Friday, September 16, 2005

Youppi! Saved From The Dustbin Of History

Thanks to Abboud for bringing to my attention the earth-shattering announcement that the Montreal Expos' mascot Youppi! is being adopted by the Habs. Upon hearing this it was almost as if my beloved Expos had not been disgustingly uprooted from their ancestral home with last year's mercy killing by Major League Baseball. This would be the same MLB that maimed the Expos ten years earlier by locking the players out when nos amours had the best record in baseball. Montrealers must be the most passionate people on the continent, and after having had their hearts torn out they showered daggers of scorn on professional baseball. Sadly this meant turning their backs on baseball's unloved stepchild, les Expos. Attempts to relaunch baseball in the city with the building of a new downtown stadium were foiled by a deluge of lies and underhanded machinations, and in the end nos amours left with a whimper. But I'm not bitter.

So what's left to console the few remaining die-hards who continue to care? Well, Montreal gets to keep Youppi!

In my 2.5 years in Montreal I watched a lot of great ball in really sweet $8 seats. During the games I'd look at Youppi! and wonder, "what in the hell is he?"

Don't you think this thing would distract you from watching Vladdie hammer another dinger?

After years of profoud meditation on the subject (somewhere between "three up, three down", and watching cute Montrealaise girls shake their booties to the Pom! bun contest), I think I've figured Youppi! out. He's not a "super furry animal" like the Yahoo! story above claims (what is with all of the mid-sentence exclamation points?). The hairless face and hands would intimate that he is not only mammalian, but in fact human. Yet clearly he is no ordinary human. I'm going to lay it on the line: I think he's some kind of a throwback to a rustic image of an unshaven French Canadian. I don't mean that in any kind of derisive manner. I love the Quebecois so much that I wish I was one. They are the most amazing, colorful, fun-loving and proud people I have ever encountered. But recall that the image of Les Habitants, as in the original French settlers who came to Nouvelle France, was that of the hardy lumberjack and voyageur. As in a coureur de bois. Notice the uncanny likeness of the voyageur to Youppi!, below.

It's almost as if they were separated at birth.

Now when I think of a lumberjack in a boat in the wilderness, I think of huge beards. So huge in fact that they end up covering their entire bodies. So dense that there would be no need for pants, of either the under or over variety. Notice how our pictured voyageur has a long shirt and a hat, but no easily discernable pants. For Youppi! to go without a shirt and hat would just be downright immodest. And faster than you can say I'd like a poutine with my steamy and export, you have Youppi!

Of course I have to explain the name to those unfamiliar with the Quebecois tongue. This is the easy part. Youppi! is quite simply the sound that a french child makes when they say the equivalent of "Yippee!" in the english tongue. As a proper mascot is supposed to elicit squeals of joy from children, some prescient and divine marketing mind named the Expos' mascot after the sound such an ecstatic child would make. Those of you who don't believe me can refer to this fantastic children's drawing that I found on the net:

I can only assume that this is a Quebecois child's rendition of the Expos running onto the field from the bullpen; note the 300 m marking on the wall. Also observe that the players themselves recieve fairly light applause. "Chou! chou!" might even be booing for all I know; perhaps the Expos really blew in 1977, which is the vintage of this foolscap masterpiece. Note, however, that as soon as Youppi! makes an appearance the crowd goes wild, and even makes the "Youppi!" noise. Witness the synchronicity between my deft mascot analysis and a child's dream. I can't make this stuff up.

You can imagine that the yankee-doodle-dandy children of Washington D.C. would fail to connect with Youppi! given his foreign cultural lineage. It is therefore logical that he didn't make the trip south with Vidro, Livan and the rest of the crew. Yet his quintessentially Quebecois character made him such a fan favorite that we can expect to see Youppi! wearing the colors of another storied Montreal team, which will NEVER EVER leave town.

The Habs finally have a hairy Habitant as their mascot. Welcome to immortality Youppi!


At 6:20 PM, Blogger Andy Grabia said...

You mean you don't actually know what happened to the Expos in 1977?

At 6:29 PM, Blogger Alex said...

It was a players' strike in 1994, not a lockout.

At 6:49 PM, Blogger Sheamus Murphy said...

You are both dorks. The 'Spos did indeed blow in the year of my birth, finishing 26 games back of the Phillies. I wonder if the Fanatic's standing in the mascot pantheon had anything to do with this outcome. Witness the stats:

And I stand humbled and corrected about the strike versus the lockout. A strike doesn't really fit with my desire to pin MLB as the whipping boy for the 'Spos demise. I'd like to rewrite history so as to fit with my preferred narrative. Either way no one can assuage my anger, not even Youppi!

At 7:01 PM, Blogger Andy Grabia said...

You would fit right in in Quebec, rewriting history to fit your preferred narrative. ZIng!


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