Fixing Team Names

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The NBA regular season is over, and since I’m somewhat (completely) fair weathered when it comes to pro hoops and the Pistons don’t just suck but are a complete and total embarrassment to the city, there’s only one thing I care about…and it ain’t LeBron or the Lakers.

The New Orleans Hornets are no more!

It’s always bothered me when teams move to a new city – and have to rebrand anyway – and they don’t go through the trouble of changing the team name.  So we get ridiculous names like the Utah Jazz, Memphis Grizzlies and Oklahoma SuperSonics…oh, wait.  Theoretically team names are supposed to reflect the culture of the cities they play in, but the closest Grizzly Bear to Memphis is either in a zoo or 1300 miles away, and let’s not even talk about a style of music that is predominantly black providing the nickname for a team in the whitest state in the country.

So I’m fixing that.

Here’s the rules:

  • We’re only changing the nicknames of teams that have changed during the respective sport’s current “eras”.  For baseball, that’s the expansion era (1969-present).  For the NFL (1970), NBA (1976-77) and NHL (1979-80), this refers to the time since their mergers.  So teams like the Oakland A’s and Los Angeles Lakers lucked out, even if their names make no sense.
  • Team names stick with the city (a la Cleveland Browns, Seattle SuperSonics, etc.).  If a second team comes to that city, they are eligible to adopt that moniker.
  • They haven’t moved, but we’re going to address Native American names, which means that the Redskins will be getting dealt with.
  • I don’t have a problem using a nickname that is currently in use in another sport.

That’s it, it’s that simple.  It should be noted that while I tried to research some of the cities’ histories in their respective sports to come up with names, but in the end, I’m an accountant with no creativity, and my buddy Jeff came up with a bunch of these names.  I think you’ll like them.

MLB

There’s literally no corrections to be made.  Only three baseball teams have moved during the expansion era: the Seattle Pilots became the Milwaukee Brewers in 1970, the Washington Senators became the Texas Rangers in 1972, and the Montreal Expos became the Washington Nationals in 2005.

Good on you baseball!

NFL

Not a ton of movement, but enough that teams require some adjustment.  In fact, only one team that’s moved recently has done it right and rebranded themselves, and even that was after the Titans spent 2 years as the Tennessee Oilers (interesting fact: the Oilers nickname has since been retired by the NFL…I have no idea what that means, but I find it interesting).

Also, I’m not addressing the Raiders, since they were originally the Oakland Raiders.  And since the San Diego Chargers were originally the Los Angeles Chargers, they can keep their name when they move in 2 years.

  • Arizona: There are a lot of opportunities here.  Vipers, Cobras, Wolves, Rattlers and Pythons all work, but they’d seem to be redundant with the Coyotes and Diamondbacks.  The Roadrunners would be an utterly fantastic tie-in with the Coyotes, but I can’t imagine it would ever fly with the stodgy NFL.  To me, there are two options: Firebirds (it continues the bird theme from the Cardinals) and Apache/Apaches.  And since Arizona is the Apache State, we’re getting permission from the tribe and calling them the Arizona Apache.
  • Baltimore: Theoretically they’d get to revert back to the Baltimore Colts when they stole the Browns from Cleveland.  But in a way, that would be a reward for doing the exact same thing to Cleveland that they spent years bitching to Indianapolis about.  Plus, Ravens is a better name and tie in better with the city.  They’re staying the Baltimore Ravens and will be the only team in this exercise to keep their nickname.
  • Indianapolis: There are two options here.  One, stick with the horse theme (Mustangs, Stallions, Thoroughbreds, etc.).  Two, you go with the racing theme, which is really the only thing Indianapolis is known for (Racers, Fuel, Turbo, Wings, Spoilers, Aeros, etc.).  But again, the Pacers already cover that, and I don’t feel like those nicknames really fit with the boring standards of the NFL.  So we’re going with the Indianapolis Stallions.
  • St. Louis: this one’s simple.  The Los Angeles Rams are the second (third?) incarnation of the St. Louis Cardinals. ‘Nuff said.
  • Washington: They moved from Boston in 1936, but that’s not why we’re addressing the elephant in the room.  Let’s face it, you can’t do a post about changing sports team nicknames and leave the Redskins out.  If the Redskins’ history weren’t so sordid, maybe they’d get a pass on the most blatantly racist team name in sports.  But they had to be forced to integrate by the federal government, they proudly played as “the South’s team” for years (back when the South was opening fire hoses on blacks marching for civil rights), and they intentionally changed their team song to reference Dixie instead of D.C. (thank God that’s been changed back).  This team’s history sickens me.  Let’s just do this quick and easy, change the team name to the Washington Pigskins and be done with it.  Tradition is no excuse for bigotry.  I’m glad this team is run by an unlikeable prick like Dan Snyder.

