Since we’re all getting way out in front of the reality of Major League Baseball coming to Salt Lake City in the form of an expansion franchise, let’s go ahead and conjure 20 potential names for the team. This is a most important consideration, one to be taken seriously (well, sort of) because the handle, whatever it ends up being, if it ends up being, could be attached to the city — and it should be the city, not the state — from now until … kingdom come.
Singular noun names, such as the Jazz and the Thunder, haven’t made inroads into MLB the way they have in more progressive leagues, but they’re included on this list because baseball’s rather boring cling to tradition shouldn’t get in the way of creativity here or anywhere.
These, then, are the candidates, in no particular order of preference:
OK, bag this one right from jump. It’s too dusty, too stodgy, too antiquated. Unless the players would be wearing heavy leather boots, suspenders, brimmed straw, fur or felt hats and/or bonnets and fluffy dresses on the field, this one gets tossed before the discussion starts.
Some are in favor of this as a nod to the past, back to the days of the city’s Triple-A team known by that name, playing at Derks Field, and even further back to the days of the early settlers of this community. Most everyone around here knows the legend of a large flock of seagulls that dive-bombed into early settlers’ precious fields of crops that were — or would have been — devoured by a horde of angry, hungry crickets were it not for the miraculous efforts of feathered friends.
The problem with it is, the gull, which happens to be Utah’s state bird, is actually the California gull, and Utah has already swiped enough crazy things out of that state without honoring it further by naming its Major League Baseball team after a bird from over there. We can do better.
3. Looney Legislators
Haha. I kid.
The Salt Lake Buzz. What a great name — briefly used by another iteration of the city’s Triple-A legacy, a name that didn’t last because of a stupid lawsuit acquiescing to some obscure mascot from Georgia Tech, or wherever. It paid tribute to the old Bees, another Minor League name used in the past and the present, the name of the current Triple-A team moving to South Jordan. The Buzz is still fresh and cool and merchandise with that name on it would blow out of stores and online sites from coast to coast because who doesn’t want … yeah, a righteous Buzz? Pay for rights to the name, if need be.
Again, a connection to the Beehive State’s history, the pride it takes in “cooperative work,” like busy bees of a hive. Utah is loaded with Beehive this and Beehive that, everything from honor societies to credit unions to bail bond companies. Take a whole bunch of those bees — although Utah’s bee population and honey production is middle-of-the-pack nationally — put them in an agitated mass, and we’ve got a menacing moniker for a baseball team that might scare the bejesus out of the Cardinals and the Blue Jays and the Dodgers and the Angels and the Astros and the Cubbies. Something to consider. The Salt Lake Swarm. Ooooh.
Wait, what? Wasn’t there a failed football team in a failed football league by that name here in the recent past? Even though, like the Swarm, Salt Lake Stallions does have some nice-sounding alliteration to it, but would that be too gender specific, leaving out half the population, offending all the ticket-buying mares out there?
A football team in New Orleans — and all those outside a particular dominant culture here — might have a problem with this one.
Hey, no judging. We’re brainstorming here. Just settle in for a moment. Salt Lake Peppers. It’s spicy, from wall to wall, and it’s the sort of name that wouldn’t be all that popular at first, but some 50 years from now, every other MLB franchise would not just be jealous of it, but would straight covet it.
9. Desert Rats
We live in a desert, right? Don’t even know what a desert rat is, but that old TV show, “The Rat Patrol,” with jeeps flying up and over sand dunes, scrambling away from Nazi tanks, was kinda cool. You can see it now in headlines: “Rats chew through Mariners in extra innings.”
10. Brine Shrimp
With all due sympathy for the struggles of the Great Salt Lake, no, no, no, no, hell no.
Hard to ignore, what with so much snow this past winter. This one sounds better coupled with Utah rather than Salt Lake. But it clashes with the whole tenor of the Boys of Summer.
Other than a team that wins and wins a lot, there’s nothing Utah sports fans appreciate more than a group of multi-millionaire athletes who give everything they have in the arena, in the course of competitive battle. They adore hard workers who give off the notion that they care as much as the fans do. And the short form puts a smile on your face: The Glads.
Another nod to alliteration: Salt Lake Slime, Younger fans, people baseball always tries to lure in, would love it.
One more nod to alliteration and to the sometimes surly Wasatch weather.
Granted, an unorthodox idea, but sometimes you got to reach for something different. I just like the sound and feel of it. Informal, gritty, endearing, with some connection to the game, as in a slang term for home run, or two-bagger, a double, and pays homage to the diligent folks who load everyone’s food into transportable sacks down at the local grocery.
Not sure if there are any of these in what’s left of the Great Salt Lake, but it’s fierce and frightening, intimidating and intriguing, and somewhat wicked sounding.
A risky one, but is there any designation better in sports than that of goat? You know what it stands for, everybody does, and that’s why it works, if a team could handle the pressure of living up to it. Your Salt Lake Goats take the field, or graze on it, anyway.
There’s a Utah high school with this sports name for its teams, but when a Major League club needs a name, and it likes yours, that’s a compliment you have to live with. It matters not if you had it first.
Nasty. Dangerous. Sneaky. Something not to be overlooked or messed with. Everything a top MLB franchise should aspire to.
This isn’t Mutual of Omaha’s Wild Kingdom, but here’s yet another avian option, and since birds seem to be popular not just in the majors — Cardinals, Blue Jays, Orioles — but in other leagues in other sports, too — Eagles, Ducks, Hawks, Seahawks, Falcons, Penguins, Ravens, Pelicans, etc. — this might not be a bad choice.
Kingfishers are found in Utah year-round and there’s something about the name that sounds regal, distinguished, put-together, and fresh.
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