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Other stories filed under Editorial
March 30, 2017
A sports team’s name is not just a nickname for a group of athletes, but a representation of the culture and the people of the city that the team calls home, which is a fact that the New Orleans Zephyrs chose to ignore when renaming the team.
With the start of their season just a week away, the new name of the New Orleans Baby Cakes deserves to be under more scrutiny now more than ever.
The minor league Zephyrs and its name originally resided in the city of Denver, but after Major League Baseball expanded into Denver with the Colorado Rockies, the Zephyrs had little choice but to relocate to another city.
With the efforts of Louisiana lawyer and businessman Rob Couhig, the Zephyrs found their way to New Orleans in 1993. As time went on, the Zephyrs fell toward the bottom of the Pacific Coast League as far as attendance was concerned, and they lost much of its cultural resonance as well.
The Zephyrs won the Triple-A World Series in 1998, and made it back to the championship in 2001 before it was cancelled due to the attacks of September 11.
The Zephyrs were also the first professional sports team to play a home game in New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina. Therefore, at one time they served as a beacon of hope and a pillar of excitement for many in Louisiana.
After falling away from their former glory, Lou Schwechheimer, the newest owner of the Zephyrs, announced the team would be holding a contest in which the New Orleans Zephyrs would find a new name for this coming season.
Seven finalists were announced earlier this year, which included the Baby Cakes, King Cakes, Crawfish, Red Eyes, Night Owls, Po’boys and Tailgaters. In a pool of names with heavy references to New Orleans and the people of Louisiana, somehow the name with the least cultural significance was voted as the winner.
It was announced last year that the New Orleans Zephyrs were to be renamed the New Orleans Baby Cakes, much to the horror of many.
The problem with the name is that it left behind the often-silly naming convention of many Minor League Baseball teams, in which case a name like the Tailgaters or Po’boys could have worked, and opted for an embarrassing moniker that is synonymous with a derogatory cat call.
Rather than paying ode to the exciting attitude that is present in the night life of New Orleans with the Night Owls, the team now has chosen to label its followers as crude and inappropriate. In a time when cultural sensitivity is at an all-time high, the former Zephyrs neglected to show any sensitivity or regard for the exceptionally diverse culture that they represent.
The new name would be significantly less of an issue should the people of Louisiana actually call their Mardi Gras-themed dessert a baby cake, but that is simply not the case. The dessert is called a king cake, an option that was already selected to be a finalist for the team’s new name.
The entire purpose for the renaming of the Zephyrs was to bring a sense of pride back to the team while also increasing attendance at games, and yet the team somehow ended up with a name that would bring only shame and disgust to its fans.
When there were six significantly better naming options already on the table, it is baffling that the name of the Baby Cakes had even been selected to be placed alongside them.
Rather than serving as a representation of New Orleans like the Pelicans and Saints, the new name of the former Zephyrs only serves as an embarrassment to the sports, the culture and the people of Louisiana.
With the season beginning next week, one can’t help but wonder what negative image the disastrous name might present as the season develops.