The Cleveland Indians, inspired by the fraternal spirit of outfielder/first baseman/resident bro Nick Swisher, recently announced that Section 117 at Progressive Field will be called “Brohio” during Friday night home games for the rest of the season. Lost in the announcement is that the other major league teams are in on the pun, renaming sections of their own stadiums in ways that honor their city, their state, or their current state of affairs.
Reds: Since their in-state counterparts had already scored Brohio, the Reds needed different reasons for the same rhyme. Accordingly, they made like Albert Belle and Giancarlo Stanton by field-testing more than one name, turning Section 142 at Great American Ball Park into a pilot study for like-sounding syllables.
Frohio: Cool, but no one beyond the first row could see the game.
Flohio: Turns out, people are tired of that lady from Progressive.
Whoahio: The laugh track helped, but in the end, a bit of Joey Lawrence was too much Joey Lawrence.
Towhio: People enjoyed the seats but got tired of walking home.
D’oh!io: Fun, but it got too loud whenever the Marlins visited.
J-Lohio: Looked better on TV—not as nice in person.
Alas, after all the experiments, the Reds changed nothing.
So welcome, everyone, to Status Quohio.
Blue Jays: Let’s face it, fellow Americans: Canadians are smarter than we are. We know this because no branch of the Canadian military has ever flown the American flag upside down before Game 2 of the World Series.
We Yanks should also acknowledge that Canadians are nicer, too. We know this because whenever Americans flip-flop the Maple Leaf, we secretly think it’s funny.
For these reasons, Toronto officials have invited all Americans to a new section at the Rogers Centre. Its name? Moronto.
Sadly, no Yanks have shown up, citing the fact that it’s spelled Moranto.
Brewers: Accustomed to criticism of its sub-.500 team, management decided that if you can’t beat ‘em, seat ‘em, with a handy list of withering insults—“PEDS, my ass!”* and “Hey, Betancourt! Here’s another position you can try: sitting behind the counter at the DMV!”—and megaphones with which to voice them.
Management also announced that during a home series against the Reds, Triumph the Insult Comic Dog will serve as master of ceremonies in the section called Dissconsin.
*As of July 22, this crack is no longer useful.
Thus devoid of superstars, the A’s are a greater sum of lesser but equal parts, each with a key to the other’s VW and all sharing pillow fights and ice cream while out on the road.
The Indians can have their Brohio, the A’s will tell you.
Instead, with a Statue of Libertyesque sense that even the tired (like Bartolo Colon, whenever he returns to the dugout), the poor (like Eric Sogard, who earns just $5K above league minimum) and the wretched refuse (like Brandon Moss, playing for his fourth major league team) are welcome, Oakland is inviting like-minded fans to Sections 1-334 of O.co Coliseum—a place called Palifornia.
There are no assigned seats in Palifornia, and, in the tradition of communal societies, guests are encouraged not only to buy me some peanuts and Cracker Jack but to buy—or barter—some for everybody else, and to share their nachos.
Footnote: If you take part in the kind of caste system that plagues cutthroat L.A., avoid Palifornia—unless you are prepared to embrace equality and stand with your brothers at the urinal trough.
Cubs: Having last won a World Series in 1908, the Cubs are inviting all realists, rationalists and good-natured diehards to Section 8 of Wrigley Field—a place, given the team’s O-for-a-century status and 0.0 percent chance of winning the 2013 World Series, dubbed Nilinois.
For defeatists, doubters, doomsayers, skeptics, cynics, fatalists, disbelievers, wet blankets and those who consider Cubs games devoid of purpose and meaning, the Cubs also have established a darker section, located beneath the bleachers, called Nihilinois.
Rays: Tampa fans are always crying about the team’s lack of cash.
So welcome, all eight of you, to Waaaaaaaaaaaampa.
Diamondbacks: Early in his playing career, current D-backs first base coach Steve Sax developed a severe case of the yips, the performance-anxiety throwing problem that plagued Steve Blass before him and damaged the careers of Chuck Knoblauch, Rick Ankiel and Jarrod Saltalamacchia after him. So bad was Sax’s malady—he committed 30 errors in 1983 alone—that one observer proclaimed, “To err is human. Three err is Steve Sax.”
