Saturday, January 28, 2006
So apparently the Sox have signed Coco Crisp (Crisp, David Riske, crap catcher Josh Bard for Andy Marte, Guillermo Mota, and poor Kelly Shoppach), and I'll probably talk about that later, but for right now my fancy has been struck by the pleasant hilarity that is the Tampa Bay Devil Rays.
You see, they're not getting very good responses to the 'devil' part of their name, and they're thinking about changing it, either going to 'Rays' or something else entirely.
I really like the idea of some über-Christian player hearing an offer from Tampa and telling them, "You know, Florida's a nice place and all, but I just can't play for a team that's associated with Satan." I'm sure this hasn't actually happened, but it is certainly lovely to contemplate.
Their team president had this to say about their focus grouping about the name:
"When they liked something we did, they would refer to us as the Rays. If they were discussing a complaint or gripe, we were the Devil Rays."
Now, personally I think this is more likely an example of people using the dimunitive, fond nickname when pleased with something and its full name when mad at it, rather like the difference between Tito saying, "Great homer, Manny!" or "Manuel Aristides Ramirez, take Matty's jockstrap out of that batch of pine tar immediately." The Tampa people, however, have determined that it's the word 'devil' that's riling people up, and they've got their little hearts set on getting rid of it.
I'm not a big fan of the shortened name 'Rays'. Sure, we all call them that anyhow, or the D'Rays, but as an official name it's just too close to what the Blue Jays wear, and becomes too ambiguous. Rays of sunshine? Rays of a flower petal? Rays the roof?
According to the BCRS way of thinking, Tampa's got two options here.
1. They can call the damn critter by its actual name.
"Devil Ray", as you can probably imagine, is more of a nickname than a species designation. The team could go over to the "Manta Rays", but in truth the demonic term is more often applied to an animal similar to a manta ray in many ways, but distinct: the mobula ray. There are a number of varieties of both kinds of ray, and the two are pretty similar... mantas are much larger, as a rule, and have their mouths at the front of their heads, as opposed to mobulas, which are smaller and have their mouths at the rostral end of their undersides.
Now, if Tampa meant the giant ray, they'd have to become the Manta Rays. But if they meant the actual devil rays, they should probably become the Mobula Rays. Does it sound less fierce than Devil Ray? Yes. Is it any wimpier than an 'Angel' or an 'Oriole'? No. A mobula ray would completely kick the ass of an oriole.
2. They can change their name completely and be called what I always thought they were called as a small child.
Growing up in Massachusetts, with a fondness for animals, my parents took me to the New England Aquarium quite a lot when I was a kid. I could stand and watch various aquatic beasties cavort in the center tank for ages. Now, sharks? Didn't worry me unduly. Giant turtles? Awesome. Fish with funky teeth and giant, Bill Cowher jaws? Cool beans.
But those damn things that would come floating out of the murky depths, all giant black wing and undulating form, they scared the kitty litter out of me. I am not kidding. I was terrified of the rays. They were big! And scary! And rubbery! This is probably why, even now, it makes perfect sense to me that an athletic team, whose name ought to intimidate their opponents to some degree, is named after them.
I didn't know their proper name. I didn't care to.
They were, to my overly-sensitive* and youthful mind, the Floppy Fish. You can already see my artistic powers of observation arising at an early age, no? I'm a bit ashamed that I thought they were fish, but I plead lack of sufficient education at that point in time.
Ladies and gents, your 2007 Tampa Bay Floppy Fish.
I think it describes Casey Fossum to a T.
I just also want to point out this SanFran Chronicle article, where it brings up two fascinating stories.
Firstly, Danny Haren ended up on the roster for the Netherlands despite the fact that he has never lived in the Netherlands, has never vacationed in the Netherlands, has no Netherlandish heritage (an Irish father and a Mexican mother), and is not in fact even particularly good friends with Andruw Jones. He has no idea how he ended up on the roster and it's all very curious.
Secondly, 23 year-old A's prospect Jairo Garcia is no longer 23 or, indeed, Jairo Garcia. He is instead a near-26 year old fellow by the name of Santiago Casilla, which obviously changes things so far as his prospect status goes. Not only is he now much, much older than anyone anticipated, he's also got a name that's not nearly as cool. He informed the team of his, uh, status of his own accord. Perhaps he was tired of living with a name other than his own, or perhaps someone somewhere questioned his papers, who knows.
The Oakland A's... wacky.
* I was scared of a lot of things as a young 'un. The Floppy Fish, the car wash, the vegetables of the future ride at Epcot, the thought that a cow would break into our house in the middle of the night (don't ask). I was also scared stiff during the acrobat act at a Ringling Brothers show, causing my parents much mirth by being a small, terrified child sitting there in the dark repeating over and over the grammatically perfect phrase, "I do not like those acrobats." In that case, though, to be fair, I think I was scared for them, not of them.