The Los Angeles Animatronics


I was listening to Joe Posnanski's Poscast with Michael Schur on the way into work this morning. As I unlocked the gate to the lot in front of my classroom, I wanted to argue. I wanted to state my point. I quickly gained composure, and decided against the angst. I had more important things to deal with, I had students waiting.

I love the Poscast. I'm a fan of Schur and Posnanski. My discovery of Fire Joe Morgan (dot) blogspot (dot) com came right around the same time I began to truly explore the wide world of baseball advanced stat. Whether Schur knows, or understands, or cares to understand, for many, his witty ramblings did as much to change the collective subconscious of an entire (portion) of a generation (as much as any bit of wit and whimsy from the likes of Bill James and Michael Lewis). His work (and the work of his colleagues) cut a little deeper, rang a little more true. 

For example, upon meeting a baseball fan at a party filled with yard beer and hip folk (of which there were many at the time), I would initially begin to fish. I would, casually, reference a blog or two. Even though I didn't have a subscription to Baseball Prospectus, I would pretend. The pinnacle of such discourse, would often come upon finding out about a mutual FJM appreciation. It was usually a sign, the final barrier between someone who got it and someone who didn't.

Which, for some reason, made me all the more flustered when I heard Michael Schur's (tongue-in-cheek) righteous indignation about team names. Schur's assertion, I think, was that team names make no real sense, have no real weight and purpose anymore. His argument (as Posnanski clarified) was two part: the switched city, and the hip new. I can vibe with his hatred of the hip new. The Rays and the Diamondbacks (which opened the door for the incredibly painful DBacks) are baseball's version of Poochie.

But, one must ask the question... were things really better back the days of good and old? Three teams were named after socks. I have no problem with this, and I actually enjoy the kitsch and the old-timey, but time, time is needed for the banal to become a thing of kitsch, old-timey beauty. Yes, it is insane that the Lakers are the Lakers, but they are what they are and the contradiction is part of the beauty. As a Dodger fan, the abstract confusion of the name is so far out in the space ether of logic and make-sensedness that the name sort of transcends its own reality.

What else would have sufficed? It was the 1950s. The Giants weren't changing their name, so it seemed logical to keep the moniker. They could have become The Freeways. I imagine the name was bandied about. Or the Los Angeles Animatronics, with the house that Walt built being a lovely new addition to the greater Southern California sphere of things and stuff.

But the Dodgers they are, the Dodgers they will always be. At some point, the Rays will be all they are and all they will always be. The Houston Astros, a name dated by the early nineties, has already (in my mind at least) attained a sort of brilliant bit of kitsch. Same goes for teams lost in time (frozen in the form of Cooperstown Colletion memoribelia): the Pilots, Colt .45s, Senators... time will make things good, maybe. Though I still can't figure out why Schur, brilliant as he may be, couldn't wrap his mind around the Dallas Stars and the lonestar moniker... maybe, the fact that I care, is reason enough to have the discussion at all*.

*Although, if Mr. Michael Schur would ever want to read my Parks and Recreation spec, I would indeed call, nay, petition and protest each and every name with which he finds issue. I would make it my life's work to do his bidding. I would become like Harvey Milk in the fight for the sensible name. I can easily be persuaded.

Jesse Gloyd, usually can be found writing essays about baseball (among other things) at Follow him on Twitter at @jessejamesgloyd.

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