Twins postseason tickets: At least 25,000 seats remain for both ALDS home games

stpeterTwins fans are closely following the final week of the baseball season, with the team in contention for a playoff spot for the first time since 2010. But after four consecutive 90-loss seasons by the Twins, those same fans are still very much taking a wait-and-see approach when it comes to making a financial commitment to the postseason.

Tickets for two ALDS home games (the Twins would host just two of the five games in the division series since their only route to the postseason is as a Wild Card) went on sale to the general public on Wednesday after a presale for season ticket holders.

Twins President Dave St. Peter characterized sales as “very moderate,” saying the team has sold 10,000-15,000 seats for each game. That means at least 25,000 remained for both potential playoff games.

“People are taking a very cautious approach,” St. Peter said by phone Wednesday afternoon, just as the Twins, who trail the Wild Card race by 1.5 games, began Game 1 of a crucial doubleheader at Cleveland. “I don’t think there’s any doubt that later in the week if the prospect of postseason games becomes more real you’ll see people more willing to part with cash. It’s not surprising based on other times when we’ve done this when the postseason was in doubt.”

Also working against the Twins this time around: when they made the postseason six times in nine season between 2002 and 2010, they were guaranteed at least two home games because the playoff format sent even a Wild Card straight into the division series (which the Twins could have been in 2006 had they not clinched the division on the final day). Now, they have the added ticket sales hurdle of not only needing to make the playoffs but also winning a one-game Wild Card game which will almost certainly be on the road just to reach the ALDS.

“I think that’s another part of it,” St. Peter said. “Who knows based on the scenario of us likely going to New York for a Wild Card game. That might add skepticism to the product.”

Still, St. Peter said he’s not as worried about selling ALDS tickets because the Twins would open that series on the road — thus allowing more time to sell home games. He’s more concerned about a possible Game 163 that could be at Target Field on Monday if there’s a tie in the Wild Card standings involving the Twins.

“The bigger issue is if we would host 163 on Monday, and those tickets would only go on sale once the game is reality,” he said. “It would be a repeat of 2009 and those would go on sale Sunday and it would be a mad dash to game time.”

Of course, St. Peter categorized that as a “good problem to have.” Game 163 against Detroit in the final season at the Metrodome in 2009 was a classic game in Twins history and had an announced crowd of more than 54,000.

St. Peter said those who buy tickets for postseason games that don’t end up happening can either get a full refund or apply the money toward 2016 season tickets.

He added that he anticipates a three-day attendance of at least 90,000 for the final home series this weekend against the Royals regardless of whether the Twins are still in the thick of the Wild Card race, with the possibility that all three could approach or reach sellouts if all the games are meaningful.

Math: Road doubleheader is no disadvantage to Twins

hunterA common narrative being floated around during the past several hours is that the Twins caught a bad break in having to play a doubleheader at Cleveland because of Tuesday’s rainout instead of staying on their normal schedule with one game Tuesday and one game today.

On some levels, that’s true. The most glaring reason is that it stretches an already thin pitching staff and makes it so that Kyle Gibson, one of their more durable and trusted starters — though not necessarily a more dominant one since he’s among five Twins starters who has made at least 16 starts this year who has an ERA between 3.96 and 4.10 — is no longer on schedule to pitch the final day of the regular season. It throws the rotation into a bit of flux, though again it’s not like you’re losing an ace in exchange for a fifth starter.

On a purely mathematical level, without specific considerations for rotations, particulars about the Twins and Cleveland or even conventional baseball wisdom, the Twins are in fact no worse off playing a doubleheader today. That conventional wisdom tells us that it’s tough to sweep a doubleheader, particularly on the road — and that for the Twins, who can’t really afford to lose games, this presents a specific hardship.

I wondered if that wisdom is wrong. And I think I’ve proven that it is, at least given the best sets of numbers I can find.

First off, Sporting Charts has some great details about MLB doubleheaders between 2005 and 2014, noting that in the time span examined there were 218 of them. The road team earned a sweep in just 47 of those doubleheaders — only 21.6 percent of the time.

Wait, doesn’t it sound like I just proved that it IS hard for a road team to sweep a doubleheader? Well, it is. But it’s no harder than it is for a road team to win two consecutive games that aren’t part of a doubleheader.

The average winning percentage for road teams in individual games throughout baseball history has been around 46 percent, which Baseball Reference shows off nicely in a graph of home team winning percentage. There is variation from year to year, but you see the biggest cluster between 53 and 55 percent home team wins from year to year (translating to 45 to 47 percent for road teams, with 46 percent being right in the middle).

