What Your Favorite Teams Were Almost Called

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If you're a sports fan, you know the nicknames and mascots of every team in the leagues you follow. If you're a die-hard fan, you probably even know what the teams used to be called. ("Washington Wizards? Please. They'll always be the Bullets to me.") But do you know what your favorite teams were almost called?

When an expansion team enters a league or an existing team relocates, it picks a new moniker, ideally one that will look good on a t-shirt. The process of selecting a new name can be a protracted one, though, and the winning nickname often only gets the nod at the expense of several other less-inspired finalists. Let's have a look at some team names that fans almost got to cheer for:

1. The Toronto Tarantulas

Few team names seem quite as dated as the Toronto Raptors'. The team started play in 1995 with a mascot that was obviously a nod to Jurassic Park, which had destroyed box-office records a couple of years earlier. However, looking at the list of names the Toronto franchise could have chosen, the Raptors seems like a terrific choice. The other nine finalists were the Tarantulas, Beavers, Bobcats, Dragons, Grizzlies, Hogs, Scorpions, T-Rex, and Terriers. "The Hogs" makes sense since Toronto's historic nickname is Hogtown, but it lacks a certain menace and would have been catastrophic when the team picked Oliver Miller in the expansion draft. The rest of the finalists, however, look largely like they were culled from a list of things 13-year-old boys think are awesome, so kudos on picking the Raptors name. (This decision might mark the last time a franchise under Isiah Thomas' direction made a wise choice.)

2. The Vancouver Mounties

When Vancouver got an NBA team for the 1995 season, the franchise wanted to call itself the Vancouver Mounties. The name seemed like a fitting tribute to the bravery of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police. The plan hit a snag, though, when the Mounties, no doubt skeptical of any cultural crossovers after Dudley Do-Right, made it clear that they didn't want their name slapped on the expansion franchise. The team quickly regrouped and picked the name the Grizzlies as a tribute to the bravery of Canada's many bears. You have to commend the Mounties on their foresight for avoiding this train wreck; the team fled to Memphis in 2001 and had an abysmal .329 winning percentage entering this season.

3. The Baltimore Marauders

When the Cleveland Browns moved to Baltimore for the 1996 NFL season, they couldn't bring their name with them. According to the settlement the team reached with the city of Cleveland for swiping the beloved franchise, the Browns' nickname, color scheme, and history stayed put when the team bolted for Baltimore. The now-nameless squad had a series of phone polls and fan surveys to whittle its list of 17 possible names down to three: the Americans, the Marauders, and the Ravens. Over 30,000 fans then voted for the name they liked best, and "the Ravens" won thanks to the city's connection to Edgar Allen Poe. It's probably good that the fans wisely passed on "The Americans," which would have made Kyle Boller's tumultuous stint as starter a national shame rather than a regional problem.

4. The New York Borros

The New York Jets began their life as the New York Titans in the American Football League. When Hollywood honcho Sonny Werblin and oil tycoon Leon Hess bought the team in 1963, though, they decided the team needed a new name. According to a contemporary New York Times story, they considered the Dodgers, but nixed the idea after Major League Baseball didn't like it. "The Gothams" also got some consideration, but the team didn't like the idea of having it shortened to the Goths because "you know they weren't such nice people." (Yeah, but couldn't you just see Vinny Testaverde winning a playoff game, then sacking Byzantium?)

The last finalist to fall was "the New York Borros," a pun on the city's boroughs; the team worried that opposing fans would make the Borros-burros connection and derisively call the squad the jackasses. (Little did the Jets' forefathers know that their home fans would provide all of the booing and heckling a franchise could ever need.) Eventually the team became the Jets since it was going to play in Shea Stadium, which is close to LaGuardia Airport.

5. The Washington Sea Dogs

In 1995 Washington Bullets owner Abe Pollin decided that he didn't want to keep fielding a team with such a violent name and decided to rechristen his franchise. A fan contest came up with five finalists: the Express, the Wizards, the Stallions, the Dragons, and the Sea Dogs. The Wizards wasn't a perfect choice since some fans thought it tied in to Ku Klux Klan mythology, but it was obviously a better choice than the Sea Dogs. One can only assume that this seafaring name got the ax when someone in the team's office realized that the District of Columbia doesn't actually sit next to a sea. Then again, they drafted Kwame Brown first overall, so maybe I'm giving the team too much credit here.

6. The San Antonio Gunslingers

When the ABA's Texas Chaparrals moved to San Antonio in 1973, the team was renamed the San Antonio Gunslingers. The team dropped this name before ever playing a game, presumably because the image was violent even by firearm-related mascot standards. Instead, the owners picked a tamer name that still tapped into the region's cowboy past: the San Antonio Spurs.

7. The Florida Flamingos
Florida Marlins owner Wayne Huizenga told the New York Times in 1993 that he had considered naming the team the Florida Flamingos.

8. The Orlando Juice
Before the NBA's Orlando Magic had a name, the other finalists were "the Heat," "the Juice," and "the Tropics."

