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A New Solution to an Old Problem

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When the Red Wings recently announced that their new arena would be named after a “pizza” chain, lots of people asked me if I’d be coming out with an “I’m Calling It the Joe” T-shirt. That was a reference to my old “Naming Wrongs” T-shirt project with No Mas (see above), which was our way of protesting the proliferation of corporate-renamed stadiums and arenas.

The old Naming Wrongs shirts are no longer available, and I have no immediate plans to reactivate that project (although there could be something in the works down the road — stay tuned). But the other day I learned about a new way to address the same problem — and this one doesn’t require you to spend any money on a shirt.

Here’s the deal: A Trail Blazers fan has come up with a Chrome extension that changes all instances of “Moda Center” on the web to “Rose Garden.” It functions perfectly. Obviously, it only works on Chrome, so it won’t mean anything to people who use Firefox, Safari, or other browsers. It lacks the public-protest aspect of the shirts, but it’s still an admirably simple solution to an annoying problem.

That got me thinking: Imagine if we had additional extensions for all the other corporate-named venues out there — how awesome would that be?

I’m not a software engineer, so I don’t know anything about how to develop a Chrome extension, or how to make it available for people to install. But I bet some of you folks know something about that.

Is this something that could be feasibly developed? If so, is it something people would be interested in installing on their browsers?


• • • • •

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A beautiful day for a ballgame: Longtime Uni Watch reader/pal James Huening was in town yesterday (some boy band he follows — Menudo, I think — was playing at the Garden), so he, Phil, and I headed out to Citi Field I’m calling it Shea to catch yesterday’s Mets/Giants game. That’s James in the center and Phil on the left, with Jackie Robinson Rotunda’s big 42 serving as our backdrop.

The reason we were photographed down in the Rotunda instead of at our seats is that it was seriously cold, rainy, and windy at the ballpark yesterday. In fact, many fans were wearing their Curtis Granderson giveaway socks as makeshift gloves (click to enlarge):

After we shivered through a few innings, it was decided that Phil and I should give Jimbo a “tour” of the ballpark, which was basically code for, “Let’s go someplace warmer.” We kept an eye on the game, but soon the Mets were down 4-0 in the 6th against Madison Bumgarner, and the writing seemed to be on the wall. So we chose the better part of valor, said our good-byes, and departed.

As I was waiting on the subway platform for a train home, a guy approached me and the following conversation ensued:

Guy [tentatively]: Um, are you the Uni Watch guy?

Me: Yes, I am.

Guy: Wow, that’s great! I love your work.

Me: Thanks, I really appreciate that. [Offering to shake his hand.] My name’s Paul.

Guy [returning handshake]: Mine’s Jeff. [Turns to friend.] This guy writes this great website Uni Watch. He’s a big Mets fan!

Me [pointing to Jeff’s Mets cap]: I guess you’re a big Mets fan too, eh?

Jeff: Yeah.

[A beat of uncomfortable silence.]

Me: So, uh, I won’t give you shit for leaving early if you don’t give me shit for leaving early.

Jeff: Deal. It’s nasty out there!

• • • • •

The Ticker
By Paul

Baseball News: An L.A. towing company has poached the Twins’ logo. ”¦ In a related item, the Beloit Snappers have poached the Dodgers’ 50th-anniversary logo. ”¦ For reasons that aren’t clear to me, a Massachusetts high school team’s ALS-awareness jersey design has completely different colors for the front and the back (from Mike Davis). ”¦ Autism-awareness jerseys for Illinois and the Tulsa Drillers (from Craig Choate and Bill Fenbers, respectively). ”¦ Stetson and Jacksonville went G.I. Joke vs. G.I. Joke yesterday (from Ian Anderson). … With the Mets wearing their 1986 Sunday throwbacks yesterday, the racing stripes on P Noah Syndergaard’s jersey and pants were misaligned — a true throwback to the old days. ”¦ “Now there’s a realistic Brewers fan,” says Jeff Ash. ”¦ The Savannah Bananas have a really cool ticket design. ”¦ Those protestors who stormed the Iraqi parliament building over the weekend included a guy in an Orioles jersey (from David Cline). ”¦ The Cubs — including fun-loving skipper Joe Maddon, of course — dressed up in OppoSuits yesterday. Additional pics here. ”¦ New Mexico State wears its mascot character logo on the sides of the players’ stirrups (from Jon Aviles).

