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There’s a new team called “The London Rippers” and some people have a problem with that

Nov 16, 2011, 3:01 PM EDT

Jack the Ripper

London, Ontario has a new indy league baseball team and they’re called “The London Rippers.”  The logo is of a menacing-looking man in a Victorian-era top hat and is clearly and undeniably aimed at evoking Jack The Ripper. The mayor and a lot of other people have a bit of a problem with that. Here’s the mayor:

“On behalf of London City Council, we want to express serious concerns about the name of London’s newest baseball team. While the team owner’s intention may not have been to draw a connection to Jack the Ripper, we believe this name is unfortunate particularly in light of our focus on ending woman abuse. We will be speaking to the owner today and give him an opportunity to reconsider the name.”

The owner is denying the association — he has some whole backstory that is more Phantom of the Opera than Jack the Ripper —  but, man, c’mon.  Own it. It was a creative idea, even if it’s sort of in bad taste.

I say “sort of” because Jack the Ripper did his work, like, 130 years ago. Murder is murder and it’s always awful, but at what point has enough time passed to where this kind of thing isn’t a problem?  And yes, I note the mayor’s nod to ending violence against women, but does a reference to a 19th century British serial killer who is more often fictionalized today than dealt with in his brutal reality really undermine those laudable aims?

I’m not saying it’s 100% fabulous. But really, kids were singing about Lizzie Bordon taking an axe and giving her mother 40 whacks within a few years of that going down. Is it really too soon to be able to use a  long-dead historical figure as a mascot? There are a bunch teams called “crusaders” and the crusades were brutal. We still have Chief Wahoo around, and you can make an argument that the thinking behind that mascot (i.e. Indians are somehow less-than-human) represented way more death and destruction than anything Jack the Ripper did.

I’m not going to the mat for the Rippers. But really, isn’t this more “roll your eyes and groan” territory than it is “issue a terse political speech” territory?

  1. shaggylocks - Nov 16, 2011 at 3:07 PM

    Also, Jack the Ripper had an amazingly good OPS+ with above average defense up the middle.

    • purnellmeagrejr - Nov 16, 2011 at 6:15 PM

      When the Yankees lose a game due to errors are they the Bronx Suicide Bombers?

    • 78mu - Nov 16, 2011 at 7:16 PM

      I thought Jack Clark played the OF and 1b. And should have been MVP in 1987.

    • Old Gator - Nov 16, 2011 at 9:34 PM

      Jack the Ripper hits for power and he hits for average. He can hurt you so many ways. From the standpoint of social class, he’s a cleanup man. He’s a multi-tool player. He’s fast. He runs for the daylight. He knows how to work a count. He…..

  2. Joe - Nov 16, 2011 at 3:07 PM

    Chief Wahoo isn’t just something you can make an argument about. It is undeniably a racist image and a stain on baseball.

    • Ari Collins - Nov 16, 2011 at 3:16 PM

      +1,000.

      • Joe - Nov 16, 2011 at 3:19 PM

        “Cleveland Spiders” is an awesome name. There’s no reason not to go back to it. When I talk about that franchise I say “The team from Cleveland”; it’d be great if this blog would follow suit. Using the racist name makes the racism mindless and second-nature.

      • 1943mrmojorisin1971 - Nov 16, 2011 at 4:08 PM

        Ah, Ari our righteous moral superior makes an appearance

      • Ari Collins - Nov 16, 2011 at 5:36 PM

        Oh, I’m hardly morally superior. (I have references for that particular fact.) Just not a big fan of racism.

      • 1943mrmojorisin1971 - Nov 16, 2011 at 8:26 PM

        I’m no fan of racism myself, but your comment seems to serve no other purpose than to say, “You might be against racism, but I’m really against racism.” Just my perception

    • philliesblow - Nov 16, 2011 at 3:32 PM

      Spiders is a great name, I second the motion. So what is Craig going to use in place of Braves?

      • Joe - Nov 16, 2011 at 3:33 PM

        Atlanta Thrashers?

      • clydeserra - Nov 16, 2011 at 3:57 PM

        Atlanta Crackers of course.

      • clydeserra - Nov 16, 2011 at 4:10 PM

        Seriously people? Thumbs down?

        Sure my comment was a joke based on the connotation of the word “Cracker.” But, Seriously?

        http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Atlanta_Crackers

      • paperlions - Nov 16, 2011 at 4:14 PM

        Ignorance is a tradition, quit screwing with our traditions!

      • spudchukar - Nov 16, 2011 at 4:22 PM

        Peaches!

