In recent years, minor league baseball teams have eschewed taking on the name of their parent club, instead seeking unique identities. The trend seemed to begin in 2012 with the Cincinnati Reds’ Single-A affiliate naming itself the Pensacola Blue Wahoos. The Colorado Rockies’ Double-A affiliate took this to a new level last season when the team announced that it would be called the Hartford Yard Goats. Now, minor league affiliate identities for the upcoming 2017 season are even stranger. Here are some of the best ones yet.
Jacksonville Jumbo Shrimp
The Marlins’ Double-A affiliate had been known as the Jacksonville Suns through 2016, but the team announced that it would henceforth be known as the Jumbo Shrimp. This is not a typo, as the plural of “shrimp” is in fact “shrimp,” but it still remains an oxymoron.
“The new Jumbo Shrimp name celebrates Jacksonville as a big small town — Florida's largest city, yet in many ways a richly connected and close-knit community,” according to an article from the team’s site.
To the team’s front office, the name seems like a natural fit. “We understand the rich tradition of this region and wanted to embrace it in a way only minor league baseball can,” general manager Harold Craw added.
Jumbo Shrimp, however, may be the strangest minor league team name announced yet. Even better still, according to Twitter user @thesammitchell, the team’s new logo bears strong resemblance to the hastily drawn Trogdor the Burninator character from the old Homestar Runner Flash-animation online cartoon series. Note the consummate V’s and the ‘s-like’ shape.
Binghamton Rumble Ponies
The B-Mets are no more. After a quarter-century of playing as the Mets, Binghamton’s team decided to rebrand, picking the Rumble Ponies as the winner of a “name the team” contest with over 1,500 submissions and a final fan vote. The Rumble Ponies references Binghamton’s status as the “Carousel Capital of the World,” as it is home to six vintage carousels, according to the team.
Binghamton has supposedly suffered from attendance issues and new owners are looking to rebrand the team as part of a long-term investment in both the team and the city.
The Rumble Ponies name beat out four other finalists, including the Timber Jockeys and the Stud Muffins, to win the contest, and honestly, the logo looks surprisingly intimidating. Have a look for yourself:
New Orleans Baby Cakes
The Marlins’ Triple-A affiliate, formerly known as the Zephyrs, decided to add a bit of local flare to their name, announcing on Tuesday that they would now be known as the Baby Cakes. For the uninitiated, the name alludes to the King Cake commonly eaten to commemorate the Christian holiday of Epiphany, which often includes a little plastic baby inside to represent the newborn Jesus.
Over the years, it has become a common baked good in New Orleans, as it has also become associated with the city’s Mardi Gras celebrations. But the real story here, as my colleague Hector Diaz noted in a story on the name change, is the logo featuring a chubby baby holding a baseball bat while wearing both eye black and a crown.
We're proud to introduce our new identity - the New Orleans Baby Cakes! pic.twitter.com/6kWLXkRmCf— NOLA Baby Cakes (@cakesbaseball) November 15, 2016
And you can now count Shaq as a fan! Here he is proudly calling himself a Baby Cake.
Down East Wood Ducks
The Texas Rangers’ new Class-A Advanced minor league affiliate has announced that it will play as the Down East Wood Ducks in 2017, although it will not unveil its logos until Nov. 30. We can only speculate for now as to what their logo will look like, but the team’s name raises some questions. Like what is a Wood Duck? And where is Down East?
The team has already answered both of those questions, pointing out that the Wood Duck, also known as a “woodie,” is a kind of local water fowl with notoriously sharp claws. Down East refers to the local term for the coastal region of Eastern North Carolina, although fans up in the coastal northern part of Maine, also commonly referred to as “Down East,” may be disappointed to learn that they will not be receiving a team.