So if you have something that’s a 46 percent chance of happening, how do you figure out the chances of it happening twice?  You simply multiply .46 by .46. When you do that, you get .2116, which rounded and made into a percentage is 21.2 percent.

The past decade of baseball history tells us road teams have swept 21.6 percent of doubleheaders, while nearly 100 years of baseball history shows us that a road team has a 21.2 percent chance of winning two “regular” games in a row. This is as close to an apples to apples comparison as I could come up with, since neither takes into account any particulars — just history.

I’m not ready to say the Twins caught a break last night because there are a lot of other factors at play, but at least the math shows this isn’t at all gloom and doom.

More mascot drama: Who really invented Goldy Gopher’s ‘head spin’ move?

goldyLast week, it was Ragnar. This week? Goldy Gopher.

I don’t go looking for mascot controversies (promise), but somehow they keep finding me. The breakup and contract dispute between the Vikings and longtime mascot Ragnar was one thing, but this is something else: a question (possibly even a dispute) over who invented Goldy Gopher’s famous “head spin” move.

The genesis was a recent piece in the New York Times about Goldy and his signature move. Per the story, there is this:

The tradition has roots in something acutely Minnesotan — hockey. Ross Bernstein, an author and board president of the Herb Brooks Foundation, said he invented the move while serving as Minnesota’s hockey Goldy from 1989 to 1991. Bernstein turned his experiences into his first book, “Gopher Hockey by the Hockey Gopher.”

Seems simple enough. Bernstein is even quoted in the piece in this amusing paragraph:

“I was trying to entertain 10,000 drunk people, just trying to do something to get some laughs,” he said. “Whenever I would do it, the fans would go nuts.” It quickly became part of the act.

But … an informal group of former U of M band members and former Goldy Gophers remember things a little differently. I talked this afternoon with Brent Turner, a marching band member from 1986-1990, who says there is evidence of Goldy’s head spin that predates Bernstein’s time as the mascot. He and others of that era have been trading Facebook messages over the past several days and are convinced the head spin goes back at least to the early 1980s — and that it neither has its roots in hockey nor was invented by Bernstein.

“We loved the part about Goldy getting in the New York Times,” said Turner, who marched as part of the U of M alumni band during this year’s homecoming. “Really what we said in our little forum is that we need to correct that (information) and stay positive. Goldy is such a cool character.”

Turner said efforts are underway to produce video or photos from the early-to-mid-1980s to back up their version of history, noting that band members are first and foremost concerned about an accurate portrayal of the beloved mascot. He also said a few previous Goldy Gophers feel that “Goldy shouldn’t be speaking, anyway.”

Without that evidence, I guess this is just a “Goldy Said vs. Goldy Said” argument. Maybe we can all agree at least that it’s a great move?

DraftKings, FanDuel and the new American Dream

draftkingsAs part of a work experiment (we should all be so lucky), I deposited $50 in a DraftKings account a little over a week ago. The idea was to see how far I could make that money last, while hopefully learning a lot more about the phenomenon of “daily fantasy games” in the process.

How is the industry thriving to the point that DraftKings could spend $81 million on TV ads between Aug. 1 and a week ago? (FanDuel, a similar enterprise, dropped $20 million in the same span – a sum that might otherwise seem otherworldly if not for the DraftKings blitz.) How is all of this legal? After all, gambling online on which team you think will win is illegal. But gambling on players in those games isn’t? (I’ll dive far deeper into this subject in a specific post later on down the road).

For now, I want to delve into the psyche of a DraftKings player. What follows is based on my own (limited) experience, my observations of the world, just enough reading to be dangerous and a healthy heap of good old-fashioned opinion.

Traditional fantasy games, like perhaps the fantasy football league you’ve been in for countless years with your college friends (I have one of these), are at their core about camaraderie. The money at stake is a secondary part of the equation – usually enough to make it “worthwhile” but amounting to a few dollars a week at stake over the course of a fantasy season. It’s fun to win a little cash at the end, but it’s just as meaningful to keep up with old friends, talk a little trash and have some fun.

Daily fantasy games offer very little, if any, of that camaraderie. Any of the larger-scale games are, by necessity, going to involve almost all strangers. (I played in a contest last week with more than 400,000 entrants). Peter Schoenke, President of Rotowire.com and Chairman of the Fantasy Sports Trade Association, says he believes the daily games have risen in popularity because, well, they are possible in a way that they didn’t used to be.

