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Richmond baseball whiffs again

It hasn’t been easy being a baseball fan in the Holy City on the James during the past year or so.

First the Triple-A Richmond Braves left town, after about 40 years here. Then there was the back and forth of whether we’d get a Double-A team. (With the demotion, I couldn’t shake from my head that line from Alabama’s tune, “The Cheap Seats”: “Our ball club may be minor-league, but at least it’s Triple-A….”).

Then we got a team – the Double-A Connecticut Defenders, a San Francisco Giants affiliate, were moving to Richmond. Okay, at least it’s baseball.

For the last few weeks, the club’s owners have tried to build excitement, seeking fan entries for the new as-yet-unnamed Richmond Fill-in-the-Blanks. Team names in minor league baseball often are “fun” or whimsical, such as the Montgomery (Ala.) Biscuits, or the Lansing (Mich.) Lugnuts, or the Las Vegas 51s.

In this morning’s Richmond Times-Dispatch, we learned the potential names of the Fill-in-the-Blanks. All five finalists are, well, to use a football term, this is a “fumble.” The choices:

* Flatheads. “A kind of catfish commonly found in the James River.” A bottom-feeder, in other words. Not to mention that a team called the Carolina Mudcats already plays in suburban Raleigh.

* Flying Squirrels. “Soar in Virginia.” Forget it, unless Rocky leaves Bullwinkle to become team mascot.

* Hambones. “Paying homage to Virginia ham.” Would make sense if the team was in Smithfield…sounds like a riff on the Montgomery Biscuits.

* Rock Hoppers. “People or animals on river rocks.” Not to be confused with grasshoppers or clodhoppers.

* Rhinos. Alliterative, “featuring a powerful image.” Does anyone else remember the failed attempt to get an NHL franchise in Norfolk, to be called the “Hampton Roads Rhinos”?

Fans can vote online for the winner, which will be announced Oct. 16. Too bad the date is set. The team’s owners need, to use a golf term, a “mulligan.”

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