Ducks by Any Other Name?


It's great that Long Island's finally getting its own minor-league baseball team, but weren't we supposed to get a naming contest?  It's our baby, too, you know.  Even if your choice loses, at least you get to talk over the possibilities.  And  grouse about what won afterwards -- say if it was the "Louisville RiverBats," the winning entry made up by an 11-year-old girl in Kentucky for their Cardinals franchise.  ("We live on a river, and I like bats," was her explanation.  Sounds reasonable.)

Giving your club a handle is probably even more important than drafting a roster.  Team names are lousy when they sound like they were bought at a fire-sale (lacrosse and women's volleyball are great for these: I mean, "New York Saints" -- as if) or badly translated from a foreign language ("Metro Stars") or hand-me-downs from a previous life (the NBA's Los Angeles Lakers, originally from Minnesota, or the Jazz, who left New Orleans for Utah, where jazz is practically illegal).  Great team names somehow manage to sum up the spirit of a place and add a little something, too -- the Dodgers, the Yankees, the St. Louis Blues, Detroit Pistons, Buffalo Bills.  Some dumb names get good if they last long enough (A's, 76ers, Phillies), mostly they just stay bad (Astros, Expos, Capitals).
Minor-league names are a special category -- they should be local or loveable, preferably both -- it's a small-town thing.  Alas for every Nashville Sounds or Lansing Lugnuts, there's twenty teams named for Devils, Angels, Senators, or any number of angry varieties of fish, insect, or fowl predators.  So, cross off the Long Island Gypsy Moth Caterpillars, and the "Sand Fleas" (there already is a Sand Gnats, I swear, in Savannah, GA -- they've got a very popular mascot dressed as a toilet bowl).  And you'd have to forget about the "LI Seagulls," a name which conjures up mean, dirty birds performing serious Chekhov melodramas.  
How about regional features?  If good taste demands the "Long Island Expressway" be closed off -- maybe we could have gone onto the "Southern Staters."  
Now, just like the Pittsburgh Steelers and the Green Bay Packers, the Ducks have capitalized on a local industry -- though if you're going to celebrate vanishing farms, "the Spuds" are down and dirty -- not on ice, like ahem, the Commack-based hockey Ducks of yore.  Or, in view of the latest farming developments -- how about the Winers? Maybe not.  The "Running Blues" might be catchy -- "The Fluke" probably wouldn't float.
How about this: team names often celebrate individual heroes -- MacArthur High School's teams are the Generals.  Why not pay tribute to someone who helped make Long Island what it is: Robert Moses?  What better homage to the public-works contractor but the "Long Island Moses?"  Nu!?  No?
Well, okay, Ducks it is.  It might even be right.  But there'd better be a mascot.  And free duck horns on Opening Day.