Tuesday, May 12, 2015

Thoughts on What's In A Name

Is Giants the best name for a MLB team in San Francisco?  I occasionally ponder that question when I don't have enough to do.  Now, Giants is a fairly generic name for a sports team, so I guess it could fit in any city, but let's face it, Giants is really a New York name that got moved out with the team to San Francisco.  It seems like most teams that change cities keep their team name in the new location, but not always.  The Washington Senators became the Texas Rangers.  The Montreal Expos became the Washington Nationals.  What if the San Francisco team came into existence via expansion rather than relocation?  What would their team name be?

I have a few personal pet peeves about team names.  One is I don't like singular names like the Jazz.  I don't think MLB has any of those, do they?  To me a team is a collection of individuals and so should have a plural name.  Secondly, I don't like teams named after inanimate objects.  I guess the Rockies is a decent fit for Colorado, but how is a baseball team like a range of mountains?  I don't really like generic names that don't seem to have any connection with the location of the team.  Detroit Tigers?  Why Tigers in Detroit?  Cincinnati Bengals has to be the worst.  I mean, what is a Bengal?  I assume it is a shortened version of Bengal Tiger, but aren't their people known as Bengalis?  And, why in Cincinnati?  I also don't like team names that sound like they were chosen by a city commission.  A perfect example would be the Montreal Expos named after a World's Fair that lasted just 1 year.  

I do like team names that reflect a locally named animal or type of person that reflects on the culture of the city.  Much as I hate to say it, Yankees is a perfect name for a team in New York.  Marlins is pretty good for Florida or Miami.  Rays or Devil Rays not so much for Tampa Bay.  To me, the San Francisco 49'ers is just about as perfect a name as you will get.  It's plural and reflects on the origins and culture of the city the team plays out of.

Some team names that aren't too bad in their original location become terrible if they move to a new city.  The Lakers were OK in Minnesota, but Los Angeles is located in a freaking desert!  No way should a team in LA be named the Lakers.  Likewise, I am not sure what Dodgers has to do with anything but I'm pretty sure it has nothing at all to do with Los Angeles.  New Orleans Jazz was tolerable, although I repeat, I don't like singular names for sports teams.  Jazz was downright terrible for a team in Salt Lake City/Utah.

So what about the Giants in San Francisco?  Do you ever wish they had a name that was more identified with the city they play in?  What about the Seals?  Should they have taken that name?  Maybe Sea Lions sounds more dangerous and imposing?  Here are some questions to ponder and give your answers to on the day after a travel day:

1.  If San Francisco got an expansion team, what would you name it?

2.  What is the best non-novelty sports team name you can think of?

3.  What is the worst sports team name?

I'll go with #1  Seals or Sea Lions.  #2  San Francisco 49'ers.  3.  Cincinnati Bengals.

What are your picks?


  1. Should have called themselves the Bays. That way, every time you talk about the SF team, you'd inevitably end up saying "The San Francisco Bay's", and everyone would think of an iconic sunset over our great city.

    Anyways -
    1. The Bays
    2. The Bronx Bombers
    3. The Atlanta Crackers (seriously, look 'em up....)

    However, I do also own an SF Seals jacket, so I'm with you on that one Doc. Good post!

  2. How Bout Dem Cowboys!

  3. Toronto Raptors & Anaheim Mighty Ducks are 2 of worst, Anaheim finally figuring being a crappy Disney movie was bad so they dropped Mighty. Toronto didn't learn and also seemed to go Disney Jurassic Park route.

  4. 1. I still love the Giants name. 2. Philadelphia 76ers. 3. Utah Jazz (BRING IT BACK TO NEW ORLEANS)


  5. 1. Seals (because of historical precedent in minor league baseball and hockey).
    2. 49ers (because they were first and my family has rooted for them since the days of the AAFC).
    3. Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim. That's just awful on many levels.

  6. The Giants are the team of my youth and I will always be loyal. But in my heart of hearts they always should have been the Seals -- an expansion team with the PCL team's name and that reflects the City and its history. Just like LA should really be the Hollywood Stars and not the Trolley Dodgers, a name designed for Brooklyn.

    Wikipedia says the Bengals took their name from a Cincinnati team of the same name in the '30s, so it apparently has a historical basis, but doesn't say where that name came from. If I were to hazard a guess that comes from the Cincinnati Zoo. Certainly in the first half of the 20th Century, Cincinnati probably had the finest zoo in the nation (and they're still quite proud of it), and I'd wager they probably were the first to obtain then-rare Bengal Tigers at some point to great acclaim. So it would make some sense to people from Cincinnati. (What else could you call them? The "Cincinnati Chilis?")

  7. Great topic!

    Well, Dodgers came about because people were dodging trolley cars. For a while there, LA people were dodging bullets in acts of road rage, so maybe it fits still? Or maybe they should go back to their old name, the Bridegrooms. Lots of entertainment stars down in LA marry multiple times, that would fit too.

    But yeah, I hate Lakers, Jazz, other names that get carried from one site to another without thinking through the connections. Memphis Grizzlies?

    1. Wow, SF has had a lot of names in pro ball history: http://www.baseball-reference.com/minors/team.cgi?city=San%20Francisco&state=CA&country=US&empty=0

    Includes A's and Metropolitans (also Orphans, Knickerbockers, and Brewers - Folger connection I assume, since Folgers was another name).

    Seals seems the best, since there is the long history of the San Francisco Seals. Though 49ers is probably ideal, and they did have the Giants in football and baseball in NY, Cardinals in St. Louis, so there could be a double team situation here too.

    2. Niners are good. But lots of good ones. Green Bay Packers. Milwaukee Brewers. Arizona Diamondbacks. Texas Rangers. Washington Senators. Houston Rockets. Indiana Pacers. Philadelphia 76ers. Rockies would seem to be a good name, but naming a team after a mountain range? Don't work for me.

    3. If they were still around, Anaheim Mighty Ducks. Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim is pretty bad too.

    And I don't like the Brooklyn Nets. That would be like using Bats in baseball or Cleats in football. I don't think equipment is right for a team sport based in locales, it might be fine for a fake team on a video game, but not a real team.

    Oh, and perhaps a special category for racially insensitive team names like the Redskins.

  8. Wow Mayo/Callis came out with a Mock that gave us Kolby Allard and the A's taking....ANDREW BERTENDINI!!!