In my brief time here at NotGraphs – a time marked, incidentally, by writer unrest, failed coups d’editeur and overwhelming displays of Cistullian force – I have noticed a pair of salient things, “salient” being an old Latin word for “an old Latin word that slots directly before the American word ‘things.’” One is that humor writing, or, perhaps more accurately, alleged humor writing, is not nearly as fun as it seems, in part because The Paul Reiser Show took most of the good jokes but also because La Garde Cistullian – honestly, that’s what it’s called: The Cistullian Guard – allows us just one bathroom break per 18-hour workday and just three squares of an off-brand Slovenian toilet paper made primarily from corn husks and insect parts.
The other is that if a NotGraphs writer wants to elicit a bunch of comments from the Esteemed Commentariat, that writer, being of sound-ish mind and soiled body, should (A) reference Engelbert Humperdinck, or (B) beseech the Commentariat (while appealing to its famed esteem) to rename big-league ballparks. By the way, and apropos of nothing, I hereby suggest that instead of calling it “Tropicana Field,” we call it the Engelbert Humperdome.
What do you think?!
But I digress, digression being the primary symptom of rectal pain.
As a commenter with much esteem but little knowledge of Comedy Joke Sweatshops, you might not know that we “amusement proles” and “hilarity plebes” derive a disproportionate satisfaction from reader comments. The reason, if you must know, is that Seigneur Cistulli, may Dieu his gold refine, rewards us not with American dollars nor even with French ticklers but, instead, with coupons redeemable “for one free hug, or at least one physical gesture that is compatible with the key provisions of the Geneva Accords.”
And so it is that I, being of sound-ish mind and sore arse, do introduce yet another comment-roundup scheme, one that I’m calling Name That Team!
First, some background: You might realize that to a first approximation, 100 percent of Major League Baseball teams are already fixed for names. The Rangers are the “Rangers.” Chicago has its White Sox, and also its Cubs. It’s true that the names are now so familiar that we rarely question them, unless we are tethered to Slovenian computers and intermittently poked with bayonets, and yet in a moment of sheer curiosity one might wonder, especially if one is not a historian and does not have access to non-Slovene Wikipedia, why certain teams have the names they do.
Why, for example, are the Reds the “Reds”? One might suspect that no matter the threats to its bottom line, the original ownership remained sympathetic to notions of a classless and stateless social order structured on common ownership of the means of production. (It’s amazing how I did that without Wikipedia, right?) But it’s just as possible that management foresaw the rise of blue-eyed soul by naming its team the “Simply Reds,” later removing the “Simply” due to licensing issues.
And sure, some of the other names make sense. The Rockies have indeed endured a history that might be likened to a path of stone, and the original Dodgers did consist of idealistic pacifists who had fled to Canada. It’s also true that the first Diamondbacks were comprised of jilted fiancés who had demanded the prompt return of their engagement rings. Then there’s the Tampa Bay team, named for fan faves LaMontagne and Wylie Hubbard, and the Minnesota team, whose ownership is apparently fond of Full House.
But what about the Athletics? That’s not even a noun!
And the Padres? That’s not even English!
And what the heck is a Met, in either its singular or plural form? If it’s what I think it is, why not call them the New York Make The Acquaintance Ofs?
While we’re at it, why not rename every team?
So here’s your chance. Name a team, any team. Name it anything you want.
Don’t just reapply the monikers to which the teams are sadly accustomed, names like the Lastros or Disastros on the one side and the Evil Empire on the other. Instead, come up with something fresh, a name inspired by the singular characteristics of the franchise or drawn from nothing more than the inexplicable place that gave us Blink-182 and Matchbox 20, to say nothing of Agoraphobic Nosebleed and Nothing Heavier Than A Car On My Head.
OK? I’ll start, and quickly, given that I’ve got the foreleg of a desert locust pressed painfully against my sphincter. I will begin, as ever, with my own home team. And so I give you – wait for it – the Texas Pullover Sweaters.
Why the Pullover Sweaters? Well, they’re the Sweaters because they sweat, and they sweat because their stadium feels like Dante’s Worst Circle of Hell, i.e., an open-air tandoori house in the middle of the Iraqi desert, and the Pullovers because they often get stopped before reaching their destination.
Now it’s your turn, Commentariat of the Aforementioned Esteem.
(Seriously, I beg of you. The coupon I’ve just received contains a legally binding typo: “Good For One Free Huguenot.” As you know, the Huguenots were – I repeat: were – French citizens whose systematic ouster is precisely the sort of “obscure historical reference” that Seigneur Cistulli, may Dieu his bounties increase, likes to make while apportioning our jots of gruel.)
John Paschal is a regular contributor to The Hardball Times and The Hardball Times Baseball Annual.