After two weeks of voting, Mascot Mania has a surprising new front-runner.
Trailing after the first week, Columbus' LouSeal ran away with the lead in both the International League and as the overall vote-getter and now owns a large overall lead over last week's most popular mascot, Savannah's Gnate the Gnat.
It's a troubling end of the month for Toledo's Muddy the Mud Hen, who only a week ago sat atop the IL poll in what had been a close race. With LouSeal owning 29.3 percent of the IL vote, it's an uphill climb for Muddy, who now ranks No. 4 behind celebrity-endorsed Chopper of Gwinnett and Syracuse's Scooch.
So who is LouSeal? The Clippers describe the jacket-wearing 4,000-pound seal as being an Alaskan native who ended up befriending Columbus' Captain Clipper before assuming primary mascot duties for the Indians' Triple-A affiliate. He's recently been campaigning hard on Twitter and on the streets:
Also moving to the top since the last update are Fresno's Parker going past Albuquerque's Orbit in the PCL, while another Orbit -- this one in Great Falls -- coming from behind in the Pioneer League. The PCL's race for first along with a back-and-forth battle in the Appalachian League are the competition's closest.
Fans are being urged to select one mascot from each league in the Minors in the first round of voting, which runs until Thursday at noon. The top 14 mascots will then battle it out for the championship belt from Aug. 1-8. Fans can vote on MiLB.com and on Twitter by following @MiLB and tweeting #MascotMania along with the Twitter handle of the team whose mascot they'd like to vote for.
When fans vote online or via Twitter, they can also enter for a chance to win a 2014 MLB.TV Premium subscription, a 2014 MiLB.TV yearly subscription, gift certificates for the MLB and MiLB shops and a mascot prize pack, among other prizes.
Here's a league-by-league breakdown 12 days into the competition and with just 48 hours until the finalists are determined:
As mentioned, it's suddenly LouSeal's race to lose after he gained thousands of votes to pull ahead. Gwinnett's campaign for Chopper last week included support from comedian Jeff Foxworthy and Atlanta Falcons quarterback Matt Ryan:
Pacific Coast League
It's quite a three-way race out West where Fresno's Parker has nudged past defending champ Orbit of Albuquerque. Not far behind is Round Rock's Spike, as the top three are separated by less than one percent of the total vote. Tucson's Kino Bambino is a close fourth.
It's not especially close, with Pensacola's Kazoo ahead with 28 percent of the vote over Montgomery's Big Mo, Tennessee's Slugger and Chattanooga's Looie.
Ballapeno's lead stood strong after two weeks, and standings overall remained largely the same in Texas as the San Antonio mascot continues to have an edge on Northwest Arkansas' Sinker and Midland's Rocky RockHound.
What was too close to call last week is now a race coming into better focus. Erie's C. Wolf has garnered 19 percent of the vote, ahead of Portland's Slugger (12.7), Altoona's Steamer (11.3) and Richmond's Nutzy (9.8). Reading's Crazy Hot Dog Vendor slipped from No. 6 to No. 7, behind Akron's Orbit and New Britain's Rocky.
What looked like a tight race last week is no longer. Myrtle Beach's Splash has a substantial lead over Carolina's Muddy and Wilmington's Rocky Bluewinkle. Frederick's Keyote moved up one spot from No. 5, passing Winston-Salem's Bolt.
Florida State League
Clearwater's Phinley owns one of Mascot Mania's healthiest leads ahead of Discover Channel's annual Shark Week, which starts Aug. 4, although his fellow shark mascot, Hamilton R. Head of Jupiter, is stuck in the shallow waters at No. 6. Phinley leads with 35.1 percent of the vote, ahead of Tampa's Blue, Lakeland's Ace and Bradenton's Marty.
Another unchanged race, San Jose's Gigante continues to lead Modesto's Wally the Walnut and Rancho Cucamonga's Tremor. Lake Elsinore's Thunder is the only other Cal League mascot with at least 10 percent of the vote.
South Atlantic League
Last week's overall top vote-getter, Gnate the Gnat, owns an enormous lead in the Sally League with 41.3 percent of the vote, the largest total in any Mascot Mania league. West Virginia's Chuck, currently running No. 2, would be leading in other leagues, but not in the SAL, where Gnate has garnered the second-most votes overall behind LouSeal.
Great Lakes' Lou E. Loon has enjoyed a wave of support on Twitter, where he has more votes than he's received via MiLB.com so far. They all count the same and add up to a 25.2 percent lead, nearly seven points ahead of Peoria's Homer. Other contenders include No. 3 Crash of West Michigan, No. 4 Big Lug of Lansing and No. 5 Mr. Shucks of Cedar Rapids.
New York-Penn League
Aberdeen's Ferrous has opened up his lead over Brooklyn's Sandy the Seagull after two weeks, owning more than 21 percent of the vote. Sandy is well within reach, though, as is Vermont's Champ. It's beginning to look less promising for South Paw in Tri-City and C.T. the Tiger in Connecticut, though.
Hillsboro's Barley continues to ride the popularity wave with 30.4 percent of the vote, ahead of No. 2 Sluggo and No. 3 Otto the Spokanasaurus. Boise's Humphrey Hawk is the only other mascot here with more than 12 percent of the vote.
Princeton's Roscoe led in the last update but was briefly passed by Johnson City's Jay Cee. The Princeton Ray Rooster is back in the lead, though, as those two are dominating the Appy League race and are separated by less than one half of one percent with 48 hours to go.
After discounting Orbit's strength in last week's update, the Great Falls mascot has had a dramatic and sudden ride to No. 1. Trailing Missoula last week, Orbit rebounded and now has more than 30 percent of the Pioneer League vote, 10 percentage points above Missoula's Ollie Osprey. We'll play it safe now and warn not to count out Grand Junction's Corky or Billings' Homer as, evidently, anything can happen out in the Pioneer League.