Quick joke: Why did the ownership and staff of the Colorado Springs Sky Sox rename their baseball team as the Rocky Mountain Vibes? Answer: They didn’t have big enough Rocky Mountain Oysters.
Quick joke 2: What’s another name to call the fans of the Rocky Mountain Vibes? Answer: Uh, how about ... Vibrators. Use your own imagination for an accompanying logo.
No, seriously. Why force Colorado Springs’ loyal baseball followers to go along with a new team nickname? Answer: Because they didn’t want to be a bad joke?
So this is what we’ve come to now with the state of minor-league baseball in this market. First, the city government destroyed its relationship with the franchise; most folks don’t recall, but that credit goes to former Mayor Steve Bach for botching the proposed downtown stadium. That convinced the Colorado Rockies to dump Colorado Springs as its top minor-league affiliate, moving to Albuquerque and leaving us with the Milwaukee Brewers (better baseball but not a nearby major-league neighbor). Finally, the Elmore Sports Group has completed the trifecta by moving its Triple-A franchise from Colorado Springs to San Antonio, replacing it by moving the rookie-level Helena Brewers from Montana to the shadow of Pikes Peak.
Three wrongs don’t make a right. Especially when all of them were avoidable until the Bach-induced snowball effect came into play. But wait, now we have four wrongs after another self-inflicted wound, recasting our Colorado Springs team as the Rocky Mountain Vibes.
True, the Sky Sox front office didn’t operate in secrecy. First came word a process would take place. Fans were asked to submit nominations. Then came a list of supposed “finalists” — billed as public favorites, but not really. It’ll be fun, we were told. Other cities have made it work, such as the Lansing Lugnuts, Montgomery Biscuits, Binghamton Rumble Ponies and, you know, the Akron RubberDucks or the Hartford Yard Goats.
Finally, the announcement came two weeks ago. Not a finalist. Rocky Mountain Vibes. And we became the Vibrators. Colorado Springs never had to be funny. We already had a unique name — Sky Sox. Not a joke. No double meanings.
More likely, this is mainly a marketing gimmick to promote the new brand, meaning new merchandising with the Vibes name and logo. As for the weird nickname, the Elmore ownership has done the same thing in Amarillo, Texas (San Antonio’s Double-A team moved there), recently telling that city to embrace the Amarillo ... Sod Poodles. Yes, Sod Poodles (another name for prairie dogs).
That came after nominations, a public vote after widespread angst over the finalists and then an announcement with a strange-looking logo. Sound familiar? Of course, Amarillo hasn’t had organized baseball for a while, and fans wanted to bring back that city’s former minor-league nickname, the Gold Sox. But that wasn’t hip or cool. Just historic. Yet folks are pumped in Amarillo because they’re building, yes, a spiffy new downtown stadium.
Here, we’re taking it in the shorts, every way imaginable. Instead of seeing baseball’s hottest prospects from the Dodgers, Cubs, Cardinals, Astros, Nationals, Giants, A’s, Angels and more in the Pacific Coast League, on their way to the big leagues, now we’ll get kids not far removed from high school. Only a few ever will make it to the majors.
And, of course, the team no longer will have Colorado Springs’ name. Granted, some other franchises have state or region titles, but none had a history of their home city in the name. It almost seems like they’re begging us not to embrace “our” Vibes, as the city did the Sky Sox in 1988 and beyond. They’re imploring us never to wear our old CS caps, Sky Sox shirts and anything else from the good old days, just ended.
Other media are trying to act excited, telling people to rally around the new team. But with a s’mores logo of a burning marshmallow sandwiched by graham crackers? And a 76-game season, down from 140? Can’t wait to see the ticket prices.