Would you like to help name a sports team? Come, help name a sports team. The Rockies' current Double-A team, the New Britain Rock Cats, is moving to Hartford, and they want you to vote on their new name. None of the options are "Rock Cats" because, good gravy, that is an awful name for a sports team.
There is no way to win when you're naming a new team. All of the good names are taken, more or less, so you have to choose between redundant or gimmicky. Established teams get a break because we're all used to it. There are no trolleys to dodge in Los Angeles. There might not be a metropolitan area in the world less suitable for a sports team with a name based on public transportation. But we're used to the Dodgers, so we have to get over it.
You will never get used to something like "Rock Cats."
You can vote on the name for the Hartford team here, but you need help deciding. Allow me to present a ranking, from worst to best:
This is something you do in baseball when you screw up. You might as well be the Hartford Grounders or the Hartford Squibs. While I would buy a Hartford Squibs shirt, I'm not sure the general public would be so free with their money.
9. River Hogs
Drainage Basin Komodo Dragons
I have more. Email me.
8. Honey Badgers
They are nasty animals, but they're also an old Internet meme, and the name instantly dates the team. If this is the selected name, look out for the "All Your First Base Belong To Us" promotion next summer, followed by the "All Your Second Base Belong To Us" promotion, followed by the ... well, you get the idea.
7. Blue Frogs
The Hartford Courant has explanations for these ideas, and this one is a combination of the Mark Twain short story The Celebrated Jumping Frog of Calaveras County and the Dark Blues, Hartford's first baseball team.
Sure, Blue Frogs lends itself to a mascot and stuffed crap to sell. Still, if you want to get Twain in there while keeping a mascot, why not the Hartford Pudd'nheads? Have a guy with a giant foam skull filled with pudding, and let him roam the ballpark, inviting children to flag him down and scoop pudding out of his foam skull with their bare hands. Absolutely nothing could go wrong with that idea.
Instead, they would have a blue frog named "Hoppy" or some crap. If that doesn't make you think of Mark Twain ...
Too cute, and the punk kids these days don't care about Sonic enough to make a difference with the merchandising.
5. Hound Dogs
There is no connection to the area, but it honors the memory of Big Mama Thornton's most famous song, which lends itself to legions of Big Mama Thornton impersonators and Big Mama Thornton-themed promotions.
It also makes me think of this scene:
It's also a dippy name. You're losing me, Hartford.
Finally, something that's not instantly awful. Hartford apparently has some helicopter-industry roots, and while it's a little cartoonish, it doesn't follow the standard format of brainless sports names, like (Physical feature + animal) or (random adjective) or (animal ... just an animal). There are mascot possibilities. There are merchandising possibilities. There are worse minor league names, certainly. Like ROCK CATS.
3. Screech Owls
I know that screech owls are a real thing because of Eric Carle books. They're also adorable and vicious, and they stare at you like Hunter Pence.
This screech owl video has 1.6 million views, and features a screech owl taking a bath and getting dried by a blow drier.
Here is 24 minutes of black-and-white surveillance video of a screech owl making intermittent screech owl calls.
It is now 2027 and I have spent my entire life looking at screech owl videos on the Internet and my family has left me and that's OK check out this screech owl video:
Now that I am dead, my only request is that you bury me with a screech owl.
2. Praying Mantis
This one has everything: It's the state insect, it's perfect for merchandising and marketing, it looks stupid/great on a hat, and praying mantis are badass. This would be a fine addition to the minor-league pantheon of creative names. Apropos of nothing, here's a GIF I made of my youngest daughter running in horror from an 8-foot-tall animatronic praying mantis:
1. Yard Goats
It's an old term for locomotives that never leave the railyard, and it apparently honors Hartford's railroad history. It also sounds rad.
HONEY, DO YOU WANT TO GO TO THE YARD GOATS TONIGHT?
I guess, technically, it follows the format I made fun of in No. 7, but it's so much better.
THOSE YARD GOATS HAVE SOME REAL UP-AND-COMERS, BUT THEY CAN'T FIELD WORTH A DAMN.
You can easily come up with a mascot with this name (a goat) and have goats all around the park, doing goat things and letting you pet them in exchange for weird green pellets that make your hands stink. Here, I'll use clip art to design a hat you would buy.
IT'S BEEN SO MUCH MORE FUN AROUND HERE SINCE THE YARD GOATS CAME TO TOWN
You said it, pal. You said it. Vote Yard Goats.