Say you have an opportunity to resuscitate a brand that has nostalgic appeal but a lousy track record. Back in the day, it was a major-league loser. Do you stick with the old name and try to turn its identity around, or go with a new name and start fresh?
That’s the conundrum facing Washington, D.C. Thirty-three years after the Washington Senators relocated to Texas, the nation’s capital is back in the grand old game. The Montreal Expos are moving to town. Now all the team needs is a new owner, a new stadium, and a name.
The Senators has decidedly mixed associations. Its best known player was Walter “Big Train” Johnson, considered by some to be the greatest pitcher of all time (417-279, 2.17 ERA in a 20-year career, 1907 to 1927). But in its most recent iteration, as an expansion team, the Senators managed just one winning season in 11 years (740-1,028 overall).
The Grays, another option, is more obscure, but also a more successful allusion; one of the top teams in the Negro League, the Grays were based in Homestead, Pa., but often played in D.C., its adopted home away from home. Or perhaps baseball promoters, eager to attract young fans who are ignorant to the game’s historical references prefer something catchy. Something alliterative yet vacuous, like Washington Wizards.
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