NBA News: Michael Jordan had some popcorn in his luxury suite for yesterday’s Hornets/Heat game. The popcorn bucket had some Hornets-themed tissue paper — interesting, given that the game was in Miami (thanks, Mike).

Soccer News: Can a team’s colors affect its performance? ”¦ Denis Hurley has written a blog post about Kappa’s time as FC Barcelona’s kit supplier from 1992-98. “A feature of the final season was that the Barça goalkeepers, Vítor Baía and Ruud Hesp, went FNOS (full name on sleeve) as well as the traditional surname on the back,” he says. “It was something totally unique and, as far as I can see, no manufacturer — Kappa or otherwise — has tried it since.” ”¦ New jersey sponsor advertiser for Celtic.

Grab Bag: New uniforms soon for Air India. ”¦ New uniforms for Qantas, too. ”¦ Great story about Draper & Maynard, the old New Hampshire sporting goods giant that was a big deal back in the day (from Dave Garabedian). ”¦ Here’s your latest chance to vote for the NASCAR paint scheme of the week.

• • • • •

What Paul did last night on Saturday: On Wednesday evening I was walking to my local subway station and saw a box of clothing, books, and other stuff that someone had left out on the sidewalk for people to take. There was a pretty cool-looking green striped sweater that seemed like it would probably fit me, so I grabbed it and put it in my bag. When I got home later that night, I tried it on — a perfect fit.

Three days later, on Saturday afternoon, I wore the sweater to the annual WFMU Record Fair in Greenpoint. By coincidence, it matched perfectly with some WFMU stickers they had on hand (for all these photos, you can click to enlarge):

I wasn’t really looking to buy any records, but I always go to the ’FMU Record Fair anyway — in part to support the station, in part because I know I’ll bump into friends and allies, and in part because there are usually live sets from bands I like. In this case, I was particularly psyched to see the Moles, an Australian band I was heavily into back in the early 1990s. I’ve seen their frontman, Richard Davies, perform many times under his own name and as part of the chamber-pop act Cardinal, but this was the first time I’d seen him as part of the Moles since a CBGB show in 1992. They were soooo good — here’s a photo, followed by two of my favorite Moles songs:

Also on the bill was Colleen Green, a one-woman band from L.A. She was great, and I particularly liked her cap — green with a green Prince symbol, which is perfect for her because of her surname but would also be great for me, since I hate purple and green has always been my favorite color:

Comments (86)

    I dont know if youre joking or what but in Brooklyn, NY (where Paul lives) it’s definitely MAY 2ND. MAY DAY observations may happen on May 2 also.

    My (cheap, old) digital watch does not account for leap years and was off by a day for several weeks in March before I noticed the error.

    Apropos of corporate stadium names, it will be interesting to see if/when there is a name change for Mile High, since Sports Authority is likely liquidating their assets and closing all their stores, yet the naming rights are $6-7 million per year (here’s an article from February discussing the issue before Sports Authority really went in the toilet): link

    I do some work for a guy whose brother in law is a Sports Authority Exec. Keep in mind, this is second hand information, but it sounds like they’re doing everything they can to keep the naming deal in place. One of the issues is the bankruptcy filing and how a court is going to rule on their branding expenditure.

    I’m not a bankruptcy expert or attorney, but I’d think it would be hard for a court to approve that kind of cash outlay while trying to restructure debt. Just doesn’t seem feasible.

    Yeah, I’d love to be a Sports Authority creditor (or laid-off employee) and be told, “Sorry, no cash [or job] for you. But yeah, we’re gonna keep spending $6 million/year to have our name on a building that’s used for eight games a year.”

    The “Does a team’s colors affect its performance?”post concerns the GAA Gaelic Games and not Soccer

    Two typos: “That god me thinking:” near the top and “followed by two two of my favorite…” when you’re talking about the Moles.

    4th paragraph: “That god me thinking.” Is there such a thing as a Freudian typo, and is this it? ;)

    While I dislike ad names for arenas, it seems silly to insist a new building has the same name as the old one. You don’t go around saying “I still call it the Capital Centre” or such.

    I do agree that it doesn’t make sense to refer to a new stadium by a previous stadium’s name if the new stadium never carried the old one’s name.

