It’s time to wrap up the “Boys of Summer Baseball Blast.” Let’s send off our salute to America’s pastime, by looking past time–into the future. I’d like to share a list of Minor League Baseball teams that should change their brands. That’s team nickname, logo, uniforms, and maybe even city.
Let’s start at the top and work our way down.
AAA. This is one level below the Show, so it’s a good place to class things up.
Omaha Storm Chasers change to….
I am not a fan of this brand. It’s not likely to change because several people are fans of this brand, and the Storm Chasers draw about 6,000 fans per game average. The Albuquerque Isotopes took their name from a TV show, but it was much more subtle and humorous than just copping the name of a popular and gimmicky show. That’s just cheap–they ain’t chasin’ storms, they’re chasin’ bucks. Solution: go back to being the Omaha Royals. It’s the kind of chip-off-the-old block brand that really makes sense, like the Pawtucket Red Sox or the Iowa Cubs. Go retro!
….the Omaha Royals.
Memphis Redbirds change to….
My theory on chip-off-the-old-parent-club brands is this: with few exceptions, you’re either all-in or out. The St. Louis Cardinals have their top-three level affiliates named after them, but in this scenario, we’re going to change all three. Redbirds is a good nickname for the top affiliate of the Cardinals, but I liked it better in Louisville than Memphis. For Memphis, let’s pick a regionally-relevant nickname that would be a pitch-perfect complement to instate rival, the Nashville sounds. Ignoring a certain hockey team in St. Louis, I’m happy to get the Blues.
Las Vegas 51s change to….
I’ve written about this before, but yikes. When faced with a buffet of choices for a Las Vegas moniker that reflects the area, the choice was a thick slice of grey alien meat. We should hold AAA to a higher standard and stage an all-fan walkout when the 51s host the Storm Chasers. Solution: there are plenty of options. For a new name, what about Players. It has the dual meaning of sports and gambling; a match made in Heaven. Even better than that, I like a revert to the old Stars moniker. I like it in AAA and I like with Las Vegas. A retro revert that still has Nevada panache.
…Las Vegas Stars
AA. Respectable, but with a little more leeway for goofiness.
Huntsville Stars change to….
Now that Las Vegas has reclaimed the Stars, it’s time to switch things up for Huntsville. Stars is too bland for AA, and it’s not working well for Huntsville. Their attendance is lowest in the Southern League and is closer to Rookie ball numbers than AA. Stars makes a certain amount of sense due to the Huntsville NASA station and the astronomer festival that is held every year. Huntsvillians seem a little more smart than Stars give them credit for. Solution: I like the space theme, so how about Explorers, or Shuttles, or Constellations, or Orions, or since the Marshall Flight Center was instrumental in the Apollo missions–the Apollos. Until you or I come up with something better, that’s the pick.
Jacksonville Suns change to…
I’ll allow there to be one Sun in the Minors, but I choose Hagerstown. They’ve been around longer, and I just associate Hagerstown with the Suns. Jacksonville should be more distinctly Floridian, like Flamingos. Also, their logo looks much sunnier than J-Ville’s creepy winker. If a certain NFL flees for L.A., the Jacksonville Jaguars would make for a terrific Southern League team. If the Jags are there to stay, how about a complementary name such as Leopards or even more minor-like: Ocelots.
Mobile BayBears change to….
I really despise the minor league nicknames that have a geographic formation followed by a generic animal. RiverCats, Valley Cats, Hillcats, Sea Wolves, River Dogs, Rock Hounds, Rock Cats…you get the idea. What is a Bay Bear? Is it a bear in a bay? Why is that bear in the bay? Should we all avoid swimming there? Maybe we should just change the nickname. To honor Mobile’s voodoo culture and to alliterate, how about the Mobile Mystics? Of course, that just reminds me of that WNBA team. I never thought I’d be endorsing a non-singurlable/non-pluralable (n-s/n-p) nickname, but there’s one that I found and then later saw as a suggestion for the New Orleans Hornets. The Krewe. It’s a reference to a Mardi Gras tradition. Keep it out of the NBA, but use in AA.