9. The Charlotte Spirit
The Charlotte Hornets originally had this name before switching to their insect moniker as a tribute to the city's angry resistance of British forces during the Revolutionary War.

10. The Minnesota Blue Ox
The NHL's Minnesota Wild were almost the Blue Ox, the Freeze, the Voyageurs, the Northern Lights, or the White Bears.

11. The New York Skyliners
Before the New York Mets started play in 1962, they considered a list of names that included the Skyliners, the Skyscrapers, the Bees, the Burros, the Continentals, and the Jets.

Turn Your LEGO Bricks Into a Drone With the Flybrix Drone Kit

Flyxbrix/FatBrain
Flyxbrix/FatBrain

Now more than ever, it’s important to have a good hobby. Of course, a lot of people—maybe even you—have been obsessed with learning TikTok dances and baking sourdough bread for the last few months, but those hobbies can wear out their welcome pretty fast. So if you or someone you love is looking for something that’s a little more intellectually stimulating, you need to check out the Flybrix LEGO drone kit from Fat Brain Toys.

What is a Flybrix LEGO Drone Kit?

The Flybrix drone kit lets you build your own drones out of LEGO bricks and fly them around your house using your smartphone as a remote control (via Bluetooth). The kit itself comes with absolutely everything you need to start flying almost immediately, including a bag of 56-plus LEGO bricks, a LEGO figure pilot, eight quick-connect motors, eight propellers, a propeller wrench, a pre-programmed Flybrix flight board PCB, a USB data cord, a LiPo battery, and a USB LiPo battery charger. All you’ll have to do is download the Flybrix Configuration Software, the Bluetooth Flight Control App, and access online instructions and tutorials.

Experiment with your own designs.

The Flybrix LEGO drone kit is specifically designed to promote exploration and experimentation. All the components are tough and can totally withstand a few crash landings, so you can build and rebuild your own drones until you come up with the perfect design. Then you can do it all again. Try different motor arrangements, add your own LEGO bricks, experiment with different shapes—this kit is a wannabe engineer’s dream.

For the more advanced STEM learners out there, Flybrix lets you experiment with coding and block-based coding. It uses an arduino-based hackable circuit board, and the Flybrix app has advanced features that let you try your hand at software design.

Who is the Flybrix LEGO Drone Kit for?

Flybrix is a really fun way to introduce a number of core STEM concepts, which makes it ideal for kids—and technically, that’s who it was designed for. But because engineering and coding can get a little complicated, the recommended age for independent experimentation is 13 and up. However, kids younger than 13 can certainly work on Flybrix drones with the help of their parents. In fact, it actually makes a fantastic family hobby.

Ready to start building your own LEGO drones? Click here to order your Flybrix kit today for $198.

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Double Play: The Curious Life and Career of Ozzie Canseco

Otto Gruele, Allsport/Getty Images
Otto Gruele, Allsport/Getty Images

“Jose, we love you! Jose, you suck!” It’s 1992 in Louisville, Kentucky, and a man who bears a striking resemblance to major league home run king Jose Canseco is smashing baseballs out of Triple-A ballparks for the Louisville Redbirds, the minor league sibling of the St. Louis Cardinals.

A screen erected specifically for home runs at Pilot Field in Buffalo, New York, fails to contain one 550-foot drive. The ball goes over the screen and past the highway.

“Good job, Jose!”

Before and after games, the six-foot-two, 220-pound slugger will be asked about dating Madonna (he didn’t), antagonized into fights (he avoids them, mostly), and begged for autographs. When he signs his name, fans appear confused. They tell him to stop joking around. Doesn’t he know he’s Jose Canseco, perpetual All-Star and prolific masher of baseballs? Who ever heard of Ozzie Canseco, Jose’s identical twin, born two minutes earlier to Jose Canseco Sr. and his wife, Barbara? And if they are identical, why is it that Jose was earning millions as a member of the Oakland Athletics while Ozzie only made sporadic appearances in the majors?

Ozzie tried to explain all of these things over and over again. Every time he thought people got the message, he would head back out into the world, hearing his brother’s name. Once, a car veered and tried to run him off the road. When Ozzie hit the shoulder, the other driver laughed, as if it were a joke, and then referred to him as Jose.

 

There are relatively few examples of twins who excelled equally in sports. Ronde and Tiki Barber were both selected in the 1997 NFL Draft and had successful careers; Karyne and Sarah Steben, both accomplished gymnasts, toured with Cirque du Soleil and credited their psychological connection with helping them perform difficult aerial feats.

More often, siblings of star athletes idle in the shadows cast by their high-achieving counterparts.

Hank Aaron’s brother Tommie joined him in professional baseball. Hank hit 755 home runs during his career; Tommie connected with 13. There were three DiMaggio brothers, though it was Joe—the onetime husband of Marilyn Monroe—who stood out both on and off the field. Had any of these men looked identical to their famous brother, it would have compounded the comparisons. It’s unlikely anyone ever tried to run Tommie Aaron off the road.

Ozzie Canseco plays for the Oakland Athletics in a Major League Baseball game
Otto Gruele Jr, Getty Images

Born on July 2, 1964, Osvaldo “Ozzie” Capas Canseco and Jose Canseco would soon be another sports sibling story.

