If you take a look at any sporting team, there are two parts to their name. The first is their location and the second is a team name. Sure we have the traditional team names such as the Lions, Tigers, Bears and some creative teams names such as the Celtics, Jazz, and Astros. There are also some controversial names which we will go into a little bit later. It used to be easy to name a sporting team. Pick a dangerous or cool animal and run with it. But what happens when all the traditional team names are gone? You have to stretch and let those creative juices start to flow.
Minor League baseball takes the cake for these wacky, random, and off the wall monikers. Here are just a few extremely awesome examples (with their logos):
Ridiculous team names are not limited to Minor League Baseball however. College teams have some pretty interesting team names as well. The top names are:
Yes, all of these are real team names. Ready for a few more from the world of sports? How about these:
What is behind these name choices you may ask? Well let’s start with the Black Cocks. New Zealand wanted to gain more publicity for its leagues so they chose the “Black Cocks” as their nickname. It is a combination of “Black” which is one of the Nation’s colors and “Cock” which refers to the shuttle cock. Obviously this was met with quite a lot of criticism by many as well as the International Badminton Federation (yes there is such a thing) which prohibited the name and required them to change it. The team did get an enormous amount of publicity and also received a sponsorship deal by none other than condom manufacturers.
Some teams do it for the notoriety, while others have names that are specific to their area. The Cairo Syrupmakers for example have their moniker because Roddenberry’s syrup plant was formerly located in Cairo. The Modesto Nuts have their name because of the several type of nuts that are grown in the region. Other teams have their names simply because student or fans voted on the name. The Scottsdale Community College Artichokes were renamed back in the 1970’s when a vote was left up to the students to come up with a new nickname for the team. The students, at the time, were angry at the administration of the school because they felt like the administration was hemorrhaging money, so the students chose an off the wall name and wanted the colors to be pink and white. This caused an uproar by college officials and many lawsuits followed. The nickname and colors stuck for over 30 years and just a few years ago the colors were changed to green and gold but the artichoke nickname remains.
Some nicknames are controversial which had been a topic of conversation in recent years. Many names that are in reference to Native Americans have come under fire. Most teams have kept their nickname such as the Golden State Warriors, Cleveland Indians, Atlanta Braves, and others, but have removed logos or imagery that may depict Native Americans in a negative light. The Washington Redskins were brought up in the media just this past week regarding their nickname. Some feel that the Redskins name is portrayed as being racist while others feel it pays tribute to the Native American people. Redskins owner Dan Snyder in regards to the name of the team said, “We will never change the name of the team. It’s that simple. NEVER – you can use caps.” A recent AP poll found that nearly four in five Americans don’t think that the Redskins should have to change their name.
Bottom line is there are funny names, there are names that just make absolutely no sense, there are names that are controversial, and there are names that pay omage to the community. Whatever the reasoning for the teams name is, the goal for each team is to win games and sell tickets. Having an unique name may help merchandise sales but I don’t think it will help a team win more games. In any event, the names and logos are good for a laugh or two and whenever new teams are formed, I hope they keep up with these wacky nicknames.
When I was growing up playing baseball in middle school and high school, I did my fare share of pitching. My grandmother, who came to almost every one of my games, had one huge fear about me standing on that pitcher’s mound. She would always be worried about the fact that I was standing only 60 feet 6 inches away from an opponent who’s goal, was to hit the ball I was throwing toward him, the opposite way, as hard as he could. She had this overwhelming fear that I would be stuck by a line drive and would be severely injured. That exact scenario occurred this past Tuesday when Toronto Blue Jays pitcher, J.A. Happ, was struck in the head by a line drive which sent him collapsing to the ground. He was taken off the field on a stretcher and remained in the hospital overnight. Fortunately for J.A. and his family, he turned out to be okay with only a skull fracture behind his left ear that doctors believe will heal on its own. This begs a larger question and one that has been brought up many times before. Should pitchers be required to wear some sort of protective helmet to prevent line drives from causing permanent or even fatal damage?
Currently there are no suitable or discrete devices out on the market. Brandon McCarthy, who was struck with a line drive last September and underwent surgery to evacuate an epidural hemorrhage and stabilize his skull fracture, said that he would be willing to wear a protective device if it was functionally approved by him. Even with a protective helmet or hat, injuries to pitchers can still easily happen. Bryce Florie was in the face by a line drive back in 2000 which caused broken bones and eye damage. He was a solid reliever up until that point but after the injury he was never the same and was not able to come back to the major leagues. So unless a pitcher starts wearing catchers gear out to the mound, injuries and scary moments like this can and still will happen. The odds of a pitcher getting hit in the head is extremely low however, if that makes you feel any better. There are roughly 700,000 pitches thrown per year, and about 0.0004% of the time a batter’s hit makes any contact with a pitchers head. So if you are looking at various odds, you are more likely to die of a car crash than be hit in the head by a line drive throughout a players major league career.
