What Do They Mean?
What’s in a name? It would seem when it comes to sports, maybe a lot. Teams from high school to the pros all have nicknames, its part of their identity. Sometimes it is geographic or traditional and sometimes it makes no sense at all.
Let’s take a quick look at some baseball nicknames; it is after all the season. There are traditional names like, Red Sox, Yankees, Dodgers, White Sox, Athletics and Braves. We’re all familiar with those.
But, how about the less familiar nicknames? Sometimes you’ve got to wonder; “What were they thinking?”
Let’s begin with the Hellcats of Montana State University. What the hell is a Hellcat? Okay it was a World War II fighter aircraft (Grumman F6F), but do you think they named their sports teams after an airplane? Not likely. Whatever it is it sounds nasty and that’s probably their intention. Frankly, anyone that’s been married for any length of time knows what a hellcat is.
Moving on, how about Tulane University; the Green Wave. Regardless of what it’s supposed to mean, it sounds like something you’d see at an overflowing Super Fund sight. Not scary or intimidating at all. Oh my gosh, it’s the Green Wave!
What’s a Sun Devil? They probably know at Arizona State University. It sounds scary. There are the Tri-City Dust Devils (sounds like something under the bed) and Duke has the Blue Devils. I saw Blue Man Group and that didn’t scare me.
While we’re talking about colors what’s with the Browns, the Reds, and the Blues. These people have no imagination.
How about those Longhorns down in Texas? You only need to see a longhorn up close once to know you don’t want to mess with it.
Giants and Titans are always scary. It’s psychological. You know you’re in for it when you go up against a Giant.
Meteorology has a lot to offer in the way of nicknames. There are the Hurricanes, Twisters, Thunderbolts, Lightening, Cyclones and Storm; all scary. Who wants to mess with lightening or thunderbolts? Hailstones is a name seemingly still up for grabs. How about the Giant Smashing Hailstones, that ought to put a scare into the opposition.
Unless it’s a Shark, I suggest teams stay away from fish. Dolphins, Marlins, Rays, Catfish, Bluefish, Redfish, Blowfish and Carp aren’t going to intimidate anyone. Crawdads? What is that? Someone step on it!
Some animal names work. There are Bears, Jackals, Wolverines, Warthogs (not sure what it is, but don’t want to see one on the baseball diamond), Cougars, Coyotes, Grizzlies, Rams, Wolves Bulls, Broncos, Mustangs, Tigers and Lions. The idea of Lions, Tigers and Bears (Oh my!) put a scare into Dorothy, the Scarecrow, Tin Man and the Cowardly Lion to the point that it lasted for generations in the minds of any kids that watched the Wizard of Oz.
But some animals don’t cut it. Beavers? Who is afraid of a beaver? I like beavers. I know a guy who once saw a giant beaver on the side of the road on Cape Cod. Of course there was no giant beaver. It was probably just another hallucination, but he wasn’t scared. Maybe that’s a name, the Hallucination. Wow, you’d never know what was real with them.
But let’s not pick on those furry little creatures at Oregon State alone. Look at the University of Oregon. They call themselves the Ducks. Humm… a Beaver or a Duck? Really scary up there in Oregon. Can you see the other team, say the Cougars before a game? Oh gee, we’re facing the Ducks … oooh, scary!
In fairness to the University of Oregon, sometimes they are pretty tough Ducks.
And how about birds? Eagles, well, okay, big talons and they’re patriotic. Hawks? This is where it starts to get wimpy. Orioles, Cardinals, Robins, Owls (nope, not scary), Osprey, Pelicans, Canaries, Loons and Sparrows? Please, it’s embarrassing for those guys. Birds aren’t intimidating or scary unless you’re an Alfred Hitchcock fan.
I like Vikings (lots of pillaging), they’re scary and so are Dragons. Spartans sound mean as do Raptors and Vipers.
Snakes make for nasty nicknames. There are Rattlers, Diamondbacks, Sidewinders, Copperheads, Timber Rattlers and Blacksnakes. Opponents want to be careful when they play those slippery teams.
But then there are those nicknames that make you wonder; like the Lansing Lugnuts or Mosesto Nuts. Would you want to be a Lugnut? Hey, let’s go see the Nuts? Or worse you could play for the South Georgia Peanuts.
The Bradenton Juice might consider a name change in this age of steroids.
Someone needs to tell the Alexandria Beetles that a band back in the 60’s pretty much locked up that name.
There are the Beloit Snappers. What’s a Snapper? I think I use to know?
The Cedar Rapids Kernels don’t hold a rank. They’re named after corn, that’s right, a plant.
The Fort Wayne Wizards are cool, you never know what to expect from Wizards and Harry Potter has made it enormously popular to be a wizard. We have a wizard in our photography department (it’s the same guy that sees beavers).
Augusta Green Jackets? A baseball team that named themselves after the Masters Golf Tournament. Very thoughtful, but they play baseball not golf.
Who wants to be a bug? Come on guys sign up! There are Bees, Sand Gnats (itchy), Spiders, can’t leave out the Yuma Scorpions and Chiggers.
And there are those that don’t make sense to most of us. Unless you live in Wilson, North Carolina you’re not likely to know what a Tob is. The Wilson Tobs play in the Coastal Plains League, a summer collegiate baseball league. In the same league there are the Thomasville Hi-Toms. What’s that?
The Northwoods League, another summer collegiate baseball league, has the Rochester Honkers (probably named after geese. I can’t think of anything else called Honkers). In the same league, how about the Mankato Moondogs? Don’t know what they are, but the name is cool. The Joliet Jack Hammers play in the Northern League, that’s a tough name. You know you’re in for a game when you face a team named the Jack Hammers. There are the Chico Outlaws over in the Golden League, bad dudes no doubt. How about the Batavia Muckdogs, the Carolina Mudcats or the Toledo Mud Hens? These guys aren’t afraid to get dirty. Although dogs and cats are okay, hens are a bit weak. Do Mud Hens grow up to be Old Hens?
There are the Albuquerque Isotopes in the Pacific Coast League. It’s like you want to wear a radiation detector when you play them. The Las Vegas 51s leave a lot to the imagination.
The Huntsville Stars are a little presumptuous. You just want to beat them to prove that they’re not stars. They’re asking for trouble with a name like that. Also, the Lexington Legends. Any team facing them wants to kick the crap out of a Legend. The Montgomery Biscuits of the Southern League? Biscuts? Come on how tough and scary can a Biscut be?
There are cool names like the Traverse City Beach Bums and the Washington Wild Things of the Frontier League. Although if Traverse City went on a losing streak I guess they’d become just the Bums.
The list goes on. There are T-Bones, Daredevils, Stingers, Swampdogs, Bombers, Railcats, Roadrunners and more. But my favorite has to be the University of Southern California Trojans. You can believe the Helen of Troy mythology and the wooden horse crap, but every guy knows what a Trojan is. I carried one in my wallet all through high school.
The views and opinions in the Enterprise blogs are those of the author and are not neccessarily shared by Falmouth Publishing.