Yesterday afternoon, Astros owner Jim Crane built up more good will with the Houston community in about eight minutes than the team on the field has in the last six years when he announced that the 2012 season will feature cheaper beer ($5 beers!), cheaper tickets and permission to bring your own food and water to the games.
However, before the cheers could even die down, Crane was asked about the possibility of the team changing its name from "Astros" to something else, and much to the chagrin of longtime fans of the team, he actually left that possibility open.
"We're going to study the information both from the fans and from all sorts of marketing people," Crane said. "I'm not saying we're going to change. We haven't made the decision yet whether we're going to change."
Predictably, this sent most of Astro Nation into a tizzy. Clearly, more of you see a name change at this point as a drastic move that obsoletes your Astro jerseys and gear, as opposed to a fresh start that turns your Astro jerseys and gear into valuable collectors' items.
And you know what? I completely understand.
While at the height of the "Astros to A.L." debate I had a decided pro-A.L. stance (which made many of you view me as a carpetbagger and interloper), on this topic you're talking about the NAME of the team. To me, the name of the team is a much more integral part of its DNA than the league it plays in. After all, as Marlo Stanfield said in The Wire, my name is my name.
But if this is indeed a possibility, if the Astros are truly gauging the market to see if we are up for a name change, I'd be remiss not to include some suggestions for the new name of our hometown nine. So without further ado, a few ideas I came up with:
Houston Houstonians I'll admit, when the Texans first announced their team name back in 2000, I found the name to be somewhat underwhelming, if not narcissistic. And since Bob McNair announced the name of his new baby, people haven't really latched onto the whole "mascot that needlessly repeats our geographic location" market, but I think it may be time to revisit that. Bonus points if they make Rusty Hardin or Paul Wall the mascot. Double bonus points if they make Rusty Hardin AND Paul Wall the mascots together.
Houston Hutts A long time ago, in a galaxy far, far away, Jabba the Hutt pretty much ran the entire illegal underground on a planet called Tattooine. I think Jabba the Hutt (and his fellow Hutts) represents everything that's great about the city of Houston -- Jabba was resourceful, vengeful, dominant and fat. An added bonus -- Carlos Lee can double as both a first baseman and a mascot, which saves one headcount. Total "money ball" approach, Crane likes this.
Houston Harassment While harassment of any type is nothing to joke about (even though I'm about to joke about it), I do think that this name offers the most opportunity for special promotions and gimmicks. Who among us wouldn't make sure we are in our seats for some sexually awkward multiple choice questions on the jumbotron, or a nice round of Grope-cam in the middle of the fifth inning set to the music "Crazy Bitch" by Buckcherry? "Look babe! We're on Grope-cam!! Here I come!!"
Houston Jalapeños Maybe the name change should be viewed as a chance to secure the ever growing Hispanic population in Houston, no? The Jalapeños would provide numerous cross-branding opportunities on the food services side (jalapeño burgers, jalapeño fries, jalapeño shakes) as well as a suitable replacement for the Taco Bell sauce packet races. "And down the stretch they come! It's Pickled Jalapeño followed closely by Jalapeño Popper and trailing them by a length it's Chiles Toreados!! And it's Jalapeño Popper by a stem!!"
Houston Chimney Rock Exits Off 59 South Ultimately, if you're looking for a name to establish dominance, you want something that is fearsome, indomitable and swallows up victims by the carload. There's no scarier Houston landmark than the clusterfuck that is the Chimney Rock exit off 59 South. It scares the living shit out of me every morning.
Honorable mentions from my morning radio show on 1560 The Game with John Granato (Twitter handles in parentheses):
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Listen to Sean Pendergast on 1560 The Game from 6 a.m. to 11 a.m. weekdays, and watch the simulcast on Comcast 129 from 6 a.m. to 7:30 a.m. Also, follow him on Twitter at http://twitter.com/SeanCablinasian.