Some, on the other hand, are particularly suited to the city they’re located in. I’m talking Knicks, Celtics, Steelers, 76ers, 49ers, New Jersey Devils …
And some, like the following, don’t seem to make any sense at all …
#10 – Los Angeles Dodgers (MLB)
So, what is a dodger anyway? Someone who dodges things? Hey, this is baseball we’re talking about here, not dodge ball, okay?
Now, I’m sure you know that the Dodgers took their name with them when they moved from Brooklyn to LA. The team was originally called the Trolley Dodgers. I think it has something to do with public transportation back in the 19th Century. I guess we could update things and have Angelenos try and cross 110.
#9 – Orlando City (MLS)
I take it this is to distinguish them from Orlando United, or perhaps Orlando County. Orlando Athletic? Orlando Town?
Okay, so they’re trying to make this sound like an English soccer team. And, yes, it doesn’t sound too bad.
I’ve got to wonder, though, what non-soccer fans think of it. “The Orlando Cities? Why did they call themselves the Cities?”
BTW, they are also known as the much more Murcan-friendly Lions.
#8 – Cleveland Cavaliers (NBA)
So, you may ask yourself, what does Ohio’s second-largest city have to do with the English Civil War? Yup, according to dictionary.com, a cavalier is:
an adherent of Charles I of England in his contest with Parliament
Oh, but of course, you’re probably thinking of definitions 1, 2, and 3:
- a horseman, especially a mounted soldier; knight.
- one having the spirit or bearing of a knight; a courtly gentleman; gallant.
- a man escorting a woman or acting as her partner in dancing.
Okay, well, maybe not that last one.
Bet you do didn’t know that the name was the result of a contest, held way back in 1970. Winner Jerry Tomko posited that the Cavaliers “represent a group of daring, fearless men, whose life’s pact was never surrender, no matter what the odds.”
Like this gentleman here
#7 – Los Angeles Clippers (NBA)
A clipper was a very fast sailing ship of the early to mid-1800s. They were typically built in New England and used to get valuable goods around Cape Horn. In particular, they were used to get tea to the Eastern Seaboard and to get people and supplies to San Francisco during the Gold Rush.
They have nothing to do with Los Angeles.
They may have, however, have something to do with San Diego. Turns out the Clippers started in SD. They lasted there for 6 years, from 1978-1984. There was also a slightly better chance that an actual clipper ship actually might have berthed in that city once too.
Another contest "winner." Runners-up include:
Or perhaps they meant one of these
#6 – Real Salt Lake (MLS)
Here’s another attempt to make American soccer teams sound like European ones. The particular model here is Real Madrid, probably the best European team – and the most lucrative one in the whole world – out there right now.
Real Madrid is actually short for Real Madrid Club de Futbol, or – en ingles – the Royal Madrid Football Club. So, in actuality, “Real Salt Lake” really means “Royal Salt Lake.” I’m assuming that’s for all those famous Mormon kings and queens then, right?
Well, at least it’s better than the names of the some of the older SLC soccer teams. Golden Spikers anyone? Blitzz?
Looks like we’ve got another poll winner. The runner ups were the Highlanders and the Pioneers. That last one is a traditional name for teams in the Mountain West region. Woulda worked just fine here, if you ask me.
BTW, no shortage of other blogs backing me up on this one:
Blitzz also happens to be the name of a hair band
(who woulda thunk it?)
(who woulda thunk it?)
#5 – Arizona Cardinals
Google tells me that the northern cardinal, cardinalis cardinalis, does indeed exist in Arizona. It’s at the very edge of its range, though, and is something of a rarity. This is in marked contrast to its near ubiquity in the eastern part of the U.S. The cardinal is, in fact, the state bird for no less than 7 states – Illinois (where the football team came from originally), Indiana, Kentucky, North Carolina, Ohio, Virginia, and West Virginia. But not, alas, Arizona. The most common birds in Arizona, on the other hand, are:
- Gambel's Quail
- White-winged Dove
- Mourning Dove
- Inca Dove
- Anna's Hummingbird
- Gila Woodpecker
- Cactus Wren
- Northern Mockingbird
- Curve-billed Thrasher
- European Starling
- Great-tailed Grackle …
The Arizona Grackles would have been such a better name
#4 – Los Angeles Lakers (NBA)
Because there are so many lakes around LA?
No, because there are so many lakes in Minnesota, dummy! Yup, that’s where the Lakers got started. Now, that’s a great name for a team from the Land of 10,000 Lakes. Not so good, however, for a semi-arid region prone to dry rivers, droughts, and wildfires.
Few people know it, but The Lakers were originally the Gems, and once called Detroit home.
A Los Angeles lake
#3 – Memphis Grizzlies (NBA)
Because there are so many of them in eastern Tennessee?
Actually, there are no grizzlies east of Wyoming. Nor are there any black bears, or brown bears, or any other kind of bear in the area. Eastern Tennessee, however, is another matter. I should know. I used to live there. I’ve met them!
Yup, we’ve got another relocation story on our hands here, folks. The Memphis Grizzlies actually started out in Vancouver, where grizzlies actually are indeed native.
"Grizzly Gets Date with Miss Tennessee" (sportsnet.com)
#2 – Utah Jazz (NBA)
When I think about great jazz – Ornette Coleman, the Bird, Coltrane, the Blue Note, Monk – I always think of Utah.
So, looks like we’ve got another relocation deal. As you probably already guessed, the Jazz originally came from Columbus, OH. Oh, wait a minute. Check that. The internets are telling me that the Jazz originally came from New Orleans. Huh! Who woulda thunk it?
Overall – and based on all these terrible misnomers – I have to wonder if all of us sports fans didn’t dodge a bullet when the following teams changed cities but didn’t keep their old names. Can you imagine the:
- Washington Packers (MLB)
- Oklahoma City Super Sonics (MLB)
- Los Angeles Bridegrooms (MLB)
- Tennessee Oilers (NFL)
- Carolina Whalers (NHL)
- New Jersey Rockies (NHL)
- Kansas City Texans (NFL)
#1 – Anaheim Ducks
From all those lakes? You know, like with number 4?
Okay, this is the most embarrassing backstory out there. Turns out Disney put out a movie in 1992 called The Mighty Ducks. It was set in Minnesota, and was about a kids hockey team. It sounds like it was supposed to be heart-warming, but garnered a 6.4 / 10 on IMDb and 15% rotten rating on Rotten Tomatoes. As major studios are wont to do, they used this baby as the basis of 3 more films, called – imaginatively – D2: The Mighty Ducks, D3: The Mighty Ducks, and Mighty The Ducks Movie: The First Face-Off.