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Here’s how Louisiana State University home games are supposed to begin: While "Eye of the Tiger" plays over the sound system, a pickup truck towing a trailer with a real, live Bengal tiger named Mike VI is driven onto the field.
“If the home team is lucky,” Jonathan Martin writes for The New York Times, “Mike roars as the opposing players head to the field.” But that’s not what has happened at LSU's seven home games this season.
Martin joined Bill Littlefield on Only A Game to explain what Mike has been up to.
He’s been staying in his lavish, well-appointed habitat across the street from Tiger Stadium, unwilling to get in the trailer.Jonathan Martin, New York Times
JM: He’s been staying in his lavish, well-appointed habitat across the street from Tiger Stadium, unwilling to get in the trailer. He is just staying at home.
BL: Well, how have Mike’s caretakers responded to his unwillingness to do his job and put on a show?
JM: Well, this is 2014 and we are in an advanced state when it comes to treatment of animals, and so they do not force him into the cage. They don’t make him get in there if he does not want to go. Nor do they try to entice him with some kind of goodies like chicken livers or rodents. ... They just let him relax. And I can tell you, his habitat really is quite deluxe. He’s got a waterfall, a pool, an Italianate-style tower. It is a sprawling setup.
BL: LSU is a place of traditions. How are fans handling Mike’s reticence?
[sidebar title="Clark: The Unwelcome Mascot" width="630" align="right"]When Chicago debuted a new mascot in 2014, many Cubs fans weren't pleased to meet Clark.[/sidebar]JM: Well, LSU is obviously consumed with their tradition, and keep in mind that Louisiana itself may be of all the states in the country the one that is the most consumed with symbols and their meaning. And so the idea that Mike has not left his habitat once all year has to have some deeper meaning.
Is it good? Is it bad? Well, mixed bag so far it seems like this year. He didn’t come out for Ole Miss and they beat Ole Miss, but he didn’t come out again for 'Bama and they lost a heartbreaker to 'Bama.
BL: You spoke with Dan Borne, Tiger Stadium’s longtime public-address announcer. He had his own theory about why Mike was staying home for the games. What was that?
He made a really shrewd observation and that is, why the heck would Mike want to come out and be screamed at by 105,000 fans who have been tailgating for hours before the game when he can stay inside his habitat all by himself and, if he’s like a lot of fans in the South, probably watch the games on his high-def TV?
This segment aired on November 15, 2014.
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