Today we are going to examine the most important fantasy baseball-related decision you will make all year: Choosing a team name.
Now, some of you will read this and say, “Dude, I’ve been calling my team the Jim Rice-A-Ronis since ’82 and I ain’t gonna change that now.” To which I say, “Godspeed, sir! You are a San Francisco Treat!”
Others will say, “Dude, the kind folk at Razzball have offered up this handy fantasy baseball team name generator for the team-name-impaired, and I’ve made good use of it, christening my 2009 squad the Rabid Booty Shorts.*” To which I say, “Godspeed to you too, sir! You are also, in your own way, a San Francisco treat.”
(*Real-name suggestion I actually received. Excellent.)
However, there are those of us who are constantly, heroically, obsessively striving to find that better, perfect name. For example, as an impressionable teenager, the Baron would sit in his bedroom while other kids were chasing skirts and lighting bottle rockets and I’d study the original Rotisserie League Baseball guide (represent!). I always marveled at the clever team names contained therein. Dan Okrent ran the Okrent Fenokies! Steve Wulf piloted the Wulfgang! Michael Pollet captained the Pollet Burros (think Soviet Russia)! Cork Smith helmed the Smith Coronas!
My favorite team name by far, though, belonged to Rob Fleder, who ran the Fleder Mice. This was a pun on Die Fledermaus, an operetta by Johan Strauss, the title of which means “The Bat” or, translated literally, “The Flutter Mouse.” DO YOU SEE HOW CLEVER THAT IS? Yes! Did I understand that reference at all when I was sixteen years old? Of course not! I barely understand it now!
But from that moment on, I was hooked on fantasy names like some kids are hooked on heroin and others are hooked on phonics.
Sadly, the Baron’s Christian name is not as pun friendly as, say, Steve Wulf. And my knowledge of Strauss is lacking. So I have been forced to adopt other fantasy-team-naming strategies. Over the years, I’ve scoured the globe to collect the deadliest, wickedest, most fearsome team-naming techniques (as well as some absolute clunkers), which I will share with you today. (Then, in the comments, I hope you will share your favorite/most regrettable team names of yore, so they can be celebrated/mocked accordingly.)
Without further ado, here is everything you ever wanted to know about how to – and how not to — name your fantasy team:
1. The Pun-On-Favorite-Player’s-Name Names. Personally, I just don’t get this approach. I mean, I understand the part about how you love Ichiro Suzuki or Cole Hamels or Albert Pujols. I even see the charm of names like Honey-Nut Ichiros or Hamels Toe or Albert’s Poo Holes. What I don’t understand is WHAT HAPPENS IF YOU TRADE THAT GUY? Seriously, you have a whole team of players walking around with HONEY NUT ICHIROS emblazoned on their chests, and Ichiro’s not even on the team? That is bad for clubhouse morale. Plus, if you ever meet Albert Pujols in a bar, do you really want to start the conversation by saying, “Hey, I once had a team called the Poo Holes.” No, you do not. GRADE: C
2. The Pun-On-Your-Hometown-Team’s-Name Names. I think this is more popular in Fantasy Football, or at least that’s what I gathered from that pretty amusing ESPN commercial with those teams named Behind the Steel Curtain and Boston TD Party and what not. The Baron doesn’t play fantasy football. Is this site called RazzFootball? If this method appeals to you, go over to a fantasy football site, read about Anquan Boldin, then name your team The Boldin The Beautiful. You’re welcome. GRADE: D
3. Dirty Sports Puns. Ah, an old chestnut. (In fact, the team name The Old Chestnuts could conceivably belong in this category, if this was 1852.) Here’s a more current example: The Backdoor Sliders. Think about it! Personally, the Baron doesn’t go this route, being a gentleman of refined humors. But he fully respects that there’s a good argument to be made for simply calling your team Balls Deep every single year. GRADE: B
4. Timely References to Current Events. This is probably the most popular naming convention in my current league. Our winner last year was called the B-12 Chewables, which I liked. (I liked his name from the year before even better: A-Rod Drinks Zima. It’s funny because it’s true.) Last year, mid-election, we had two different teams with puns on Obama-related hope slogans. The upside: People think you are smart about politics. The downside: You spend all year with a team called the Audacious Hopers. Worth it? I think not. GRADE: C plus.
5. Olde-tyme baseball players. Now we’re talking! Olde-tyme players have funny names/nicknames. Also, this scores you points with other players who assume you are some sort of tweedy baseball historian, when all you did was Google “old-time baseball player nicknames.” My favorite such player’s name? Urban Shocker. My favorite ever personal team name? The Urban Shockerz. We urbanely shocked our way to a championship. P.S. I added the Z to attract the kids to our merchandise. Kidz love the Z! GRADE: A
6. Arcane baseball rules/slang. Another good way to fake-impress your buddies. (You know who this will not impress? Ladies.) My favorite arcane rule: “Fielder’s Indifference,” i.e. an official scoring decision that a runner should not get credited with a stolen base because the fielders let him advance uncontested. It also sounds like a play by Samuel Beckett starring Vance and Rudy Law. As RCL alum will remember, my team last year was called the Indifferent Fielders. Trust me, they played like they were indifferent. Verdict: Too clever by half. GRADE: B minus.
7. Walt Whitman quotes. There’s a good one about baseball – they used it in Bull Durham. (Cue Susan Sarandon): “I see great things in baseball. It will take our people out-of-doors, fill them with oxygen, give them a larger physical stoicism, tend to relieve us from being a nervous, dyspeptic set, repair those losses and be a blessing to us.” The Baron regrets to inform you that, in a fit of toxic pretentiousness, he once called a team the Dyspeptic Set. As karmic payback, he got saddled with Jeff Francouer. Thanks a lot, Walt Whitman! GRADE: F
8. Humiliating Childhood Nicknames/ Derogatory Personal Slang. This is my new favorite source of team names. It’s like you’re turning the table on the bullies by winning some fantasy league they will never hear about! WHO’S THE DORK NOW? The Baron, as all the finest concubines of Europe are aware, is a natural redhead. Apparently, in Australia, there is a derogatory slang term for redheads: “Fanta Pants.” Get it? ‘Cause Fanta, the drink, is orange. Orange in the pants. Personally, the Baron thinks this is more derogatory toward Australians. But no matter! I’ve flipped the script and found my team name for ’09. Ladies and gentlemen, I present to you: The Fighting Fanta Pants. GRADE: AWESOME.