The question now is, will Major League Baseball do anything about this issue. Unfortunately Happ’s incident probably will have no overwhelming effect on MLB Commissioner Bud Selig to get a rule in place mandating pitchers to wear helmets. The sad truth of the matter, and this is with most major law changes, it will take a death before any change is made. In 2007, Mike Coolbaugh was coaching first base for the Double-A Tulsa Drillers and was hit in the neck which killed him on impact. The following year MLB and MiLB instituted a mandatory helmet rule change for base coaches. At first coaches complained about the helmets but now you rarely hear anyone complaining about the helmets. It’s just an accepted part of the game now.
Having pitchers wear helmets or protective gear to potentially save lives is a fantastic idea in my humble opinion. Once a manufacturer comes up with a design that won’t impede a pitchers ability to perform at the highest level, we may see some change and pitchers might be more willing to try it out. Until then, whenever a line drive comes screaming back towards the pitchers mound, take my grandmothers advice…DUCK!
- Happ latest pitcher hit in head by line drive (timesleader.com)
- Happ injury adds to discussion on MLB pitcher safety (TBO.com)
As folklore would have it when a bird poops on you, it is good luck. Well if you are in need of some good fortunes head out to AT&T Park towards the end of a Giants game and your chances of having a bird drop some good luck on you drastically increases. When AT&T Park opened in 2000, known as Pacific Bell Park back then, you would find you occasional seagull gliding over the water of McCovey Cove and the San Francisco Bay. Really for the first decade of the parks existence the seagulls would mind their own business and every now and then venture into the stadium to pick up some scraps of left over hot dogs or garlic fries. No big deal right? Well over the past few years, something has happened. The seagulls seemed to have formed an alliance and are now coming in swarms to the corner of 3rd and King Streets.
Like clockwork, around the seventh inning of all Giants home games you can see the birds begin flocking into the stadium holding fans prisoner and in fear of their flying excrement. They swoop in like a scene out of the 1963 Alfred Hitchcock thriller “The Birds“. The gulls are there for one thing and one thing only. Food. And lots of it. Once that final pitch is thrown, its no holds barred. The gulls are ruthless and nothing will come between them and their target. The seagulls have become some what of a celebrity around AT&T Park which has led to the creation of a AT&T Seagull Facebook page as well as a Twitter account.
So what can be done about the seagulls? Well the top brass at the Giants have attempted to scare off the seagulls with a few failed attempts. Last season the Giants brought in a red-tailed hawk named Bruce Lee. Lee was perched atop the left-field light tower in a nesting box. It was unclear whether he helped the situation at all but he did become an internet star when he captured and ate a pigeon near one of the dugouts. The Giants seemed to scrap that idea and soon after that video surfaced, Bruce Lee was Kung Fu Fighting elsewhere. Their next option was to hire a falconer however that option proved to be too costly and bloody for a family friendly environment.
Now it’s back to square one for AT&T Park vs. The Seagulls. Unless they erect a dome or a big net over the stadium, there isn’t much that seemly can be done. Its a pain in the rear, pun intended, for the custodial crews at the stadium who have to sit back and wait for the gulls to devour the fans leftovers, and then leave their special leftovers. They understand it’s the laws of nature and realize that without the seagulls leaving their poop, there would be less custodians needed to clean it all up. Bottom line is, if you are having a bad day and in search of good luck somewhere, head down to AT&T Park towards the end of the game and your chances of good luck falling from the sky is a lot greater.
- Where did the seagull-chasing AT&T hawk go? (sfgate.com)
Every year on April 15th, Major League Baseball honors one of baseballs true American heroes. He wore #42 for the Brooklyn Dodgers and on that day in April of 1947 he became the first African-American to play professional baseball. That man is none other than Jackie Robinson. After just watching the movie “42: The True Story of an American Legend” it really made me realize and understand how difficult and challenging it must have been for someone to play in a league where almost everyone didn’t want him there. He was an outcast and a villain to many and he had to battle through extremely tough times, but in the end he succeeded.
