Reimagining the Houston Astros
By Daniel Rigney
I've been a mild-to-strong Houston Astros fan since my childhood, when I listened to A.M. broadcasts on my Japanese transistor from the orbital industrial city of Beaumont, 90 miles away. At that time the team was called the Houston Colt .45’s (or “Colt Fawty-Favs,” as the sportscaster called them), before its owners updated its image from 19th-century-cowboy to 20th-century-astronaut by renaming the team the Astros and moving into the Astrodome (eighth wonder of the world).
In my first trip to Houston to see an Astros game with a church group, I walked into the dome’s mezzanine overlooking the field below and had a mystical experience confirming the existence of Magical Baseball.
Fast forward 45 years. The Astros have just had the worst season in their history. They traded away my two favorite players late in the season, sold the franchise to yet another rich Houston businessman, and are moving the club to the American League West next year.
Among the needed reinventions of this sad baseball team, the new owner is considering changing the name of the team from the Astros to something else.* We're rebranding again in Texas, and this time it ain't cattle exactly.
I’m here to help. I hereby submit several suggestions to this brainstorming session to stimulate the creative juices of the corporate suits who will actually make the naming decision.
How about …
The Houston Carbons? (We’re the carbon capital of the world when you count oil refining and distribution, natural gas, coal-generated electricity and several million smog-spewing urban assault vehicles.)
Natural gas is a rising source of energy. How about the Houston Gas?
Or how about the Houston Bulldozers? Nothing has shaped the urban character of 21st century Houston more than the teardown followed by the construction of mini-mansions and strip malls on the city’s opulent west side.
How about the Houston Corporates? Professional and elite college sports programs are now little more than competing business corporations, using and disposing of well-paid gladiators in the never-ending dream of aggrandizing the wealth and vanity of their owners. There has never been an American city more exclusively about making money than Houston. Everything else about this city is a footnote, including the excellent fine arts that oil money buys and imports to improve the city’s image and put a fig leaf over the business elite's crude-oil values.
How about the Houston Positive Thinkers? Houston is home to the largest megachurch in the world, congregating in a sports arena each Sunday to hear the likeable Rev. Osteen deliver the message that God wants you to be a winner. We could use a little divine intervention in this team’s fortunes of late. Pray for this name.
The Houston Flags. Houston takes a sidecar to no American city in its display of cloth patriotism, and I am thinking here particularly of the car dealerships both foreign and domestic that line the region's thousands of miles of freeway. This further suggests the possibility of renaming the team the Houston Sprawl.
The Houston Conservatarians. Conservatarianism is the city's near-compulsory ideology, blending cafeteria conservatism and cafeteria economic libertarianism elastically to suit the economic and emotional needs of any given affluent Individual at any given time. I’m thinking, however, that going a step further by calling the team the Republicans or the Confederates might be a step over the line and come across as a bit too partisan, even to most right-thinking citizens.
In Houston, happiness is a warm gun. Therefore, how about the Houston Gunslingers? Naah, the San Antonio Gunslingers semi-pro football team beat us to it several years ago. How about The Arsenal? Too late. The world-class English football club Arsenal is already there.
The Houston Survivalists?
The Houston Hurricanes? (The University of Miami has the trademark.)
The Houston Swarm? (of mosquitoes)
The Houston Humidity? (Miami already has the Heat, and Phoenix has the Suns)
The Houston Traffic?
I could go on.
But it’s time now to think positively and futuristically about Houston’s new team name, like the owners did when they reimagined the Colt .45s as the Astro(naut)s back in the sixties. Here are a few 21st century names that might update this city’s sorry national and international image by pointing to the unlikely possibility of a progressive future. How about …
The Houston Greens
The Houston Sustainables
The Wind (as in wind-generated energy)
The Houston Progressives (ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha)
The Houston Intellectuals (ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha)
The Houston BioNanoBots?
No, really seriously. There are some good things about this city, and I see no reason not to feature them in the names of our sports teams.
We are without doubt a great city for medical research and care. How about the Houston Meds? We can’t call ourselves the Healers. That wouldn’t be menacing or masculine enough. Too Clara Barton. The Cure, maybe.
I’m partial to the baseball program at Rice University. How about the Houston Owls? The University of Houston is also rising in stature. We could name the Astros in honor of the Houston Cougars.
Or how About the Transformation? Some believe the singularity is near.
How About the Information? Or the Social Network?
How about the Thinkers? Or the Ideas?
How about the Creators? Or even the Artists? (I think Steve Jobs might have gotten these, big time.)
How about the Houston Future?
I hope you have a better idea. I wish I did. And I wish I could be more hopeful about the future of the Houston Whatevers.
*Jerome Solomon, "Astros need more game instead of a lame new name." Houston Chronicle, January 24, 2012, C1.