El Paso baseball fans spent the past few weeks being teased by a pair of glowering red eyes belonging to the mascot of their new minor league baseball team—but it wasn’t until last night until they learned what those eyes belonged to. The answer is … a chihuahua.
The obvious jokes, from the “Ay Chihuahua!” headlines to the Taco Bell sponsorship gags to “are they going to have a Paris Hilton night,” have all already been made. Deadspin has already declared the name “awful.” You have to work quickly in the Internet age if you want to be among the first to snark on something.
But why is everybody hating on the El Paso Chihuahuas? Deadspin rightly notes that Minor League Baseball is the place to go for fun sports team names—Montgomery, Alabama has the Biscuits; Albuquerque, New Mexico paid homage to the Simpsons episode where Springfield’s team threatened to move to the city by naming theirs the Isotopes; Omaha mocks devastating Midwestern tornadoes with the Stormchasers; the Quad Cities of Iowa and Illinois (separated by the Mississippi River) combined to name their team the River Bandits—but it’s hard to see why calling a team the Chihuahuas is an affront to this tradition, rather than an extension of it. (Also, it’s not like the other finalists, which included Sun Dogs, Desert Gators, Aardvarks, and Buckaroos, were no-brainers.)
Here are a few reasons we’re psyched to root for the El Paso Chihuahuas in 2014.
Tough-Guy Animal Names Aren’t Baseball
There are plenty of sports teams out there named after tough-guy animals, regardless of the species: There are Grizzlies and Bears, Hawks and Ravens, Coyotes and Timberwolves, Bengals and Bobcats and multiple Panthers. But baseball teams tend to eschew predatory names. Aside from the Detroit Tigers, the fiercest-sounded name in the Majors are probably the Cubs, which are named after these guys:
This is a sport that changed the name of one of their Major League ballclubs from the I-guess-mildly-threatening-sounding Devil Rays to the Rays, as in sunshine. Two different franchises are named after socks. Chihuahuas is a fine name for a baseball team. It’s more appropriate than the Pit Bulls would be. If they were a football team, maybe the haters would have an argument.
It’s Regionally Appropriate
The thing that makes all of the best Minor League Baseball team names work is their regional connection. “Chihuahuas” wouldn’t work most places (Beverly Hills would probably be all right), but in a border city next to the Mexican state of Chihuahua, it’s hard to argue that it doesn’t fit. The chihuahua’s origins are unclear, but everyone’s pretty sure that the breed originated in Mexico. They’re a common pet in the city, and they’re certainly more appropriate than “Desert Gators,” which aren’t even real.
All Team Names Are Kind Of Dumb
Even if you hate the Chihuahuas, it’s hard to point to an example of a better sports team name out there. The fact is, naming a group of grown men who join together to play a sport after an animal/regional industry/abstract concept/type of pirate/racial slur is inherently kind of silly. Whatever team name you think is really great is probably just a result of the emotional connection you have toward it (except, perhaps, the Montgomery Biscuits, which is just a beautiful and rare example of surrealism in sports culture), so it’s ridiculous to see people who proudly rep Blue Jays or Athletics or Nationals claim that Chihuahuas is a bad name.
And if there’s anything that brings a team together, it’s adversity. The Chihuahuas may be a new ballclub feeding players into the hapless San Diego Padres organization, but give them enough hell over their name, and maybe they’ll come together. Maybe in 2017, they’ll change the name to the Mighty Chihuahuas. We’ll see who has the last laugh then.
Top image via Flickr.
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