Team nicknames are kinda weird. Why is the New York team, not the Boston team, called the Yankees? The LA team called the Dodgers but the Anaheim team called the Angels? Do the Giants only sign seven footers? Aren’t Cardinals from Rome? Or the Kremlin?
Well, this article by John Paschal, which came to my attention via the Joe Sheehan newsletter (subscribe today!) got me thinking about team nicknames. What would I call each team if in some parallel dimension MLB suddenly started up today with 30 teams in all the same cities? In this case, I’m pretending that professional baseball never existed. Any name from any baseball team is, therefore, up for grabs. But we can’t use the nickname of a current or defunct team from the major football, basketball, and hockey leauges or their college analogs. I’m sorry to the smaller sports (soccer, lacrosse, arena football, etc…), but I’m going to pillage a couple names from you.
Ideally, a nickname should have a strongly local flavor. It shouldn’t be generic, and it shouldn’t be something not related at all to the town or region (looking at you, Tigers, Cubs, and Braves!). It also needs some level of sticking power. You don’t use a faddish name that’ll be off the map in ten years. It’s got to sound good too. The more it rolls off the tongue, the better. It also shouldn’t be too, well, froofy. This is baseball, not football or hockey, so violent-sounding names aren’t required. But we nonetheless need to remember that men are putting on these uniforms. I would rate their chances of signing with a team called the Barbies as very poor—unless the money was amazing….
So, given those parameters and my slightly twisted sense of humor, I created the following kinds of nicknames for each city (or state):
- My pick: The one I landed on
- Would that it were…: Nicknames already taken
- Fun: Mostly puns and pop cultural references
- Bad: Dark or mildly evil fun
In a few cases, I’ve made some notes for those who aren’t from the region or city in question. Also, I didn’t actually read Paschal’s article or Joe’s response to it because I didn’t want to be influenced by them. Any similarities are purely coincidental. Anyway, I’ve got the names, you can dream up the mascots….
- My pick: Animators
- Would that it were…: Magic—It was always a shame to me that Magic Johnson never played for Orlando.
- Fun: The Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim—Or is that too unwieldy?
- Bad: Rats—Let’s just say, I’ve known former Disney employees.
- My pick: Soul—James Brown, what else is there to say? (FYI: Soul is the name of a Philadelphia Arena Football team. Does anyone care?)
- Would that it were…: Thrashers—Owned by a former NHL Atlanta entrant. A brilliant nickname because the state bird is the brown thrasher, and a founder of Atlanta was named John Thrasher.
- Fun: The Georgia Peaches would be great in our universe but not in this parallel universe.
- Bad: Shermans—If a Georgia state trooper ever pulls you over and tells you that “no one goes through Georgia that fast,” don’t tell him Sherman did.
- My pick: Orioles
- Would that it were…: Skipjacks—Awesome name. Amiright?
- Fun: The Maryland Crabcakes—Don’t forget the Old Bay.
- Bad: The Baltimore Barksdales—Best 65 hours I ever spent in front of a TV. But unlikely to appeal to folks with children.
- My pick: Yankees—Oh, the delicious irony!
- Would that it were…: Minutemen—UMass has this one locked down
- Fun: Terriers, Baked Beans, Accents, Cream Pies
- Bad: Stranglers, The Massachusetts Miracle
- My pick: Lincolns—We should give props to the best President in our history, and, after all, Illinois is the “Land of Lincoln.”
- Would that it were…: Blues
- Fun: Improv
- Bad: Fire—Then again a soccer team uses it.
- My pick: G-Men
- Would that it were…: Flames—If that soccer team can use Fire….
- Fun: Chessmen—Bobby Fisher was born in Chicago, but more importantly, the Chess brothers formed Chess Records and collected an amazing array of blues talent such as Muddy Waters, Howlin’ Wolf, Ike Turner, Bo Diddley, and Little Walter. If you don’t know these names, please, I beg you, stop reading this article, and go listen to these links.
- Bad: Seven
- My pick: Tall Stacks—Cool name, historical resonance, and relevant today since it’s a major citywide festival
- Would that it were…: I don’t know, but it sure ain’t Redlegs.
- Fun: Skyline or Kids
- Bad: Presidents—Two US Presidents were native sons of Cincy! Sadly, they were Rutherford B. Hayes notable only for losing the popular vote while winning the electoral college, and William Howard Taft, the 350 pound POTUS who, in dubious legend, once got stuck in the White House bathtub.
- My pick: Rockers—Or had you forgotten that John pitched there?
- Would that it were…: There’s really nothing that fits the Forest City especially well in the ranks of team names.
- Fun: Grovers—Get it???
- Bad: Flamin’ Cuyahogas or River Fires, whichever you like better.
- My pick: Rockies
- Would that it were…: There’s no other name that better captures Colorado and its purple mountains majesty than Rockies.
- Fun: The Denver Mile High Club—A certain kind of adult fun…
- Bad: The Denver Mile High Club—…and if you don’t get it, then you didn’t get it.
- My pick: Motown Movers—Yeah, I’d use Motown instead of Detroit. You get the music and the cars. Or maybe the Detroit Ride?
- Would that it were…: Drive—Taken by the USFL motor city entrant.
- Fun: Rock City
- Bad: Bailouts
- My pick: Astros
- Would that it were…: Oilers—The one-time identity of the Tennessee Titans before they jilted Houston.
- Fun: Gamblers—Actually, this was the name of the H-Town entrant in the USFL, and it was well chosen. Kenny Rogers was born and raised in Houston.
- Bad: The Bushes or the Johnsons—We don’t discriminate on the basis of political affiliation on this site.
