I feel like there are about 100 other factors that go into what this study is purporting to measure, but I throw it out there because it’s interesting.
Two researchers have looked into the impact team mascots and names have on the bottom line. They studied colleges who changed their nicknames and mascots away from Indian names and symbols and on to something else and then looked at the growth in revenue for Indian-named pro teams compared to their non-Indian counterparts.
The results: college programs experienced a small, short term reduction in revenue but over time saw revenues increase. For the pros:
Examining the financial performance over the past dozen years for four teams—the Kansas City Chiefs and the Washington Redskins in the NFL, and the Atlanta Braves and Cleveland Indians in Major League Baseball—revealed the eye-opening result that having a Native American mascot appears to cost professional sports teams millions of dollars in annual revenue—at least $1.6 million per year in the NFL, and $2.6 million per year for MLB’s Braves and Indians.
The linked story talks to the researchers and explains their theories about their findings.
Like I said, I question how exact this sort of science can be and whether a lot of other factors aren’t accounting for them. For example, there is mention of a revenue bump when the Washington Wizards changed their name from the Bullets. Which, yes, did happen. But it also coincided with that franchise getting a ton of good young talent in the mid 90s, winning more games than it had and moving into a new arena. The impact of the name may have caused some people to get new t-shirts or maybe even to patronize the team’s games more often. But winning and new facilities had to be a bigger factor.
One thing here is indisputable, though: the bottom line will drive a business’s decisions more than anything else. And, this study aside, if the Indians, Redskins, Braves and other teams experience a revenue drop off they themselves attribute to their nicknames and mascots, they will change.
The Brewers offloaded outfielder Michael Choice’s contract to the Nexen Heroes of the Korea Baseball Organization, per a team announcement on Friday. Choice signed a minor league deal with the Brewers in early May, but did not earn a major league stint in 11 weeks with the team.
It’s been two full years since the 27-year-old outfielder snagged a big league opportunity of any kind. He last appeared with the Rangers in 2015 and played in just one game, striking out in his only at-bat. His production rate sagged through three consecutive minor league assignments with the Indians, Orioles and Brewers and peaked in 2016 after slashing .246/.304/.456 with 14 home runs for the Indians’ Triple-A Columbus. He was off to a decent start this season for the Brewers’ Double-A Biloxi, working a .272/.349/.503 batting line with nine home runs and an .852 OPS through his first 195 PA.
Choice is poised to join several other ex-major leaguers on the Heroes’ roster, including left-hander Andy Van Hekken, right-hander Jake Brigham and infielder/outfielder Danny Dorn.
6:43 PM: Danny Dorn no longer plays for the Nexen Heroes, as he was released to clear roster space for Choice.
Our old friend Joe Posnanski tackles a venerable topic over at MLB.com: guys you totally forgot played for a given team. Mostly superstars who had brief stops at non-signature stations at the end of their careers. Or guys, like Mike Piazza and Reggie Jackson, who were with a team for a blink of an eye in between more famous way stations.
We’ve all had this conversation before: remember Willie Mays with the Mets? Doc Gooden with the Astros? John Smoltz with the Cardinals? Heck, I had forgotten about Smoltz with the Cardinals and he was a star on my favorite team once upon a time.
Posnanski calls them “Irony Jerseys.” That’s pretty appropriate, as one can totally imagine someone buying, say, that Dale Murphy Rockies jersey in the name of obscurity. Whatever you call it, it’s a good read.
Now, if you’ll excuse me, I’m off to get my Ted Simmons Braves jersey for a party at some place uptown that you’ve probably never heard of.