Many of you don't enjoy posts about sports. To you I say: I don't care. This entry will prove that you can enjoy the sports world without actually 1. knowing anything about, or B. caring at all about, the actual games.
The Cinderella story of those perennial doormats, Major League Baseball's Tampa Bay Rays, has brought to the forefront a topic which has bothered me for years. Many teams in the sports world have a name which either does not match their mascot or creates a dilemma wherein they have multiple mascots that play on completely different interpretations of their name.
A little history is in order. The Tampa Bay Rays began their existence in 1998 as the Tampa Bay Devil Rays, with the manta ray as their logo. As the years went on, the Devil Rays organization became uncomfortable with having the word "devil" in their name. For the 2008 season, the team announced that they would change their name to simply the "Rays", and change their logo to the word "Rays" with a sunburst. Thus, the Rays no longer represented a sea creature, but the rays of the sun. The Rays even made sport of the change, fining staff and media members a token sum for every instance in which the team was referred to as the Devil Rays.
All good, right? Until the uniforms for the new-look Rays were unveiled. As is patently obvious in this photo of the Rays' Rookie Of The Year candidate Evan Longoria, the Rays have kept the manta ray as a secondary logo in the form of a sleeve patch. Which is it, Rays? Are you the rays of the sun, or are you a fearsome sea creature? YOU CAN'T HAVE IT BOTH WAYS. It sends my steel trap of a mind into a logical loop from which it cannot escape.
The Rays are not alone in their duplicity. The San Diego Chargers, an NFL franchise for which I have many warm feelings, also engage in these shenanigans. As celebrity blogger Red from famous San Diego sports blog Pink Hat Nation confirmed, the Chargers have mascots that play on both the "electricity" interpretation of their name and the "war horse" interpretation. Which is it, Chargers? Are you a douchebag dressed like a bolt of electricity, or are you a noble steed? You cannot be both!
Finally, there are the Stanford University Cardinal. Contrary to popular belief, the Stanford athletic teams are not named after the bird, but after the color. So all those testosterone-laden football players are actually named after an abstract shade of maroon. Not very fearsome. Also not very easy to replicate in mascot form. Realizing this, Stanford...well, they went another way. That's right, the mascot of the Stanford Cardinal is a tree. If you can make a connection between the color cardinal and a college student dressed as a tree constructed from toilet paper, you are smarter than I. However, to be fair, the Stanford Tree has quite a colorful history for an unassuming conifer. During the NCAA basketball tournament, the Tree once put the moves on the St. Joseph's University Hawk, only to be summarily rebuffed. Not to be outdone, the 2006 version of the Tree was dishonorably relieved of his duties after drinking on the job. Nothing like a drunken, surly pine tree to get the fans jacked up!
I won't even pretend to know why a team called the Phoenix Suns employs a death-defying gorilla as a mascot.
I just wish that sports teams would adopt a consistent theme with their names, color schemes and mascots. I don't think it's too much to ask, even if I am a raging anal-retentive. Some might say that as an alumnus of Syracuse University, whose sports teams are named the "Orange", I have no room to talk. I disagree. At least the mascot of the Syracuse Orange is actually an orange. So there!