Finding A Nickname For The Rangers’ High-A Kinston Team
What’s in a name? That’s the big question after Texas announced their High-A affiliate will be in Kinston, North Carolina starting in 2017. Kinston hasn’t had a team since 2011 ended, when the club moved across the state to Zebulon becoming the Carolina Mudcats. Since the franchise will be new, the team opened up a Name the Team contest. Anyone can submit a name, and the winner will receive a prize.
By now I’m sure the Internet has their grimy fingers all over this. No doubt the “Kinston Harambes” and the like are pounding the contest servers. That said, I wanted to take some time and brainstorm a few potential ideas.
First, let’s start with what SHOULDN’T be the new nickname.
This was the team’s nickname until the Zebulon move, and as an affiliate for Cleveland, it made sense. For Texas, it doesn’t on two levels. One, Texas already has an affiliate with that name (short-season Spokane). That team and the local tribes have a strong relationship, including some merchandise featuring the local Salish language. Two, this was the last used Kinston Indians logo.
This is a takeoff on Cleveland’s controversial Chief Wahoo logo and something Texas won’t want to affiliate themselves with. I don’t expect the new name to be anything close to that.
Now that we know what it shouldn’t be, some suggestions for the actual name.
Alliteration is the name of the game, as is uniqueness. Nobody in minor league ball is the Kangaroos, which means you’d be able to corner the marketplace on merchandise and such. Speaking of merchandise, it’s a wide appeal. How cool does Kangaroos sound? The shirts and hats have the potential to go viral. You get a giant kangaroo to walk around the park, maybe partner with some zoos in the area to sponsor a kangaroo. The gimmicks, a staple of minor league ball, are limitless. This is my favorite, which is why I led with it.
Baseball is trying to get younger, more in tune with a more contemporary audience. What better way than capitalizing on the Pokemon Go craze with a Pokemon mascot. There’s no better Pokemon to go with than the king crab of the Pokemon universe.
How you’d do a live mascot, I’m not sure. For an Atlantic Ocean adjacent (roughly) city, having a crab-like mascot makes sense. You’d have to work out the legal mumbo jumbo, but it’d be worth it.
Another aquatic life form, but this time with a state tie. The official reptile of North Carolina is the eastern box turtle. Like the kangaroo, no minor league teams have a turtle or turtle variant as a mascot. It’d make a great costumed mascot also, as all animals made into giant costumes do. Plus the color scheme for them is cool. Take a look.
I rest my case.
Did you know the official dance of North Carolina is clogging? Me either, until I looked it up for this article. Either way, if we can have the Savannah Green Jackets and other assorted apparel mascots why not a clog? It’s a little offbeat sure, but that’s the spirit of minor league baseball. Something left of center, outside the box if you will.
I can’t take credit for this one, as this one belongs to SDI alum and current WFAA beat writer Levi Weaver. I’ll let his tweet on the matter explain itself.
— Levi Weaver (@ThreeTwoEephus) August 22, 2016
He’s not wrong about any of the things listed above. Also if this is about giving the team a name, Jeff is indeed a name. He’s the best kind of correct: technically.
So stick with me here. All of us know the magical appeal of Michael Gruber, one of DFW’s favorite humans. He works for many a local sports team, including the Frisco Roughriders as their Ambassador of Fun. He’s been outstanding in this role, and I think it’s time for a promotion. What better way to promote the fun brand of Grubes than having an entire team based upon his likeness? Imagine going to the Kinston ballpark, and seeing this face everywhere.
That’s an America I want to live in. It’s one that I think we deserve to live in.
This is one for the dedicated Ranger fans. When it comes to how you want your minor leaguers to conduct themselves, there’s no better demonstration of that than Guilder Rodriguez. He’s currently coaching the Rangers’ Dominican Summer League team, but this new team gives him the opportunity to be the first ever manager/mascot. With all due respect to the great Howard Johnson (the current High Desert manager), I’m going to cape for Guilder here. Let’s make it happen folks.
I couldn’t resist. In the spirit of an online poll set on naming a British polar ship, Kinston could take a page out of their book. The likelihood is they’ll have the poll hijacked by jokers like me, so getting ahead of the curve might work out. Plus, it instantly creates the hardest to say yet interesting team name in all of minor league ball.
Those are just some suggestions. What do you think Kinston should be called? Let us know, and submit your names to the contest at the link above. Maybe you can be the one responsible for naming a baseball team.