What’s in a name?

At Notre Dame, there’s a women’s dorm called Lyons Hall which chose as its sports mascot the mighty lion. The Lyons Lions.

A high school in Los Gatos, California, calls its sports teams the Wildcats. Translating the town’s name into English gives you The Cats Wildcats.

Add The Angels Angels to the list.

In some sort of marketing move that’s a bit above my head, California’s Angels have gone and mushed together the team’s original and current monikers, calling themselves the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim. Why didn’t they just take a cue from Thornton Wilder’s Our Town and go with The Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim, California, United States of America, Western Hemisphere, Earth, the Solar System, the Universe, In the Eye of God?

Clearly, the bang-up marketing job done by the Mighty Ducks of Anaheim (they’re a professional hockey team, if you can remember back to when there was professional hockey) has rubbed off on Angels owner Arte Moreno. Yet as of last January, those fightin’ Mighty Ducks were ranked 18th among the NHL’s 30 teams in merchandise sales, though the team was once named the best-dressed in professional sports. Why, exactly, would the team with the third-highest attendance last year need a name change to increase its reach? Moreno apparently wanted to change the name when he bought the team two years ago, but surely in that time he must’ve learned what really brings exposure: winning. The Angels signed Vladimir Guerrero and won the division, and only their neighbors to the north, the Dodgers (of Los Angeles) and the Evil Empire to the East, the Yankees, drew more fans. Oh, and all were playoff teams.

What Moreno really missed out on was a true stroke of marketing genius. How could his marketing people not turn on their TVs to Fox — baseball’s own network, no less — and miss a souvenir sale gold mine right in their midst?

They should’ve renamed the team The Anaheim Angels of The OC. Think of the possibilities! Seth Cohen bobblehead dolls. Caps with attachments that make the wearer have bushy eyebrows like Peter Gallagher. Fans in eating contests with Marissa Cooper and Summer Roberts. Imagine what I could come up with if I gave it a full 15 minutes of thought!

For the moment, it seems that the name will be the only change. The Angels will still retain the “A” as their main logo, but by now putting “Los Angeles” out in front and “Anaheim” to the back, it moves the team from first in the alphabetical list of franchises to the middle of the pack. How will the AP list them when it comes to putting out the standings come April? “Los Angeles” seems to be the likely choice, but will it now necessitate “L.A. Dodgers” and “L.A. Angels” to differentiate? Or will they just stick with “Anaheim” for convenience? Will they be allowed to?

As more of a baseball purist than an advocate of change, I prefer classic uniforms with original colors (meaning only teams whose colors have always included black can use it for jerseys), team names on the home shirts and city (or state) names on the road ones. The Angels may stick with “Angels” on the road grays, or go with “Los Angeles,” but I’d like to see them try to get “Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim” across the chest. There’d be so much stitching there, the batters would have an unyielding chest protector of sorts getting in the way every time they swung.

The problem is, this change opens the door for so many other teams to go after outrageous geographic marketing takeovers. What stands in the way of the Dallas Cowboys of America, since they already consider themselves America’s Team? With the loss of the Hartford Whalers in Connecticut, the Nutmeg State and its siblings to the north — Vermont, New Hampshire and Maine — now have to settle for the Boston teams as their own, so we can expect “of New England” to appear behind the names of the Bruins, Red Sox and Celtics (there’s no need for the New England Patriots to get redundant).

But there are much bigger regions devoid of professional teams, so that the reach of some teams goes far beyond the hometown area code. The Atlanta Braves of the Southern Atlantic Coast? The Minnesota Twins of the Great Plains? The St. Louis Cardinals of Middle America? The New York Yankees of the Entire Tri-State Area?

Back in September, an AP report talked about New Jersey’s attempts to lure a team, starting with the Mets. The Giants and Jets have been in the Garden State for more than two decades, yet the only references to New Jersey come on gameday when 79,000 fans trek to the Meadowlands. Would the Mets drop “New York” for “New Jersey”? Would they trade the interlocking “NY” on the caps for “NJ”? Would they follow their football cousins’ lead and stubbornly stick with “New York”? Or would the Angels become a model for the Metropolitans, who could go with the New York Mets of the Hudson?

Does Arte Moreno realize the Pandora’s Box he’s opened here? I shudder to think of what this will become if the Angels win the World Series this year.

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