Best sports team monikers combine regionalism and whimsy

By Declan Schroeder

Ever heard the phrase “first idea, worst idea?”

It’s the concept that the first thing that pops into your head when you’re trying to come up with something creative or a new idea is probably banal, clapped-out, cliché or short-sighted. Or, even worse — completely off-strategy or terribly offensive.

Safe to say, you probably shouldn’t post your idea to Twitter for the phone-toting masses to probe.

Let’s go to Halifax, where one group did just that, igniting a powder-keg of debate and ridicule.

The Twitter account “CFL in Halifax (@CFLinHalifax)” – which supports the city’s bid to get an expansion Canadian Football League franchise –  proposed the hypothetical team bear the name “Halifax Explosions.”

“100 years ago a force was unleashed that made this city stronger, bigger, and more united than ever before. Now, we channel that force onto the football field as we flatten all that stands in our way,” the tweet from January 28 reads.

Ah yes. A team named after an explosion that killed 2,000 people and destroyed half a city. That’s like naming a team in Detroit the “Riots” or one in Lac-Megantic the “Train Wrecks.”

Thankfully, the Twitter account and whoever’s behind it (clearly not a public relations person) aren’t actually connected with Maritime Football Limited, the group of people actually working to get the CFL to their city.

One can, though, kind of understand the thought-process behind someone believing the name “Explosions” was suitable.

It’s regional.

Naming a team after something ubiquitous to the geographical area or a catalyzing event can produce some wicked handles and logos — given they aren’t derogatory or disrespectful.

It’s easy for fans to connect with and root for a team that’s named after something they’re familiar with and fond of.

These names usually aren’t ones that strike fear in the hearts of their opponents, but they roll off the tongue, they’re one-of-a-kind, and their logos usually look pretty sweet on a hoody or hat.

There’s plenty of examples, all over North America, of regional names being done right.

I take you to Montgomery, Alabama, where their AA baseball team is called the Biscuits. The Tampa Bay Rays affiliate’s logo is just that, a happy roll with eyes, hands, feet, and a pat of butter as a tongue. Added bonus? The team’s merch shop is called the ‘Biscuit Basket.’

Let’s go even further south to El Paso. There’s plenty of scary stuff around there, like sandstorms, rattlesnakes, and scorpions, but the AAA baseball affiliate of the San Diego Padres opted to name their team after the most fearful beast of all – the Chihuahua.

How about heading northwest to Hillsboro, Oregon? There, the class-A affiliate of the Arizona Diamondbacks chose to pay homage to the agricultural history of the area and named their team the Hops, referring to the plant used to brew beer.

Some teams are even named after people who influenced the area. In Laval, Quebec, the American Hockey League affiliate of the Montreal Canadiens is called the ‘Rocket,’ named after Hockey Hall of Famer Maurice “Rocket” Richard.

Some teams are even named after a concept or idea – I point you to Major League Soccer’s New England Revolution. This, of course, refers to the colonial revolt and formation of a new country that eventually elected an extra from Home Alone 2 to the Oval Office.

Now, I can’t go on much longer, because my editor will speak in a hushed annoyed tone at me if I do, but here’s a few more: Lansing Lugnuts, Normal CornBelters, Visalia Rawhide, Vancouver Whitecaps, and Indy Fuel.

Now that we’ve been all over, let’s make it a round trip. The Halifax account had the right idea but bombed the execution.

Just a few names that come to mind for a team in Halifax are the Tide, Privateers, or Gold Miners.

But aren’t those first ideas?

Yes. They are.

It just goes to show some “first and worst” ideas aren’t quite as bad as others.