We here at IPL have been trying for some time to land an interview with one of the members of the Indians. We’ve come close a couple of times with no success. Relying on my high-school Spanish, I once spent twenty minutes on the phone with Carlos Santana before I finally figured out I was talking to the musician, not the ballplayer.
At that point, I turned to the Indians front office for help. A few weeks later, they got back to me and said that the best they could do was grant me an interview with team mascot Slider. After a phone conversation wherein we agreed on terms (easy enough: I just had to promise not to ask him the question that he hates most, So what are you, some kind of animal or what?), Slider agreed to meet me for fifteen minutes at an undisclosed location. Here is the transcript of that interview.
IPL: Slider, thanks for taking the time to sit down and answer a few questions for us.
Slider: Yeah, pretty noble of me to take time out of my busy schedule, isn’t it? I mean, there’s so much demand during the off-season for us mascots, isn’t there?
IPL: Sorry to get off on the wrong foot. All I meant was—
Slider: No, no, you didn’t say anything wrong. I just get a little defensive, is all. Once the season ends, there’s just not a whole lot for ol’ Slider to do. I guess I can be kind of a jerk about it once in a while.
IPL: Don’t you do off-season appearances? The Indians website says you do.
Slider: In theory, yeah. But it’s not like my phone’s been ringin’ off the hook. Not too many people are thinking about baseball in November, not here in Cleveland. Even when the Browns go 3-13, people love those guys. The people of Cleveland aren’t sitting at home all winter wondering what ol’ Slider is up to. Except for this one guy who used to hire me to come over about twice a month to sit on his lap and feed him bratwurst. After the third or fourth time I told Shapiro to forget it, I didn’t need the money that bad. That was one weird dude.
Slider: Yeah, “wow.” There’s some freaky people out there, I’ll tell you what. Remember that one character who tried to get a little too friendly with me near the concession stand? I almost quit the team right then and there. They had to give me a 10% raise to get me to stick around.
IPL: The Slider FAQ on the Indians website says that you live “somewhere underground behind home plate at Progressive Field.” What’s that like?
Slider: Come on, man. I don’t live underground. I ain’t some kind of gopher or something. That’s just something they put in there for the kids. For the last three or four years, I’ve been living in the lower half of a duplex in Lakewood. The rent’s not all that much and I’m near an RTA line. I could take the bus to work. I don’t, but I could if I had to.
IPL: So what about the rest of that stuff? Is that all lies, too? It says your favorite food is popcorn, hot dogs, and pizza.
Slider: Again, man, that’s just for the kids. I don’t get to go there as often as I like, but I’m with Terry. Nothing beats the beef cheek pierogies at Lola. And guess what, I don’t like strawberry milk shakes. I enjoy a bottle or two of Great Lakes Christmas Ale as much as the next man. That stuff is awesome.
IPL: So you don’t eat the stadium hot dogs?
Slider: Believe me, pal, if you know what goes on behind the scenes, especially on Dollar Dog nights, you wouldn’t eat another one of those things if your life depended on it.
IPL: Here’s something I’ve always wanted to ask you. Do you ever get to hang out with the other baseball mascots like the Phillie Phanatic or Mr. Met?
Slider: I don’t want to get started on those guys. Just because they’ve been around forever and they’re famous, they think their suits don’t stink. Mr. Met, you can usually find him hanging out with his buddies Jerry Seinfeld and Matthew Broderick, or maybe out someplace with Chris Rock. And the Phanatic, what an ego on that guy. Hasn’t had to buy his own meals or drinks since about 1980. Loved everyplace he goes! Me, if I go to the West Side Market, they might—might!—slip me a free glass of buttermilk or a piece of beef jerky. Excuse me for not being as famous as them. I’m sorry, I shouldn’t be taking this out on you. I just get a little agitated about it. Those guys burn me up.
IPL: Is there a Mrs. Slider?
Slider: Hell no, there isn’t a Mrs. Slider. I mean, I wish there was, don’t get me wrong. But for some strange reason, most ladies don’t want to date a guy with purple fur and yellow hair. Go figure. Last year, I did go on a few dates with Onion, but that didn’t work out so good. Those workplace romances, they aren’t a good idea.
IPL: Maybe if you put on some pants . . .
Slider: Hey, going total commando is the best part of this job. They couldn’t pay me enough to put on pants.
IPL: On that note, I think we’ll wrap this up. Thanks again for your time, Slider.
Slider: Yeah, you’re welcome. Sorry if I got a little snippy with you. Tell you the truth, I’ve been kind of edgy ever since Chris Perez left town. I’m not sure why, but every time I visited his place, I felt really relaxed, y’know? I’m going to miss that crazy guy.