Raymond, the Tampa Bay Rays mascot, displays questionable Steve Irwin sign (pic)
Granted, famed Australian wildlife expert Steve “The Crocodile Hunter” Irwin tragically perished many years ago — 2006 to be exact — after being pierced in the chest by a stingray barb while filming a documentary. But the sign that Tampa Bay Rays mascot Raymond held up during the team’s game against the Baltimore Orioles at Tropicana Field on Wednesday certainly raises an issue and brings to light the age-old argumentative inquiry of “Too Soon?”
Have a look-see and determine if Raymond’s sign about Steve Irwin was “Too Soon?” for yourselves.
Via @asianmegan by way of Deadspin:
Hoo boy. Regardless of whether or not Raymond’s mascot-brained actions should be considered “Too Soon,” the decision to hold up the sign is of a questionable nature at best, especially for a member of the Tampa Bay Rays organization.
Let’s just hope that this incident serves as a valuable warning for Grizz, the mascot for the Memphis Grizzlies. Please, please, please, no Timothy Treadwell signs. That would be bad idea, indeed.
UPDATE: The Rays have issued a statement apologizing for incident (via the Orlando Sentinel):
“Last night Rays mascot Raymond was handed an inappropriate sign brought to the game by a fan. Fans are welcome to bring signs into Tropicana Field provided they are not offensive. The Tampa Bay Rays regret that this particular sign was displayed in the ballpark, and we apologize for the lapse in judgment.”
UPDATE #2: The person behind the sign contacted Deadspin and gave the following account of what transpired: “There were a couple empty seats in front of me so Raymond sat down. I handed him the sign and he read it, obviously thought it was funny because he stood up on the chairs and held it up for literally 3 seconds, obviously realizing what he was doing or when he saw the reaction from some of the fans, and got down and tried to hand it back. That’s when I started snappin off photos.”
Deadspin also has additional photos of the incident provided by the emailer.
UPDATE #3: The man behind the sign has been identified as Lloyd Johnson, 29, an Army veteran who served in Iraq and now is attending classes at nearby St. Petersburg College. Johnson informed The Tampa Tribune via another email that “Raymond did read the sign and even used his finger to point to the Steve Irwin line before he stood up for a second. It was definitely a slip-up on his part because from most of the comments I’ve read, people think the Rays did this when in fact it was just a smart (aleck) that handed it to him.”
A sports marketing major, he added that he came up with the sign by leaning on the knowledge he gleaned from working at a t-shirt kiosk in a mall, and”that the more cutting edge/offensive the shirt, the more it would sell.”
About the response he received at the game, Johnson reported, “I had to explain the sign to some people I encountered, but most of the reaction … at the game was positive and funny.”