The Chiba Lotte Marines baseball team, of Japan’s Pacific League, has a mascot named Nazo No Sakana, which translates to English as “mysterious fish.” The team’s Wikipedia page describes it thusly:
Mysterious fish (謎の魚, Nazo-no-sakana) is a new mascot character since May 2017. He is a weird fish with legs.
“A weird fish with legs.” Yes. Correct. Accurate and sufficient. All writing should aspire to be like this.
Part of Nazo No Sakana’s deal, apart from representing the Chiba Lotte Marines, is that it evolves, or anyway has evolved: Periodically, it reveals a new form. It walks out onto the field as that big bulbous anglerfish with human legs that you can see up above. Then, after some minor buildup, it disgorges the owner of those human legs, wearing a costume that will be Nazo No Sakana’s new form. The first time this happened, it barfed out its own skeleton. As one does.
Today, Nazo No Sakana revealed its latest and possibly final form:
I will die for Nazo No Sakana, and I pledge my eternal allegiance to it. This is the sort of thing a baseball team can do with a healthy grasp on what sports are (a silly game show not so different from The Price Is Right) and are for (easy fun and entertainment). Watching it, over and over and over again, I find I’m taken not only by the mysterious fish’s zany antics, but by the reaction shots of happy and chill spectators, for whom it appears more-or-less normal, in the context of gathering in a giant bowl for no reason other than the simple pleasure of watching men in pajamas sock a ball with a stick and run around in circles, for there to be a large psychedelic fish, out of whom explodes a dancing human in a leotard wearing a smaller psychedelic fish for a helmet. More than anything, it makes me want to go to Japan and go to a baseball game every day.
American sports should have more goofy stuff like this! Major League Baseball’s closest approximation to the full-on delirious silliness of Nazo No Sakana is the Presidents Race at Washington Nationals games, which comes with its own running storylines. Teddy Roosevelt finding ways to lose every race for nearly seven straight years, even when gifted huge head starts, was a fun bit, but compared to the florid insanity of Nazo No Sakana, it might as well be a sober recitation of the Pledge of Allegiance. This stuff is symbolic of fun baseball—of a pastime half a degree separated from carnival rides, healthfully freed from all the leaden The Game Of Our Fathers bullshit, and cut loose to be stupid and silly and lighter than air. Once a season, Mr. Met’s head should crack open like Zeus’s and a new daughter should spill out to foment a war against the Yankees.