“The main driver of this is the technology and the ability to participate in fantasy sports in a way that’s real time,” Schoenke said in a phone interview last week, a dialogue he initiated after my initial piece on DraftKings ran. “You can play these games on your phone. Twenty years ago that didn’t exist. Even five years ago, taking it to that level and being able to constantly play all the time just wasn’t there. … It goes with the younger generation, always being on the phone.”

I think he’s right to a degree. There’s an element of this that is pure convenience. I proved that to myself when I was bored on the elliptical at the gym earlier last week and slapped together a quick fantasy baseball lineup in a $3 DraftKings game. It killed 15 mindless minutes on a repetitive machine. Maybe it wasn’t the best use of my time, but it was available and made the minutes pass quickly (something that could describe a lot of the “where did that time go” minutes/hours many of us spend on our phones, but again that’s probably a larger story for another time).

But I also think something larger is at play. The main selling point for DraftKings and other daily fantasy games is that they appeal to one primary sensibility: the desire to get rich quick.

And it’s my contention that getting rich quick is the new American Dream.

Now, this isn’t to say that people throughout history haven’t wanted to be rich. My smart wife reminds me that people flocked to California in the 1800s for adventure, sure, but also for the prospect of finding gold. There are plenty of other less-dramatic but similar adventures throughout our country’s history.

But it is to say what we think of as the “American Dream” has changed. James Truslow Adams defined the American Dream beautifully in 1931, and I’ll excerpt it here: It is “that dream of a land in which life should be better and richer and fuller for everyone, with opportunity for each according to ability or achievement. …  It is not a dream of motor cars and high wages merely, but a dream of social order in which each man and each woman shall be able to attain to the fullest stature of which they are innately capable, and be recognized by others for what they are, regardless of the fortuitous circumstances of birth or position.”

What we used to think of as the “American Dream” was basically an ideal of upward mobility. And I would contend that what many of us pictured as the American Dream was rising up from a lower economic class into that comfortable class of white picket fences.

That was the good life.

But that dream has become far less attainable as our country experiences an ever-widening gap between the rich and the poor. I’ve read a decent number of books and articles lately about this gap in both wealth and opportunity. I’ve read a lot of words that make me both uncomfortable with the direction of our country and appreciative of my solid standing in the shrinking middle class, a strange dichotomy I’m striving to reconcile. The most notable, heartbreaking and well-researched of the things I’ve been reading lately is a book called, “Our Kids: The American Dream in Crisis” by Robert Putnam. I would recommend it to anyone.

Still, though, I’m not here to give you a winter reading list. I am trying to explain how DraftKings and the economic gap are, in my mind, connected. The crux is this: If slowly climbing the economic ladder one rung at a time – hopefully arriving in the comfortable middle – seems that much harder, all-or-nothing fantasies become more easily entertained.

Even someone like me, who makes a comfortable living in regards to wants and needs, became engulfed and seduced by the possibility of winning $2 million (the top prize in a $20 game I entered, the one I referenced earlier with more than 400,000 participants).

Daily fantasy games are lottery tickets with the added seduction of making each participant believe that skill is the overriding component needed to win big. DraftKings is smartly run and expertly built. It might not be what we asked for, but it’s a reflection – for better or worse – of America.

Wolves media day: Rubio’s health, development vs. winning, Tyus to D-League?

wigginsThe Timberwolves are slated to open training camp Tuesday with their first practice, and in advance of that they held their annual media day Monday. With a lot of new faces on the court combined with a transition in the front office and coaching staff with Flip Saunders taking a leave to battle cancer, there were plenty of interesting items from the day. Here are some highlights:

FOCUS ON THE REBUILD

*General Manager Milt Newton talked about the vision of the organization, particularly with the shift to interim head coach Sam Mitchell. Newton said Mitchell will bring his own wrinkles to the court but that overall the mission is still the same: player development, even if it comes at the expense of shorter-term gains.

Said Newton: “This is something I’ve been doing for two years with Flip. Nothing really has changed. Most definitely the vision is still to develop our young players. We’d love to make the playoffs, but we’re not going to circumvent the process that it’s going to take to be a perennial playoff team. You have to win to learn how to win, but overall the vision is to develop that young core we have to become that perennial playoff team.”

