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April 16, 2014

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Call them the ‘Suns’

Ron Kantowski has hit on a new name for the 51s. Not only is it a money-saver, but it works equally well in Vegas and Florida

51s... Suns?

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Beyond the Sun

When the Las Vegas Triple-A baseball club changed its nickname from “Stars” to “51s” in 2001, I hated it. But seven years later, just as the team’s president, Don Logan, predicted it would, the nickname has grown on me. Now it even sounds right. Plus, I sort of dig the alien on the cap. It reminds me of the old “Outer Limits” TV series.

There is nothing wrong with the nickname of your Triple-A baseball team. Do not attempt to adjust your score card. We are controlling transmission. If we wish to make it louder, we will bring up the volume ... by selling $1 beers. If we wish to make it softer, we will tune it to a whisper ... by cutting off $1 beer sales after the sixth inning. We will control the horizontal. We will control the vertical. We will control if the right fielder hits the cutoff man ... ”

Well, the Control Voice apparently is no longer warming up in the bullpen. Last week, the 51s announced a contest to rename the 51s. While the nickname has grown on the new owners, too, it’s apparently in the manner of a wart. They want it eradicated ASAP. Monday is “Compound W Night” at Cashman Field.

“What the heck is a 51?” proclaimed the headline in the “Rename the 51s” ad that ran in the newspaper last week.

That’s easy. A 51 is two more than a 49er, and 25 fewer than a 76er.

In the contest that ended Sunday, the 51s asked local baseball fans, or anyone who has played one on TV, to submit a new nickname. According to the ad, “you could win season tickets for four for the 2009 season.”

According to the fine print at the bottom of the ad, you could have won nothing, too. In a font more minuscule than Bruce Froemming’s strike zone, it said the final selection of the new name would be made by 51s management.

So although you may think “Humorous Cummerbunds” sounds like a perfectly good nickname, because the new owners have veto power, you probably wouldn’t win. (The team expects to announce the new nickname during the last week of the season.)

Actually, that was my first choice. My other thought: The 51s should just turn the “5” upside down and then flip it over. Then they would be the “21s” which, if you were going to name a Las Vegas team after a number, would be the way to go.

“Aces,” “Jacks (or Better),” “Gamblers,” “Blackjacks,” “Royal Flushers,” “Slots,” “Whales,” “High Rollers,” “Desert Dogs,” “Maitre d’s,” “Bell Captains,” “Lounge Lizards,” “Concierges,” “Flying Elvises,” “Glitter Gulches,” “Fremonts,” “Wayners,” “Belligerent Taxi Drivers,” “Overpriced Lofts,” “The Las Vegas Stars of Henderson,” “The Fighting Goodmans” ... there isn’t a name with a Las Vegas connection that I haven’t kicked around like a bad hop double-play grounder.

But at long last, I think I have it:

(Cue the timpani, roll those drums:)

Introducing ... your ... Las Vegas Suns.

You gotta admit it’s got a pretty good ring to it. It rolls off the tongue like buttah.

If you don’t think “Suns” is the perfect name for the team, you haven’t been outside recently.

During baseball season in Las Vegas, the sun shines 87 percent of the time (during daylight hours) in April, 88 percent in May, 93 percent in June, 88 percent in July, 88 percent in August and 91 percent in September. That’s more consistent than the Braves’ pitching staff when Maddux, Smoltz and Glavine were throwing strikes.

Plus, it would create synergy between the parent Dodgers’ top two farm clubs. The Dodgers’ Double-A affiliate in Jacksonville, Fla., is also called the Suns. Think of all the money the home office in Los Angeles would save on uniforms. It would be like the old days, when the Phoenix Giants wore hand-me-downs from the San Francisco team.

If you thought some hotshot prospect in Triple-A got a major thrill wearing Willie Mays’ old No. 24 jersey, can you imagine the wonderment in the eye of the Jacksonville middle reliever who inherits Yhency Brazoban’s No. 43? Talk about a seminal moment in that young man’s life.

The Jacksonville colors — red, white, blue and bright yellow — would look great here. Just wait until you get a look at the baseball stockings with the three horizontal stripes. Classic.

And think of the marketing campaign.

“Las Vegas 51s is Pro Ball.”

Weak.

“Get Lost in the Suns.”

Strong.

As for the winning prize, I’ll take my four tickets on the first-base side — I mean, the Sun Deck.

Just send them over with Sol, the new mascot.

Read Ron Kantowski’s blog, “Now and Then.”

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