So that was interesting.
My post ranking major league baseball team names got almost 2,000 visitors yesterday, thanks to a link on the very cool Uni Watch blog here. That’s by far the biggest single day in this little blog’s brief history, and I’m thrilled that so many people took the time to check it out. My post also got about 25 comments and most of them were not, ahem, very complimentary. That’s cool, too. The fact that people took the time to compose (mostly) polite and reasoned responses means they were engaged, and that’s all I can ask for. If the comments were critical, well, if you can’t stand the heat, stay out of the kitchen …
When you write about something as deeply felt as sports (or art history, for that matter), it’s going to rile people up, and if you’re going to rank teams – for whatever reason – it’s going to piss people off. Fans of every team – save, I guess, the Orioles – feel I didn’t properly appreciate their team name, and should rank it higher. But in ranking 30 teams, some are going to be ranked highly and others low. So my instinctual response to this grumbling is to just say, `Fine, I screwed up and I’m moving every team up 10 places.’
I did want to make a few more specific points, which I probably didn’t make clear in the post’s introduction.
1, This is an aesthetic, not scientific, exercise. It’s a ranking of the team names in the order I like them. The criteria I listed served to guide my decisions, not to compel them. And I never intended to give all three criteria equal ranking in every case (at one point I considered assigning numerical values to each and adding them up but I rejected that because it felt too rigid). So, for example, in the case of the Diamondbacks, while they meet two of my criteria – it’s a unique name and more-or-less geographically specific- it’s such a blatantly ugly and commercial name, that criteria overwhelmed the others.
2, History counts, but it’s not the determining factor in how I feel about a name. A boring, historical name is still a boring name. So whatever the origins of the names Tigers, Pirates and Giants, they’re still bland, generic names used by other teams in other sports in other cities. Even if the Tigers wore orange socks in 1890, that’s not something specific to Detroit or even baseball. (It should also be noted there’s a lot of debate, even in the comments to my post, over the stories behind some of these names). Lastly, even if the origins of names Tigers and Pirates were non-feline or piratical, it hasn’t kept the teams from cloaking themselves in Tiger and Pirate iconography. If they had a claim to uniqueness, they lost it when they trotted out the trite mascots.
3, I didn’t make racism one of my explicit criteria, but I guess I should have. I don’t like it.
Anyway, thanks again to everyone who checked out the post and stay tuned for my next ranking project: World Cup soccer uniforms. I doubt anyone will have opinions about those.