Mitchell echoed those sentiments when he talked after Newton, noting that it will be tough for him as a coach to not always use veteran security blankets like Kevin Garnett, Andre Miller and Tayshaun Prince at the ends of games. Talking about his young players, Mitchell said:

“At some point, they’ve gotta learn how to play in those situations. Kevin’s not going to be here three years from now. Andre’s not going to be here three years from now. Tayshaun’s not going to be here three years from now. I have to make sure I’m doing right by the organization first. Doing right by them is making sure these young guys get a chance to learn how to play in certain situations. It’s tough as a coach because you want to have a chance to win. Obviously veteran guys give you a little bit better chance to win.”

HEALTH UPDATE

Injuries were a major factor for the Wolves last season, particularly the nagging/lingering types that clung to Ricky Rubio and Nikola Pekovic. Both players are trying to prove they can be healthy this season. But it doesn’t sound like either is a full 100 percent heading into training camp.

Though Rubio said his ankle feels great and he’s been cleared for full 5-on-5 drills, Newton stopped short of saying the point guard is completely healed. It sounds more like caution than anything serious, with Rubio saying the plan is to ease into camp to make sure he’s ready for the start of the regular season, but it bears watching given his history.

Said Rubio: “I’m feeling good. I’ve been working all summer to be healthy. … I’m pretty sure I’m going to be fine.”

As for Pekovic, he’s probably a little further behind Rubio in terms of his health as he continues to work his way back from foot problems. The plan is for him to start running in a few weeks, which isn’t far away from the start of the regular season. Said Pekovic: “I don’t believe nothing until I start running.”

D-LEAGUE FOR TYUS?

Newton said the organization is exploring ways to better utilize the NBA Development League, and he specifically mentioned local favorite Tyus Jones as a candidate to spend time playing at that level. Jones was a first-round pick in the June draft, but the Wolves also have Rubio and Miller on the roster. That said, Miller gave a glowing review of Jones from their early work.

“Man, I think he’s going to surprise a lot of people,” Miller said. “He’s a mature kid. He’s way more advanced than a lot of people think and more advanced than I was at 19 years old. He’s going to definitely surprise a lot of people.”

QUOTES AND NUGGETS

*Rubio greeted the assembled media with an enthusiastic, “Good morning.” It was 1:04 p.m. when he said it.

*KG on Flip:  “I’m being optimistic and positive just like everyone should be. The family isn’t really communicating a lot, but that’s their wishes and I’m here to support their wishes.”

*KG when asked if he still plans to become a team owner with the Wolves someday: “That’s the plan. … No details at this point, but that’s the plan.”

*I asked Miller and Jones who would win this three-on-three game: Tyus, Karl-Anthony Towns and Andrew Wiggins vs. KG, Miller and Prince. You can imagine what each said, but I’ll have a video of that up in a little while as well as a separate blog post on what I think is going to be the most interesting dynamic on the team this year: mixing the extreme veterans with the extremely young guys.

Sneak preview: David Feherty talks Ryder Cup before Monday’s Orpheum event

Golf commentator David Feherty has never been shy about speaking his mind, making him a perfect participant for Monday evening’s “Countdown To The Ryder Cup: An Evening With The Captains” event at the Orpheum in downtown Minneapolis.

With the Ryder Cup coming to Hazeltine a year from now, the event — with captains Davis Love III and Darren Clarke as the headline attractions — is a sneak preview of what’s to come. And I talked to Feherty on Monday morning for a sneak preview of that sneak preview.

Here’s Feherty on what to expect from the evening:

“We’re going to talk about the history and what’s coming up. I think it’ll be me that will be stirring the pot, with the history of the Ryder Cup. It’s always been kind of a media gold mine. It’s always been important even when it was an extremely one-sided affair. I wrote a history of the Ryder Cup several years ago when I was still drinking. I was going through it recently and it was so boring the first 50 years. I ended up making things up. It’s kind of like most history books. One thing that’s a common thread is that the media has always jumped on the patriotic part of it.”

On the impact of the Ryder Cup on golf in general:

“When the Americans were winning almost every time, the event was in danger of becoming extinct. … We have the Ryder Cup to thank for the fact that we have so many Europeans on the American tour. It gave them the stage and opportunity and feel they were equal with the Americans. They started to win events like the Masters in the 1980s.”

On Hazeltine as the host course:

I think it will hold up well. “It’s a great venue and Minnesota, anywhere in this Midwest, they’re tremendous golf fans. Your season is so short. There’s only like 6 months a year where the ground is soft enough to put a hole in it. Fans here really appreciate golf when it comes here and the atmosphere will be fantastic at Hazeltine.”

On stirring up interest one year out:

“It’s a little early yet, but it’s one of those things you can really look forward to. The Ryder Cup might be swinging back toward the Americans with the young golfers they have.”

