It's an exciting time in South Florida sports. Both the Heat and Panthers appear to be making strong runs at the playoffs. The UM Women's Basketball team is sure to be a threat in the official March Madness (and the men might make it too). The Dolphins are in the midst of a critical off season. And, of course, the Marlins are putting the final touches on their new stadium and working out their new roster.
But we won't have any actual critical competitions on the field for a while. So we've decided to create some. Riptide wants to know which team's mascot is South Florida's favorite.
Here's how it work: We've divided the mascots from South Florida's major pro and college teams into four different divisions. Round one kicks off today, and we'll leave voting open until Tuesday night just before midnight. Round two will kick off on Wednesday and voting will remain open until Thursday night. We'll announce the finalist on Friday, and voting will be open all weekend long. The ultimate winner will be announced next Monday.
Click through to the next page to begin voting!
The Academic Birds: Sebastian vs. Owlsey
Both Sebastian and Owlsey are birds who hang out a lot on college campuses. More importantly, they've both probably spent more than a few late nights with Howard Schnellenberger drinking scotch, discussing proper mustache maintenance, and talking ish about University of Louisville mascot, the Cardinal Bird. "Damn thing doesn't even have a real name, and he never keeps eye contact. Tell me how the hell I'm supposed to trust a mascot like that? Bird never sat right with me. Truth be told that's the only reason I took the Oklahoma job in the first place. Now these bird mascots here in South Florida, you guys are the kind of birds I want beside me in a fight."
Sebastian the Ibis
Team: The Miami Hurricanes
Pros: Oldest mascot in the tournament. Few mascot have the ability to make a stadium erupt the way Sebastian does when he leads his iconic "C-A-N-E-S" chant. Hurricanes football have more championships than any other team in the region. Gifted dancer.
Cons: While we understand there are explanations, he is still an Ibis that goes by the name of Sebastian who represents a team named the Hurricanes. That Soulja Boy song is really annoying. Also, we've heard rumors he still hasn't completely given up his old smoking habit.
Owlsey the Owl
Team: The FAU Owls
Pros: With 18 varsity teams up there in Boca Raton, Owlsey actually represents the most teams of any of the mascots.
Sea Life: Billy vs T.D.
Until recently Billy and T.D. were roommates at Sun Life Stadium, where they probably spent a long time discussing how sort of frightening it is that they both have legs. Legend has it that back in 1997, former Marlins and Dolphins owner Wayne Huizenga tried to trade them both away in an unheard of mascot fire sale, but relented when the Seattle Supersonics refused to part ways with Squatch.
Billy the Marlin
Team: The Miami Marlins
Pros: According to Forbes, he's actually the 10th most popular mascot in the nation. There were certainly times in the team's history where he seemed like the only exciting thing in the ballpark.
T.D. the Dolphin
Team: The Miami Dolphins
Pros: Represents Miami's oldest and historically most beloved professional franchise. Four-time Pro Bowler (yes, seriously).
Cons: He wasn't officially introduced until 1997, so he's the youngest in the competition. He's also perhaps not as well knows as the team's original mascot, "Flipper," an actual mascot, nor the fictional "Snowflake" from Ace Ventura. He's also not as cute as this lil' fishy munchkin who only appeared during the 1995 Pro Bowl.
Philly Phanatic Rip-off Division
Oh sure, both Burnie and the Miami Maniac appear to share a species with the phamed Philly Phanatic, but they have something else in common, too. Burnie is hailed as the NBA's only Jewish mascot. He might not be attending Temple alone. Back in a 1985, ESPN aired the entirety of the Miami Maniac's wedding (the original Decision) which was officiated by a Rabbi, suggesting that the Maniac might be Jewish as well. Wait, why isn't he the Miami Meshuggener?
Team: Miami heat
Pros: Represents Miami's best team at the moment. His trademark dance is adorable, and he's unquestionably devoted to Dwyane Wade.
Cons: Burnie was once charged with aggravated assault and battery, and sued for $1 million for emotional distress. This is true.
The Miami Maniac
Team: Miami Hurricanes Baseball
Pros: One of the few mascots who represents an individual college sports team. Predates Burnie.
Cons: Reportedly insanely jealous that Sebastian gets more attention.
Panthers may be one of Florida's most critically endangered species, but there's no shortage of their kind in the mascot ranks. First try and tell them apart, then decide your favorite.
Roary the Panther
Team: FIU Golden Panthers
Pros: Of any of the college mascots, Roary represents the school with by far the biggest student body. FIU football is coming off two historically successful seasons.
Cons: His name isn't very original.
Stanley C. Panther
Team: The Florida Panthers
Pros: Pretty popular considering no one in South Florida really knows what "hockey" is.
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Cons: Is named after a trophy his team has never won.