In honor of the new NHL team being known as “Utah” for now until they receive a mascot and nickname, I’m taking a look at the MLB’s best and worst team teams.

Multiple sports leagues have faced the challenge of renaming a team or naming a completely new team, and fans are the biggest critics. People had a lot to say about certain name changes, like the Washington Redskins to the “Washington Football Team” before officially becoming the Commanders. Normally, my mascot preference centers around seeming like somewhat of a formidable opponent or relevant to the region. Barely any of these teams are named after things that you would view as a fierce opponent, so mostly its based on relevancy to the region.

For example, I think Steelers is the perfect name for Pittsburgh because of the city’s history in the steel industry. Some of these teams names I wouldn’t change at all, some I see where they were coming from and some I just don’t get. I will categorize all 30 MLB Teams by team name and assert which teams need a change. 

Top Tier Team Names

Kansas City Royals – The Royals is a tribute to the city’s livestock industry, specifically American Royal, a livestock show, horse show, rodeo and barbecue competition. It is quite the endearing tribute, and makes for a supreme team name. 

Baltimore Orioles – A state bird, or just a bird in general, is a classic baseball team name. Normally, I wouldn’t give props for wanting to be named after a small bird, but it works so well for the uniforms and team branding. 

Tampa Bay Rays – The Rays are one of the team names I have no issue with, and that’s only if you’re thinking about “Rays” as in stingrays or “Devil Rays,” as the team was known before 2008. It’s much less satisfying of a name when you learn the rebranded Rays refers to the “rays of sunshine” in the Sunshine State.

Minnesota Twins – I wouldn’t change a single letter from Minnesota’s team name. Like, duh, twin cities Minneapolis and St. Paul. Therefore, the Minnesota Twins. I don’t feel the need to explain further. 

Houston Astros – Houston is a big space city with NASA’s presence. I hate to admit it, but Astros is a sick name. 

Seattle Mariners – Maybe you don’t know Seattle has major mariner vibes, especially with the presence of the Puget sound. The nautical city also offers a unique blue-green color palette that separates it from the common reds, whites and blues of baseball.

Los Angeles Angels – Even if you don’t know Spanish, it would be a fairly easy guess about what “los angeles” means. Don’t think about it too hard, because then you might realize this team is named “The Angels Angels.” It sounds much nicer when you don’t translate, and they will continue to live in that ignorant bliss. 

Philadelphia Phillies – They are the Phillies exactly for the reason you think they are the Phillies. Yes, it is short for Philadelphians. You can’t get more creative than that, folks. Just name the team after what the people are called, and you’ll be good. 

Washington Nationals – Subtle nod to the capital, the nationalism and all things government happening in D.C. I think they are subtly saying, “we are located in the capital and not the state.” 

Miami Marlins – Another Florida team named after a sea creature is always going to land itself on this list. 

Milwaukee Brewers – If you didn’t understand the brewery history in Milwaukee, then it would seem like a weird name. But this name is perfect the way it is. 

Pittsburgh Pirates – At first glance, the team named themselves after pirates to present themselves as fierce competitors. But the name actually has more of an interesting connection than that. The team, originally known as the Pittsburgh Alleghenys, was known for stealing players in the 1880s and were dubbed “piratical.” The moniker of pirates stuck. 

Arizona Diamondbacks – The diamondback is a formidable opponent, and it also makes sense for the team’s locale being in the Arizona desert. 

San Diego Padres – Just being called the “Fathers” would be weird, and it would only be a little less weird to be the “Friars.” According to MLB, Padres is actually a reference to the Spanish Franciscan Friars who founded the first Spanish colony in San Diego in 1769.

Colorado Rockies – I don’t think I need to explain this one. It’s in the name. 

Bottom Tier Team Names

New York Yankees – I don’t believe the story. I thought the origin was going to be something patriotic, but the story is just that newspapers got tired of writing out Highlanders and just started calling them the Yankees. It loses its wow factor with such lame story behind it. 

Toronto Blue Jays – They just picked a bird that aligned with the rest of the Major League sports team colors. It’s not even Canada’s national bird, which is actually the gray jay. Top of the list for a name change.

Boston Red Sox, Chicago White Sox, Cincinnati Reds – I understand these names comes from the uniform sock colors, but it is such a lame way to name your team. I don’t think they should change their names because they are now iconic in baseball. I just wish it wasn’t so literal.

Cleveland Guardians – I get it, but no. They really tried, and while the name isn’t offensive, it just feels childish for a Major League team name. The popularity of the Guardians of the Galaxy movies at the time of the name change didn’t help that feeling either. It’s okay to change it again.

Detroit Tigers – Detroit needs to rename one of its sports franchises to the Bears so they can be the Detroit Lions, Tigers and Bears. Anyway, the baseball team is named after a minor league team, which is a touching tribute. Tigers just seems random to me in a sport where most of the teams are named after birds. Plenty of other sports have big cats as mascots, but in baseball the Tigers are the only ones. 

Texas Rangers – I have more of an issue with this being the only MLB team named after a state rather than a city, which really bothers me. Especially when they don’t even have full reign over Texas because of the Astros in Houston. Who do they think they are just calling themselves Texas?

Oakland Athletics – I like the name Athletics just because of how unique and basic it is at the same time. The name comes from being named after the Philadelphia Athletic Club, which is actually not creative at all. 

New York Mets – Another team with a name that took very little brain power. Mets is short for Metropolitans because of the team being located in New York’s metropolitan area. Who could’ve guessed? The worst part is that you can’t even make a mascot out of that. They just have Mr. and Mrs. Met, which are baseball head humans.

Atlanta Braves – They became the Braves in Boston after James Gaffney bought the team. He was part of Tammany Hall, which called themselves the Braves with a Native American headdress as its emblem. There’s been enough said about the team’s name and mascot choices in the past that I don’t think I need to explain further. 

St. Louis Cardinals – I like the history of the columnist referring to the team as the Cardinals because of the red uniforms. It’s a much more creative way to name your team based on the uniform color, and it’s also not just a bird. 

Chicago Cubs – I don’t know why they would call themselves the Cubs when it makes them sound inferior. A Chicago news outlet called them the Cubs once upon a time due to the youth of the team, and the team took on the name. All references to cubs come back to being young and inexperienced. Maybe not the most well thought out plan. 

San Francisco Giants – The story is that the name comes from a manager calling the team the Giants. I find the original name, the “Gothams,” to be much more intriguing. I think they should change it back to that.

Los Angeles Dodgers – The name only makes sense in the context of the team’s history. Fans used to dodge trolleys to see the team when they played in Brooklyn, and they don’t do that in LA. The history of the team is important and the name is part of that, but the Dodgers are what they are because of New York.


Some names could have used a little more thought before being stitched onto the jerseys, but they’ve become staples of baseball which I don’t see changing anytime soon. More Major League teams will arise in new cities, and some teams will hit the top tier while others are demoted to the bottom tier.

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