Happy mascots waltz into second round

Field of friendly, fuzzy 64 narrowed down to 32 fan favorites

By Dan Marinis / MiLB.com | May 31, 2012 6:10 AM ET

After a closely contested opening round in MiLB.com's first-ever Mascot Mania contest, votes were tallied and 32 of the 64 lovable contestants were delivered the uplifting news: the fans gave their favorites a hug and vaulted them into Round 2.

Click here to vote for Round 2. Voting ends June 4.

"I've been buggin' out!" proclaimed Savannah's Gnate the Gnat, who received the fourth most votes in the entire field and bested Nashville's Ozzie by 10 percentage points in the South bracket. "It's an honor just to be 'gnominated,' but to advance? Wow!"

When asked about the friendly foe he'll face in Round 2, Brandenton's Marty the Marauder, Gnate was predictably upbeat.

"Marty is a great opponent and I'm ready for the challenge. I want to win this for my fans who have supported me these past eight seasons. I'm one lucky bug."

State College's Ike the Spike -- perhaps on the strength of a clever campaign video reminiscent of a 1950s presidential race -- received an impressive 65 percent of the votes against Harrisburg's Rascal in the East bracket.

"Rascal looked like a deer in the headlights when it was said and done," said a confident Ike, who quickly looked ahead. "Crazy Hot Dog Vendor will relish in defeat in Round 2."

Williamsport's Boomer, who edged out Trenton's mascot of the same name by less than 100 votes in the tightest of all the matchups so far, seemed somewhat confused by the outcome.

"How could I lose? I was up against myself, right? Boomer vs. Boomer. Wait, what? The other Boomer wasn't me? Whatever. Bring on Paws!"

Tight races were the tale in the Midwest, where Erie's C. Wolf nipped Peoria's Homer (51.2 percent to 48.8), West Michigan's Crash the River Rascal eked past Altoona's aptly named Al Tuna (51.2 percent to 48.8) and Tulsa's Hornsby pinched Wisconsin's Fang (51.3 to 48.7).

Phinley weaved past Bolt in the South (51.4 to 48.6), while the closest race out West went to Sacramento's Dinger over Orem's Hootz (52.1 to 47.9).

The biggest vote-getter overall from Round 1 was Wool E. Bull of the Durham Bulls, buoyed by his own promotional video. He bested Greeneville gun-slinger Tennessee Tex in the South with 77 percent of the votes.

When asked about his current matchup with Manny of the Brevard County Manatees and their slogan, "Fear the Sea Cow," Wool E. was undaunted.

"As a bull, I obviously love cows. But a 'sea cow?' I don't even know what that this," he snorted. "I'm just going to keep taking it a round a time, give 110 percent and hope that Manny's flippers inhibit his online voting."

Another marine-themed mascot, Slugger of the Portland Sea Dogs, quickly thanked the fans for giving him the second most votes of any mascot.

"I'm thrilled to get the 'seal' of approval from fans everywhere. Elect me!"

In the Midwest, Lou E. Loon soared to victory with the third-most votes in the entire field, while Round Rock's Spike picked up the most tallies out West.

Remember, voting for the second round ends June 4. Here are the matchups:

Paws, Pawtucket vs. Boomer, Williamsport
Crazy Hot Dog Vendor, Reading vs. Ike the Spike, State College
Ferrous, Lehigh Valley vs. Nutzy, Richmond
Slugger, Portland vs. Buster Bison, Buffalo

Muddy the Mud Hen, Toledo vs. C. Wolf, Erie
Snappy D. Turtle, Beloit vs. Hornsby, Tulsa
Lou E. Loon, Great Lakes vs. Big L, Lexington
Lou Seal, Columbus vs. Crash, West Michigan

Wool E. Bull, Durham vs. Manny the Manatee, Brevard County
Phinley, Clearwater vs. Muddy the Mudcat, Carolina
Marty Marauder, Bradenton vs. Gnate the Gnat, Savannah
Sammy Seagull, Corpus Christi vs. Stoney, Charlotte

Parker, Fresno vs. Thunder, Lake Elsinore
Orbit, Albuquerque vs. Cosmo, Las Vegas
Spike, Round Rock vs. Sluggo, Eugene
Rhubarb the Reindeer, Tacoma vs. Dinger, Sacramento

Dan Marinis is a contributor to MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues or its clubs.

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