OMNI December 2018
Alright. Back on the every other month pattern for OMNI entries. There were a lot of branding updates since October, and all of the expected new team identities have been unveiled. Let’s dig in.
First off, we have the Fayetteville Woodpeckers. Fayetteville has been expected to have a new Carolina League team since plans were announced in 2016. The Houston Astros (who own the team) fielded a placeholder in Buies Creek for the last two seasons, but the new Fayetteville stadium will be ready to open this spring. At one point, there was a longer list of team name options, but for the last year or so we knew it would be either the Fatbacks or Woodpeckers. Also, about a year ago, they said that the team colors would be black, gray, and red–the colors of most woodpeckers–so this wasn’t much of a surprise. I love Woodpeckers as a minor league team name, and I was pleasantly surprised to see that they did their brand design in-house, making for a unique look.
I like the perspective of looking up at the proud woodpecker. It’s also quite funny to see that he’s been pecking at his bat. Similarly, that script F (likely road cap logo) has the peck-mark motif. Very cool. Now I’ll need to learn to associate the Woodpeckers as the High-A affiliate of the Astros.
Next up we have the Amarillo Sod Poodles, the relocated Texas League franchise formerly known as the San Antonio Missions, who serve as Double-A affiliate of the Padres. Again, this one wasn’t very much of a surprise. Brandiose led the charge, and this type of name is right in their wheelhouse. Plus, it generated the most publicity and fan interest among the possible name options, including a theme song that got a bunch of attention way back in June. I was glad to see this announcement. It’s a fun-yet-not-over-the-top minor league name that’s regionally relevant and likable. The logos and brand elements are on the good side of what we have learned to expect from Brandiose.
I like how the color the prairie dogs is yellow for Amarillo, and sort of a tip of the Stetson to the old Gold Sox. That logo in the lower right where the sod poodle is leaning on the A reminds me a lot of the minor league logos that were popular in the nineties, with the old Augusta Greenjackets logo coming to mind in particular. That will look nice on hats. It’s a solid design overall, and I think the Sod Poodles will be a vital franchise in the Texas League for years.
The Rocky Mountain Vibes really threw me for a loop. This is the Pioneer League franchise that was formerly the Helena Brewers, that has moved to Colorado Springs and taken the spot of the relocated Colorado Springs SkySox. Initial reports were that the SkySox brand would continue, but then Elmore Sports Group pivoted and decided to hire on Brandiose to concoct a whole new identity. Of the five finalists, only one had the “Rocky Mountain” place name, and it was paired with Oysters for a somewhat risqué name that never had a chance to begin with. The other four options (Happy Campers, Punchy Pikas, Lamb Chops, and Throttle Jockeys) were all paired with the Colorado Springs place name. I was rooting for Happy Campers or Punchy Pikas–though ideally just Pikas or Pikes Peak Pikas. Instead, what we got was the Rocky Mountain place name paired with a new nickname that came right out of left field–Vibes.
It seems to me that they had decided to go with Happy Campers, but then pivoted to a whole new thing. The team colors feature an audacious shade of pink, and the mascot is an anthropomorphic marshmallow with flame hair. Flames are uses to spell out the nickname in the primary logo, and another logo (road cap?) has a bite in a marshmallow forming a C and a flame making an S for Colorado Springs. The Colorado state flag C shows up here and there.
How do I feel about it? Well, I actually love the marshmallow man, the color scheme, and the logos in general. Being the father of two daughters, I appreciate that a minor league team went for a family-friendly brand that can appeal to just about everyone in some way. What I don’t care for is the name. Vibes is just kind of dumb. I wish the whole branding scheme had been used with the original Happy Campers option instead. So…mixed feelings. Either way, the Brewers will be sending their young players to Pikes Peak, where they will be feeling the Vibes.
Finally, wrapping up our new identity roundup, we have the Las Vegas Aviators. Someone discovered a trademark filing for the name back in the summer, so this was a very open secret. The rebranded 51s, owned by the Howard Hughes Corp., are taking on a name that alludes to Howard Hughes himself. I was happy to see that Aviators was indeed the official name. It’s a good, respectable name for a Triple-A team, and the local tie-in adds some extra interest. I was also glad to see that they used “Las Vegas” instead of just “Vegas,” which was the place name attached to the Vegas Golden Knights hockey team.
As for the branding, I was a bit surprised. It’s a spartan look, using orange and navy as primary colors. I thought that there was a good chance that they would use green since they are now with the Oakland A’s, but ironically, their color scheme is closer to that of their former parent club, the Mets. The MLB team that comes to mind the most is the Astros, especially with the gradient gold-to-orange look. Hmm.
The primary logo features a straight-on shot of a pilot’s head, with the goggles reflecting the Nevada desert. Cool. The straps on the goggles (is this a thing?) are formed in the shape of a V–presumable for Vegas–though the bottom of the V is cut off. Weird. Their road cap has the LV initials rendered in a font that is reminiscent of various Las Vegas Stars logos, with the reflected desert making up the color fill of the letters. Neat.
I really can’t complain too much about any of these, and I’m glad to see them added to the minor league ecosystem. I just hit 1000 words, so I’ll do a quick recap of some new brand redesign elements throughout the minors.
New Brand Elements
The Wisconsin Timber Rattlers shed the skin of their old W-snake logo, replacing it with a simplified, sleeker snake and accompanying letter. It stays true to the overall branding scheme, but it’s kind of a shame that they are letting go of an iconic logo that had held true since the identity’s inception in 1994. Either way, not many people will even notice the change.
The Pacific Coast League’s Nashville Sounds unveiled a new color scheme and logos. Their last redesign was only four years ago, when they transitioned from being the Triple-A affiliate of the Brewers to the A’s. Now, as they make the switch to the Texas Rangers, they’ve come out with a new look that, to some extent, connects with the Rangers. Navy blue is a new color, and they’ve paired it with their existing red, and added a few new/revamped logos. I’d venture that the design was in the works before the new PDC with the Rangers was announced, so the red/white/blue could just be coincidental. Many (including myself) though that the Sounds would be with the Nationals, and this new color scheme would fit Washington well. Who knows? Either way, here’s another relatively minor branding tweak.
This next one is merely an alternate logo, but the El Paso Chihuahuas unleashed a cool new dog to the world. This pup is wearing a sombrero and howling (yipping?) at the moon. A closer look reveals that the pattern on the hat is formed from repeating EP. Nice touch.
Ever since the Chihuahuas team identity was created, I thought that the crazed, forward-staring chihuahua logo seemed a bit amateurish and unlikable. Now, El Paso has an awesome new logo to curl up with. Yippee!
Finally, there is some talk about a new brand for the Pawtucket Red Sox franchise when they relocate to Worcester in a few years. Right after the relocation announcement this summer, all the talk was about the “WooSox” and how the Red Sox COTOB would be maintained. I’m not surprised that they’re at least kicking the tires on a new identity, but I wouldn’t be surprised if they keep the COTOB and even the Paw-bear logo. After all, they will play in Polar Park.
Alright. That’s all I’ve got for now. We’re entering the baseball hibernation season, and I don’t expect too much exciting OMNI action for the next couple months. Of course, surprises always happen in the minors, so we’ll see. This winter, I’ll be spending my MLG time adding entries to the DIA, especially the five that are RIP 2018: Syracuse Chiefs, Buies Creek Astros, Colorado Springs SkySox, Helena Brewers, and Las Vegas 51s. Other than that, I’ll be chipping away at various site side projects and such. Thanks for reading.