By Steve Samek
I have made it a well-established fact that I am pro unique Minor League Baseball nicknames. While I do favor uniqueness, I do have some grounds when it comes to just being too over the top. I came across an interesting article on the selection of Minor League names and I took a look. According the article a test exists to see if a name is ridiculous. It’s based on the how it compares with the Toledo Mud Hens. http://www.baseballamerica.com/minors/nicknames-veer-toomuchville/#zKlddxzT6IFdRG5F.97
My take is that the Mud Hens is a middle of the road if not pedestrian nickname now a days. I would think that it’s a conservative logo that has become more commonly known thanks to the hit show Mash. It ranks right up there with the Durham Bulls as far as iconic minor league teams.
Most of the team names in the minors try to tell a story for the local community. Others just name them after the major-league affiliate. While this was a tradition in the past the trend is dying. Thankfully this is happening. It really does show a lack of creativity if all your teams are named the Braves. Plus, what if you change affiliations after your PDC is up. Most agreements only last up to four years unless extended, or the team is purchased by the parent club. It seems like a lot of work to work on all new uniforms logos and branding if you’re just going to skip town after two years.
By giving each team a unique brand it stays with the town regardless of affiliations. Giving the town a sense of pride and ownership that it’s the communities team and not just a Major-League Clubs team. The unique names also stand out and give that definite sense of identity. It’s the one and only Blue Wahoo’s against how many other Panthers, Lions and other big cats.
Merchandising is the other big reason I support local unique nicknames. Again, I pick on the Braves system. Most of the teams have the same hat logo with just a letter change, so no real point to collecting them all if you’re not a fan of the Braves. Take that up against a team like The San Diego Padres and their cast of teams from Chihuahuas to Tin Caps and more. I want the goofy hats and unique ones more. Of the top 25 teams in minor league baseball in merchandise sold in 2016 only three shared the name of a club in the majors. http://www.baseballamerica.com/minors/nicknames-veer-toomuchville/#zKlddxzT6IFdRG5F.97.
Giving unique names the edge in moving merchandise and making money for the team. https://www.milb.com/milb/news/milb-announces-top-merchandising-teams/c-183791642/t-185364810
Though yes sometime names go over the top. In my two most recent rebrand posts I crushed the awful change from New Orleans Zephyrs to Baby Cakes. It was one example of a bad idea. Though this season also saw a well done rebrand in the form of Binghamton becoming the Rumble Ponies from the Mets. http://bit.ly/2mBxu8e.
Of the 30 plus teams that make up Triple A I would say one name maybe two could be considered over the top. In Double A, I can see five teams getting knocked for crazy monikers. Six out of 60, one out of 10. A .100 batting average for off the wall names in the upper levels of the minors. I’m not totally buying into the it’s all over the top theory of the article in question. I think fun unique names not affiliated with the parent clubs when done right is most effective. It’s a trend that will and should continue.