The movie takes you through Jackie’s early baseball career when he was a member of the Kansas City Monarchs, part of the Negro Leagues. The club president and general manager of the Brooklyn Dodgers, Branch Rickey, sought out and recruited Robinson to sign a minor league deal with the International League farm club affiliate of the Dodgers, the Montreal Royals. After a year in the minor leagues Robinson was brought up to the Dodgers and played on Opening Day in 1947. Robinson found himself as the “poster child” for race relations in baseball and because of his hard work and strong personality he was able to withstand the racism of that time and have a glorious 10 year baseball career. During his time in the major leagues he won the Rookie of the Year award, was MVP of the 1949 season, was a 6-time All-Star, helped lead the Dodgers to a World Series title in 1955 and was elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1962.
Robinson helped pave the way for many African-American players like Willie Mays, Hank Aaron, Willie McCovey, and thousands of others. There is one alarming trend in Major League Baseball though in the present day. The African-American percentage in baseball is at its lowest since 1959 when the Boston Red Sox became the final team to integrate its roster. The number of African-American baseball players on the 2013 opening day rosters was only at 7.7% which is down from the peak of 27% in 1975. Four teams this year opened the season without an African-American player on their roster – the St. Louis Cardinals, San Francisco Giants, Seattle Mariners, and Texas Rangers. The league is so concerned with this drop, that a task force was set up by MLB commissioner Bud Selig to try and reverse this decline. MLB does currently have some programs in place to help regain many African-American players that have chosen to pursue other sports or career paths but clearly not enough is being done.
Hopefully with this new movie it will shed a light on African-American players in baseball and what a true hero Jackie Robinson was. He was an inspiration and a great ambassador to the game of baseball. Major League Baseball pays tribute to Jackie Robinson every year on April 15th when all players and coaches don the #42 on their backs in memory of the great legend. White, Black, Asian, Hispanic, or what ever nationality you are, baseball is America’s pastime and everyone is welcome to play!
- Jackie Robinson Day (reachwingspan.com)
- 42: The Legacy of Jackie Robinson (o.canada.com)
- ’42′: The Jackie Robinson Story Throws A Perfect Strike (947thewave.cbslocal.com)
Do you ever find yourself looking at a calendar and wondering what you will be doing when the weekend hits? Well if you haven’t hopped aboard the fastest growing trend in recreational activity, what are you waiting for? No, I’m not talking about “twerking”, I’m talking about fun runs. Fun runs are classified as a race, some timed others not timed, typically a 5k, where participants run with friends or on their own more for enjoyment than competition. Many times the fun run will benefit a charity or organization and most every fun run has some sort of a theme. Runners will come in costume, run through obstacles, have color dye thrown on you, run with your furry four leg friend, and even deck yourself out in glowing gear and run at night.
Running competitions have been around since the dawn of time and the most popular running events are marathons. There are full marathons which are 26.2 miles and half marathons, which you guessed it, are 13.1 miles. But what about those individuals who don’t want to run that far or just find running some what unadventurous. Enter the 5k fun run. Fun runs have roots as early as a century ago when some creative minds in San Francisco who wanted to help generate funds and boost city moral after the 1906 earthquake, created the first Bay to Breakers in 1912. The event has transformed into an extreme example of a fun run since costumes, or lack of costumes are all but required at this race. In almost every city across America there is some sort of fun run occurring, probably this weekend. There are many fun runs that are strictly local races however the newest trend are racing tours, where the race will travel coast to coast stopping at major metropolitan areas in between.
Some of the first touring racing series were Tough Mudder and Warrior Dash which are obstacle course type races in which the course is about 10-12 miles long. The success of these type of races sparked touring 5k fun runs like the Color Run, Hot Chocolate Run, and the company I have the proud distinction to work for, The Electric Run. The Color Run has multiple races nearly every single weekend in 2013 and the Electric Run calendar is booking up fast with races planned nearly every single weekend so far this summer. With registration fees between $40-$65 each race and between 10,000-25,000 participants at each stop, you do the math, it comes out to a lot of money. As with any event there are production costs to put on these types of races but with the continued success of the 5k fun runs, there is surely no end in sight. The big question remains…who will come up with the next unique fun run?
- The Running Boom [Infographic] (business2community.com)
- Mutt Strut: Dog friendly 5K and one mile fun run (photo gallery and video) (al.com)
For years now Bud Selig, the commissioner of Major League Baseball, has hinted at retirement. When he began as MLB commissioner in 1992 he only took the position on an interim level and really had no plans of staying put in this office for 21 years. In 1992 MLB owners voted to oust current MLB commissioner Fay Vincent, which meant Selig was next in line to take the position since he was chairman of the Executive Council of Major League Baseball at that time. He than became Acting Commissioner until 1998 when owners voted to give him the title permanently. Selig has been hinting at retirement for almost 10 years now however he continued to take contract extensions in 2004, 2008, and again in 2012.
