The Arena Football League would like to announce that one of its six teams this year is called the Detroit Drive. I would like to announce that I'm about to scream.
Save us. Another "theme" nickname. Another nickname that cannot be pluralized. Another nickname that sounds as if it were thought up by some eight-member Madison Avenue committee over baby-quail pizza. Another nickname that looks spiffy on a letterhead but is useless to the rest of us:
"Hey, Mom, someday I'm gonna be a Drive."
"Not till you're 16, you're not."
This is the latest version of a bad idea first foisted on the nation by the World Football League ( Chicago Fire, Portland Storm, etc.), then exhumed and, we had hoped, exhausted by the USFL ( Denver Gold and Chicago Blitz). If you were a Chicago Blitz fan and you wanted to cheer just one player, what were you supposed to say, "Go, you Blit!"
Academia, which should know better, even got into this sort of thing a few years ago when Stanford decided to stop calling its athletic teams the Cardinals in favor of the Cardinal, as in the color. With a capital C. And we're doing the masseur's room entirely in Cardinal. Sounds like something the student yacht club dreamed up while Winston was bringing the car around.
But it took the NBA, which is the Hall of Fame of Dumb Names, to carry this business to its most wretched extreme when it announced the names of its four newest franchises. You can always count on the NBA—the league that brings you Draft Lotto—to deliver. One of the new names is fine: the Minnesota Timberwolves. Different. Sturdy. Indigenous. One is so-so: the Charlotte Hornets. You have to wonder how many people will put down their beers and do the Wave for an insect.
Then there's the Miami Heat. Whoever came up with this baby probably liked Don Johnson's last album. What will be the logo for the Heat? A fat man sweating on a front porch? Two dogs panting wildly? An industrial-sized blowtorch?
The Miami Chamber of Commerce must be thrilled. Calling a Miami team the Heat is like calling an Anchorage team the Bitter Freezing Temperature. Why in the world would you want to remind people that your city gets oppressively hot? Perhaps this is some kind of new p.r. tactic I haven't heard about.
And besides, the name Heat doesn't travel so well. You walk into some parts of Miami and announce, "Here comes the Heat," and two thirds of the population assumes the frisk position, and the other third starts swallowing things.