NBA

The NBA is just a disaster.  The only reason Oklahoma City became the Thunder is because of the public relations disaster that happened in Seattle (again: Oklahoma City…Seattle…Sacramento…do unto others what has been done to you).  Let’s just start, because there, I think some pretty good ones.

  • Brooklyn: theoretically the Nets are just in keeping the nickname, because they were the New York Nets when they came over from the ABA.  But that’s no fun.  What sucks is that Brooklyn Kings would be a really cool nickname, especially because Brooklyn is in Kings County.  But the Kings nickname belongs to Kansas City where the current Kings played before they moved to Sacramento, and we’re not changing the rules.  Besides, with the “cool” factor that is Brooklyn and the fact that a rapper helped move them there from New Jersey, we’re calling them the Brooklyn Ballers.
  • Charlotte: Wait a second!  The Bobcats have broken none of the rules.  They entered the league as the Bobcats.  Why change the name?  First, because Bobcats is boring, and it’s rumored that the team was named after the original owner, Robert Johnson.  Plus, now that the Hornets nickname has been abandoned, and the Hornets name dates back to the Revolutionary War in Charlotte, we’re giving the name back.  We’ve got the second iteration of the Charlotte Hornets.
  • L.A. Clippers: There are tons of problems with the Clippers, starting with their racist owner who would never spend a penny to go through a massive rebranding effort.  But let’s ignore that for now.  The first problem with the Clippers nickname is that it’s a great nickname for when they were in San Diego, where there’s a massive sailing community.  In L.A. it makes no sense.  But the other problem is that by just changing the city name, they’re going up against the Lakers, and you’re never going to top the Lakers in L.A.  So we’re taking the Los Angeles out of the Clippers and coming up with a name so awesome that there’s no way I could’ve possibly come up with it myself (and I didn’t).  Can you imagine how many units a Blake Griffin Hollywood Stars jersey would move?
  • Memphis: Memphis Soul and Memphis Blues would be cool nicknames…way cooler than having a name that made more sense in Vancouver.  However, we’re sticking it to David Stern with this one.  Back when the Grizzlies were planning on moving, they explored the option of selling the naming rights to the team (not just the stadium, the entire team).  One of the options was for the team to move to Louisville and be called the Kentucky Colonels (sponsored by KFC).  The other would’ve had them moving to Memphis and being sponsored by FedEx.  Stern put the kibosh on that, to which I say fuck that.  The Memphis Express will be the first team to sell the naming rights to the team (most assuredly not the last).
  • Sacramento: Theoretically we should ignore the current Kings since they’re likely to move to Seattle next year and become the new Seattle SuperSonics.  But that’s no fun, is it?  Plus, I think Sacramento has one of the coolest names my buddy came up with.  Sacramento, much like San Francisco, was a boom town during the California Gold Rush, so we’re going to call them the Sacramento Prospectors.
  • Utah: Changing the team’s name is a no-brainer, because if you ask any sports fan in the country what team name needs to be changed the most, Utah Jazz is going to be second (see: Redskins).  The tricky part is figuring out what to go with.  Saints would be a good shout out to the importance of the Mormon faith in the state, while Miners would be a good marker of an important piece of the state’s economy.  I said we would use nicknames that were in use by other teams, but I didn’t say it was required.  And the fact that there’s already a Saints team out there means we’re calling them the Utah Miners.

NHL

The NHL generally does things right.  The Quebec Nordiques became the Colorado Avalanche, the Atlanta Thrashers became the Winnipeg Jets, etc.  There’s one small exception.

  • Calgary: The Calgary Flames started out as the Atlanta Flames and kept the nickname when they moved north.  I wonder why a team named after the city burning down didn’t work out in Atlanta. How well do you think a team named the Detroit Riots would do financially?  If Calgary hadn’t been relatively successful, I’d say the team name was cursed…then again, they did lose the Stanley Cup to the Tampa Bay Freaking Lightning and then the sport did shut down for a year.  So maybe.  Sorry…digression.  There’s only one thing of note in Calgary, and that’s the annual Stampede, which is one of the world’s biggest rodeos.  I know there’s already a CFL team named the Stampeders, but (a) that’s the CFL, and no one cares, and (b) the CFL once had teams named the Roughriders and the Rough Riders playing at the same time.  They can deal with having a hockey team called the Calgary Stampede.

Wasn’t that fun?  Tell me you wouldn’t prefer those names over at least some of the ones we’ve got now.

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