- My pick: Smokers— I’ve been to Arthur Bryant’s. It’s worth the trip.
- Would that it were…: Blues
- Fun: Here I Come
- Bad: Fountains—KC is “The Fountain City,” but that moniker reminds me too much of this.
- My pick: Angels—Though the Spanish tinged “Angelinos” might feel more authentic.
- Would that it were…: The Hollywood Stars or The Glitz
- Fun: The LA Law
- Bad: Smog—Or Gridlock if you prefer.
- My pick: The Florida Keys
- Would that it were…: Dolphins or Hurricanes
- Fun: Vice—I was a big Sonny Crocket fan
- Bad: Sound Machine—and not such a big Gloria Estefan fan
- My pick: Brewers
- Would that it were…: Brewers
- Fun: The Wisconsin Cheddar
- Bad: The Old Milwaukees
- My pick: Minneapolis Millers— They built this city one sack of wheat flour at a time. Though I’m sympathetic to Twins, owing to St. Paul being that big city right across the river.
- Would that it were…: Vikings and North Stars
- Fun: Minnesota Nice
- Bad: The Minnesota Bunyons—Too easily confused with bunions. Been better if Paul’s surname had been Sawyer.
New York A
- My pick: Responders—For, what I hope, are obvious reasons.
- Would that it were…: Knickerbockers
- Fun: Minute—Ronan Tynan? Nah, Don Henley.
- Bad: Bead Brokers
New York B
- My pick: Liberty—A women’s soccer team uses it already, but that’s within our rule set…Lady Liberty or her torch would be our logo, natch
- Would that it were…: Jets
- Fun: Dolls—Fun for punks, inexplicable for parents.
- Bad: The Wall Street Tycoons
- My pick: Oaks
- Would that it were…: Oaks
- Fun: Oaks
- Bad: Oaks—I read up on Oakland, and nothing jumped out. Seriously. Maybe the Steevs (as in Stevedores) in homage to one of the busiest ports on the west coast? Longshoreman is a mouthful. I hope our readers might shed some light here.
- My pick: Franklins—These guys will earn a lot of Benjamins
- Would that it were…: 76ers
- Fun: Cheesesteak? Cream Cheese? Lawyers?
- Bad: Buchanans—Here’s a President you don’t want to honor. He’s primarily known for three things: Being the bachelor president, being the vacationing President, and meh-ing us into the Civil War by showing no leadership on the matter of slavery.
- My pick: Redbirds
- Would that it were…: Heat, Flames, Suns
- Fun: The Arizona Retirees
- Bad: The Arizona Wall
- My pick: Magaracs—The Paul Bunyon of steelworkers
- Would that it were…: Steelers, Ironmen
- Fun: Warhols
- Bad: Polluters, Black Lungs
- My pick: Cruisers—This is a Navy town. “Destroyers” doesn’t quite trip off the tongue, nor does “littoral combat ship.” Plus Cruisers gives a nod to the old California cruiser culture.
- Would that it were…: Clippers
- Fun: Surf or Surfers
- Bad: Rear Admirals—Grand Admiral? Great! Fleet Admiral? Great! Rear Admiral? Hmmm.
- My pick: Fog—I love this, what can I tell you. After all, The Fog, took place pretty close by.
- Would that it were…: 49’ers, Nuggets
- Fun: Bullits—Yes, another Steve McQueen reference, but this chase scene is worth watching again and again. No music, just the sweet screech of tires and the roar of muscle-car engines.
- Bad: Quakes
- My pick: Sounds—Double meaning with Puget Sound and the Seattle sound of the 1990s.
- Would that it were…: Chiefs and Supersonics—The great thing about Sonics (sans Super) is getting both the jet industry and a local 1960s psychedellic band.
- Fun: Slew
- Bad: Code Slaves—Guessing this might lead to bad relations with local businesses.
- My pick: Entertainers—I could do Arches too, but St. Louis was the mecca for Ragtime, and Scott Joplin’s “The Entertainer” is the most well known of them all (thanks to The Sting).
- Would that it were…: Brewers
- Fun: Moundsmen—A nice double entendre with “The Mound City” and a sobriquet for pitchers.
- Bad: Spirit—Naming a team for the Airplane of a suspected Nazi sympathizer wouldn’t be a great PR move. It didn’t stop the ABA, though!
- My pick: Rays—As in sunshine. This works nicely and the team made a good move to shorten its name a few years back.
- Would that it were…: Buccaneers—Thanks, NFL, for making Gasparillas unusable too. And the NHL did us no favors either. Tampa is the lightning capital of the US.
- Fun: The Bay City Rollers—Too good to pass up…Tampa was the center of American cigar manufacturing for decades.
- Bad: Devil Rays—Too soon?
- My pick: Rangers
- Would that it were…: Dallas Cowboys
- Fun: The Dallas Ewings
- Bad: School Book Depositories
- My pick: Beavers—Portland had them at AAA, and it’s a national symbol of our friends to the north.
- Would that it were…: Don’t know, eh?
- Fun: The Canada Geese
- Bad: Distillers—Guessing we won’t get this one past the marketing department, so it goes here. Toronto for a long time was famous as Canada’s leading producer of spirits.
- My pick: Dream—At this time in our politics, it seems better to honor Martin Luther King than to play up the current crop of DC goons.
- Would that it were…: Capitols—But definitely not the Wizards.
- Fun: Monuments
- Bad: The DC Deep Throats—I guess it’s only bad if you’re a Nixonian. Well, and the pornographic undertones….
Your turn. Tell us if you love, hate, or have better ideas than what’s above!