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What is the toughest team in MLB by their nickname?

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Picking the winners would be easier if every team were their nickname.

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Photo by Heidi Gutman/ABC via Getty Images

One of the things that I’m known for is taking minor league nicknames literally, or at least punning off of them. So it got me to thinking that I’m never going to make the big time mocking the Ft. Wayne TinCaps. If I want to see the bright lights of Broadway, I’m going to have to start mocking major league teams. So here I present my first-ever power rankings of all 30 MLB nicknames. Some teams have names that represent strength and power. Others choose to identify with laundry. So if every team were their nickname, who would win in a fight?

MLB Nickname Power Rankings

30. White Sox

They’re socks. Their biggest threat is that they might clog up your dryer and start a fire, thus burning themselves to death in this suicide run.

29. Red Sox

Same, except with the added threat of running in the wash and ruining your white socks.

28. Reds

Here we have the first definitional problem. What is a Red? If they mean the Soviet Union and Red China in the Cold War, then they’re a tough enemy. But the team made very clear in the 1950s that they weren’t that. So they’re just a color. Not sure how you can ever defeat a color, but I’m not sure how it ever beats you either.

27. Orioles

Here are the songbirds. I’m not an ornithologist, so I don’t really know which of these tweety birds would win in a fight. But I do know the oriole got “out-bopped” by the Rockin’ Robin, so they’re last.

26. Cardinals

They look bigger than orioles to me.

25. Blue Jays

I’ve seen blue jays in my backyard, and they always win fights with the other birds. They’re pretty nasty for something so tiny.

24. Rays

They let little kids pet them in zoos.

23. Cubs

Bears are godless killing machines without a soul. But like all mammals, they are born cute, cuddly and adorable. Also fairly helpless until they get taught how to rip a man to shreds with their bare paws.

22. Mets

The first of the “people” nicknames and one of the many that are hard to define. As far as I can tell, “Mets” is short for “Metropolitans” which is just a 19th-century word for someone who lives in a city. So they’re Victorian-era hipsters. No one need fear these foppish dandies.

21. Marlins

Marlins are huge fish with a long, sharp bill that can spear you. The lead character in Ernest Hemingway’s The Old Man and the Sea spent three days reeling one in. They are a formidable foe in the water, but like all fish, are hopeless on dry land. That’s pretty fitting, since the Miami Marlins are pretty hopeless on dry land as well.

20. Diamondbacks

Here it is clear that the team is referring to the Western Diamondback Rattlesnake, which is a poisonous viper whose bite can kill if left untreated. Like the Arizona Diamondbacks, they go into a period of hibernation when October comes around, not waking up until March. They’d rank higher, except they are the only thing on this list that could literally be defeated by a white sock if they managed to slither into one.

19. Twins

Oooh! There’s two of them! One represents Minneapolis and one represents St. Paul. They don’t even have an “evil twin” to do their dirty work—it’s just different degrees of “Minnesota nice.” They might kill you by having you try their pot-luck casserole, but if you just eat the food you brought yourself, you’ll be fine.

18. Nationals

I’m not exactly sure what exactly a “National” is supposed to be. The Cubs were often called the “Chicago Nationals” early in their history and the name has been a generic nickname for any team playing in the National League. So they’re baseball players? Are they just American citizens? Who knows? It could be worse as “Expos” would rank a lot lower.

17. Athletics

All they need to do is get the enemy to run a 5,000 meter race with them and there’s a chance that they’ll drop dead of a heart attack. I suppose they could throw a discus at them, but they’d always just miss the Dodgers.

16. Dodgers

I suppose they would be tough to catch. It’s a shortened version of their earlier nickname “Trolley Dodgers,” which would make them especially pointless outside of some tourist areas of San Francisco.

15. Indians

You’d be tempted to think they’d rank higher, considering the stories of bravery and their ability to use nature to their advantage. But history shows that they pretty much got wiped off the map by the Nationals. They’re lucky they rank this high.

14. Braves

Same as the Indians, but without all those pesky women and children bringing down their ferociousness. They also get ranked higher for finishing off “Chief Noc-A-Homa” whereas Cleveland stubbornly clings to the image of “Chief Wahoo.” Do you think that drunken stereotype is a threat to anything other than an entire people’s dignity?

