A quick note – I want to review today’s Academy Award nominations quite badly and tear them to shred for the exclusion of three phenomenal Ryan Gosling performances. However, I have not seen nearly enough of the nominated movies to freely comment. While I imagine Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close is extremely mediocre and incredibly useless, I haven’t seen it yet. So I can’t say for sure. So I’ll have to wait to fully comment on those. Onward we march.
If you haven’t been paying attention to baseball in the offseason, you missed an enormous, game-changer of a story: the Houston Astros are headed to the American League West in 2013. New owner Jim Crane bought the team, essentially on the condition that he change leagues. This means that baseball now has…wait for it…15 teams in each league! Which is equal! How this took so long to figure out is a total miracle. But thankfully, we no longer have a division with two more teams than another division, in a league that gets the same exact number of playoff berths.
(I know this will screw up scheduling and force interleague play to happen essentially every day. But let’s be honest, the thrill of interleague play is long gone by this point, and with so much player movement it’s not going to make much of a difference.)
But there’s potentially bigger news for the Astros. Yesterday, Crane said the team would conduct a study to determine some potential team changes – including a change in the team’s name. This, my friends, is a brilliant, brilliant idea. I know a name change can be a strange and polarizing thing, but bear with me, Astros fan(s) as I outline why a change is not only not a bad thing, it could be a great thing.
– Here’s how many championships the Astros have won under the “Astros” banner: as many as I have. And two less than the New York Mets. What history do you have to lose?
– The Astros will always be associated with Enron Field. That was a really good idea. You know what else was a good idea? Putting a basketball team in Vancouver.
– “Astros” is an uncreative nickname. It’s based on Houston’s role as the center of the U.S. Space Program. You know what else is? The Houston “Rockets” and Houston “Comets.” (Yes, I know, the Comets are a “WNBA team.”) Houston also has the AHL’s Aeros, which sounds like something space-y, and the Houston Dynamo, which is just a stupid name. And the other professional sports team in Houston? The Texans? Seriously? I imagine the conversation to name the team went something like this…
“All right boys, we’re all set to break ground on a new professional football franchise in Houston! And just in time, since the paperwork is due to Paul Tagliabue’s office in 60 seconds!”
“We didn’t forget anything, right?”
“Nope! Stadium naming rights, team uniforms, sponsors…I can’t wait to welcome the Houston Oilers!”
“Wait, the Oilers?”
“Bob, that’s the old team’s name.”
“Did we…choose a name?”
“Somebody look at the blackboard!”
*Camera pans to show a blackboard with “HOUSTON ______” written on it*
There is silence in the room. Everyone is too frazzled to move. A countdown timer beeps backwards from 20 seconds…as a single page flies in on a cool breeze through the open window. It contains only a map of Texas. 15 seconds until the paperwork is due…
“PICK UP THE SHEET! WHAT DOES IT SAY???”
“It’s a…map of Texa…”
“TEXANS IT IS! PUT THE DAMN MAP ON THE FAX MACHINE!!!”
– The Astros used to be named the Colt .45s, which has to be one of the greatest nicknames in sports history. Did the 1960s really exist? How many MLB teams would refuse to even play a team named the Colt .45s in 2012? Better yet, am I crazy to think there’s a chance Bud Selig would let this happen again?
But what about some potential nicknames? Here, Jim Crane, is some unsolicited free advice for your team. You owe me one next time, though.
– The Houston Problem. The mascot will be named “wehavea.”
– The Houston Bushes. They’ll make the playoffs despite losing more than 50% of their games.
– The Houston Whitneys. Wednesday night, your new comedy night on…NO, NO, NO, NOT THAT ONE.
– The Houston Juice. Minute Maid Park? Implied Steroids? Check and check.
– The Houston Rangers. Now that’s how you stir up a brand-new divisional rivalry.
– The Houston Houstonators. Hey, if the Texans can do it…
– The Houston. They’ll stay ahead of the pick…nicknames are so 2011.
Oh right, I’m supposed to grade this. Um. Since we don’t know if the Astros will actually change, or what they will change it to, let’s go with a…