I really don’t like it when a team claims an entire state as it’s own when other teams exist within that state. In this case, there’s the Memphis Redbirds, Nashville Sounds, Jackson Generals, and Chattanooga Lookouts. Plus, most of the Appalachian League. Yes, the stadium was built in the suburb of Kodak, but they should’ve kept them the respectable Knoxville Smokies. If Kodakians pitch a fit and compromise is necessary, at least go with:
….East Tennessee Smokies
Springfield Cardinals change to….
We’re changing the Cardinals knock-offs, so how about an homage to a certain Kevin Costner film. The Springfield of Dreams. Either that or just move ’em to Wichita and bring back the Wranglers.
A-Ball. The levels of A ball should be a bastion of brand-creativity, and largely is. Let’s just change a few.
Winston-Salem Dash change to…
As much as I loathe n-s/n-p nicknames, the Dash is funny because it’s a reference to the dash betwixt Winston and Salem. However, I was a big fan of their old nickname and thought it fit right in with the classic animal names in the Minors. So bring it back!
Potomac Nationals change to….
Perhaps the P-Nats (like the Reading Phillies) are deserving of an exemption to the all-in or out rule, but I think they can do better. Names that play on the parent club without mimicking it exactly are pleasant, so let’s riff on the political theme. How about the Potomac Representatives or Reps for short? They can be the P-Reps now.
Lynchburg Hillcats change to…
This kills two birds with one baseball. Hillcats is as bland of a minor league nickname as you can get. The Braves are one team away from a complete set of Braves-named affiliates. Let’s simply make it happen.
Visalia Rawhide change to…
This may be my least favorite name in all of MiLB. Not only is it n-s/n-p (“I’m a Rawhi…player for the team in question”) but it’s also vague and inaccessible. They should go back to being an A’s affiliate and bring back the old Oaks moniker and the squirrel logo.
Bakersfield Blaze change to…
The Blaze are more in need of a new brand than perhaps any other team in the Minors. They draw dead last of all 150 or so teams from AAA down through Short-Season. In a previous post, we simply had them ceasing to exist. In researching what makes Bakersfield unique, I came upon a few things. Oil is big in Bakersfield, but a new name like the Derricks is boring and would feel more at place in the Texas League or the Texas Collegiate League. To honor the songwriters of the “Bakersfield Sound,” how about the Tunesmiths? Finally, like an over-ambitious donkey, I caught the perfect name in my teeth. I looked at the top employers in the Bakersfield area, and something immediately jumped out. Over 5,500 people are employed by two companies: Grimmway and Bolthouse. The primary product produced by both of those companies: Carrots! If it worked for the Modesto Nuts, it might work for the (former) Blaze.
Palm Beach Cardinals change to…
Another Cardinal to pick off with a BB gun. Palm Beach is one of the worst-drawing teams in all the Minors, and they’re overshadowed by the grand brand of the team they share their stadium with: the Jupiter Hammerheads. For lack of a better name, let’s go with a pun.
…Palm Beach Combers.
Dunedin Blue Jays change to…
Since St. Catherines and Medicine Hat no longer host the Jays, why should Dunedin? Another poorly-performing Florida State League team gets the hatchet. I originally wanted to call them the Dunedin Dunes. Then the Dunedin Buggies…a bug as a logo and dunebuggies zipping around the field. I’m glad I checked, because it’s actually pronounced DUNN-A-DINN. I guess Dunes might still work, but let’s reach back in time and borrow a great MiLB nickname now lost to the ages: the Beaumont Golden Gators.
…Dunedin Golden Gators
Wisconsin Timber Rattlers change to….
