25 January 2007

Once More To The Diamond

The most illusory, and ultimately counterproductive, aspect of stadium naming rights is its imposition of an increasingly transient corporate stamp upon baseball, our most traditional and longstanding pastime. Sprouting dot coms and feverishly merging banks tout showy naming contracts only to abandon them - and by extension - the stadium, team and fans, soon thereafter.

Smoothing one's decals on a park somebody else built, and pretending it's yours, is a particularly modern illusion; hinting of something new that is not new, of something better that is not better. The deception of ownership or auspices over that which you clearly do not own.

Taxpayers financed the Phoenix hangar on Jefferson and Seventh, and we can call it anything we like, regardless of which executive vice president of blah,blah, blah sheepishly snips his ceremonial ribbon to a cascade of boos this year or next. On the heels of the Chase/JP Morgan merger, for example, one pundit, apparently familiar with Bob Melvin's teams, deliciously came up with "The Morg" - and we mocked up our own tongue in cheek naming ceremony a while back - but it's time more serious thought was applied to this matter.

Despite my idealistic preference for an eternal, stand alone name like Fenway, Yankee or Dodger Stadium, market realism dictates a compromise of nomenclature: a hybrid moniker of an inevitably revolving, corporate "first" name, followed by an immutable stadium 'surname'.
What venue titles might distinguish our place from the rest, while evoking baseball's timeless qualities? Incorporating "Diamond" into the field name is unique - no other MLB team currently does - and it ties into the franchise name rather obviously.

"Diamondbacks Diamond" doesnt exactly roll off the tongue. What about "Copper Diamond" or "The Diamond at Copper Square"? Or "Downtown Diamond", " Desert Diamond" or "Diamond in the Desert" ? The corporate appendage elongates it to "Chase Downtown Diamond", which could segue into "Nextel Downtown Diamond" or, horror of horrors, "Blue Diamond Almonds Desert Diamond". Whatever the core stadium name though, stays. In perpetuity.

The advantage is that, in an era of accelerating change, fans more readily associate permanence and continuity with their hometown franchise, which engenders a stronger, more lasting affection. Players move in and out, Diamondbacks is truncated to Dbacks and colors are thrown to the curb - but at least you can still take your kid to "The Diamond", just like your parents took you a generation earlier.

It's been said that "...a rose, by any other name would smell as sweet" and perhaps fretting about a ballpark's name is superficial. Maybe that continuity thing, about grandparents and progeny escorting one another to the very diamond of their respective youths, has been reduced to an illusion nowadays.

At the ballyard, however, ordinary people are entitled to our illusions. We paid for them - at least as much as the big banks.

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