Apparently, some sports names are so good you have to say them twice. Not only do the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim now have Albert Pujols, they also have the most redundant name in sports. As Pujols, or anyone who took Spanish One in high school, would be able to tell you, their full name translates to “The the Angels Angels of Anaheim”. Or, if you prefer, Los los angeles angeles de Anaheim. Either way, it’s nothing short of muy stupido.
Somehow, I doubt that a franchise called Buffalo’s Buffaloes of Rochester would garner much respect. And yet, the Angels get away with it. One might argue that any team whose recent claim to fame was a terrifying rally monkey that inexplicably led them to a World Series isn’t exactly calling for anything close to respect. But this is a new Angels team. The danger Rangers are trying to become a powerhouse of the AL West, while the Angels are shelling out the cash to keep up. The new rivalry is quickly becoming the new-age Yankees/Red Sox without the six-hour games and buckets of chicken wings in the locker room.
Luckily, the Angels aren’t hopeless. This is an easy change. One revolutionary idea would be to, God forbid, dwindle the number of cities in your nickname from two to one. The Angels of Anaheim sounds nice, and the egos of L.A. could still rest assured that the Spanish version of the team would be Los Angeles de Anaheim. Everyone wins! If both cities must stay, because obviously a team that plays in Anaheim should also bear the name of the nearest world metropolis (just ask the Green Bay Packers of Chicago), then the classic “Angels” moniker must go.
Personally, I like the idea of Halos or Wings. Add a strategic apostrophe to the end of Los Angeles, and the team would become The Angels’ Wings of Anaheim. It’s a baseball team that the writers of It’s A Wonderful Life would be proud of. If Albert Pujols and the boys are trying to be more intimidating, then what could be more appropriate than donning some new gray-brown uniforms and debuting the 2012 season as The Smog? I can read the headline now: Smog Rolls in, Rangers Cough up Win. It’s perfect.
The most naïve of Americans like to believe that because President Obama was elected to the White House, racism and insensitivity has been erased from the country. All it takes is an hour listening to Rush Limbaugh or walking on the campus of a private college to see that this isn’t the case. Even with the diversity of professional sports, the sporting world is not immune.
The fact that we still have a team called the Washington Redskins is beyond sad. Somehow, I doubt that a basketball team called the Auschwitz Shylocks would fly too well in the Western world. America shouldn’t be given a pass…especially a team in the nation’s capital. I don’t care if a poll supposedly found that 91% of Native Americans said the name was not offensive. It is. And after all, once upon a time, more than 91% of Native Americans also didn’t get support in resisting a thing called Manifest Destiny…and died. Forgive me if I don’t trust them to understand the intent of racism.
On a lighter note, Washington doesn’t have to change its name if it doesn’t want to. Simply change the emblem and mascot! Maybe a little Anglo-Saxon self-deprecation would help to begin erasing years of racism and land-stealing…a little. Simply remove the stereotypical chieftain profile and replace it with the fairest of Irish redheads. Nothing says last place in the NFC East like a Sunburned ginger on your helmet. Sometimes, white people just need to laugh at themselves. To change the Redskins’ emblem would accomplish something in Washington, which isn’t as easy as it sounds –just as Congress.
Forget a clever introduction. This sports nickname is simply ridiculous. Why in the holy bowels of the deepest hell would you name an NBA team after a Raptor? A Raptor?! Apologists such as myself have spent years defending Canadians against people who call them weak, lumberjack-loving Queen worshipers. It was easy enough to think of excuses as to why they would not know the plural spelling of leaves when they named one of their hockey teams the Toronto Maple Leafs. But when Toronto got its NBA team in 1995 and named it the Raptors, they damaged their reputation more than Celine Dion ever could. No one would ever take them seriously.
And no wonder. They named their franchise after a freaking extinct, featherless chicken. And if that wasn’t enough, their jerseys were a sickly color of purple and their mascot looked less intimidating than Chomper from the Land Before Time movies.
Apparently, Toronto’s owner didn’t want there to ever be a chance that they’d bring in a living mascot. It turned out to be quite fitting. Their nickname wasn’t the only extinct idea in Toronto. It turns out that despite having Vince Carter and Tracy McGrady in the early years, their championship hopes died before the seasons even started. It wasn’t a comet, though. It was just poor basketball.
In an attempt to find a more apt nickname for a basketball team in the thriving basketball town of Toronto, I looked at the city’s coat of arms. There were two animals –a bear and a beaver. Like their owner, I had epic failed. Memphis’ team, formerly based in Toronto’s western stepbrother of Vancouver, had already taken the Grizzlies. Two bear names in the NBA would be redundant. Toronto Beavers sounded okay, but the last thing a Canadian apologist needs is for them to name their only NBA team after an animal that doubles as a word for vagina. I can hear the cruel mockery of our neighbors to the north, now.
I’ve always liked the way Toronto Blue Jays sounded. Perhaps Toronto could follow a tradition that New York perfected, rhyming the names of their sister-sports teams. The Mets, Jets, and Nets have a poetic connection between them. Toronto could create its own triad of sports teams. The Raptors, with the Hudson Bay just north of Ontario, could become The Blue Bays, abandoning their dinosaur (not Chris Bosh…he already left) and their purple uniforms. The Maple Leafs are not likely to change their name, and Toronto doesn’t truly have an NFL team, but perhaps the CFL’s Argonauts would be willing to change their name. They could even earn some sponsor dollars, become the Toronto Blue Rays, and look better on TV than they ever did.
In the end, there is a lesson to be learned. Successful sports names are often simple. They often reflect their fans or the history of their placement in (North) America. The Dallas Cowboys give allusion to the Old West. The Green Bay Packers pay homage to the blue-collar background of Wisconsin. And the Oklahoma City Thunder, well…experience storms.
Unsuccessful sports names, on the other hand, take this quest to maintain history a little too far. The Angels, for example, find a way to remind the world twice that Los Angeles was named as the city of Angels. The Redskins honor a tradition of wiping out an entire ethnicity, while Shanahan starts a tradition of being insane. And the Raptors pay tribute to the most ancient of history, replacing the frightening version of the angry little dinosaur that Jurassic Park gave us with a cartoon depiction.
So, if you ever find yourself naming a sports team, avoid the three Rs. If an option has redundancy, racism, or raptors anywhere within it…it sucks. And your team will suck. Unless you have a rally monkey. Then you can go crazy with your stupid self.
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