The Tucson Padres have officially become the El Paso Chihuahuas. The Chihuahuas will remain the Triple-A affiliate of the San Diego Padres.
Anybody else already envisioning a Paris Hilton Night at the new El Paso ballpark? And how could the stadium not have a Taco Bell Home Run Porch? Or a Chihuahua race between innings?
According to the press release, a fan named Shae Vierra submitted the Chihuahuas' name and "was chosen at random" in the "Name the Team" contest.
I don't really understand how a fan with an idea for a team name can be "chosen at random" on one hand while on the other hand the team is given a name "primarily to represent El Paso's spirit and fiercely-loyal community, and recognize the region's location in the Chihuahuan Desert," as the release says.
That sounds more like marketing-speak to me than the words of a fan, but these are the marketing gymnastics MiLB teams play these days to sell more merchandise.
"Look at the name and logos through the eyes of a child and you can't help but smile," said Alan Ledford, president of MountainStar Sports Group said. "That's what we're all about."
So, this is about marketing - specifically to children. I get that. I even wrote about it. Unfortunately, MiLB is not a big enough draw for teams to survive. As much as that may irritate the diehard baseball fan, it's a reality. So we end up with baseball teams named the Chihuahuas, designed to draw more people to the ballpark.
El Paso fans reportedly had a choice between one of the following five names: Aardvarks, Buckaroos, Chihuahuas, Desert Gators and Sun Dogs. I could have gotten on board with the Desert Gators or Sun Dogs, but not the other three. And certainly not the Buckaroos (which sounds like a three-year-old on a rocking horse - an endearing image for sure, but I'm not sure "endearing" is what most teams are after) or the Chihuahuas.
That's just my opinion. Yours might be different.
But here are three questions that immediately come to mind regarding the new name.
As a fan, don't you want your team's image to project something more intimidating than a little dog?
Well, maybe. But if you look at the other 15 team names in the Pacific Coast League, maybe not. The other names include the Storm Chasers, Redbirds, Cubs, Sounds, RedHawks, Isotopes, Express, Zephyrs, Bees, Rainiers, Sky Sox, Aces, 51s, River Cats and Grizzlies.
So the images include bad weather, a couple of birds, a baby bear, a big bear, bees, a "river cat" (whatever that is), an isotope (one of two or more atoms with the same atomic number but with different numbers of neutrons - yes, I had to look that up), a Zephyr (the Greek god of the west wind - probably the coolest name in the league), an alien and a few names that represent their respective regions, including the Sounds, Express and Rainiers.
Maybe the Chihuahuas can slide in next to birds, bees, aliens and a river cat on the list and feel right at home. If so, more power to them.
My next question is a practical one. Without looking at how the team name is spelled, open a web browser and attempt to Google it. Can you spell it?
It's a good thing Google will help with the spelling, but what about the fan who walks into the ballpark and pulls out his or her iPhone to connect with other fans via Twitter for the first time? Is he or she going to have to look at the scoreboard or ask the person in the next seat how to spell Chihuahuas? By the way, the new website is www.EPChihuahuas.com.
My next question is the first one that came to mind. What type of rallying cry will fans, or the team, come up with when the team is down a run going into the bottom of the ninth inning?
Will everyone begin to "arf" like a Chihuahua? Will someone blast "Who let the Chihuahuas out?" over the PA system? Either one might be good for comic relief, but laughter is probably not the desired outcome.
Maybe the intention is to tap into the Rudy spirit - a small package with a giant heart that refuses to quit. Everybody loves an underdog. I'm just not sure how that applies to a MiLB team given that most teams turn over half its roster or more each season. Underdogs don't exist in MiLB from one season to the next. The Reno Aces won the league championship in 2012 and finished in last place in their respective division in 2013, 24 games under .500.
I guess you can tell I'm not a big fan of the new name. But I'm more interested in your thoughts. What do you think? Yay or nay on the Chihuahuas?