What's in a name? Too many words, for one thing

MIKE LITTWIN THC RdB

October 04, 1991|By MIKE LITTWIN

Well, they've finally named the new stadium, and since they took so long, I guess they went overboard.

I mean, I thought they'd come up with just one name.

I thought it would be Oriole Park or Camden Yards, not both. You could call it an embarrassment of riches, this dual-name business. Or you might want to drop the "riches" part.

This is what we've been waiting for all this time? We've been strung along for months and months -- through endless argument and endlessly tiresome, roof-sitting publicity seekers -- and what happens? They reward our patience with the dumbest name since ? and the Mysterians.

Come on. Don't you find "Oriole Park at Camden Yards" just the teensiest little bit unwieldly? By the time Jon Miller finishes welcoming you to the ballpark, it's going to be the bottom of the third inning. There are other potential problems. Tell me how you're going to fit Oriole Park at Camden Yards on the back of a matchbook cover. Wait until the promotions start. Instead of squeeze-bottle night, they're going to have to give away an entire six-pack if they're going to put the name on. You could make a sofa out of what you bring home from seat-cushion night.

Why stop at Oriole Park at Camden Yards? Why not call it OriolePark at Camden Yards, Currently Under Construction? Why not throw in the longitudinal and latitudinal coordinates? Maybe Cal Ripken's lifetime batting average.

How could this happen? Are you kidding?

The Guv wanted to call it Camden Yards, and Orioles owner Eli Jacobs wanted Oriole Park. For months now, they've been arguing about this, with no small amount of bickering between two Hall of Fame-stubborn guys. The Guv seemed to have the quaint notion that, because the state was giving the Orioles the stadium for absolutely, positively free, possibly the state might get to name it. The lease agreement, however, said the state and the team shared this responsibility, which Jacobs took to mean that he would get to name it.

Anyway, the Guv, who had some other things on his mind, finally gave in to a compromise apparently suggested by the Orioles. And he announced the name yesterday on a radio show. The Guv spent the rest of the time on his call-in show discussing this little problem he's having with the budget. (This is probably a bad time to bring up the fact that this new stadium is costing about $200 million, including the land and all the start-up costs, and that was before we knew we needed a jumbo-sized sign. You think that money would have paid salaries for a few state troopers?)

Obviously, it's a time for streamlining, so you'd think the hatchet-wielding Guv would have cut back on the name. If Oriole Park at Camden Yards had been in the budget, we'd be calling it Yards right now. Or we could do one of those initial things -- call it OPACY, pronounced O-PA-CY.

What's interesting is how the meeting of the minds came about. The Guv was a little unclear about some of the details. In fact, for a while, I thought Bob "What Photographic Memory?" Gates was on the radio. Either him or Mr. No Short-Term Memory.

Here's the quote from the Guv: "I sat down with him over the weekend. I went to breakfast with him, or lunch, whatever it is. He said to me and I said to him, 'It's getting to be ridiculous.' "

So, here's what we know. It was a meal. We don't know where. We don't which meal. We don't know who ate what. We don't know who picked up the tab, but I'm guessing the state has to lay off all the troopers before Eli reaches for a check.

We don't know who said, "It's getting to be ridiculous" first or if they said it simultaneously or, given Jacobs' mania for secrecy, if he said it in code. I did hear, for whatever it's worth, that the Guv was recently sighted swallowing a napkin with writing on it.

The one thing we can be pretty sure of is that they didn't pick the name out of a hat. Maybe out of a barrel.

The name isn't what you'd call a classic. They don't call it Fenway Park Near the Prudential Building. And it's not Wrigley Field Where the Cubs Play. The new ballpark is supposed to be a throwback to a simpler time, and now you've got a name that means all the T-shirts have to be extra large.

In the end, I suppose it doesn't matter what the Guv and Jacobs came up with. Whatever the name is, for at least the next 10 or 15 years, people are going to call it the new stadium. It's simple. It's neat. And, most important, it fits.

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