The two were barely a year old when their parents immigrated to the United States from Cuba. Both grew up learning to play "the great American pastime." Jose, an outfielder who could wallop a ball out of sight, was drafted by the Oakland Athletics in 1982 straight out of high school. After polishing his skills in the minor leagues for three years, he briefly debuted as a late-season call-up for the Athletics in 1985. His official rookie season came in 1986, when he went on to hit 33 home runs and knock in 117 RBIs, resulting in Rookie of the Year honors.

Ozzie, who had played as much baseball as his brother, decided to take a year for college. Instead of being a power hitter, Ozzie had gravitated toward pitching. The New York Yankees drafted him in 1983. After four largely unimpressive years on the mound in the minor leagues, he was released by the Yankees and picked up by the Oakland Athletics organization in 1986 to further develop his skills.

It amounted to a genetic experiment in sports: Two men, nearly identical in build—Jose was an inch taller and perhaps 10 pounds heavier—who played the same game for the same amount of time. In 1989, the two even suffered the exact same injury to the hamate bone in the hand. Yet it was Jose who became a sensation, earning exponentially increasing millions and stats for the Athletics and the Texas Rangers, while Ozzie struggled to get called up.

The problem, according to Ozzie, was that he had pitched for too long, refining a skill that wouldn’t pay the same dividends as an outfielder and star hitter. All those years pitching put him behind Jose and behind the game. When he was finally called up to the Athletics as an outfielder in 1990, the difference in ability when compared to Jose was obvious. After 20 homers and 67 RBIs with the Huntsville Stars farm team, he managed only a .105 batting average in nine MLB games during his first season, striking out in 10 of his 19 at-bats. Meanwhile, in 1988, Jose became the first MLB player in history to hit 40 home runs and steal 40 bases in a single season—a feat only three players have replicated since. When Ozzie struck out in his first Athletics game, Jose hit two home runs.

 

Pundits tried to break down Ozzie’s deficiencies. Superficially, he had everything Jose had, including a powerful build that was likely bolstered by steroids. (Jose admitted to using performance-enhancing substances in his 2005 tell-all book, Juiced; Ozzie was arrested for driving in a car that contained vials of steroids during a traffic stop in 2003. Jose later told VICE that Ozzie "used the same type of steroids I used and in equal amounts.") But experts pointed out that Jose was more flexible, with a better range of motion in his swing and a faster sprint. He seemed to be more aggressive during play, too. These were subtle differences, but enough for Jose to make three World Series appearances while Ozzie toiled in the minors.

Ozzie Canseco bats for the Oakland Athletics during a Major League Baseball game
Otto Gruele Jr, Getty Images

Dejected, Ozzie headed for Japan to play for the Osaka Kintetsu Buffaloes to sharpen his game against different kinds of pitches. Playing for the Japanese equivalent of a farm team in Osaka, he quit midway through the season to return to the U.S. minors, joining the Louisville Redbirds, the Cardinals Triple-A team. In 1993, he got a chance to jump on the Cardinals for six uneventful games. When Bernard Gilkey came off the disabled list, Ozzie was bumped back down. In frustration, he briefly quit baseball before signing a contract with the Triple-A arm of the Milwaukee Brewers and, later, the Florida Marlins.

After being released by the Marlins in 1996, he remarked it was the first summer he had not played baseball since he was a kid. While other people may have confused him for Jose, baseball’s management did not.

 

If Ozzie was never quite his brother’s equal on the field, he found parity in other ways. For years, rumors circulated that Ozzie would show up in place of Jose for autograph signings. The two also got in nearly equivalent legal trouble for a 2001 nightclub brawl in Miami Beach that ended in probation and a civil lawsuit against both.

In what was probably their most audacious attempt to fool people, Ozzie reportedly showed up for a 2011 celebrity boxing match claiming he was Jose, who had performed in prizefights against the likes of Danny Bonaduce. Promoter Damon Feldman claimed he had paid Jose $5000 and that he was confused when Ozzie finally removed his shirt. (He lacks the bicep tattoo sported by his brother). Feldman had him escorted out and filed a complaint for breach of contract, winning a default judgment against Jose for the $5000 advance and travel expenses. Feldman later expressed doubt he had ever actually met Jose. (On Twitter, Jose Canseco denied Feldman’s claim that he had sent Ozzie in his place.)

In 2015, Ozzie was named the hitting coach for the Sioux Falls Canaries, a Double-A team in South Dakota. Not long after, he and his brother once again confused onlookers when Ozzie fooled his on-air correspondents into thinking “Jose” had arrived to film a segment for his role as an analyst for an NBC broadcast. It was a bit of levity that may have indicated that the years removed from the field had allowed Ozzie to feel more comfortable—both in his own skin and his brother’s.

It was a long time coming. Speaking to Sports Illustrated in 1994, Ozzie lamented the peculiar reality of resembling his brother in every aspect but the one that mattered to him most. “It’s difficult to explain my existence as Ozzie Canseco on a daily basis,” he said.