Sunday, August 12, 2007

That's not a Real Name!

In my never-ending quest to write articles no one cares about, I give you this one on team names. I have thought about this on and off, usually when I see the Devil Rays, Jaguars, or Timberwolves mentioned. I dug out this article from 2001 which quickly states the categories:
In the not-too-distant past -- think post-Chicago Staleys, pre-Chicago Fire -- professional team names tended to emerge from five generally accepted categories: uniform colors (White Sox, Red Sox, Reds, Browns); local industry, geography and lore (Packers, Astros, Lakers, Trailblazers); American Indians (Chiefs, Redskins, Blackhawks, Braves); nautical aggressors (Pirates, Buccaneers, Raiders, Vikings); and animals (Broncos, Rams, Colts, Bucks). [SOURCE]
Other than the fact that the Cleveland Browns were not named after their uniform color but the head coach at the time (Paul Brown, against his initial wishes, and who is pictured above rooting through potential Bengals helmets in the late 60's), this states the situation fairly clearly. For the sake of sanity, I am not considering college teams or any sport outside the Big 4 (well, three and a half). The tops in my book:
  1. New York Yankees. Classic, and invokes an automatic, knee-jerk emotional reaction like "F*&! the Yankees" or "Hell yeah!" Involves an aspect I feel one needs in a the classic name - you can't envision it in another town, say, the Las Vegas Yankees . Say what? (Although there are exceptions to this below.)
  2. Boston Celtics. Another classic. Like the Yankees, the Celtics' history helps them. One thinks half the town hails from Northern Great Britain even though this ain't exactly the case.
  3. Pittsburgh Steelers. I think Pittsburgh would be a shell of a town (more than it already is) without the Steelers. Good name, localized, and unmovable. Although their recent addition of new mascot, Steely McBeam, is almost enough reason to drop them off this list entirely.
  4. Dallas Cowboys. May deserve higher ranking on this list, but while the Cowboys do get an emotional reaction not unlike the Yankees, they lack a certain umph for me which I can't really explain. God help you if you meet a Cowboys/Yankees fan though.
  5. Toronto Maple Leafs. It may be hockey, but it's a good name. Proceed with caution when naming yourself after a foliage however.
  6. Chicago Cubs. Not localized, but definitely unmovable. The Cubs are classic for their ineptitude, and thus their fans carry that stigma as well. Should they actually make it to the World Series one day some of the mystique will surely vanish.
  7. Green Bay Packers. Even worse than the Steelers, should the Packers wither and die they would most definitely take the city with them. Localized, classic, unmovable, and certainly the reason 90% of the town still lives there.
  8. Tie: Philadelphia 76er's and San Francisco 49er's. Both great names which can't really be applied anywhere but where they are.
  9. New Orleans Saints. Completely embodies the town for some reason. You might move this name, but it would never be the same.
  10. Houston Astros. Great name, although I wish they had kept those uniforms which made us adjust the tint on the TV.
Honorable Mention:
  • Boston Red Sox
  • New England Patriots
  • Milwaukee Brewers
  • San Diego Padres
  • Detroit Pistons
  • Cleveland Browns (only team named after an actual person)
  • Hartford Whalers, wait...nevermind.
These teams are not in because they moved the unmovable name (and other reasons):
  1. Los Angeles Dodgers. One dodges trolley cars in Brooklyn, not paparazzi in Santa Monica.
  2. Los Angeles Lakers. Hey LA, pick your own name why don't you? Of all the teams in LA only the Kings (ZZzzz...) came up with their own name. I think.
  3. Utah Jazz. You've got to be kidding me.
  4. Indianapolis Colts. Just because you did this foolhardy thing in the middle of the night does not mean we didn't notice.
Names we want back:
  1. Washington Bullets
  2. Houston Colt .45's
  3. Cincinnati Clowns
And now, for some of the worst:
  1. Minnesota Timberwolves
  2. Arizona Diamondbacks
  3. Tampa Bay Devil Rays
  4. Jacksonville Jaguars
  5. Carolina Panthers
  6. Golden State Warriors
  7. Indiana Pacers
  8. Anaheim Mighty Ducks
  9. Memphis Grizzlies
  10. Tennessee Titans
Now it's your turn...the Polls for Best & Worst Team Name:

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