December 2, 2017

The Capital City Go-Go

Between the first and second quarters of last night's win over the Detroit Pistons, the Washington Wizards made an important announcement, revealing the name and logo of their minor league or G League affiliate which will begin play in the fall of 2018. The name? The (drumroll please...) Capital City Go-Go!!! The logo? Well, that's the picture at the top of this post.

How good are the name and logo? I'll get to my thoughts on that in just a minute. Let's talk about some more practical considerations before we get to the fan stuff.

From a basketball standpoint, yesterday's announcement is a next step forward in what is an important process and one which frankly the Wizards have been trailing most of the rest of the NBA on for a significant period of time. For sure, rolling out a name and a logo doesn't make a minor league franchise any more real but this process has steps and this is one of them. It now allows fans to believe that we are on schedule with having a support franchise of our very own.

Why is this so important? Well, in addition to bringing pro basketball to more people in this country at a more affordable price point, having a dedicated farm team allows concentrated player development and rehabilitation assignments. This year, 26 of the 30 NBA teams have G League franchises that are singly affiliated, meaning either that the two franchises are owned by the same organization or that the operations of the minor league team are run by the parent franchise. That means that the coaching system is identical between the two teams, allowing faster development of young talent or rehabilitation assignments for players coming off injuries in a basketball playbook environment exactly the same as they will find when they get to or back to the NBA.

The Wizards ain't one of those 26 teams with a dedicated G League affiliate. That means the League has way less value for the Wizards than about 26 other teams. In fact, this year the Wizards have used the G League only because they pretty much have to. Devin Robinson and Mike Young were signed to two-way contracts which allow them to play in both leagues under specific guidelines and salary structures. So far, the Wizards have confined both to the G League and left it at that. The only way they could have had less involvement so far is if they just opted to not sign any two-way contracts at all.

So how are Robinson and Young developing? Right now, no clue. Devin is playing the Philadelphia 76ers way on assignment to their Delaware G League franchise. Mike is learning how the Phoenix Suns do things down in Arizona. Earlier this week they actually played each other in a game. Assuming the G League franchise is actually interested in developing another team's players, does this setup sound ideal in any way? Not to me it doesn't.

So how else might not having a G League franchise hurt a team? Well, earlier this week, the Chicago Bulls announced they would be sending Nicola Mirotic and Zach LaVine to their nearby G League team for a rehab assignment. They are not the only team to have done this in the past. There's no way the Wizards are going to send some of their NBA players to another team's minor league affiliate so they just simply don't have that luxury available to them. The Wizards are a step behind here.

Capital City Go-Go shirts were mandatory shirt wear during second half warmups last night. 
So about that name and logo.

Really? The Capital City Go-Go???

OK, first, let me say I appreciate the effort to do something different. Of the 26 teams currently in the G League, 11 of them have nicknames that match their parent franchise (I'm counting the Iowa Wolves in this number) which is both unimaginative and sad. The best names in the G League are the ones that existed before single affiliation was a concept. The Maine Red Claws, Rio Grande Valley Vipers, Fort Wayne Mad Ants and Reno Bighorns are all awesome names. The Capital City Go-Go certainly matches the spirit of these names, just like the Memphis Hustle did when that franchise began playing this year.

I also appreciate the effort to create a name that's place specific instead of generic. Warriors can come from anywhere, as can Wolves, Raptors and Stars. There's no place else that Go-Go (named after D.C.'s own go-go style of music) can come from.

So what's my problem, you might ask? Well, there are a few issues. First, I object to the Capital City moniker. I am going to think of The Simpsons every time I read or hear that. In case you are not a Simpsons fanatic, in one episode Homer self-appointed himself the mascot of the local minor league baseball team the Springfield Isotopes and was so successful that he got sent to Capital City to pinch-mascot for the world-famous Capital City Goofball. Of course, he failed. I like Capital. Just not Capital City. I've had Tony Bennett in my head all day singing the Capital City song from The Simpsons. Hate that!

Second of all, it's not really very sports-y. It used to be mascots were concrete things like Orioles or Cowboys or Jets or Hawks or something like that. I get that some teams have appropriated more abstract concepts like weather (Heat or Lightning) but now we are dealing with sounds? I guess the Jazz is the same way. And how is the name going to roll off the tongue when the team's on the court? Are we going to chant "Let's go Go-Go!"???

Finally, and the biggest reason really, is that nobody outside of D.C. is going to get it. On one level, I love that. It's like an inside joke that everyone is in on except people not from the District. On the other hand, nobody really cares about the G League nationally and it's going to be ultra-confusing to explain to other people what my Capital City Go-Go shirt means. It's just going to bring up endless questions. 

Some nicknames have hidden meanings: I love how the Charlotte Hornets name references a quote from Lord Cornwallis during the Revolutionary War. But the great thing about the hornets name is it works whether or not you understand the hidden meaning. The Memphis Hustle is another name with multiple levels of meaning. The Go-Go name is just confusing and there's no hidden meaning although until it's explained, nobody's going to get it on any level.

And then there are the logos. We got three last night. The (what I assume will be) primary logo at the top of this post, a partial version of that same logo with just the bongo drum with basketball patterned drum head and then the alternate logo which features a note with three stars over a silhouette of the District of Columbia.

I think the primary logo is fine. I'm not crazy about the "Capital City" font but other than that I am pretty ambivalent about the whole design. My biggest objection is the name itself. Because the name makes up most of this logo, I can't imagine I'm ever going to be purchasing any apparel with this logo on it.

I actually like the secondary logo a lot. I don't like the red background but if the team sells shirts with this logo on it that are not red, I could see myself owning one or two of these things. It represents the District way more than the name itself. I'm surprised, and actually refreshingly so, that the team didn't make basketballs out of the circles on the note. Basketball logo designers have a way of turning every circle on a design into a basketball. Not doing that here was a good move.

I'm not sure I have the answer to what I wanted here. I wrote a post last year on this blog where I wondered what the name of the team would be. My answer was Capital Bullets, although I really liked my Ward 8 Wizards suggestion better over time. My answer was non-creative. The Capital City Go-Go is way more creative. But I just don't like it. Maybe I'll warm to it over time. I expected today that I'd be hunting around on the internet to see where I could find a t-shirt with the new team's logo on it. I haven't done that and I don't think I'm going to do it any time soon. I'm disappointed here. I get it. But I don't get it. Oh well.

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