The Glory of the Lords


September 17, 1993|By ANDREW LANTNER

I hope it's not too late for another vote on what to name Baltimore's future football team. That's because beyond the usual gang of suspects -- Ravens, Rhinos, etc. -- another name is so logically, obviously right that I'm astonished it has received only scant attention until now.

Let me explain.

First, regarding the serious flaws of ''the Ravens'': The name has a certain literary flair and, yes, Edgar Allen Poe did live in Baltimore from time to time. But the most notable thing that Boston-born Edgar Allen did in Baltimore was to be buried here. We might just as well honor F. Scott Fitzgerald, who also lived for a while in Maryland and is buried here, by naming the team ''the Great Gatsbies.'' At least F. Scott was named after a prominent Marylander (Francis Scott Key).

If we really want to add a literary cachet to our new football team, we should turn to the works of our homegrown manof letters -- H.L. Mencken. So OK, ''the Smart Set'' may not be the most appropriate name for a bunch of football players. But how about ''the Baltimore Chrestomathy?'' (Look it up.) The name would undoubtedly raise the literary consciousness of the players, who would have to lug unabridged dictionaries to practice along with their playbooks. And the name would give them an important psychological edge by sowing confusion in the minds of visiting opponents who would think they were in town either for cancer treatment or a Christmas pageant.

The worst problem with ''the Ravens'' moniker, however, is what I call the headline factor. The headline factor refers to the loathsome practice of editors, especially editors of sports copy, to create as many puns as possible in the headlines they write. The sicker the puns, the better. And the possibilities for puns on ''Ravens'' and words associated with it are truly execrable. Imagine, if you will, reading these headlines while trying to down your morning Cheerios:

Story on the city's wild, pre-season support for team: ''Baltimore Fans are Raven Mad.''

Story on Baltimore's 38-0 trouncing by Redskins: ''Washington to City: Neverscore.''

Story on despair of fans after 0-8 season start): ''Baltimore Ravenous for Victory from Dead Poe-ets' Society.''

Story on coach's decision to quit after 0-16 season: ''Quoth the Maven: Nevermore.''

It's probably needless to point out that, when the headline factor is factored in, the name ''Rhinos'' fares even more miserably. Inevitably, fans of our expansion ballclub, who would grow crankier and more impatient with every loss, would be known as the ''Whinos.'' And let's face it: the most prominent characteristic of rhinoceroses is that they are, well, horny.

Thankfully, the perfect solution is at hand: the Baltimore Lords. Think about it -- in one name you get a combination of a nod to Maryland history (the lords Calvert and all that), the aura of divine mobility and the kick-in-the-guts swagger of a South Bronx street gang. Furthermore, the headline factor suddenly becomes advantage. Imagine these:

Story on Baltimore's trouncing of the Redskins: ''Lords Have No Mercy, Beat 'Skins 38-0.''

Story on exciting last-second win on "ABC Monday Night Football," which routinely ends in the Tuesday a.m.: ''Oh Lords, What a Morning!''

Story on Super Bowl victory: ''Lords All Mighty!''

A sweet bonus would be the team logo featuring a large ''L''

emblazoned upon Lord Baltimore's hereditary coat of arms, which looks like a gold and black version of the checkered flag used at auto races. Take that, Indianapolis!

Imagine the fear the name would put into heart of other teams around the NFL. After all, what is the strength of puny Eagles, Lions, Giants, Redskins, even Saints, against the power of the Lords?

Mine eyes have seen the glory.

6* Andrew Lantner writers from Baltimore.

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