Welcome to "From The Rooftop." This is where we can be the prototypical Party Deck Rockies fans. Sometimes we will talk seriously about the team. Sometimes we will enjoy the sunshine and barely pay attention to the game being played. Depends on the day. The point is, it’s all about the fan experience in its entirety.
★ ★ ★
Team brands are a big deal. A team’s chosen mascot shows up on every scoreboard, banner, and bro tank in the stadium. A lame mascot makes people not like you. The Cleveland Browns could be a title-winning dynasty, and I still wouldn’t like them simply because they are the Browns and don’t even have a logo. If I am going to dedicate my life to cheering for clothes, I want to have some cool clothes. Our organization has some real gems with some fun origin stories and branding.
To be clear, I am reviewing a team's entire brand. This includes everything: name, mascots, logos, colors, etc. Anything that you can see from a distance and identify as being connected to a specific team. Let’s break it down:
You don’t need to look further than the sunset down the left field line to see where "Rockies" comes from. It is original, tied to the geography, and all-around an aesthetically-pleasing name. You can make the elementary school argument that the name isn’t intimidating like the Tigers or Pirates, but baseball team nicknames don’t need to be a rally cry. 90% of the league has names that don’t strike fear in opponents. There are two teams named after socks and one named after priests. The normal rules clearly don’t apply to baseball.
The downside of the name is it’s confusing conversion to singular. Is one player called a Rocky? A Rockie? Am I only allowed to say he is "on the Rockies?" A majority of sources I’ve checked state that "Rockie" is the real and correct word, and that is generally how I see it written. That might be true, but the word goes against everything I have come to trust about the English language, especially when all the maps I saw growing up specifically said, "Rocky Mountains."
Regardless, I love seeing purple mountains, and the founders had great taste.
[Late edit: Several members of the Purple Row staff would also like to include that we are anti-Dinger, and wish bad things upon him]
[Later edit: Other members of the staff are upset at the first edit. In conclusion, the house is divided.]
To see how awesome minor league names can be, you need to look no further than our friends to the south. Isotopes, for reference, are atoms that have the same number of protons and electrons and are therefore the same element, but have a different number of neutrons. Isotopes kill cancer, which is pretty much the hardest thing to kill. They can also figure out how long ago dinosaur fossils were alive.
The intelligence surrounding this description is in wild contrast to the actual reason the name was picked. The team stole the name from an episode of The Simpsons. The writers presumably allude to the nuclear power plant where Homer works. In the episode, the team threatens to relocate from Springfield to Albuquerque. Baseball Reference seems to think the ABQ was chosen because of the high level of nuclear research in the vicinity. But if I had to guess, I think it was chosen because of the comedic value of its role as a random dot on the map.
Similar to the big club though, the name is fantastic because it is unique. It’s an added bonus that the name can be shortened to "’Topes."
Hartford Yard Goats
Let’s talk about the new guys on the block. The Yard Goats brand has been a huge hit through merchandise sales and with the general public. Any team named after Goats is immediately going to have a following simply because they are goofy animals. If you are like me, you probably asked, "but why Yard Goats?" I looked it up and found an answer.
Yard Goat is a slang term for a train that moves cars around within the railyard to different tracks, and make sure every car is on the right track. Hartford is crammed in the middle of the gigantic urban area we call the Northeast United States and as a result, the city relies heavily on the rail system for commuters.
While this is moderately interesting, the marketing team smartly decided to pursue the animal angle instead of trying to copy the Round Rock Express brand. By using an emblem with literal goats, we now have a cool logo, some terrifying mascots, and a twitter account passing along any goat-related content it can find. The Yard Goats brand has gone viral, and they can be a model for any minor league team. The Yard Goats have been favorites for many staff on this site. Some of us were attracted to the glamorous prospects on the roster at the start of the year. Others, like myself, were attracted to the ridiculous rectangular-eyed mammals.
California evidently puts the nut industry on its back. The large export inspires our single-A nickname. The origin story isn’t especially interesting but the name is certainly catchy.