Vikings postgame: Week 1 is a weird, distant memory

Even the most level-headed among us were tempted to write off the Vikings after a 20-3 loss to San Francisco in Week 1 on Monday night. It wasn’t just the loss or even necessarily the score; it was the manner in which the game unfolded, with the Vikings looking confused and overmatched at just about every turn against a team many figured wasn’t going to be very good.

Were the Vikings overinflated, enough so that we should be worried about the entire season? Were the 49ers better than we thought?

As it turns out, at least as of 3:30 p.m. Sunday — less than two weeks after the conclusion of that ugly Monday night game — both answers appear to be an emphatic “no.”

The Vikings in week 2 and week 3 — playing at home, notably — looked almost exactly like the version of the team most imagined they would be this season: physical on defense, balanced on offense, a tough team that wasn’t going to give away games.

The defense told much of the story Sunday against San Diego, matching the Chargers point-for-point (7 allowed, 7 scored on Chad Greenway’s never-ending interception return) until a garbage time TD. For the second consecutive week, the pass rush and various blitzes dialed up by Mike Zimmer and co. made life miserable for an opposing quarterback.

Teddy Bridgewater wasn’t nearly as efficient this week as he was a week ago, but he didn’t have to be. Adrian Peterson looked like his vintage self. It was a win the way Zimmer wants them to look: routine but not flashy.

In conjunction with the mess the 49ers have found themselves in since beating the Vikings — getting clobbered by Pittsburgh in Week 2 and starting Sunday against the Cardinals by allowing back-to-back pick-sixes, with both games on the road — it helped remind us that 1) home field still matters quite a bit in the NFL. 2) No conclusions should be drawn after Week 1. And 3) This is a strange, unpredictable league.

Ragnar speaks: ‘I don’t think this thing is over’

Joe Juranitch, aka the longtime Vikings human mascot Ragnar, has stayed out of the public spotlight since Sunday, when his Facebook post about noragnart being at a Vikings game for the first time in 21 years led to the story that he and the team had parted ways due in part to a contract disagreement. (Photo via Ragnar’s Facebook page).

But on Friday, Juranitch made the media rounds in the Twin Cities to explain his side of the story — a story that started out Sunday with a lot of public sympathy but turned in another direction after a few writers (including me) reported that he had asked for $20,000 a game after earning $1,500 a game a season ago.

Here are some highlights of my phone conversation with Juranitch this afternoon:

*On why he waited this long to share his side of the story: “What I didn’t want to do was react. I knew I’d have time at some point to put my side out there and then the Vikings fan can make a decision from there. I didn’t want to react in anger or in any other way. I want to keep this on a positive.

*So how did we get here? Juranitch said the Vikings called him over the summer to tell him they wanted to retire the Ragnar character and feature him in a limited role in the future. “You can only imagine hearing this for the first time – wait a minute, I’m not ready to retire and I don’t want to retire,” he said.

But he assumed the sides would work something out and assumed he would still have credentials to work games. Throughout the preseason, however, the credentials didn’t arrive. And whenever he called the Vikings to ask about a contract, they said they didn’t have one ready for him yet, Juranitch said.

That continued through the first regular season game, which led to the point where he was watching Sunday at his home in Ely, Minn.

“I don’t know what emotion I’m running on. Depression. Sadness. I’m looking at all the Vikings fans and I need to be there. Is this how it’s going to end? My wife said get dressed in your outfit and I’ll take a picture. Said she was going to post it on Facebook,” he said. “I didn’t know it was going to set off such a firestorm. I got an awakening at just how powerful Vikings fans are.”

*So, about that $20,000 a game …: Juranitch said the Vikings called him and asked him to put a contract together. He said with the help of a friend, he put together a deal asking for $20,000 a game with the idea that he’d be working in a limited role and probably only working 1 or 2 games a season. “Next thing I know I’m reading and listening to all these things where all the numbers came out and my head is spinning and I had no clue what was going on here,” Juranitch said. “My mistake was I tried to [create a contract] I had no business putting together.”

*What’s going to happen next? It’s unclear what the Vikings will do at this point, but Juranitch said he remains optimistic that the sides will reach a solution that puts him back on the field and said $20,000 a game is far from his final offer. “This has always been about the fans, not money. They’ve always been awesome and supported me,” Juranitch said. “To this day I’ve not been told I was let go. Here’s the good news. I don’t think this thing is over. I will be just as shocked as you if I’m not on that field Sunday. I just feel it in my heart. I don’t believe it’s over. The greatest fans in the NFL needed to hear this side.”

