Saturday, September 17, 2005

Back in the Saddle Again

MONTREAL -- The Montreal Canadians announced today that Youppie!, the troubled former mascot of the city's former baseball franchise, has been hired to be the team's new mascot.

"Having been cleared by both team doctors and the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA), we look forward to Youppie! joining the team and entertaining fans at the Molson Centre," the team said in a tersely-worded statement. "We hope this signing is a fresh start for Youppie! which allows him to leave behind any of the stigma that may have been associated with his past."

Unbeknowst to all but those dozen or so persons in Montreal who actually followed his previous team, the former Expos mascot has had a long and troubling career.

Hints of problems first surfaced in 1980 when Youppie!, less than a year into his tenure, openly campaigned for sovereignty association in the Quebec referendum. Although initially a big hit at rallies, the Parti Quebecois quietly dropped the mascot from official events when rumours surfaced that Youppie! was actually an anglophone from West Montreal.

Despondent, Youppie! hit the bottle, and could often be seen sitting on two cases of Labatt's 50 drinking a cold one after games. His behaviour became more erratic over the next two seasons until, in the early morning hours of October 20, 1981, he was arrested outside Rick Monday's hotel room after trying to break down the door in a drunken rage. It took ten Surete de Montreal officers to subdue the nearly seven-foot tall mascot.

After that incident, thanks to AA, anger management training and the Expo's relative obscurity, Youppie! settled down and soon became a fan favourite. But as the team became more successful, old habits slowly began to resurface. "You could tell he had an addictive personality and a short fuse," former manager Buck Rodgers said of Youppie! "It was only a matter of time before something set him off again."

That something was the 1994 season, which abruptly ended with the player's strike on August 12. After the game, Youppie!, fuelled by a steady diet of Molson Export and Player's Light cigarettes he consumed between innings, went on a drunken rampage through the Expos clubhouse, hitting players with with a giant plastic baseball bat he used as a prop, and then setting the hamper containing the team's uniforms on fire. Thankfully, one of the training staff found a Taser used by the club to keep Bill "The Spaceman" Lee in check in the 1970s and quickly subdued Youppie! before anyone was hurt.

After that season, a number of prominent players, fearful of another angry outburst from their beloved mascot, refused to sign with the club. Said one former player (who refused to be named): "Hey, when the 'spos first brought me up, I used to love hitting the strip clubs with him -- Youppie! knew all the ladies, and he sure knew how to party. But I'm a family man now; I said to myself: 'He may have introduced me to my second wife, but I can't trust him with my kids in the clubhouse.' Realizing that made my decision to sign with the [Colorado] Rockies a whole lot easier."

From then on, both the club and its mascot went on similar slides.

In 1995, Youppie! was arrested in a boardinghouse on gun charges just days after the Quebec referendum. Having been on a week-long whiskey binge, he emptied a Colt .45 into a television during a speech by Jean Chretien.

In 1997, he was forcibly removed by a number of players attending a post-season party to celebrate Pedro Martinez winning the Cy Young Award after Youppie! threw the award into a neighbor's pool. Forever scarred by the incident, Martinez thereafter began to limit his circle of friends to people of significantly smaller stature.

In February 2001, Youppie! was arrested in Sherbrooke shortly after crossing the U.S. border. He was held on an extradition request by New York State police for public lewdness after former Expos owner Jeffrey Loria complained that he found giant piles of orange feces in his Porsche Boxter convertible parked at his Weschester home. Both the extradition proceedings and criminal charges were quietly dropped a year later after Youppie! gave Loria a mute, emotionless hug in the stands at a Marlins-Expos game.

And in late 2004, Youppie! and a small group of fans pounced on an American attending the Expos' last home game. The man, who spent the entire game praising Bud Selig for moving the team and his revulsion for Canadian beer, almost choked to death when the mascot grabbed a handful of poutine from a passing vendor and tried to ram it down the man's throat.

With the Expos gone and his career at an all-time low, Youppie! took full advantage of the opportunity. After a brief stint in the Betty Ford Clinic paid for by former members of the team, he not only dried out but added over one hundred pounds of muscle to his rotund but wiry frame. Rumours linking his newfound strength to his long-time friendship with both Barry Bonds and Jason Giambi were never confirmed, but news of his relationship with Mitsou soon overtook those rumours in the pages of Quebec's major newspapers. A source close to the pop diva confided in this reporter about their relationship: "She helped keep him clean, you know? I mean, stuff sticks to him like crazy ... but he loves it when she vacuums him. He says it tickles."

After almost a year of clean living, Youppie! finally felt ready to make his return as a professional mascots, which culminated in today's announcement.

Asked if the transition to hockey would be hard on him, general manager Bob Gainey responded: "Youppie! knows hockey. He even used to hang out with one goaltender's extended family down at the casino. I have no doubt he'll fit in."


At 2:20 PM, Blogger Sheamus Murphy said...

You forgot to mention those pictures in Allo Police! of Youppi! drinking with Hells Angels at Supersex, and singing at Mom Boucher's wedding. This was after his falling out with the Rock Machine of course. Then there was that shot of him in the back of an East island steak sandwich shop playing cards with Alphonso Gagliano.

Good to see the old boy has landed on his feet after falling in with a bad crowd.


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