Nuts are very simple objects, and the marketing team needed to get creative. They have a combination of three nuts that combine for the mascot, and two are on the logo. Al the Almond is the most convincing mascot, mostly because he’s the only one where a body is an actual nut. Wally the walnut looks like a stalker with a creepy grin, and their recent addition, Shelley the Pistachio, looks fine except for the glaring crack in her skull revealing the green brain underneath. A crew of nuts holds their own, but I don’t like the way they look at me, and I am unsettled by the human-like bodies that have mysteriously sprouted from their shells.
Two of my college roommates grew up in North Carolina and once declined an invitation to a friend’s party because it was in Asheville, which says a lot about millenials’ view of Asheville. While a quick peek at Asheville’s tourism website shows there might actually be things to do outside of attend minor league baseball games, it doesn’t exactly seem like a large tourist destination.
Upon doing further research, the name doesn’t have anything to do with their C-List tourist attractions. The name was coined by journalists because the team was made up of players from outside of the area who were only in town to play for the team. I like this explanation because not only is it extremely clever but also because, you know, it makes sense.
The best part of this team has to be the logo, or more specifically, their history of logos. The Tourists were represented by a bear in a Hawaiian shirt and sunglasses for much of their history. If they were still using the same logo, I assume Teddy’s generic white cleats would be replaced with the new Currys to complete his goofy dad ensemble.
The tourists since re-branded to a moon with sunglasses. The moon is a callback to the days when the Tourists were called the Moonshiners. Apparently illegal bootlegging was a source of pride for the folks of Appalachia.
I couldn’t find anything about the origin of the Hawks’ name. My assumption is that a marketing exec googled, "cool mascots," closed his eyes, and put his finger on his laptop screen. Now, here we are with the 5th scariest bird representing our boys. I only know of two teams named the Hawks:
- Atlanta’s NBA team, which never seems to have a fan base or a serious shot at a title, and
- Horizon High School in Thornton, whose baseball team couldn’t hit the broad side of a barn, but could hit dozens of Logan Bannon fastballs into the gap.
Needless to say, a mediocre basketball team and a high school baseball team that bullies future bloggers is hardly an inspiring fraternity to join. I know I said earlier that baseball teams don’t need intimidating names, but if you are going to pick a bird of prey, pick one of the best ones. We all know Hawks love baseball, but the name still comes up short on intimidation.
As someone who knows very little about the state of Idaho, my suggestions are to change to some sort of potato-related nickname (Idaho Spuds!), or at least a more menacing bird. Idaho Ostriches has a nice ring to it...
Grand Junction Rockies
All the same stuff I said about the major league team applies here, except this is worse because they copied the big boys. Also, as the guys at PDP pointed out, their logo essentially combined the majors’ logo with the Pizza Hut logo. I understand wanting brand continuity and that Pizza Hut appeals to a team full of college-aged kids, but the minors are the place to be creative. Naming your team after your parent team is lazy.
A great example of creativity would be this team’s former identity as the Casper Ghosts. Similar to the ‘Topes, this is also a reference to 90s entertainment. Even if you were never a child, this name, by itself, is a great name. The Grand Junction Ghosts has a nice ring to it. Minor league teams have the freedom to name themselves pretty much anything, so why doesn’t the rookie league team spread its creative wings?
I’d love to hear your feedback. Vote on the poll at the bottom and let me know which of our teams has the best brand!
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This segment blows right past the smoke and mirrors. This site spend a lot of time analytically breaking down why the Rockies are good or bad, looking at stats, and coming to a logical, balanced conclusion. But casual Rockies fans work in absolutes, and love to overreact. My weekly rooftop rating system takes this into account. I want to boil everything we say into a yes-or-no question: Are the Rockies good?
I’m giving the Rockies a:
We just had two All-Stars, and two middle infielders who could have easily made the team. Our prospect crushes are coming to fruition with Tyler Anderson’s success and the imminent promotion of Jeff Hoffman. And while we aren’t exactly set up for a playoff run, you also don’t have to scroll down too far to see our name in the standings. These few days off have been a blessing to my blood pressure, and I am geared up for what looks to be an interesting second half.