Guide them to a new name

Up in Connecticut, the Norwich Navigators have decided that since half the minor-league teams in the country are either relocating or redesigning their logos that they, too, need a new identity. And they’re going all-out, planning a new nickname and logo for the 2006 season.

Apparently, the link to the city’s seafaring history along the Thames River is no longer exciting enough, nor is the shortened Gators moniker. But in today’s minor-league landscape, 11 years is a long time to stick with a nickname.

So where will they go from here? Coming up with a new team name can be difficult because of the marketing licenses and money involved. You can pretty much consider any current nicknames in the four major sports off-limits to start with, and that would carry on down through the minor leagues and colleges. If, for example, Norwich wanted to go with “RiverRats,” in a nod to the Thames and other scenic rivers in their southeastern corner of Connecticut, they’d probably need to get permission — and then pay licensing to — the New Jersey Devils’ affiliate. And they won’t want to do that, because they’ll want to keep all the merchandise revenue, rather than having to split profits with another team. Don’t be fooled — the potential cash flow is the main reason behind this campaign. Certainly, Giants will be out, because that’s just boring and won’t bring in any money.

I love the quirky names and logos of minor-league teams, so I’m interested in this switch. Fans can submit as many requests as they’d like to the Navigators website, so let’s see if they take any of mine.

Norwich Steamers. Applies to both the area’s maritime history (though that’s probably something they’re trying to move away from by ditching the Navigators name) and clams — and when you think of Connecticut, maybe you think of seafood.

Norwich Oysters. Connecticut’s official state symbols don’t offer many options, unless you want to go with Robins or Charter Oaks.

Norwich Whalers. The NHL’s Carolina Hurricanes probably still hold the rights to this one, and since it looks like professional hockey isn’t dead, that could be a problem. But the Canes could be persuaded to relinquish their rights in exchange for one-time compensation. This one fits the state symbol idea.

Norwich Witches. Of course. It rolls off the tongue … but I can’t take credit for it. There was a minor-league team with that name in the Connecticut State League from 1899-1907.

Norwich Bonbons. Now we’re getting somewhere. Again, sadly, not my idea. Another throwback to a previous team.

Norwich White Whales. Take the Whalers idea and make it more specific. Would provide the second-best literary reference in professional sports, behind the NFL’s Baltimore Ravens.

Norwich Blokes. So many New England towns are directly named after burgs back in England, so why not acknowledge that? I suppose it doesn’t make sense, considering the sport of baseball has no connection whatsoever to England, but it’s not a bad name.

Norwich 95ers. Or Ninety-Fivers, if you prefer. Why not pay homage to the great New York-to-Boston highway with a baseball team name? The logo could be a ribbon of highway with two lanes of cars strung together bumper-to-bumper, not moving. The mascot would be a state trooper or a tow-truck driver.

Norwich Blackberries. Named for the nearby river but also has the added connection to the pinacle of portable personal organizers.

Norwich Traitors. It’s the birthplace of Benedict Arnold and since one way to go with team mascots is to have them be mean and threatening, what could be more intimidating than a traitor?

I’ll let you know which ones are chosen for the vote.

I don’t mean to brag, but I must have decent foresight. Or, at the least, I have a damn good feel for this team and/or Willie Randolph’s thinking. I’d like to draw your attention to my previous post (below), dated Monday, July 18, an off-day on the schedule for the New York Mets. Now, if you’d be so kind, peruse the Mets’ lineup for tonight’s game of Tuesday, July 19. And then take a look at just about any Mets game story or notes column and see what they’re talking about.

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