Still, throwing errors do hold a special place in Arizona history. Most fans remember that Luis Gonzalez’s broken-bat blooper won the 2001 World Series for the home team, but fewer recall that Mariano Rivera’s off-target throw to second base helped set it up.
Which is why Section E at Chase Field is now dubbed Errizona.
Twins: With 195 losses in the 2011-12 seasons, plus a losing record this year, the Twins just don’t have a prayer. Or do they?
On select Sundays, the Twins are turning Section 316 of Target Field into something of a tent revival by featuring a big-time televangelist whose terrific hair and unquestionable powers are ample proof of his rapport with God, all in efforts to summon divine intervention and improve the play of an all-too-mortal team.
“Welcome,” reads the sign, “to Benny Hinnesota.”
Officials have announced that in case of overcrowding, residents of Minneapolis should give up their seats to those from St. Paul.
So, in an effort to soften the reputation of a bellicose fan base and to bolster the validity of the city’s symbolic name, the Phillies have asked visiting fans to sit in Section 144 of Citizens Bank Park, while Phillies fans are urged to sit in Section 145. Fans are then encouraged to mix and mingle such that lines of allegiance are visibly redrawn, perhaps creating some genuine philos.
“Welcome,” reads the seating diagram, “to Vennsylvania.”
Astros: The Astros are terrible, and attendance is commensurately low. In the last couple of months, the team figures to get even worse, as does attendance. In fact, officials expect that fandom will soon be whittled to one loyal fan, which is why they’re renaming the section—actually, the seat—directly behind home plate.
It ain’t Uston.
Braves: Despite its long run of success, or perhaps because of it, the team from Atlanta has never drawn the number of fans it deserves.
In fact, having failed to finish at .500 or better in only two of the past 22 seasons, the Braves are the antithesis of music’s one-hit wonder, a team whose sustained excellence has made a mockery of any band that sells gobs of albums on the strength of one catchy tune and then disappears, and yet the Braves have never ranked higher than eighth in attendance over the past 10 years.
So, in a clever cross-promotion, the Braves are inviting all one-hit wonders—James Blunt, Biz Markie, Sir Mix-a-Lot, House of Pain, Wreckx-n-Effect, 4 Non Blondes, Haddaway, Crash Test Dummies, Toadies, White Town, The Verve Pipe, Meredith Brooks, Chumbawumba, Eagle-Eye Cherry, Everlast, Lou Bega, Lipps Inc., Gary Numan, Aldo Nova, Toni Basil, Thomas Dolby, Kajagoogoo, Dexy’s Midnight Runners, Romeo Void, Timbuk 3, Norman Greenbaum, Mungo Jerry, Edison Lighthouse, T. Rex, Starland Vocal Band, Wild Cherry, Suzi Quatro, Sniff ‘n’ the Tears, The Surfaris and The Lemon Pipers all spring to mind—to join bareheaded male fans in a new section at Turner Field.
“Welcome,” reads the sign, “to Men Without Hatlanta.”
Red Sox: Following Boston’s epic 2011 choke job, local wags wanted to rename the entire stadium Mama Cassichusetts. Wiser heads prevailed, however, and Section 163 is now called Disastrously Bad Losston.
Not great, but it’s better than the runner-up, Don’t Forget To Flosston.
Rockies: Cynics wanted to welcome fans to Lolorado, a section expressive of the overriding mindset. No way could the Rockies make a legitimate run at the pennant, the doubters claimed. And anyone who thought otherwise deserved the standard ell-oh-ell.
But then the Rockies started strong, hanging around in the divisional race and boosting the hopes of optimistic fans. Chances are, though, that with a mediocre pitching staff and a talented but injury-prone shortstop, the team will combine peaks of phenomenal play with valleys of poor performance, lingering around the .500 mark while never quite reaching the NL summit.
And yet the summit will seem so close … so very, very close.
So hang tough, Rockies fans, in the place called Trollorado.
