night.
Meet Chico, the Chihuahuas new mascot that manages to hit on a wide array of adjectives, from endearing to frightening, all at once.
Officials of the new Pacific Coast League club have stressed that Chihuahuas are fierce, despite their size, ever since the name was revealed last October. That philosophy seems to have been incorporated into the design of Chico, who looks a little more rough-and-tumble than the typical minor league team mascot.
Similar to the Chihuahua in the team's logo, Chico sports a spiked collar and partially bloodshot-colored eyes. His ears appear a bit tattered, and a marking of some sort—a tattoo, a scar?—runs above and below his left eye.
While stopping little kids in their tracks shouldn't be the objective of a mascot, the Chihuahuas do hit one of their objectives, and that is to be different. And most everything about this franchise is going to be just that, from its name (which caused a stir in town), to its ballpark that replaces El Paso's city hall, to its location just six miles from the Mexican border, to a multi-national fan base that will be drawn from both El Paso and the Mexican city of Juarez.
The team was forced to kick off its home schedule last weekend in Tucson, where the Padres affiliate spent the previous three years, while finishing touches were being put on El Paso's Southwest University Park. That ballpark, and the fan experience within it, will ultimately play a larger role in the franchise's success than Chico the mascot. Until then, Chico will serve as the somewhat unusual face of the franchise.