Selig has left a major impact on the game of baseball and has been on the forefront of many milestones and major changes that have shaped the game of baseball. Some major highlights of his career include adding Interleague play in 1997, the creation of the World Baseball Classic in 2006, giving home field advantage in the World Series to the league that wins the All-Star game in 2003, introduction of instant replay for disputed home run calls in 2008, and most notably the stricter performance-enhancing drug testing policies. With all of those accomplishments his legacy is not without some blemishes as well. Prior to the stricter performance-enhancing drug testing policies he was accused of turning a blind-eye to many players who were using PEDs in the 1990’s and 2000’s. He also was given a lot of grief on how he handled the 2002 All-Star game which subsequently led to the change in 2003 which gives home field advantage in the World Series to the winner of that game.
Love him or hate him, Bud Selig will go down as one of the greatest commissioners in MLB history. The big question remains to be seen though; is this really it? Will Selig finally close the door on his storied two decade long run as top dog in Major League Baseball? MLB owners sure would love to see him stay as he has been a great commissioner in baseball and has kept teams on the field playing with no labor stoppage since 1994. All signs point to his exit at the end of 2014 and Selig himself seems pretty certain next year will be his last. In an interview with Eric Fisher of Sports Business Journal, Selig states, “I think [the owners] understand. I am done. I do understand some of the feeling out there, but I am done Dec. 31, 2014. That’s it.” So now the big question is…who is up to bat next?
- Selig: You “won’t recognize” baseball in a decade (hardballtalk.nbcsports.com)
- Bud Selig Says He Is Retiring as MLB Commissioner After 2014 Season (nesn.com)
- Commissioner Bud Selig turns down contract extension, insists on retirement (tracking.si.com)
The 2013 NFL draft is now in the books and now it’s time for all the analysis to begin. One of the biggest stories of the draft was the fact that Florida State quarterback E.J. Manuel was drafted ahead of more well-known QBs such as Geno Smith of West Virgina or Ryan Nassib of Syracuse. That was followed by Geno Smith getting drafted in the 2nd round by the New York Jets who at the time had 6 QBs on their roster. This morning the Jets announced that Tim Tebow was being cut and basically sending a message to Smith that the quarterback job in New York is his to lose.
One of the most compelling stories of the draft was that Notre Dame linebacker, Manti Te’o, was skipped over in the 1st round and was picked as the sixth pick of the second round (38th overall) by the San Diego Chargers. Many analysts predicted Te’o to be a mid-first round pick, including two well known draft predictors Mel Kiper and Todd McShay. They picked Te’o to be drafted 20th and 25th, respectively.
No contract information has been made public yet, however based upon past draft years, Te’o could lose around 50% of contract and endorsement deals by falling to the second round. Had he been picked in the first round he could have been making between $8-$9 million in guaranteed money over 4 years. Players in the 2012 draft that were drafted high in the second round only signed deals for around $3-$4 million.
Debates have already started as to why Te’o dropped so far in the draft. Could it be because of his lackluster performance in the national championship game? It may possibly be because of his uninspiring 40-yard dash times at the NFL combine. Although it most likely it has to do with his off field “Catfish” story which broke a few months ago. As reported by ESPN, many NFL teams who would have drafted him in the first round decided to pass on Te’o directly because of his off field issues.
Whatever the case may be, Te’o needs to perform in San Diego this year and if he does, his legacy won’t be about a fake girlfriend; it will be about a stellar NFL linebacker. Nevertheless, he will have to settle for a much lower contract due to a number of factors.
- Chargers trade up, select linebacker Te’o (espn.go.com)
- Te’o back in the spotlight this week (myrepp.com)
- Chargers Take Manti Te’o in 2nd Round of NFL Draft (abcnews.go.com)
Baseball is in full swing throughout the country, but with the Padres holding a tie for the worst record in the majors and a 1-5 record at home, the only real action that has taken place at Petco Park this season, is the altercation between the San Diego Padres and the Los Angeles Dodgers on April 11th. For those of you who are not baseball fans, here is basically what happened on the field during the game and off the field after the game.
