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Ranking the nicknames

Feb 1, 2010, 5:15 PM EDT

Not player nicknames — everyone knows “Death to Flying Things” wins that hands down — but team nicknames.  The Hardball Times’ Chris Jaffe runs them down in order of coolness-to-lameness. He likes the Mariners best — it’s unique, it’s region-appropriate — and he hates the Sox, both Red and White.

I agree with his take on the Mariners, but I think he’s got the Rockies way too high — I’ve always hated that name — and he’s really hating on the Padres (22) Mets (23) and Reds (25) way too much. Those are solid baseball nicknames, way better than some simple animal mascot.  The Braves and Indians are near the bottom too. For my part the logos and iconography involved are worse than the names themselves, but I’ll sidestep the political debate for today.

By the way, Jaffe doesn’t just write articles about team nicknames. In fact, he just published what will soon be considered the definitive book about baseball managers if it’s not considered that already. It’s appropriately titled Evaluating Baseball Managers, and can be ordered here. I got my copy a week ago. I’ll have a more thorough review when I’m done with it, but allow me to say now that I can’t put it down. It’s one of those books every serious baseball fan should have.

  1. Phil - Feb 1, 2010 at 5:40 PM

    He’s pretty inconsistent. He rags on the Reds for being “old-fashioned” let like the Brewers just fine. But that was the nickname of the Milwaukee team that entered the AL in 1901, moved to St Louis to become the Browns (another of those old-fashioned nicknames) and finally to Baltimore to become the Orioles.
    The Padres go back back to PCl days, of course, and he acts like he’s never seen the Battlin’ Friar logo (which the Padres have sadly left in the dust). He ranks a lot of “state teams highly, which is pet peeve of mine. I think the Rockies should have followed the Padres’ lead and become the Denver Bears to pay homage to one of the best drawing minor league franchises ever. And the Marlins should be the Miami Marlins after their old International League entry. It’s interesting that his top six are all expansion franchises and many of the original 16 are relegated to the third tier.

  2. zac - Feb 1, 2010 at 5:57 PM

    Braves gets a pass from me. It’s pretty much the same as saying “warriors” or even “soldiers” and doesn’t seem particularly offensive to me, unlike Indians and Redskins. Further, the Braves tomahawk logo seems fine, too, since it’s not of a person.
    The tomahawk chop, on the other hand, I simply cannot defend.

  3. David - Feb 1, 2010 at 6:09 PM

    I am a die hard Rockies fan and I have to agree; “Rockies” is one of the dumber sports nick-names ever. Back in ’91 I was really hoping that Denver Bears would carry the day, but alas…

  4. rje49 - Feb 1, 2010 at 6:11 PM

    C’mon now; what about the “Athletics” for a lousy name? It may be old and traditional, but it’s not even proper to name a team a “plural adjective” (if there is such a thing).
    But hey, at least baseball doesn’t have a “Jazz” in Utah, “Lakers” where there are no lakes to speak of, or “Grizzlys” where the only Grizzly within a thousand miles might be in a zoo.

  5. Steve in Montana - Feb 1, 2010 at 6:13 PM

    Considering the lame manner in which the Giants got their nickname I guess 19th and being lower that those stinking Dodgers isn’t so bad! Maybe if they change their nickname they could actually win a World Series! I’m beginning to think that a whole city has jinxed my team!

  6. Jeff V. - Feb 1, 2010 at 7:33 PM

    He has the Astros way too high, bad nickname and bad stadium.
    I also don’t see why the Blue Jays should be higher then the Orioles, there is a bird called the Baltimore Oriole, to the best of my knowledge there is not a species of Blue Jay named after Toronto.

  7. TC Shillingford - Feb 1, 2010 at 7:49 PM

    “Death to Flying Things” is also Franklin Gutierrez’s nickname.

  8. airedale - Feb 1, 2010 at 7:52 PM

    For a baseball ‘purist’ to be knocking the old time original franchise nicknames is unconscionable…Any student of the history of the game, it’s teams, it’s players and traditions should honor the nicks of the original teams as sacred territory, and a very special branch on the tree of American history, not question it.
    The PC crowd has already tried to erase the Brave’s proud name, and the Indian’s moniker to no avail. America’s original inhabitants spoke the loudest in favor of keeping the long revered team nicknames alive!
    That should be a lesson to the PC crowd out there. We need one bastion of American sport that real men’s men can hang their hats on, and baseball has survived as America’s past time for well over 100 years, and should be left to the real men.
    If you PC types want to hug a tree…go for it….
    …then as soon as you are done, I’ll cut it down and make a baseball bat out of it

  9. Roger Moore - Feb 1, 2010 at 8:56 PM

    I’m not sure I can agree with “Death to Flying Things” being the greatest nickname ever. I prefer ““, which has the advantage of being unique.

  10. Loztralia - Feb 2, 2010 at 12:39 AM

    I’ve got one question re the Detroit Tigers: virtually every other team called the Tigers I know wears colours close to orange and black. Hull City (English soccer), Balmain (Australia rugby league), Richmond (Australian rules football), Castleford (English rugby league). Leicester (English rugby union) don’t, to be fair, but they may have used to do so and their name may also have a military origin.
    Anyway, what’s up with Detroit’s Tigers and the blue and white?

  11. Scott - Feb 2, 2010 at 4:24 PM

    The Padres’ name is terrible. The San Diego Dads? Or the San Diego Fathers? Come on, seriously.
    And does anyone else find it funny that the Cubs have their nickname in the same name as the Bears? I know the Cubs came first, but isn’t that a little like naming a team the Sacramento Princes or Philadelphia Parakeets? No wonder they can’t win it all

  12. Osmodious - Feb 2, 2010 at 11:29 PM

    I have to disagree on the ‘Mariners’ thing…and a bunch of his other points. If the main thing is to call to mind a locale, then there are a few team names that are just impossible to confuse with any other area. One could make the claim that the Twins could only be associated with the Twin Cities (if you expect the name to be a reference to a locale). But the bigger one is the Yankees…EVERYBODY in the world knows that ‘Yankees’ equals New York, even people who don’t know a thing about baseball. Everybody knows the interlocking NY logo. To many around the world, the Yankees ARE baseball. It’s due as much to media, hollywood, etc. as the team itself, but probably most of all Babe Ruth. And, again, everybody who knows the name ‘Yankees’ knows that they are New York.

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