Vote: Should an MLB team change its nickname?
The NBA’s Charlotte Bobcats announced on Tuesday that they have submitted paperwork to change their team nickname to the Hornets, which became available at the end of the regular season following the announcement that the New Orleans Hornets, who relocated from Charlotte in 2002, would play next year as the New Orleans Pelicans. The NBA, of course, is home to the Utah Jazz, who declined to change their name upon moving from New Orleans in 1979 resulting in the most incongruous team name in sports, and one of their signature franchises is the Los Angeles Lakers, who similarly kept an incongruous nickname when relocating from Minneapolis in 1960.
Baseball lacks such ill-fitting team nicknames, in part because while the Athletics, Braves, Giants and Dodgers all kept their names after moving to a different city, many other teams changed theirs upon relocating. The Orioles, Twins, Brewers, Rangers and Nationals all switched to more area-appropriate nicknames when moving from St. Louis, Washington, Seattle, Washington and Montreal, respectively. Of the first group, only the Dodgers’ name held significant geographic meaning, derived as it was from the fact that Brooklynites were sometimes referred to as “trolly dodgers” due to the preponderance of trolly lines in the borough and around the Brooklyn ballpark. However, the name Dodgers has lost its geographic significance over time and become a baseball word as much associated with Los Angeles as Brooklyn.
Still, it seems worth asking if you think any of the 30 major league teams should follow the Bobcats’ lead and change their nickname. Certainly, there are a few teams who could benefit in one way or another from a change. For example . . .
Blue Jays: The name Blue Jays was chosen for the Toronto expansion team in August 1976 by majority owner Labatt Breweries from a list of more than 4,000 suggestions. The only significance it holds is that blue is one of the city’s colors and common to all of its sports teams, but in a league that already had the Cardinals and Orioles, the bird mascot still feels uninspired 35 years later.
Braves, Indians: Your personal perspective might label it political correctness or racial insensitivity, but there’s no denying that Native American-derived nicknames are lightning rods. Neither of these is as offensive as the NFL’s Washington Redskins, but there’s certainly ample justification for either team to make a change.
Diamondbacks: It’s evocative of the Arizona desert, to be sure, but “Diamondbacks” is just too long. At 12 characters, Diamondbacks is three characters longer than any other team nickname in baseball, and the abbreviation “D-backs” is just as problematic, because it sounds like a pejorative term for young males. Arizona could have gone with “Rattlers,” used the same iconography and created a no-brainer give-away day in the process.
Marlins: Having changed stadiums, uniforms and geographical names prior to the 2012 season, then effectively scrubbed the roster clean prior to this season, a name change from Marlins, a nickname which evokes a history of fire sales and regrettable ownership, seems like the next logical step.
Nationals: The newest team nickname in baseball has a certain historical resonance, but also lacks character or significance. I suppose the same could have been said about the Yankees a century ago, but then if that wasn’t the most famous team nickname in sports, I might put it on this list as well.
So, which team do you think should change its name? You can vote for multiple teams below. None means you don’t think any of the 30 teams should make a change.