    So, what if a new stadium is built and given a corporate name (for example, let’s say it’s named the “Twitter Dome”). Then, a couple of years later, a buyout occurs (or the company goes out of business) and the dome is renamed the “Coca Cola Dome”. I’m assuming you’d call it by the new name. But, what if the corporate name game continues on and the stadium naming rights are bought and sold 3 or 4 times over a relatively short span (say 10 years). Do you just keep adapting what you call the place according to whatever sponsor is named? Or, do you stick with one name?

    While we’re at it, why don’t we replace “Redskins” with other slurs? There’s a plugin for that, too.

    Similar to the Stadium Chrome extension is the Washington Football Club one that replaces the team name with something else. I can’t recall if I saw that here originally or not…


    I’ve used it for such a long time that sometimes I actually think the team is called the Piscataways.

    I also use the John Oliver “Make Donald Drumpf Again”. Seems like it’s not terribly difficult to do (not being a programmer).

    Not a programmer, but I often manage this type of project. My estimation is that it would be pretty straightforward bit of work to create the Still Calling It extension. Really just build out on the Moda Center with a larger set of target terms (new arena names) and replace terms (old arena names). The trick likely is anticipating usage variables. Are there variants? Like, does Citi Field get shortened to just Citi, and do you want to replace Citi with Shea, and if so are there contextual clues that need to be built in so that articles on the Wall Street Journal don’t wind up reporting on the latest earnings reports from Shea Group?

    I have a Chrome extension installed that must be a marvel of complexity on the backend. On the Biblical-text website Bible Gateway, this extension replaces any instance of “you” with “y’all” when the original Greek or Hebrew used the second-person plural instead of second-person singular. Since English normally flattens the second-person to the one word “you” and since most of us modern English-speakers read “you” primarily as a singular, this is a hugely valuable extension. But the complexity involved must be staggering: It works across many dozens of translations that render the underlying text into English radically differently from one another, and it works in complex situations where the English word “you” often appears based on pronouns of different number within the same sentence. I can’t imagine that the Still Calling It extension would be anywhere near that complex, even with a few dozen stadium names packed into it.

    Nice idea, but it gets my goat that they don’t use the perfectly fine standard English second-person plural pronoun “ye”. What say ye?

    Sorry, but I always found the i still call it shea stupid, that ballpark was never shea stadium, shea was the old circle building.

    Im fine with it for ones that did change the name like the skydome, comiskey, the jake.
    But its absurd to do it for new buildings in my opinion.

    Plus as a phillies fan, I like calling citi field, a different name that uses sh instead of c in citi.

    I always found the i still call it shea stupid…

    But it’s not “I Still Call It Shea” — it’s “I’m Calling It Shea.”

    You’re forgetting the genesis of the project, which went like this: After Citi bought the naming rights, Citi was then bailed out as part of the TARP relief fund following the Great Recession of 2008. So lots of people were saying, “They should call it Bailout Field!” and “They should call it Debits Field!” and lots of other things.

    Chris Isenberg of No Mas and I said, “Eh, the hell with all of that — I’m calling it Shea.”

    Point taken, Citi Field is a lousy name..

    Also people calling stadiums/arenas go far back, my dad says how there was people who still called Connie Mack Stadium, Shibe Park. But yea when its a bad sounding corporate name, I can see trying to call it an alternative name.

    I vote for pizza box for the red wings new arena

    >>Point taken, Citi Field is a lousy name.<<
    But City Field would be an awesome name!

    The new name on the Detroit stadium doesn’t really bother me so much, because for years it’s been the owner of Little Caesars that has been the guy who owns the Wings so I always known that money that pizza chain brings in ultimately made it to Steve Yzerman’s pocket.

    So what will be the sarcastic nickname of the Red Wings’ new home? The Pizza Parlor?

    So are the games always going to start 5-10 minutes late, instead of being ready as promised?

    But Red Wings games aren’t the only things that will be taking place there (and even if they were, calling it “Red Wings Arena” would be the proper name in that case). An arena is part of the municipal and civic culture. Naming it after a corporation just extends corporate culture into that municipal and civic culture. It’s wrong, and it’s important that we keep saying that it’s wrong.

    Paul, you always assume that a corporation can’t be part of civic culture. I disagree. Ford, GM, and Chrysler are (or at least were) a good counter example. The car industry isn’t just some corporations to Detroit. Those companies and their success is part of civic pride. Detroit is the Motor City. When a local business makes it big, that’s a source of pride for many cities, not a reason to distance the corporation from civic identity.

