Breaking News: The AAA-level Yankees affiliate based in Lackawanna County, Pennsylvania just announced the results of their name the team contest. The newest nickname in Minor League Baseball is…the Scranton/Wilkes-Barre RailRiders. (sigh)
Railing Against the Riders
Followers of Sport Change may remember a post on this topic back in August. S/W-B had announced a name the team contest, and gave six options: Blast, Black Diamond Bears, Fireflies, RailRiders, Porcupines, and Trolley Frogs. In that post each nickname option was analyzed using specified criteria and then ranked. The rankings went, from best to worst: Trolley Frogs, Fireflies, Porcupines, RailRiders, Black Diamond Bears, and Blast. In these rankings, RailRiders was fourth of six, and was certainly the most bland, mediocre, generic of the pack. As such, the S/W-B fans voted it right in. Here’s the Sport Change description of the RailRiders option from that post:
RailRiders. That is about as mediocre of a nickname that they could come up with. You can’t fling a jockstrap in America without it hitting a MiLB team with a similar name. In PA, there’s already a railroad nickname: the Altoona Curve. RailRiders reminds me of a mashup of two Rangers affiliates: the RoughRiders and the Round Rock Express.
So it’s not that it’s a terrible nickname (like Blast) but it’s not inspiring or interesting in any tangible way. Let’s assess what we can from the logo spread:
-It’s no surprise that the lengthy Scranton/Wilkes-Barre place name is still attached. That was never a part of the contest, though it should have been. With a longer double name like RailRiders, this is the second most long-winded nickname in the minors; only behind the cheeky Angels affiliated Inland Empire Sixty-Sixers of San Bernardino.
-RailRiders is not only a generic train (trolley?) related name, it has the always-annoying two word, double-caps fusion effect that is far too common in the minors. Why not Railriders? Or Rail Riders?
-Moving on to the logo….wow. I knew it was porcupine instantly due to the fact that Porcupines was a contest choice, but that animal could also pass for a ground sloth, gerbil, muskrat or any number of common rodents and prehistoric megafauna. It’s a bit bizarre that another contest option was co-opted into the new moniker. Why not just be the Porcupines?
-I’ll quit railing for a second to see what is redemptive here. The color scheme is nice, the script in the logo looks good, and at least the name doesn’t stand out as being terrible. Bland nicknames are common in AAA, and as the level closest to the Majors, the name shouldn’t be too far out.
What Could Have Been
I’m shocked that Trolley Frogs didn’t win. It’s instantly fun, if a little corny. A trolley frog is part of a trolley track mechanical system, and Scranton is apparently famous for trolleys. The Everett AquaSox have largely moved away from their old tree frog logo, and it would be fair game. Many other fansites I came across were also in favor of the nickname, and even the local paper in Scranton endorsed the T-Frogs.
Fireflies could’ve also been an excellent and unique name. Imagine twilight blue or black jerseys with glow-in-the-dark graphics. Yes, glow-in-the-dark is tacky, but a name like Fireflies really justifies it. The logo could’ve been a cute looking fly catching a pop fly or something to that effect.
Suffice it to say: I’m disappointed, but not outraged. This nickname is just OK, and will quickly fade into the MiLB background.
In other MiLB moniker news, the Reading Phillies will be announcing their new name change very soon, so stay tuned. Rumor has it that the two possibilities are the Reading Fightin’ Phils and the Reading Railroaders. You know what would be better than Railroaders? The Reading RailRiders! Oh, wait….