Mascots: mystery humans dressed in incredibly creepy costumes with unmoving faces that we inexplicably feel comfortable letting our children touch. You figure it out! Mascots are meant mostly for kids, but if you follow one of these things around on game day, you'll see they make as many children cry as they do smile. It's not the kids' fault. We did this to them.
Mascots have somehow been grandfathered in as normal in sports, but many of them closely toe the line between absolute horror show and lovable knockoff Disney character. Locally, we have quite a few that are pushing the envelop of creepiness. We love them, but even the biggest fans have to admit they're nightmare fuel.
Here's a definitive ranking of the creepiest local mascots. Please keep your distance, kids.
1. Miami Marlins' "Billy the Marlin." Real talk: If it turned out Billy the Marlin was doing Dexter stuff in his personal time, would you be that surprised? Stop reading this and look into those eyes. Billy the Marlin now owns your soul. You now belong to him. You now bark like a dog when he points at you. You spoon-feed him tuna salad when he claps.
It's as if being the Marlins' mascot was initially part of Billy's court-ordered probation, but he grew to like it and the Marlins decided to hire him full-time. Beyond all the creepiness is the fact that Billy legit has a murder weapon on his face. His nose is just right there hovering over you, waiting, daring you to get on his bad side.
Billy the Marlin is far and away the creepiest mascot in South Florida.
2. Miami Dolphins' "T.D." There are many animal mascots that can pull off walking around on two feet like a drunk uncle at a backyard barbecue, but a dolphin is not one of those animals. Alas, that is exactly what T.D. does Sundays at Hard Rock Stadium. Two things should worry fans when assessing T.D. from a distance: Although he has a humongous dolphin head, he wears a tiny ice-cream bowl of a helmet and full-on regulation thigh pads.
To fully appreciate how creepy it is that T.D. is wearing thigh pads, you need to picture him putting on thigh pads every Sunday before he puts on a dolphin head. A psychopath is among your children. He should be tracked by an app and an ankle monitor for this behavior. Run, don't walk, to the exits.
3. Miami Hurricanes' "Sebastian the Ibis." Behind this fun-loving, beak-twisting, probably drunk, confusingly sign-language-competent bird is a man who isn't afraid to punch you in the face if you even think about talking spicy about his Hurricanes. When you break down exactly who Sebastian the Ibis is and what he is capable of, you need to remember this is the same man-bird who was once detained by police for plotting to commit animal cruelty and/or assault on a man dressed as a Native American. Somehow none of this is made up.
Sebastian the Ibis doesn't give a single crap about eyebrow maintenance. It's all about the U.
4. Florida Panthers' "Stanley C. Panther." The least-known major mascot in South Florida, Stanley C. Panther is basically just a lovable stuffed animal like the one you'd expect to buy your girlfriend on Valentine's Day. He's just like a big teddy bear, only different because he's a panther. The creepiness, though, lies in Stanley's expressionless stare. Look at his face. Imagine waking up in the middle of the night to go to the bathroom and finding him standing in your kitchen. Not OK. Not as cute.
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At a glance, Stanley C. Panther is adorable, but it's when you stare him in the eyes for longer than ten seconds that you begin to reach for your keys and plan an escape route.
5. Miami Heat's "Burnie." Burnie is an eternally burning flame with a basketball nose. Makes sense! Truthfully, Burnie isn't all that creepy. He's fun like a funny drunk uncle. Burnie is also unpredictable like a drunk uncle, so you have to keep your eyes on him, or next thing you know he's filling your car with stadium popcorn just to get a laugh.
Of all the most popular mascots in South Florida, Burnie is probably the most lovable. There's a certain mysteriousness to him that makes us leery of fully trusting him, though. We're watching you, Burnie.