    This is an interesting point. I’m from MN, and Target is one of the companies we take a lot of pride in. Target Field feels like a natural home for the MN Twins, but I don’t like the new Viking’s stadium being called US Bank Stadium.

    Does Target have a HQ? Is it called “the Target Building” (or something like that)? That seems perfectly appropriate.

    If they didn’t build the stadium, I fail to see why their name should be on it. Unless they bought the ability to put it there — which, to my mind, is something that shouldn’t be for sale in the first place.

    Paul, I’ curious, what are your opinions on Stadiums named for team owners/businessmen, be they classic parks like Ebbets Field, Shibe Park, Comiskey, or Crosley field, or those of a more modern vintage like Turner Field or pre-name change Jacobs Field? Obviously there was no paying for name rights involved, but they’re certainly self-promotion and one could argue injecting business leaders into civic space so that their name’s become associated with fond feelings.

    Egotistical (or maybe megalomaniacal), but not as onerous, at least to my way of thinking. I mean, if you own the team and the stadium, why not name it after yourself? At least that’s an honest expression of hubris. Better than selling the identity to a third party’s corporate advertising.

    I just miss that we’ll no longer have an excuse to explain who Joe Louis was.

    The more I think about it, I do think there is a variation on the corporate name thing here that’s important. As a Detroit fan I hate Comerica Park but don’t mind Ford Field or LC whatever, as names. For both the Lions and Wings it’s a case of the owner choosing to put the name of their business on a stadium they helped finance. So if Paul bought a car and wanted to put a Uniwatch bumper sticker on it for promotion, that’d be his right. It’s not like they sold off the name to the highest bidder. An owner just decided to get more benefit out of their investment. To me that’s very different. In this case, it’s interesting because Illitch did both as owner as the Tigers and Wings.

    Not quite; the Illitch family doesn’t own Comerica.

    Your point is well taken in terms of the Illitch family foregoing sponsorship money on occasion. The Detroit newspapers took pains to document this in terms of the hockey arena (basically, the sponsorship fee goes from one part of the family’s corporate holdings to another). In terms of the Tigers, there were a couple of years where the Tigers allowed all three Detroit automakers (Ford, GM, Chrysler) to have their branding on the center field fountain free of charge, as a gesture of support for the auto industry.

    Right. That’s what I meant by “Illitch did both.” He took the Comerica money for the Tigers. And that’s why I’m fine with Little Caesars but hate the CoPa name.

    Ah, it was early when I read that; I may have misunderstood.

    I wonder if the marginal tax the Red Wings will pay on the sponsorship “income” is offset by the advertising “expense” that Little Caesars can write off…

    I wonder if the marginal tax the Red Wings will pay on the sponsorship “income”…

    Advertising income, not sponsorship income.

    Yes, it’s self-promotional, but I did a bit about naming rights in my stand-up comedy debut in March. link

    As a Michigander, Mlive had about a dozen articles about LCA. One asked for nicknames they should give. I said the Pizza Hut…sadly, however, Illitch doesn’t own that one and would be too easy.

    I’m kind of skeeved-out to hear that you tried on a sweater that you found in a box on the street without washing it first. That’s a seriously risky move. I buy vintage clothing all of the time, but I always wash it first. Yuck!

    Stayed in a hotel in Denver once and got bit all to hell by bed bugs once. Needless to say nothing I brought to Denver made its way onto the plane home (save for my electronics).

    From that point any second hand fabric items I intend on bringing home gets a run through the laundrymat first. If it dosent fit, I won’t buy it.

    Better safe than sorry.

    Whispered Robert Shapiro into Christopher Darden’s ear, and a legendary prosecutorial gaffe was born…

    There’s also a Chrome extension that replaces “Rogers Centre” with “SkyDome” link

    You made it through the official game threshold, Paul. I’m sure the baseball gods will forgive you. Similar thing happened to me. Nine hour train ride from Pittsburgh to Penn Station, two subway trains to Flushing, three block walk to hotel. Then dash back to subway and make it to my seat for Jays-Mets right at the first pitch. By the fifth inning I was a zombie. Once the game was official I said my apologies to the same baseball gods and staggered back to the hotel.

    I don’t agree with the Naming Wrongs fully. If it’s a new stadium then it should have a new name. I feel this especially growing up in Chicago and having been to Comiskey Park (The Baseball Palace of the World). It was a shame they named that cinder block mausoleum New Comiskey Park. I don’t mind calling it The Cell because that is what it looked like before U.S. Cellular dumped tons of money into it.