Rangers: In a truth less romantic than the Lone Star myth, Texas is less a horse culture than an automobile culture. Just check out the acreage of parking lots during Rangers home games—vast fields in all directions of windows and bumpers, wheels and doors.
Which is why Section 325 at Rangers Ballpark—the uppermost section behind home plate, overlooking the lots—is now called, “Dude, Where’s My Carlington?”
Padres: Whether the team is good (rarely), bad (often) or ugly (whenever they wear those camo uniforms), the Padres always play in a beautiful park in a beautiful town and in beautiful sunny weather. Consequently, officials recently invited all comers to—you guessed it—Tan Diego.
Unimpressed, fans responded with their own suggestions.
Management tested a few.
Bran Diego: Wholesome, but the bathroom lines were too long.
Jackie Chan Diego: Amusing, but people kept getting hurt.
Steely Dan Diego: Sounded fine, but the people had nothing in common. They couldn’t dance together; they couldn’t talk at all.
Burning Man Diego: Stimulating, but the smoke made viewing difficult.
Peter Pan Diego: Lively, but beer vendors kept getting arrested.
Kazakhstan Diego: Interesting, but too many questions about the infield fly rule.
Taliban Diego: Awful in every way, really.
So, as it turns out, welcome to Tan Diego.
Footnote: In something of an irony, team officials, in consultation with the Surgeon General’s Office, are advising fans to wear sunscreen.
Mariners: With a history of losing records and diminishing returns, the Mariners have given fans every reason to stop paying attention, which might be why there’s a sign at Safeco Field that reads, “Welcome to Cliff Leeattle!”
Lest you think nobody’s paying attention, note that developers have launched a PR blitz against area environmentalists by creating a section called Can’t See The Furbush For The Treeattle.
Nationals: The franchise, which began 1969 as the Montreal Expos, is old, but the team, in its Washington incarnation, is new, so in efforts to build a multigenerational fan base for a team just nine years in existence, the Nats have joined a major manufacturer to establish a section for Mom, Dad and the kids.
“Welcome,” reads the sign, “to OshKosh B’Goshington.”
Available now is the Jayson Werth Teething Bib.
Yankees: The Bronx Bombers are bruised, broken and downright old. How old? Fans recently spotted Andy Pettitte and Mo Rivera at Comic-Con’s Matlock Q-and-A, while A-Rod was seen with Kim Cattrall at the early-bird special at the Sizzler in Forest Hills.
In hopes of rejuvenation, the Yankees are trying to entice the hip-hop crowd to sit through four hours of Travis Hafner. Their first attempt to connect with Gen Y—“Welcome to Simon Le Bonx!”—fell flat, seeing as how Duran Duran doesn’t know a Louisville Slugger from a cricket bat and, more, how Rio is no longer dancing in the sand but instead in the suburbs with her third husband, Al.
Flummoxed, management finally noticed that one of the world’s biggest stars—a genuine Gen Y icon—often wears a Yankees cap, so now, fo’ shizzle, young fans are invited to chill in LeBronx.
Also, in efforts to attract hipster parents from Brooklyn, the Yankees, in league with the Heat, have created OshKosh G’Bosh.
Giants: Like it or not, San Franciscans, you’re considered elitist snobs, the sorts of pompous highbrows whose burps smell not of brats and beer but rather of Gruyére cheese and a fruity Beaujolais, with a hint of after-dinner, barrel-aged port.
So in efforts to reshape the city’s image and reach out to the biscuits-‘n-gravy crowd, officials have established a new section at AT&T Park. In accordance with guidelines ratified by the Council of Suitably Eclectic Citizens, the section is fitted with hay bales (albeit pesticide-free), spittoons (albeit fashioned in certified sweatshop-free conditions) and scorecards that feature appropriate Bible verses (albeit paired with selections from the Pali Tipitaka).
Sporting a backward k, the sign reads, “Welkome to Y’allifornia!”
The campaign has been less than successful, however, as many of the larger families have continued to search for “All Y’allifornia.”