Beating of Vikings fan may prompt alcohol changes from 49ers

Video last week captured after the Vikings’ game in San Francisco captured an attack on a Vikings fan that led to the arrest of four suspects, three of whom were charged. It happened in a parking lot near Levi’s Stadium, and it could have implications beyond the attack itself.

This week, city leaders in Santa Clara (where the stadium is located) discussed whether stricter alcohol policies would have helped defuse that (and other) instances of fan violence.

My short answer: yeah, of course it would.

But here’s a snippet from the story in the San Jose Mercury News:

Though it is unclear to what extent alcohol played a role in last week’s videotaped beating that sent a Minnesota Vikings fan to the hospital, it wasn’t the first violent incident among fans at the $1.3 billion stadium that opened in the city last year. Council members floated ideas ranging from cutting off drink sales inside the stadium at halftime to drunken-driver checkpoints near the exits to quell the violence. …

But Santa Clara Police Chief Michael Sellers was skeptical a crackdown on booze would work, citing research by a national alcohol management expert, Jill Pepper, who works with all teams in the NFL. “She said changing policy could cause an increase in some issues.” he said. “Fans will stockpile or binge drink — which they normally would not do — because they know the stop in sales is coming.”

Most NFL stadiums (including SF’s) stop alcohol sales at the end of the third quarter. Is there much difference between sobering up for an hour and a half vs. 45 minutes? I guess I don’t really know. I do know that alcohol sales are big business. And I do know that while I’ve never been in a parking lot altercation at a game, the one time someone tried to instigate one with me (Bears game in Chicago), alcohol most definitely played a role.

Ragnar to the Bears? And just how much does a mascot make?

ragnarvikingsIf you haven’t had enough of Vikings mascot mania, I have a couple of hot links for you this afternoon.

First, in this Chicago Tribune opinion piece it is argued that the Bears should bring in Ragnar, the deposed Vikings mascot, as their own. From the piece:

Let me rattle off a few reasons why this is an incredibly good idea.

He’s a viking and vikings are awesome.

He’s a big man and will be able to help pick up the pieces of Jay Cutler when he returns from injury and is immediately injured again.

Whenever Cutler throws an interception, Ragnar will chase him up and down the sideline with a battle-ax, fulfilling every Bears fan’s deepest desire. (Until Cutler returns, Ragnar can chase backup quarterback and former emu impersonator Jimmy Clausen.)

It’s hard to say what the percentage of seriousness is here, but I’d put it around the percentage chance that it would actually happen (which is to say, both are pretty close to zero).

Second, a big question that I’ve been asked a lot: how much do mascots really make? Along with a couple other outlets, I reported (per a source) that Ragnar made $1,500 a game last season. The Vikings went into this past offseason looking to change his role and perhaps take him out of gameday situations. And from my understanding, he countered with a financial proposal that would have paid him $20,000 per game. At that point, the sides were at an impasse. I’ve not been able to confirm that with Ragnar (Joe Juranitch is his real name, and he’s been unavailable for comment), but again that’s what I’ve reported via a source familiar with the negotiation.

If the pregame is included, there are 10 home games a season. That means Ragnar made $15K last season, plus perhaps some extra money for other appearances. ESPN.com got ahold of Dave Raymond, the original Phanatic out in Philadelphia. Now, it’s important within the context of all this to remember Ragnar was an independent contractor and not a team employee, but still I found this passage interesting:

Mascots generally make anywhere from $25,000 a year starting out in the minor leagues to $60,000 in the NFL, NBA, MLB and NHL, said Raymond, who now runs Raymond Entertainment, a character branding and mascot training company which has created and worked on more than 100 mascots over the past 20 years. Some mascots make more, but not many. “Performers who have been there anywhere between 10 to 20 years, who are full-time salaried performers with benefits and incentives, can earn in the six-figure range, and about 10 percent of the full-time performers are reaching that level of compensation,” Raymond said.

Ragnar was with the Vikings for 21 years, though the Vikings added another mascot, Viktor, in 2007. And again Ragnar was an independent contractor so perhaps there is a distinction. Also, it’s worth noting that the article makes it sound as though most of the higher-paid mascots are in MLB and the NBA, which have 41 or 81 home games instead of 10).

But yes, there are mascots who make six figures. Perhaps at $1,500 per game, one could say Ragnar was underpaid and not necessarily out of bounds in asking for a raise? That said, Raymond concluded that Juranitch “overestimated his value to the team” based on the contract figures that were reported.