    I don’t agree with the Naming Wrongs fully. If it’s a new stadium then it should have a new name.

    The point of Naming Wrongs is not to cling to an old name for a new building; it’s to reject the ethos of naming buildings after corporations. Invoking old name is just the handiest way to make that point.

    Definitely did not expect to see Colleen Green on Uni Watch!

    I was in a couple of bands in college and one of the girls in her all-girl punk band went to the same college. Our bands played a bunch of shows together back then. This would have been like 12-13 years ago now I think? She’s starting to have some success these days and I’m super happy for her.

    I think it’s been moved out to the parking lot by the freeway, and serves as a marquee-advertising sign.

    Correct, DJ. It was moved out to the parking lot in 1980 to make way for the Rams expansion.
    And there’s no reason for a “I still call it …” for the ballpark since it’s now know as Angel Stadium (of Anaheim). It’s not the original name, but when I was a kid, people always called it Angel Stadium although Anaheim Stadium was the actual name.

    An alternative to the Chrome extension would be a proxy server which would retrieve a page, edit the text found therein, and return the bowdlerized version. There are some examples of this out there, and it doesn’t work transparently like a Chrome extension would, but it’s browser independent.

    Not only did the Beloit Snappers poach the Dodgers’ anniversary logo, they used if for their 35th SEASON (but still called it an anniversary). Lazy on top of lazy…

    So Celtic will now have advertising on the front and back of their jerseys. The slope is getting slipperier.


    The linked story might not be accurate. While there are leagues that permit advertising on the front and back of jerseys, the Scottish league requires the player’s name where they claim an ad will be. Unless…they put the name underneath the number..,🙁

    The Illinois baseball jersey was actually a GI Joe uniform for Honor and Serve day.

    Interesting to see the new Celtic sponsor.

    Iirc, a beer company used to sponsor both Rangers and Celtic kits, so as to not alienate the other teams fans and have them not buy their beer.

    Celtic and Rangers have usually had the same sponsor — the one thing they can agree on!

    They’ve both have had NTL and Carling and Tennent’s at the same time. That ended last year.


    After viewing the photo of Paul and Phil in front of the big 42, what are your heights?

    Thanks, Paul. I imagined you being 6′ or so. Phil looks 6′ 2″ at least. I just find it interesting to contrast my image of someone compared to their actual appearance.

    Odd that the White Sox have only worn their black jerseys once so far this season. Years past it seemed they wore them every day.

    Reverse example of corporate stadium naming: Ralph Wilson Stadium in Buffalo was named Rich Stadium (after the Rich Products Corporation) from its opening in 1973 until that deal expired in 1998. The stadium is now affectionately referred to by Bills fans as “The Ralph” and you will not hear anyone refer to the stadium as Rich Stadium… pretty much since day one after the name change. There is an obvious preference among Bills fans to use the non-corporate stadium name. Even though the glory years of Bills football occurred during the Rich Stadium era there is absolutely no nostalgia for that name.

    I always thought a good solution to “Citi Field” would be to just call it “City Field” with a Y. It takes away the corporate brand, and also separates it from Shea Stadium

    With respect to the “I’m still calling it…” debate, your thoughts on Busch Stadium, please.

    As I understand it, Gussie Busch named Sportsman’s Park after himself when Anheuser-Busch bought the Cardinals in ’53 (the NL wouldn’t let him use his first choice, Budweiser Stadium), then turned around and introduced Busch Beer a couple years later. Not checking my facts, but that’s got to be one of the first naming rights deals (though A-B owned the stadium by virtue of owning the team).

    The cookie-cutter ballpark that opened in the ’60s (I recall at least one logo for the stadium using the beer’s logo) and the decade-old iteration also bear the same name. In fact, there was quite an uproar when it was suggested that A-B, which sold the team in ’96, might not buy the naming rights for the new stadium. So, basically, loads of people were arguing in favor of a particular sponsor (advertiser?), though it’s not as though the team would have realistically considered naming it Sportsman’s Park or anything without a corporate name and money attached to it.

    At least the Busch family owns the team. When you think of the Cardinals, you think of the Busch family. So while there’s some corporate douchebaggery there (creating a beer just to match your family/stadium name, ugh), I don’t see it as quite as egregious.

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