Now that the Cleveland Browns and the Houston Oilers plan to relocate, the question is what will the teams do for nicknames? "Baltimore Browns" (page 58) has nice alliteration, but the franchise was named for its first coach and GM, Paul Brown, who went on to become a Cleveland fixture. And Nashville is known for warblers, not oil wells. Still, relocating teams have a habit of taking their nicknames where they don't belong.
Brooklyn/Los Angeles Dodgers (Baseball, moved 1958)
Shorthand for "Trolley Dodgers," the franchise's original name derived from the many street cars that wended through Brooklyn. L.A. has lots of streets and lots of cars but few trolleys. The good news for nostalgists: Dem Bums didn't travel.
Minneapolis/Los Angeles Lakers (NBA '60)
So labeled for Minnesota's 10,000 Lakes. You're more likely to find 10,000 flakes in nearly lakeless L.A.
San Diego/Los Angeles Clippers (NBA '84)
Like, can Los Angeles come up with its own name, like ever? The Clippers were named for the ships that used to call at San Diego Harbor. Angelenos think they're good for doing toenails.
Baltimore/Washington Bullets (NBA '73)
When the franchise came from Chicago to Baltimore in '63, it took the name of a defunct local team from the '40s. The nickname derived from a local foundry that produced munitions during World War II. In D.C., it only conjures up street crime, which is why it will be changed for the '97-98 season.
New Orleans/Utah Jazz (NBA '79)
In N'awlins, the saxophones wail all night. In milk-loving Salt Lake City, there's not a Bourbon Street to be found.
Atlanta/Calgary Flames (NHL '80)
During the Civil War, General William T. Sherman captured Atlanta and set the place afire. Calgary's known more for its ice, eh?
Baltimore/Indianapolis Colts (NFL '84)
Maryland is horse country, where colts grow up to be thoroughbreds. Indy does its racing on four wheels. Call 'em the Indianapolis Bolts?
Boston/Jacksonville Tea Men (NASL '80)
The original team took its name from a celebrated event that helped touch off the Revolutionary War, not the beverage that Floridians might be sipping on the beach.
Muskegon (Mich.)/Cleveland Lumberjacks (IHL '92)
The name comes from the city's lumber industry. As for Cleveland, well, they're just at loggerheads over the Browns' move.