What’s in a Name?

American League teams include the St. Petersburg (“Tampa Bay”) Rays, the Minneapolis (“Minnesota”) Twins, the Anaheim (“Los Angeles”) Angels, and the Arlington (“Texas”) Rangers. Over in the National League we find the Miami (“Florida”) Marlins, the Phoenix (“Arizona”) Diamondbacks, and the Denver (“Colorado”) Rockies.

The practice of associating a baseball team with a place other than the city in which it plays its home games dates to 1961, when the original Washington Senators became the “Minnesota” Twins. It’s the baseball equivalent of naming a child after a sign of the Zodiac — very “new age,” “countercultural,” and all that. What began as an exception has become the rule: baseball’s four newest franchises (awarded in 1993 and 1998) belong to “Arizona,” “Colorado,” “Florida,” and “Tampa Bay.” (Can you imagine the “Maryland” Orioles, “Illinois” Cubs, “Ohio” Indians, “Michigan” Tigers, etc., etc., etc.?)

Preferring, as I do, real names like Matthew and Mary, I insist on the St. Petersburg Rays, Minneapolis Twins, Anaheim Angels, Arlington Rangers, Miami Marlins, Phoenix Diamondbacks, and Denver Rockies. The residents of those cities should insist likewise.