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Greensboro Grasshoppers 146

Notice: All logos on this page are included within the parameters of 17 U.S.C. § 107, which states that the reproduction of a copyrighted work for purposes of criticism and/or comment is not an infringement of copyright. No challenge to the copyrights of these logos is intended by their inclusion here.
Posted 2009 July 18

Baseball, having a much longer tradition of professional play than football or basketball, has a lot of teams whose nicknames developed "organically", by which I mean they are true nicknames chosen by fans or reporters and adopted by the team instead of being deliberately chosen by the team for marketing reasons. Organic names tend to be a bit more colorful for that very reason. Nobody in Brooklyn sat around and decided that "Trolley Dodgers" would be a good name for marketing purposes. Nobody in Philadelphia thought that "Phillies" would cause opponents to tremble in fear. The people in Toledo didn't think — well, based on the handful of people from Toledo that I've met, maybe they did think "Mud Hens" would be good marketing, but I can't rule out the possibility that their name was organic, as well. As a general rule, I prefer these more colorful nicknames over the slick, chosen-to-sell-T-shirts names you see in other sports such as Houston Rockets or Colorado Mammoth. So even if I find a name like "Sioux Falls Canaries" is a bit odd, I can appreciate the fact that the name has history behind it and deserves a little slack. But what to make of a name like "Greensboro Grasshoppers"? It clearly looks like one of those organic names. It clearly isn't a name deliberately chosen for its marketability. Or is it? The name has no history whatsoever; it only dates back to 2005. Simply put, any name used for the first time these days is being chosen for its marketability, even if it doesn't look like it. At first blush, it would seem that the owners were complete idiots who thought a name like "Grasshoppers" would be trendy the way that monikers like "RailCats" are. But after thinking about it, I think this is the nickname equivalent of Camden Yards. It's brand new, but deliberately designed to evoke the quirkiness of yesteryear.

I have no idea what to think of this. Part of me likes it: I like a certain amount of character, and "Grasshoppers" is certainly a better name than "RailCats". But at the same time, I feel like I'm being blatantly manipulated. I'm sure they're hoping people will think this is a quirky name which has a connection to some team that played in Greensboro back in 1902 or something. It's almost, but not quite, lying to me. Nobody appreciates being lied to. There is undeniably a certain charm in the "Grasshoppers" name, but that charm is weakened by the blatancy of it all.

This isn't the first time they've done that, incidentally. Their previous name was the Greensboro Bats. Again, there's an obvious charm to such a name in baseball. And, again, it's so obvious that it undermines itself. If they change their name again, they're really going to need to work on that.

And then there's the logo. As you can see, the logo appears to be trying to have it both ways. The word "Grasshoppers" is written in that special script you never see anywhere but baseball teams and junior high schools. But the grasshopper itself is pure trendy cheese. It's a weird mutant grasshopper/baseball player, made all the more ridiculous by the fact that the legs are pencil-thin compared to the arms (arms which, let me point out, even Barry "BALCO" Bonds would be jealous of). Overall, the effect is of a junior high school that got a particularly talented student to design their logo. That's not a compliment, in case you're wondering.

And speaking of junior high, this would be a terrible name for any junior-high school team to actually use. Any junior high student is bound to immediately notice the thing that I immediately noticed when I first looked at the logo: that you can cover the first two letters of the name and you're left with "asshoppers". I'm not sure why I first noticed this — something about the script in the logo, perhaps — but ever since I did, I've been unable to look at the name or logo without thinking of that. Now I can't look at the logo without snickering. And neither can you. I can only wonder whether the fans in Greensboro have noticed yet. Maybe I should go to a game (it's only an hour and a half away) and see. If they announce a Seventh-Inning Snicker instead of a Seventh-Inning Stretch, I'll have my answer.

Final Score: 146 points.
Penalties: Alliteration (egregious), 11 pts; Script, 7 pts; Humanoid, 30 pts; Cartoon, 47 pts; Player, 51 pts. Bonuses: None.


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