The fireworks began in the bottom of the sixth inning when Padres left fielder Carlos Quentin was up to bat against the Dodgers pitcher Zack Greinke. The Dodgers were leading 2-1 and Quentin had a 3-2 count against him however the pitch from Greinke traveled up and in and struck Quentin on the left shoulder. Quentin who has a past history with Greinke obviously thought that he was hit intentionally and shot a glare towards the mound. Greinke proceeded to yell something to Quentin and that’s when he threw his bat down, sprinted towards the mound, lowered his shoulder and hit Greinke at full speed. It was later discovered that Greinke had broken his left collarbone due to the melee and will be out for 8 weeks. After the game as the players were heading to the parking lot and team bus, Dodgers center fielder Matt Kemp confronted Quentin and subsequently had to be separated by players and law enforcement.
After speaking with various people on the topic there seems to be a divided line on where people’s opinion stands. Some place blame on Quentin for charging the mound and others say that in that situation it’s clear that Greinke was not trying to hit Quentin and the pitch just got away. My opinion is that Greinke did not mean to hit Quentin with the pitch. Quentin has been hit by a pitch 116 times in his career and has been in the top 5 of that category in the past 4 years. However when Quentin got hit by the pitch he thought about charging the mound since he has been hit by Greinke twice in the past but was most likely just going to take his base. TV replays show that Greinke said something to Quentin when they were staring at each other and that is what set Quentin off. The unwritten rules of baseball state that when there is an altercation on the field, you show off your man hood as much as possible and don’t back down to anything or anyone. Well in this case, Greinke is paying a steep price for that. He took the 240lb left fielder on head to head and with Greinke only being 195 lbs, its obvious who was going to win that fight.
Carlos Quentin has since been suspended 8 games by Major League Baseball for the altercation with many feeling that this suspension is too short since Greinke will be out for 8 weeks due to Quentin’s actions. In an interview following the game Dodgers Manager, Don Mattingly, stated that Quentin should not be able to play another game until Greinke can pitch again. While I feel that 8 games is a little too short of a suspension, I disagree with Mattingly’s comments. The Padres start a 3 game series in Los Angeles beginning tomorrow and you can definitely count on some retaliation going down at some point in this series. From all accounts this story is not being put in the past just yet.
Baseball is a game of numbers and statistics, however there is one awe-inspiring statistic is not recognized as an official stat by Major League Baseball. That stat is the velocity on a pitch or basically, how fast a pitcher can throw a ball recorded on a radar gun. Most major league pitchers throw a fastball in the range of 89-93mph. Others can reach mid to upper 90’s, however a select few can reach that 100 mph plateau.
Radar guns were first introduced to the game of baseball in 1935 and since then have changed the way many players and scouts approach the game. Baseball scouts can judge the success a pitcher may have in the major leagues by the velocity or speed of a pitcher’s fastball. Pitchers that can throw hard are still not guaranteed success in the Major Leagues however. There have been many players that have thrown a ball with extreme velocity but have struggled to keep a job in the pros. Accuracy plays a huge part in that fact as many pitchers who throw fast, are not as accurate as a pitcher that can only reach the high 80’s or low 90’s on the radar gun.
The fastest recorded pitch in the major leagues based upon the radar gun readout is from the Cincinnati Reds closer, Aroldis Chapman. On September 24, 2010 at Petco Park in San Diego he threw a fastball a whopping 105.1 mph. When Chapman stands on the mound to pitch, the fans stop what they are doing and watch him throw. He is definitely a “flame thrower” but if not for the radar gun in the stadium, would he get as much attention as he does? Can a hitter really tell the difference between a 99 mph fastball versus a 105 mph fastball?
The radar gun entices pitchers to give that extra oomph and try to throw faster than the next pitcher. This can also have an adverse effect on pitchers as not all pitchers who can throw fast are successful in the pros. Even though pitchers can throw hard, professional hitters will learn to time the pitches and sooner than later that 100 mph pitcher will be out of a job. Pitchers need to have additional pitches, such as a curve ball, slider, or change-up to offset the hitters as changing speed and location of each pitch is crucial for success.
Radar guns have also changed the fan experience at professional sporting events. In almost every Major League baseball stadium throughout the country you will find a speed pitch area where fans can throw a fastball and see how fast they can throw it. The radar gun not only has changed the way that professional athletes try to pitch but also how fans can feel like they are a part of the game by participating in these extra activities around the ball park.
Radar guns are loved by some and hated by others, but they are not going anywhere in the game of baseball. Major League Baseball may never recognize the speed of a pitch as an official statistic but fans absolutely love seeing a triple digit read out on the radar gun in the stadium and at home on TV, and that is just one of the many reasons that the radar gun has changed the way baseball is played today.
- CC’s decline in velocity no big surprise or worry (mlb.mlb.com)
- Ranking the most powerful pitchers in baseball history (sportsillustrated.cnn.com)