The Naming Expert
Forget the Astros: What to rename Houston's American League baseball team
Let's get one thing straight: This is not an endorsement of Jim Crane's decision to consider changing the name of Houston's (sometimes) beloved baseball team. But if change is inevitable, than we need a new name that's as catchy and relevant to the city as Astros was for the better part of 50 years.
In baseball you can see the evolution from names describing what the players wore — early teams were just named after the color of players' socks — to names referencing either the town itself (Yankees, Phillies) or the industry common there (Brewers, Mariners).
This is where the Astros fit in, taking direction from the space center that defined our city for decades. But with the end of the space shuttle program in 2011, NASA is poised to be a lot less visible. In the landscape of Houston's identity, space is the past, and energy is the future.
I like the Frackers, not only for the limitless humor potential but also for its ability to attract Rice students, computer engineers & Battlestar Galactica fans.
Does that mean we should resurrect the Oilers? Houston's first football team had a great run, but frankly the word "Oiler" is weird.
Any word with that "oy" sound immediately makes anyone who says it sound 70 years old. I don't know whether steelworkers are still called steelers or whether meatpackers still go by packers, but I know I've never heard the word "oiler" to describe an actual oil and gas employee. (Maybe we should call them the petrochemical engineers?) An oiler sounds like something gross and sticky or slick and underhanded — neither make for inspiring baseball images.
If we want to reference Spindletop, there's the Gushers. (I know, too pornographic.) I like the Frackers, not only for the limitless humor potential but also for its ability to attract Rice students, computer engineers and other Battlestar Galactica fans.
Abandoning the literal verbs, the team just needs a word that conveys energy and power, although the Astros might have been beaten to this by Houston's last new team — the Dynamo. The Sparks just sounds kinda wimpy in comparison.
The best sports team names convey either a quality about the sport — being tough, fast, etc. — or about the town that the team represents. Some of the sports franchises in Texas make reference to our state's Wild West heritage, like the Texas Rangers, the Dallas Cowboys and the San Antonio Spurs, so returning to the original team name, the Colt .45s, will no doubt sound appealing.
Unfortunately, we can no longer trust professional athletes not to embarrass their teams with gun charges. Can you imagine if the Washington Wizards were still called the Bullets when Gilbert Arenas was busted for bringing a handgun into the locker room? We all agree that the Astros are the good guys, but let's not tempt fate.
Or we could be like other more modern baseball team and choose a native animal, like the Arizona Diamondbacks and the Tampa Bay Rays. I'm partial to the Grouper or the Crawfish, although right now nothing seems more frightening than The Intense Hordes of Grackles. Or we could reference the very scary and totally real Bayou Gators.
You know what? Maybe we should just keep the Astros after all.