    • skids003 - Nov 16, 2011 at 4:10 PM

      Will the left wing liberals ever stop trying to make everything PC? This PC BS has gotten way out of hand. I thought “ripping” a baseball was normal slang. But maybe since that offends the baseball, the left PC police will want to outlaw it. Get over it.

      • The Common Man - Nov 16, 2011 at 4:28 PM

        I’m generally pretty left of center and I’m pretty much in agreement that I don’t care much about this. However, based on the logo, the team location, and name, you can’t actually believe that it doesn’t explicitly reference Jack the Ripper. I mean, if that’s your position, you’re being intellectually dishonest at a fundamental level.

      • 78mu - Nov 16, 2011 at 7:27 PM

        Agree with Common Man that the team if referencing the real Jack the Ripper and not Jack Clark.

        But people have to remember this is London Ontario not London England before getting their panties in a wad.

        Are the British offspring from the families of the victims going to faint every time they scan the fine print of the British tabloids looking for minor league box scores? Are little kids going to idolize the real Jack the Ripper because of the name of their favorite ball team?

        If there is a sudden rash of prostitute slayings in London. Ontario I will admit the name was a bad idea. But I think most hookers have more to worry about from their pimps than they do from the name of a baseball team.

      • Old Gator - Nov 16, 2011 at 9:43 PM

        Reminds me a lot of Peter O’Toole’s brilliant performance as a crackpot earl who thinks he’s Jesus Christ – and after being shock “cured” by an opportunistic therapist, secretly begins to believe he’s Jack the Ripper in The Ruling Class, IMHO one of the great black comedies ever put on film (though based on an equally black stage play). After Lawrence of Arabia, O’Toole’s greatest performance – and that’s saying a lot. Anyway, he then goes about systematically killing off or otherwise eliminating his family, and delivers a rousing speech in favor of restoring capital punishment in the House of Lords – also one of the most amazing twisted parody scenes in all of 70s cinema (which was a great time for cinema, period).

        Craig, if you ain’t seen this one, you really owe it to yourself to set aside a couple of hours on a rainy Sunday and give it your full attention. No kids. And I mean, no kids. Send them to a fake birthday party at Chuck E. Cheese.

      • Old Gator - Nov 16, 2011 at 9:46 PM

        PS – it was Alastair Sim’s last film – he plays a senile bishop; hilarious – and you will never ever forget Arthur Lowe as an insulting butler. Also features the funniest wedding scene in cinema history, hands down.

    • Kyle - Nov 16, 2011 at 4:22 PM

      The ratio of thumbs up vs. thumbs down on this is just astounding.

    • Old Gator - Nov 16, 2011 at 9:34 PM

      And look what he did to those settlers’ heads!

  3. mattintoledo - Nov 16, 2011 at 3:13 PM

    I’m more curious about why the cop(?) (or is that Sherlock Holmes?) in the drawing is watering a dead hooker.

    • Ari Collins - Nov 16, 2011 at 3:17 PM

      Haha. It’s supposed to be a flashlight. (Or “torch,” as they say on the other side of the pond.)

    • Lukehart80 - Nov 16, 2011 at 3:23 PM

      He must have just finished “planting” evidence on her.

    • Alex K - Nov 16, 2011 at 3:25 PM

      I lol’d. Well done.

  4. pmcenroe - Nov 16, 2011 at 3:22 PM

    Maybe they really aren’t trying to evoke Jack the Ripper. In my experience living north of the border “rippers” does seems to be a uniquely Canadian however its in reference to strippers lol

    • cjh88 - Nov 16, 2011 at 3:32 PM

      I went to UWO in London for 3 year, trust me, the “rippers’ there are much more gruesome than anything this Jack fellow did.

  5. spudchukar - Nov 16, 2011 at 3:26 PM

    Could have gone with the “Blades”, but it is Canada and I am pretty sure hockey has already grabbed that moniker.

    • kopy - Nov 16, 2011 at 4:47 PM

      Next they will evoke a name structure like the ABA team “Spirits of St. Louis”, and change the team name to “Great Fire of London”. Then they will get more publicity when people make a scene over a handful of deaths in a fire 350 years ago.

      • kopy - Nov 16, 2011 at 4:56 PM

        Note that there is a MLS team named the Chicago Fire that has already done this, and nobody finds the name offensive even though hundreds were killed in that blaze. And spare the “because it’s soccer” jokes.

      • Ari Collins - Nov 16, 2011 at 5:41 PM

        That does seem in rather poor taste.

        When will the New York Hijackers be appropriate?

        Pretty sure never, but that might’ve been thought of for the Chicago Fire at some point.

    • ThatGuy - Nov 16, 2011 at 5:08 PM

      Calgary has a junior team called the Calgary Hitmen… Wonder what they are trying to evoke?

