Name that Team

So, let me begin with a big a-p-o-l-o-g-y. Things go real at the Oleander house recently. My daughter got sick on Thursday and remained quite ill until today. So, Friday was a no-go and it’s not until now – after her and Bean are in bed that I can finally sit down with 5 minutes to myself to hammer this out. However, this delay has given me a lot of time to ponder my thoughts on team mascots (and by mascots, I’m going with the team’s designated name like Boston Red Sox where Red Sox is the “mascot” and not that horrible green monster, Tessie. If the actual costumed mascot was your intention, Bacon, you can have me write another post entirely on those).

I think there are three particularly important categories to consider when talking about mascots.

Note: For the purposes of this post I’ll be sticking to teams in the MLB, NFL, NBA, and NHL. 

Animals

An animal can be a pretty awesome mascot. Many animals are intimidating and frightening. The Chicago Bears for example are an appropriate football mascot. They are big, scary, faster than you’d expect for their girth, and you don’t want to mess with them.

Teams that are doing animals wrong: 

Chicago Cubs: Baby animals – not scary. Maybe you can make the argument that this is clever, what with the Bears and Cubs and all. But, given that they are different sports entirely and not some sort of Major League/Minor League affiliate, your argument is invalid.

Kansas City Royals: (Bet you didn’t know that was named after animals). Yup. Named for the “American Royal” livestock show. Livestock.

Pretty much any team named after a sea creature: Tampa Bay Devil Rays, Florida Marlins, Miami Dolphins (side note: what’s the deal, Florida?). The San Jose Sharks aren’t too bad, so I suppose they get a pass.

Any bird that isn’t a Hawk or an Eagle. Orioles? Cardinals (x2)? Blue Jays? Pelicans? Penguins? Ducks? I mean, I get regional pride and regional fauna. But…these are just not solid team names.

Teams that have changed location, but not names

I think we can all agree the the New Orleans Jazz is pretty legitimate. However, when the team moved to Salt Lake City in 1979, they kept the name.  And became the Utah Jazz. Now, don’t get me wrong. As a resident of the beehive state, there are a lot of great things about it. But Jazz? Let’s be honest, that should have been rethought.

Here’s a factoid you probably didn’t know. You know the Los Angeles Dodgers, right? Did you know that a Dodger is a “Brooklyn pedestrian who dodged the streetcars in the city.” Yes. The Dodgers moved from Brooklyn to LA in 1958, but remained the Dodgers for reasons I don’t fully understand (okay, I don’t fully understand why they chose Dodgers in the first place. I mean, how much streetcar dodging was really going on in 1884? Was this, like, a big thing?).

Another Los Angeles team chose to stick with its original moniker. The Los Angeles Lakers. Once the Minneapolis Lakers (you know, from Minnesota – the “Land of 10,000 Lakes“), they moved to Los Angeles in 1960. And while Los Angeles county isn’t devoid of lakes, it’s really not the land of “Lakers,” either.

Teams that are crushing it

Some teams are just doing it right. For example:

Any team named after pirates or marauders. Here’s looking at you Pittsburgh Pirates, Oakland Raiders, Minnesota Vikings, and Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

The Minnesota Twins. Twin Cities. Too clever of a play on words for me not to dig it (Side Note: I am not endorsing Minnesota teams, here. They have just, apparently, done a decent job naming their teams. Gotta give credit where credit is due).

Teams named after weather. Weather is unpredictable and uncontrollable – so this naturally makes for some solid mascots. Additionally, each of the following teams has chosen regionally appropriate weather, making it both intimidating and clever.Including Carolina Hurricanes, Tampa Bay Lightening, Colorado Avalanche, Miami Heat, Phoenix Suns, and Oklahoma City Thunder. Note: There are no teams in the MLB or NFL named after weather…)

And finally, the Golden State Warriors. Don’t disagree. Just nod.

**Honorable mention: The Arizona Diamondbacks. Snakes are horrifying limbless beasts that swallow their prey whole. Arizona is the desert home to 13 species of venomous rattlesnakes, including the Diamondback. This is a solid name. However, the fact that they are referred as the D-Backs almost exclusively and that I think of “D-bag” every time I hear that…they are removed from the list. Permanently.

Hope it was worth the wait friends.

Your friendly neighborhood sports fan,

Oleander

Bacon: Who’s the most interesting person you have encountered in the past week.