This project was a natural afterthought to the recent Sport Change moniker rankings for each of the leagues in the Big Four. Now that we’ve stated our rankings for individual leagues, let’s see which monikers are the best overall.
The individual team rankings can all be found on the Moniker Monitor page. This may seem like a simple “take the top tier from each league” process, but moving the monikers out of their individual leagues alters the criteria for selection in a few ways.
Removing the Historical Skaters
-For starters, no historical skaters are included. These are the teams with questionable pro-level monikers who ranked high in the individual leagues simply due to their historic cred. The NFL doesn’t have too many skaters, though the Bills, Colts, and 49ers were not even remotely considered. Major League Baseball skaters are Yankees, Red Sox, White Sox, Cubs, and Dodgers. Mets and Phillies were also well out of consideration, though that may go without saying. NBA skaters were Celtics, Knickerbockers, 76ers, and Lakers. In the NHL, the literal historic skaters are Maple Leafs, Bruins, Rangers, Blackhawks, Canadiens, and Red Wings. Red Wings is a pretty solid moniker, but is didn’t meet the next criterion….
In or Out of Context
-Monikers that only make sense within the sport they play are not going to be ranked high. An example would be the Nets, a nickname that would be meaningless in say, baseball. Not that the Nets would be ranked high anyway–that is a terrible moniker. Another example would be the Philadelphia Flyers. That’s a great nickname that fits the team. They ranked high in the NHL due to alliteration, brand consistency, and some history. Taken out of context and into the big picture, the same is bland and somewhat meaningless.
Only One Team Per Moniker
There are six nicknames in the Big Four that are shared by two different teams. These are Giants, Jets, Rangers, Panthers, Cardinals, and Kings. For each of these pairs, only one was chosen to be considered. The simplest way to explain it would be: who wears it best? The New York Giants were an easy choice over the displaced baseball Giants of Frisco. New York Jets takes a slight edge over Winnipeg, though Jets isn’t a top name to begin with. Texas Rangers was an easy choice over the urban cowboys of Manhattan–definitely historical skaters. Though it’s cool that a Florida Panther is an actual animal, we chose Carolina for three reasons: 1. the NHL Panthers shouldn’t be claiming the whole state of Florida as their own when Tampa has a franchise. 2. A black panther better represents the nickname Panthers. 3. Carolina is a more successful franchise–the Florida Panthers seem poised to relocate due to terrible ticket sales. The St. Louis Cardinals were a gimme over the desert Cards in the NFL. The Los Angeles Kings were our top-ranked NHL moniker, and the lowly Sacramento Kings don’t wear the crown nearly as well.
So there are a few rules. Other than that, it’s mostly subjective. Please peruse, disagree, leave comments, and enjoy!
1. Pittsburgh Pirates.
2. New York Giants
3. Chicago Bears
4. Los Angeles Kings
5. Detroit Lions
6. Detroit Tigers
7. Chicago Bulls
8. St. Louis Rams
9. Golden State Warriors
10. Cincinnati Reds
11. Tennessee Titans
12. Dallas Cowboys
13. Texas Rangers
14. Green Bay Packers
15. Pittsburgh Steelers
16. Milwaukee Bucks
17. Atlanta Hawks
18. Philadelphia Eagles
19. Cleveland Browns
20. St. Louis Blues
21. San Jose Sharks
22. Miami Dolphins
23. Carolina Panthers
24. Minnesota Vikings
25. Milwaukee Brewers
26. Edmonton Oilers
27. Pittsburgh Penguins
28. New Jersey Devils
29. St. Louis Cardinals
30. Oakland Raiders
31. Dallas Mavericks
32. Seattle Mariners
There are the 32 as picked by Sport Change. There is plenty of discussion and disagreement to be had here. Feel free to use the comment board. Here is some analysis:
NFL: Kansas City Chiefs, New England Patriots, New York Jets
MLB: Baltimore Orioles, Toronto Blue Jays, Atlanta Braves, Oakland Athletics
NBA: Portland Trailblazers, Cleveland Cavaliers, New Orleans Hornets, Detroit Pistons, Houston Rockets, Phoenix Suns, Minnesota Timberwolves
NHL: Philadelphia Flyers, Montreal Canadiens, Detroit Red Wings, Chicago Blackhawks, Boston Bruins
Who Jumped? Who Slipped?
In the NFL, the Browns leapfrogged the Chiefs to make it to the big list. Other than the historical skaters, MLB stayed true to the original list. In the NBA, the Mavericks jumped ahead of the Blazers. The Philadelphia Flyers slipped more than any other team; from second in the NHL to out of the top 32. A handful of teams leapfrogged the Flyers as they were more worthy when removed from the context of the NHL.
Contribution by League
NFL contributed 14 of 32 for ~44%
MLB contributed 7 of 32 for ~22%
NBA contributed 5 of 32 for ~15%
NHL contributed 6 of 32 for ~19%
Divisions. For fun, let’s separate these top 32 monikers into divisions based on their category:
The HMC (Humanoid Moniker Conference)
Seafarers Division: Pirates, Vikings, Raiders, Mariners
Wild West Division: Cowboys, Rangers, Mavericks, Warriors
Blue Collar Division: Packers, Steelers, Oilers, Brewers
Looming Figures Division: Kings, Giants, Titans, Devils
The CMC (Color/critter Moniker Conference)
Furry & Fearsome Division: Bears, Lions, Tigers, Panthers
Miscellaneous Mammals Division: Rams, Bulls, Bucks, Dolphins
Air & Water Division: Eagles, Hawks, Penguins, Sharks
Rainbow Division: Cardinals, Reds, Blues, Browns
Now that was a waste of time. Surely there is nothing more to be said about the state of pro sports nicknames, right? Of course not! Next up, we’ll list the worst 32 monikers in pro sports. Stay posted.