For Ben and Raymond, they maintain a sentiment of baseball as religion; men of faith putting their trust both in the word of God and Vin Scully. They both believe in the Miracle of the Resurrection and Game 1 of the ‘88 World Series. Both have been unfaithful baseball bigamists; Raymond with the Angels and Ben with the Red Sox. Their faiths have undergone as much change as their favorite team's roster. So they write about it. They write about Baseball and they write about God.

Friday, November 13, 2009

A "Dodger", by any other name...



So I was watching Monday Night Football this week, Pittsburgh-Denver, when I had an unusual thought. Both nicknames of the two professional football clubs are somewhat representative of the region to which they hail. The “Steelers” of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania and the “Broncos” of Denver, Colorado. I started thinking about it some more and landed at this query.

How many professional franchises have nicknames that are indigenous to the cities they call home?

After 13 minutes of research, here’s the score.

The NFL is 12 for 32, including…The Dallas Cowboys, Green Bay Packers, New Orleans Saints, San Francisco 49ers, Seattle Seahawks, New England Patriots, Miami Dolphins, Buffalo Bills, Pittsburg Steelers, Cleveland Browns (named for their former coach Paul Brown, NOT their famed running back Jim Brown), Houston Texans, Denver Broncos

The NBA is 14 for 30, including…The Boston Celtics, Philadelphia 76ers, New York Knicks, Detroit Pistons, Indiana Pacers, Orlando Magic (this is a stretch, but I figure “Magic” must have something to do with Disney), Denver Nuggets, Portland TrailBlazers, Oklahoma City Thunder, Minnesota Timberwolves, Phoenix Suns, Dallas Mavericks, Houston Rockets, San Antonio Spurs,

It should also be noted that the Utah Jazz used to be the New Orleans Jazz, the Los Angeles Lakers moved west from Minneapolis and the Los Angeles Clippers once represented San Diego.

(Tangent 1: The NBA could EASILY be 16 for 30 if the Utah Jazz and New Orleans Hornets both agreed to switch nicknames, given Jazz was invented in New Orleans and State Highway Signs in Utah are all outlines of Bees’ Nests with numbers in the middle. It makes so much sense it will never happen.)

The NHL is 12 for 30, including…The New York Islanders, Montreal Canadiens, Toronto Maple Leafs, Washington Capitals, Colorado Avalanche, Vancouver Canucks, Edmonton Oilers, Minnesota Wild, Phoenix Coyotes, Dallas Stars, Anaheim Ducks, San Jose Sharks

(Tangent 2: Montreal’s hockey team gets points for being SO indigenous, the actual spelling of its nickname is representative of the region…French Canada)

(Tangent 3: Dallas gets the Common Sense/Creativity Award for dropping the word “North” from its nickname when the Stars moved from Minnesota.)

(Tangent 4: I tried to score the MLS but they get a “bye” based on the fact that no one who drives on the right side of the road knows what the hell “FC” means.)

Major League Baseball has the highest batting average, 15 for 30, including…the New York Yankees, Tampa Bay Rays (formerly Devil Rays), Minnesota Twins, Los Angeles Angels, Texas Rangers, Seattle Mariners, Philadelphia Phillies, Florida Marlins, New York Mets, Washington Nationals, Milwaukee Brewers, Houston Astros, Colorado Rockies, San Diego Padres, Arizona Diamondbacks

And our beloved boys of summer, the Los Angeles Dodgers, used to be the Brooklyn Dodgers, originally named for the devoted fans of the Brooklyn baseball club who were forced to “dodge” the trolleys on Flatbush Avenue to make it to the ballpark gates.

How about a thought experiment? If L.A. weren’t the Dodgers, what should they be? I have three potential name changes.

1. The L.A. Smog
2. The L.A. SigAlerts
3. The Los Angeles Stars

(And if choices 1 and 2 seem absurd, just remember back a few years ago when the San Fernando Valley voted on seceding from Los Angeles and how they wanted to change the Valley’s name officially to “Camelot”)

#3 is the obvious choice. “Stars” would be far more indigenous to L.A. than “Dodgers.” I mean, the only trolley dodgin’ Angelenos do is side steppin’ that fake one at the Grove which takes you from J.Crew to The Pottery Barn.

The Hollywood Stars represented the Southland as early as 1926. Before they were the Stars, they ping ponged through half a dozen cities in the West (at one point representing the good town of Fresno as the Fresno Raisin Eaters. Seriously. I couldn’t make this stuff up.) After nine seasons in SoCal, the Stars moved to San Diego and became the Padres. Yep. Those Padres.

But in 1939, a new stadium was built in the Fairfax District, a band of movie stars and moguls pooled their riches and, again, the Stars were born! Celebrity investors included Gene Autry, Bob Cobb (part owner of the Brown Derby and the namesake for the Cobb Salad) and the guy who played Fred Mertz in “I Love Lucy.” Could that even happen today? Let’s say the McCourts do fold, like you predict. Could the Weinsteins, George Lopez and Ice Cube get together and buy the Dodgers? I feel another thought experiment coming on.

The Hollywood Stars Ballclub pioneered many modern baseball customs. They were the first to drag the field between innings (thinking that the longer breaks in action would cause fans to go rushing to the concession stands). They were the first to broadcast baseball on television (naturally). And they were the first to dress their players in shorts (Okay. So maybe that wasn’t so revolutionary.) But the Stars had street cred in Tinseltown. Bob Hope went to games. Celebrities donned the blue caps with the Red “H”, and naked women were photographed wearing the cap on the covers of Jazz albums. I mean. Alyssa Milano might have written her own book about baseball and have her own sports clothing line, but she never stripped down to nothing but a Dodgers lid.

So. Whaddya think Raymond? If The Syphilis were holding a gun to your head and forcing you to rename the Dodgers. What would you call ‘em?

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