The dust has settled a bit on the bomb the White Sox dropped last week, the news that the corporately named U.S. Cellular Field would be called the horribly generic Guaranteed Rate Field starting in November.
It stirred up all sorts of emotions in Sox fans, with homicidal anger defeating can’t-get-out-of-bed depression 58 percent to 42 percent in final polling.
Clearly, few people are going to call the ballpark Guaranteed Rate Field for any of the next 13 years, which is how long Guaranteed Rate, a mortgage company, will have naming rights to the stadium. It’s a clumsy, lumbering name that, if it were a hand, would be all thumbs. It’s a ballpark name that honors Fred, the loan processor, a lot more than it does Frank, the magnificent hitter.
So what to call it? Many of you have suggested nicknames, and the one that keeps coming up is The Grate, not to be confused in any way with The Great. A grate, readers pointed out, is pretty much a drain, which is what the flailing Sox have been going down for a while. Guaranteed Rate’s logo is an arrow pointing down, so that would fit the theme. What says “We’re going places!” more than an arrow directing you to the earth’s core? A grate also holds wood in a fireplace, so anything having to do with ashes works here as well.
A member of the U.S. Cellular Field grounds crew prepares for a recent game. The park will become known as Guaranteed Rate Field in November. The White Sox and the mortgage company announced a 13-year naming-rights deal last week. (AP Photo/Charles Rex Arbogast)
It’s a good nickname. I would have no problem calling it that in print. My concern is that, as time goes by, we’ll lose sight of why we’re referring to it as The Grate. It will lose some of its punitive nastiness. True, maybe that’s not such a bad thing. No reason to punish yourself over and over again by reliving the horror of the unveiling of the name Guaranteed Rate Field.
And yet, are we going to let the White Sox get away with foisting this atrocity upon an already bruised and battered fan base? There has to be some sort of reckoning. As one reader wrote of the name change last week: “Seriously? Do the Sox walk around saying, ‘Everybody ELSE is crazy’?’’ Mountains of evidence suggest that the answer is yes.
I’ve received lots of wonderful name suggestions for the park from Sox fans. Space prevents me from including all of them, but here’s a sampling:
— “M-in-M Park, after general manager Rick Hahn’s declaration before the trade deadline that the Sox were ‘mired in mediocrity.’ ”
— “Gar-Field, because Garfield is a world-renowned comic fat cat.’’
— “The Rate – not that I like it or anything. Fourth-Place Field must have already been taken.’’
— “Guaranteed Fourth-Place Field.’’
— “Cut Rate … Low Rate … screw it, it’s still Comiskey.’’
— “The affectionate fan name for Guaranteed Rate Field could be the first five letters, Guara, which is Spanish for a pile or a heap.’’
— “Jerry Reinsdorf Park has a certain appeal, but (the Sox chairman) would have to pay for it himself and we know Jerry is always looking for somebody else to foot his bill.’’
— “How about Greed Field?’’
— “How about One and Done Field?”
Good stuff, all of it. But the best suggestion came from reader Mike, who wrote, “They could call the stadium 0% Interest because that’s what the fan base is becoming.’’
Zero Interest Field. A name that ties in both the mortgage industry and the dull product the team continues to impose on increasingly uninterested fans. Brilliant.
Or better yet, as a friend suggested, Zero Interest Park — the Zip, for short.
I know the likelihood of fans calling the park The Zip are, well, zero. The name is too far removed from Guaranteed Rate Field, and it would be torturous to explain to people how we got from there to here. But isn’t that the perfect nickname for this moribund franchise’s ballpark?
When the Sox signed over naming rights to U.S. Cellular in 2003, plenty of traditionalists ignored the news and continued calling the place Comiskey Park. The change to Guaranteed Rate Field certainly won’t make those fans go soft on their loyalty to Comiskey now.
I don’t know what I’m going to call the ballpark on a regular basis, but I know what I won’t be calling it. If a newspaper column were a three-lane road, the inclusion of clunky Guaranteed Rate Field in it would be a stalled car, hood up, slowing traffic.
For now, I’m going with Zero Interest Park. The arrow is pointing up on that name.