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No. Just No. - Blather. Rants. Repeat.
A Møøse once bit my sister ...
No. Just No.

♫Come with me. And you'll be. In a world of. Pure imagination.♫

No, you probably won't want to. Because the world we're descending into is the world of minor-league sport.

In this country, the NFL and NBA have essentially co-opted our major universities to act as their player development systems. Baseball and hockey draw some players from colleges, as well, but far more players enter those leagues through established networks of professional to semi-pro minor leagues.   Baseball has the older, larger and better known of the two.

Typically, franchises in these minor leagues are owned in their local communities. Some, such as the Buffalo Bisons, are privately held by rich people; in their case, they're literally Rich People.  Others are owned collectively by stockholders from their home cities; the Rochester Red Wings have retired number 8222 in honor of the number of local fans who bought stock in the 1950s to fund buying the franchise from its then parent St. Louis Cardinals.  Still others are owned by their parent clubs: Atlanta owns the Gwinnett Braves outright, and Boston's ownership group bought the Pawtucket Red Sox last year (and promptly threatened to move them to another Rhode Island city).

The names of these teams follow similar patterns.  The older-school minor-league franchises have their own identities apart from any MLB affiliation: Buffalo was once a National League team under the Bisons name, and the Red Wings moniker dates to close to a century ago.  Likewise, Corporal Klinger's beloved Toledo Mud Hens have a long independent tradition connected with that name.

Increasingly, major-league teams want their affiliates to co-brand with them. The Braves and Red Sox have shared their names with their International League affiliates for decades; in the Pacific Coast League, the Iowa Cubs and OKC Dodgers do this, as well.  (One not fitting this pattern is the Indianapolis Indians; although briefly affiliated with Cleveland in the 1950s, they were known as the Indians on their own for decades before that and have been ever since.)

Then there's a final category, which can only be described as "goofy." Minor league franchises are typically run on shoestring budgets: they do not pay for their players or managers (the MLB teams do that), but they have tiny if any TV/radio contracts; they operate out of smaller stadiums in shorter seasons with short and almost meaningless post-seasons; and they cannot charge big league prices for tickets or concessions.  So P.T. Barnumish stunts are almost nightly events to boost interest and attendance, and the best source of predictable merch revenue for these teams is to come up with the most bizarre, unique and marketable names for their franchises, to sell jerseys and caps and other team-branded stuff.

One of the earliest teams to get on this bandwagon was the low-level minor league team in Batavia, a small city between Buffalo and Rochester. They were the Clippers for most of their history; they mimed their MLB-parent Pirates and Indians for a few years; they then went 20 years being known as the Trojans before contraceptive advertising took that off the board; but since 1998, they've been proudly known as the Batavia Muckdogs.

(See, Genesee County has onion fields. They get mucky. And dogs run around in them. Or something.  It's all about the logo, yo.)


Recent name changes in the Bisons' and Red Wings' league have included the Lehigh Valley Iron Pigs (formerly the Ottawa Lynx) and the Scranton-Wilkes Barre Rail Riders (nee the Red Barons, and briefly co-branded with the parent Yankees). The PCL goes even weirder, giving us the Albuquerque Isotopes, the El Paso Chihuahuas, and the Mets current top farm team, the Las Vegas 51's.

One rung between the AAA Iron Pig league and the A-level Muckdog league is AA baseball, where the Mets have, for years, affiliated their franchise in Binghamton.  Since relocating there in 1992, they have always been known as the Mets- or in headline shorthand, as the B-Mets.  They've even taken advantage of that to create a unique co-brand:


Apparently, though, Buzzy is not selling enough product, so despite the Mets' fortunes being on the upside, the team's local owner has decided to go his own way with branding for the 2017 season.  As usually happens in these stunts, a fan contest was held to select a new name, then whittled down to five finalists.

You want to see them, don't you?

No you don't.

It helps to understand that Binghamton (where my sister has lived for almost 50 years) has a number of carousels in its public parks.  So you're going to get some horsey-set names here, right? 

* The Thoroughbreds
* The Bridles (think of the onfield weddings!)
* The Belmonts (maybe a Binghamton player will win the Triple Crown someday)
* The Zipsters (being affiliated with the Mets, may as well go for the losingest-ever horse in racing history)
* The Elmers ("roses are red, violets are blue, horses who lose are turned into glue!")

Okay, I made that last one up. Actually, I made all of them up.  None is as bad as the five supposedly selected by the fine people of Broome County:

Without further ado, in ascending order of possible naughtiness, here are the options:

Bullheads: A fairly standard straight-ahead, animal-themed option. The bullhead variety of catfish swims the local Susquehanna River, according to the team.

Rocking Horses: Makes sense, with the carousel motif.

Rumble Ponies: See above, just in slightly more bizarre fashion. Team says: “A herd of fierce horses that no carousel center pole can contain.”

Stud Muffins: This has to be the early betting favorite. The slightly aroused official blurb, which boils down to you know, because horses: “While tipping a cap to the players on the field, the ‘Stud Muffins’ celebrates the collection of carousel horses belonging to Binghamtonians.”

Gobblers: Turkeys, people. Turkeys. Because of hunting and outdoorsy stuff.

Timber Jockeys: Yikes. Again, meant to “[pay] homage to everyone that rides the carousels,” but venturing into unmistakable phallic territory in the grand baseball tradition.

Balloting is open until June 1.  There are no write-in options. In keeping with All-Star balloting tradition, stuffing the box is pretty much unlimited and requires only a fake email address.

The winner gets two lifetime season tickets to the team's games. All other entrants get four.

3 comments or Leave a comment
lietya From: lietya Date: May 18th, 2016 11:57 pm (UTC) (Link)
Look on the bright side: it could be the Yard Goats. :) I believe a similar contest was held there...
captainsblog From: captainsblog Date: May 19th, 2016 12:13 am (UTC) (Link)
I remember that- and almost mentioned them as another example. They're on the B-Mets final season schedule this year, along with the Akron Rubber Ducks and the Richmond Flying Squirrels.
lietya From: lietya Date: May 19th, 2016 12:16 am (UTC) (Link)
Oh, man, that's going to be a hilarious series of matchups. Assuming the Yard Goats' stadium is ever finished!
3 comments or Leave a comment