This is a pretty successful team in the Midwest League, so I don’t see any changes happening. But the changes should happen. As I said, claiming an entire state as your own doesn’t work when there is another team in the state. In this case, it’s the fellow MWL team the Beloit Snappers. In place of the cheese state, the place name should either go back to Appleton or the compromise of Fox Valley. In either case, the old Foxes nickname has to come back. Timber Rattlers is a little gimmicky, and maroon and black are terrible colors. Go bright red!
…Fox Valley Foxes
Peoria Chiefs change to….
I have mixed feelings on Native American nicknames. I think Redskins is terribly offensive, but I see no problem with Warriors or Chiefs. Chiefs is no more offensive than Vikings or 49ers. So why change the logo to a fire chief dalmation without just changing the name? Why not Peoria Dalmations? The funny part is that the thing that makes Peoria famous is it’s blandness. As a play on the batting stat, how about the Peoria Averages? The acting phrase, “will it play in Peoria?” lends itself well to another pun-nickname, the Players. Also the alliteration is nice. And it’s a bland, middle-of-the-road name. Perfect.
Greenville Drive change to…
Like the Braves, the Sox need to add to their collection. The Sea Dogs and Spinners aren’t changing, but what about Greenville? The former Greenville Braves picked a name that not only is n-s/n-p, but is boring. Time for the South Carolineans to honor their yankee parentage.
…Greenville Red Sox
Short Season. Anything goes.
Tri-City Valley Cats change to…
It’s kind of nice that stadium-site Troy and Schenectady get some recognition, but I’m not a fan of either “Tri-City” place name. I like Quad Cities alright, but mostly because Quad is fun to say. Just pick the most well known city. Though it was a team from Albany, Geogia, I think the Polecats can be reincarnated in upstate New York. It’s another “Cat” name, but it’s really a Skunk.
Tri-City Dust Devils change to…
This tri-city is easy switch to one, since the stadium site is in the most famous and most fun to say of the three: Pasco, Washington. Kennewick and Richland are just boring. Dust Devils is an OK name, but the logo is terrible. If this team doesn’t move to Milwaukie, Oregon, they should rebrand as the Pasco….? In a previous post, I talked about how the Yakima Bears should’ve been the Yakima Pears, so maybe we could go that route. The tri-cities is famous for wines, so how about the Pasco Pinots? That’s not kid-friendly, so let’s Pear it up.
Rookie Ball. Who even cares? I’ll tell you who: Sport Change.
Grand Junction Rockies change to…
The Casper Ghosts were a terrific brand, but then the moved to Grand Junction, Colorado and took on the popular parent club name. I bet they’ll stick with Rockies, but they could be more. In keeping with the Pioneer League tradition of Osprey, Chukars, and Owlz, let’s choose a bird name. After a little research, I flushed out a few birds that are local to GJ: Hummingbirds, Quails, Woodpeckers, and Kestrels. Grand Junction Hummingbirds is a mouthful. Ditto woodpeckers. Quails would be a cute brand. They could have a funny logo and call themselves the Q’s. But the verb “quail” means to shrink in fright, and quails seem a little frail. Kestrels are pretty cool birds, so that’s got to be it.
…Grand Junction Kestrels.
Helena Brewers change to…
I like how Helena has cleverly adopted the barley logo of their parent club, but something has to change. Helena draws under 1,000 fans per game, and they need a reboot. I love puns, so I have to pick the Handbaskets. Imagine a logo of a devil or goofy demon catching a ball with basket instead of a glove. Imagine a promotion wherein fans threw balls onto the field while the demon mascots tried to catch them. Imagine a huge wooden basket on the center field fence that wins a free slice of Devil’s food cake for every fan if a player hits a ball into it. Think about how kids would think it was sort of a curse word and how parents would have to explain the old phrase to them. That’s good stuff.
Must be time to call it a post. For more Sport Change MiLB posts, click here. The Boys of Summer have gone, and tomorrow begins a week-long gridiron gasp.
Are You Ready for Some Football!! It’s a Sport Change par-tay.