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Lehigh Valley IronPigs 46

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 2014 June 23

One of the podcasts I listen to regularly had a somewhat recent episode wherein they discussed an ancient torture/execution device called the "Brazen Bull". The short version is that the Brazen Bull was a metal oven shaped like a bull. As a result of this, I can't look at the Lehigh Valley IronPigs without immediately thinking about the Brazen Bull. Yeah, I know pigs and bulls are different things, but I'm sure you can see why a metal pig might remind me of a metal bull.

Perhaps, before going farther, I should pause and give the long version of what the Brazen Bull was. As I said in the first paragraph, it was an ancient torture/execution device which was a metal oven shaped like a bull. You've probably guessed this already, but just to be clear: The idea was that the condemned would be placed inside the bull while still alive and in good health (physically, at least...I can't imagine anyone's mental health would be very good at this point), and once the condemned was locked in, a fire would be started beneath the Bull. The condemned would then be roasted alive. That's grisly enough...but wait, there's more. Between the chamber which held the condemned and an opening at the bull's mouth was a series of tubes which was supposed to amplify and alter the sound the horrified screams of the dying man so that it sounded like a cow mooing.

According to legend — and it is perhaps worth pointing out here that scholars debate whether such a device ever existed (but they debate whether it existed; they don't dismiss the idea out of hand) — the Brazen Bull was the brainchild of one Phalaris, who was the ruler of Akragas, a Greek city located in Sicily. He commissioned a metalworker names Perillos to actually make the thing. Phalaris simply wanted a bull-shaped oven to cook people in; the mooing contraption was Perillos' own contribution to the concept. Supposedly Phalaris was appalled at the idea. Supposedly. Phalaris was renowned for his cruelty, and think about what it took for a ruler to be renowned for cruelty in those days. Think about how cruel crucifixion is, and consider the fact that it was used by so many different rulers (in fact, it would used by nearly half a dozen different empires) that a ruler who crucified people wasn't necessarily even considered interesting, much less renowned for cruelty. And this Phalaris guy, who let us remember is supposed to be the guy who came up with the roasting part, thought the mooing was too cruel? I call bullshit. If all of this actually happened, then my guess is that Phalaris wasn't appalled at the cruelty so much as he was pissed off that he didn't think of it himself. He was jealous of Perillos, and it's generally a bad idea to make a guy like Phalaris jealous of you.

Anyway, whether jealous or genuinely displeased, Phalaris responded to this revelation by shoving Parillos into the Bull so that Parillos could demonstrate. And yes, Phalaris did make certain the proceedings had a certain verisimilitude by actually lighting a fire under the Bull. But Perillos was not left to die there. After hearing the screams transformed into moos, Phalaris orders the fire extinguished and let Perillos out. Ah, Perillos must have thought, now that he's seen that it works as advertised, he wants to give me a reward! And so Phalaris took Perillos to a hill from where you could see the entirety of Akragas...and had him thrown off it. Legend does not record whether the fall made Perillos' screams sound like a bull mooing.

As for Phalaris, he was eventually overthrown in an uprising and (again, if the legend is true) was the last victim of the Brazen Bull. It was a quite literal case of "Those who live by the bull shall die by the bull." All politicians should keep that thought in mind.

But I should stress again, this is all assuming that the legend is true. The Brazen Bull may have never existed. Even if it did, the Brazen Pig certainly did not (although it occurs to me that "The Brazen Pig" would be a cool name for a barbecue restaurant). But now that you're familiar with the general concept, do you not agree with me that if a Brazen Pig did exist, it would look a lot like the logo the IronPigs use?

I know that some of you are wondering where the hell a name like "IronPigs" comes from. It may help to know that the team calls itself "Lehigh Valley" but is located in the city of Allentown, Pennsylvania. Once upon a time, Allentown was associated with the steel industry, although I understand that all the factories have closed down. (I haven't studied this in detail, but that's what Billy Joel said, and are you going to argue with the man who wrote the song "The Stranger"? Not if you know what's good for you, you're not.) The steel industry uses something called "pig iron", which is apparently what you get when you smelt iron ore with coke. (We're talking about a type of coal here, not a drug or a soft drink...although come to think of it, the IronPigs do play at a field called Coca-Cola Stadium.) You take the pig iron and you, uh, do something industrial with it, and you wind up with steel. Cut me some slack here, people...I've already given you a history lesson in this review; you want a science lesson, too? So anyway, they reversed the two words and came up with IronPigs.

I'm torn as to whether this is really clever or too stupid for words. But it does give them marketing opportunities. You can get an iron piggybank. You can get a plush doll of their mascot, a pig named FeFe (look at a periodic table if you don't get it.)

But the real cool thing is that they have a few alternate logos, and one of them is a strip of bacon. You can buy a baseball cap with a strip-of-bacon logo on it. Better yet, you can get a T-shirt with a strip-of-bacon logo on it. Best of all, the bacon T-shirt actually smells like bacon. This is obviously the coolest T-shirt imaginable, because it smells like bacon.

You know what? You know how I said a couple of paragraphs ago that I couldn't decide if the IronPigs name was really clever or too stupid for words? Here's the deal. I'm going to say for the moment that it's too stupid for words. But if someone with the team sends me a bacon T-shirt, and it still has the bacon smell when it gets here, I will update this review to say that IronPigs is the most awesome team name in the history of sports.

Final Score: 46 points.
Penalties: Region, 8 pts; Compound, 34 pts; Name, 10 pts.
Bonuses: Local, -6 pts.


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