      • tmohr - Nov 16, 2011 at 8:37 PM

        Calgary’s own Bret Hart, of course.

  6. mattintoledo - Nov 16, 2011 at 3:30 PM

    For further discussion: What’s more offensive to good taste? Evoking serial killers or Andrew Lloyd Webber musicals?

    • Ari Collins - Nov 16, 2011 at 5:38 PM

      Well played, Mauer.

  7. 1historian - Nov 16, 2011 at 3:41 PM

    can you say “free publicity” boys and girls?

  8. yankeesfanlen - Nov 16, 2011 at 3:46 PM

    From the London Office comes word that Jack the Ripper was actually Prince Albert……and he’s already in the can.

  9. WhenMattStairsIsKing - Nov 16, 2011 at 3:55 PM

    I think if they’re going to own this, they have to go all out in uniforms that look like Jack the Ripper, and use knives instead of baseball bats.

  10. jaycutlerslagunabeach - Nov 16, 2011 at 3:55 PM

    I think the picture depicts a victorian era Ghostbuster and he’s using an ancient P.K.E meter to test for psychokinetic energy. Idk though i could be way off

  11. Detroit Michael - Nov 16, 2011 at 4:04 PM

    Perhaps all of their players wil be unidentified — no names and uniform numbers for anyone!

  12. SmackSaw - Nov 16, 2011 at 4:07 PM

    Hey, it got them publicity. Kudos to their PR Dept. If they were called the London Bridges, they wouldn’t rate a post.

    • bbk1000 - Nov 16, 2011 at 4:19 PM

      The London Bridges..haha..

      • WhenMattStairsIsKing - Nov 16, 2011 at 4:41 PM

        They’d have a great pitching staff; their ERA’s would consistently be falling down.

    • bbk1000 - Nov 16, 2011 at 5:15 PM

      They should be a hockey team…it may explain the teeth…..

  13. jlinatl - Nov 16, 2011 at 4:15 PM

    In the eyes of the beholder. Wouldn’t bother me but what is the Statute of Limitations on naming teams after killer?

    Change the name of the Nets to the Brooklyn Sons of Sam?
    When an NFL team relocates to LA… the LA Stranglers? Manson Family?

    Again, I don’t have an issue but it is a bit hypocritical.

  14. Kyle - Nov 16, 2011 at 4:20 PM

    I don’t know, as someone who is against Chief Wahoo and the like, I don’t think I can have it both ways. Sure, this mascot doesn’t bother me as much, but there’s no doubting that it’s similarly offensive for what it stands for, and there are literally thousands of other alternatives out there. This is just an unfortunate mistake, or a distasteful grab for attention. The “terse political speech” seems appropriate here, considering that the “roll your eyes and groan” response to this kind of nonsense is what’s allowed the Indians the Redskins and all the others to continue with the status quo for so long.

    • The Common Man - Nov 16, 2011 at 4:30 PM

      Fair point, well made.

  15. spudchukar - Nov 16, 2011 at 5:45 PM

    Now that we are discussing the mascot nickname biz, here is one that may be the most egregious of them all. Here in Idaho one of the two nut houses..er..mental institutions resides in Orofino. The local High School teams are known as the “Maniacs”.

    • The Common Man - Nov 16, 2011 at 6:01 PM

      Oh, that’s not cool.

      • dbeehner - Nov 16, 2011 at 6:09 PM

        Sorry Spud. Didnt’ see your offering before I posted the following below: Orofino, Idaho, is home to the state’s mental institution. The local high school football team is the Maniacs. I think it’s hilarious. And half my family is nuts.

  16. explodet - Nov 16, 2011 at 6:07 PM

    Offensive or not (it isn’t, like even a little), the name is cool. Which is all that really matters.

  17. dbeehner - Nov 16, 2011 at 6:08 PM

    Orofino, Idaho, is home to the state’s mental institution. The local high school football team is the Maniacs. I think it’s hilarious. And half my family is nuts.

  18. cur68 - Nov 16, 2011 at 11:28 PM

    They missed a golden opportunity to be the London Beaver Hunters.

  19. Jack Marshall - Nov 17, 2011 at 12:59 AM

    Boy, Craig, I don’t see how naming a baseball team after a guy who slashed the throats of poor London prostitutes can be defended as anything but misguided and wrong. Are you saying that in a hundred years, naming a team from Manson, Ill. “the Helter-Skelter Slashers” will be OK? What does the fact that Jack the Ripper appears in fiction have to do with what he symbolizes…a serial killer of women who mailed pieces of some victims to police? Yeah, it’s kind of clever….so are Sarah Silverman’s rape jokes. I wouldn’t name a team after those, either.

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