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Posted 11/20/12 at 4:08 PM

Literal Nickname Battle Royale: NL Central

From civic landmarks to colorful clothing items to fauna both fierce and docile, the 30 MLB clubs own a diverse set of nicknames. What if each team was represented not by human baseball players, but by the literal thing it’s named for?

Here are the rules: Just like in real MLB, each team gets 25 "players." But unlike in real MLB, the players are not playing baseball -- they are playing a no-holds-barred battle royale in however large an arena is necessary to hold them. We'll examine who would reign supreme in each of the six divisions, and finish with determining an overall champion. Today: the NL Central. Previously: the NL West.

Let's start by discussing one of the most intriguing teams in this literal nickname throwdown: the Cincinnati photons vibrating between ~620-740 nm in the visible spectrum of light. The simple presence of red light might not seem very dangerous to you, but tell that to the U.N. and its Protocol on Blinding Laser Weapons.

Light amplification by stimulated emission of radiation can cause quick, permanent eyesight damage if it's strong enough, and this would be particularly harmful to the St. Louis eight-inch-long red birds, to whom vision is crucial for safe flight. Since their size is overstated on the St. Louis logo anyway, they wouldn't have gotten very far regardless.

The blinding light probably does not augur well for the Milwaukee producers of beer either. If they've been sampling their product (as you'd expect them to), they are probably not going to have the wits to avoid it before they can't see. At this point, they'll completely lose their sense of balance, which has probably been rapidly deteriorating anyway. Where the red menace reaches its end, though, is with the Chicago juvenile mammals of family Ursidae. While they may be young, they are still very strong. And even if they were blinded, bears would still have their primary sense -- tremendous smelling abilities that may be greater than those any other mammal -- at their disposal while they find the light source and crush it.

But come on. Even fully-grown bears wouldn't have a chance against the Pittsburgh robbing, plundering criminals on the high seas. Land animals might not be their typical competition, but buccaneers are an adaptive lot. If years of swashbuckling, probably-extremely-historically-inaccurate pop culture have taught me anything, it's that pirates will ravage anything in their path and do it with wit, panache and a steely glint in their eye. Say ahoy to your Literal NL Central champions.

-- Dan Wohl / MLB.com

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