Tigers: Officials of the newly bankrupt Detroit, understandably desperate for dough, have offered a section at Comerica Field to bidders from the prosperous TV industry. The early results:
ABCtroit: The team at first enjoyed its association with the network, but when terpsichorean closer Jose Valverde lost his mojo and then his job, they came to hate the connection to Happy Endings and Dancing With The Stars.
E!troit: Entertaining, but if Austin Jackson can’t keep up with the you-know-whos, what made anyone think John Q. Detroit could?
Gleetroit: Clever, but setting the 2012 World Series to a choral version of You Can’t Win just seemed cruel and unusual.
DirecTVtroit: On cloudy days the team got a poor reception.
Upon seeing those efforts fizzle, the Tigers seized on a separate dimension of television by establishing Wiitroit, mostly because Miguel Cabrera is putting up video-game numbers but also because Weetroit would have hurt the feelings of Omar Infante.
Marlins: Ranked dead-ass last in home attendance, the Marlins have concocted a new campaign in efforts to draw the locals. The pitch—brainchild of the summer intern, a first-year journalism student at Dade County Community College—goes like this:
Where? Here, silly!
Upon arrival, fans will find Even We Don’t Know Whyami.
Orioles: Like many urban areas, Baltimore has experienced explosive growth in recent decades, so much so that heavily populated exurbs now occupy what had been pastoral land.
Having run out of room in Camden Yards, the O’s in similar fashion have carved out a five-acre plot 30 miles north of the city, near Monkton, and furnished it with big-screen TVs in efforts accommodate the additional fans generated by an improved team.
Directions: Take I-83 North toward Timonium/York, then take the MD-137 exit and look for Urban Sprawltimore. And when Crush Davis steps to the plate, do as you always do: Duck.
Cardinals: The Cards are always good. Year after year, no matter the roster, they field a quality team. The problem is that excellence breeds complacency, and complacency brings on the yawns.
So in efforts to liven up the home crowd, officials have hired America’s comedy sweetheart and given her a section in which to dole out wisecracks, make pratfalls and generally tickle the funny bones of those more accustomed to seriously good play.
“Welcome,” reads the sign, “to St. Louis-Dreyfus!”
There is a two-drink minimum.
White Sox: By almost every statistical measure, the Sox are an average team. At the All-Star break, they ranked 22nd in batting average, 18th in ERA and 15th in Defensive Efficiency Ratio, all of which conspired to hold the South Siders to a losing record.
Of course, old-school announcer Hawk Harrelson recently challenged the sabermetric community, which quantifies performance with specific metrics, to “measure this,” as it were, by citing a trait less measurable than speed and power but more vital to team success—The Will To Win.
That’s why the Sox are welcoming all gamers and grinders to a section they’re calling Willinois.
The theme: “You’ve got to want to see us play!”
Dodgers: Mindful of the SoCal obsession with thinness, the team has created a section that replaces Dodger Dogs with sushi, nachos with rice crackers, and corn dogs with quinoa-on-a-stick.
It should surprise no one that the place is called LoCal.
Which is SoCal.
Angels: So, you’ve left home at 7:00 for a 7:10 game only to discover upon late arrival that you’ve forgotten your wallet and are therefore forced to sell plasma to a hinky dude in a ’76 Nova parked near the Anaheim train station.
Pirates: Given the team’s 20-year playoff drought and consecutive second-half collapses, players and fans alike are understandably anxious about the rest of the season, a time when the Pirates might plummet into oblivion or launch into postseason play.
“At what point,” they wonder, “will we know?”
So grab your seats, people, in the place called When?!?!sylvania.
Royals: ‘Tis a cruel irony that the Royals, unlike their monarchical counterparts in the house of King Charles X, just don’t have a lot of dough. Which is why KC is teaming with Universal Pictures to create a section that teaches fans about economic hierarchies while also entertaining them with rousing songs and dramatic scenes.
“Welcome,” reads the sign, “to Les Mizouri!”
Expect an appearance by Jean “Mayberry” Valjean.
Mets: The Mets are bad. There’s nothing you can do about it.
So sit down and shut up. Or stand up and scream. Whatever.
Welcome to New York.