13. Brewers

In the old days, Brewers were big, burly Germans who could could arm wrestle you in a bar. But the craft brewing revolution in America has turned Brewers into former hedge fund managers and Silicon Valley tech executives who have cashed out their stock options to “pursue their passion.” Not terribly threatening, but never underestimate the man with the alcohol. It’s why they rank ahead of the Indians and Braves.

12. Mariners

Obviously the mortal enemy of the Marlins, Mariners spend most of their time in the water which is not optimal for baseball players. But at least they can go on shore, drink beer and get into bar fights. Beer is like mother’s milk to these roustabouts, so they can handle Milwaukee for stealing the Pilots from them.

11. Pirates

Like Mariners, but more vicious. The team also makes it clear they are referring to 18th century Pirates armed with flintlock pistols and cutlasses rather than modern pirates with AK-47s, so they can’t hang with the top ten. But you can do a lot of damage with those cutlasses. They also have an anthropomorphic seven-foot-tall parrot who, ironically, can’t talk.

10. Padres

You’d think these brothers of God would rank a lot lower, since they claim to serve the Prince of Peace. But who do you think wiped out most of the Indians and Braves from New Spain and forced the rest into slavery? They’ve got some serious genocide on their hands, these Padres.

9. Tigers

It’s a tiger, which is nature’s killing machine. Just ask William Blake. It will eat you alive if it gets its teeth on you. You’ve got no chance against it unless you’ve got a gun.

8. Phillies

As far as I can tell, a “Phillie” is just someone who lives in Philadelphia. So my initial inclination was to rank them quite low. Then I remembered “They blew up the Chicken Man in Philly last night and they blew up his house too.” People from Philadelphia can be vicious. Don’t owe them money.

7. Astros

They would clearly rank higher as “Colt .45’s,” but then again they would clearly be banned from all major league ballparks in that case. “Astros” refers to not just astronauts, but the entire space program. They’d have a lot of toys at their disposal, including the deadly ray gun that the government doesn’t want you to know about. They still can’t take it into a ballpark though.

6. Royals

On the plus side, they’ve got an entire army and navy at their disposal. On the down side, those armies and navies have been known to pick a different group of Royals if the current ones don’t treat them well. By themselves, they’re pretty hopeless. So they rank this high as long as the money keeps flowing in.

5. Rangers

They’re lawmen. They’ve got guns. They’ve got Chuck Norris. Don’t mess with Texas.

4. Angels

So what are we talking about here? Are we talking about the bumbling Clarence Odbody from It’s a Wonderful Life who ran at the first sign of a bar fight? Or are we talking about the Archangel Michael from Paradise Lost who leads God’s mighty army or Gabriel who blows his horn to bring forth doomsday? The latter would rank #1 on this list. Clarence probably would be befuddled by a sock. The Angels themselves are pretty agnostic on this point, preferring to represent themselves with a capuchin monkey instead. So I’m splitting the difference and putting them here. We do know the Angels have no problem with their namesakes helping them cheat, however.

3. Giants

Again, what are we talking about here? There are giants in pretty much every mythology in human culture, and they all have slightly different characteristics. Are we talking about a gentle 8-foot tall being? Or the attack of the 50-foot woman? The Giants themselves are pretty silent on this, preferring to be represented by the letters “SF” or a script “Giants.” (Or a seal in sunglasses.) But in this cartoon from the 1960s (and every ball club had to be represented by a cartoon in the sixties), a baseball player is seen easily striding over the Golden Gate Bridge. Armed with a club that easily measures half a mile long based on that drawing, if I see one of those creatures, I’m heading in the other direction.

2. Yankees

The term “Yankee” has two meanings in America, meaning both “Northerners” and just a generic “American.” If the Yankees mean the former, then they mean General William T. Sherman marching through Georgia and setting the place ablaze. If they mean the latter, then they’ve got tanks, atomic submarines, B-52s and nuclear weapons. Either way, they mean business.

1. Rockies

They’re millions of years old. There are thousands of them. Some of them are three miles tall. You aren’t going to defeat them. Sure, maybe you could cut the top off one, but that would take decades and it would be like taking a bucket of water out of the ocean. They aren’t all defense either. They can kill you with a rock slide or avalanche. Also volcanoes. Sure, none of them have erupted in a few thousand years, but eventually they’re going to get you. When the Yellowstone supervolcano goes off sometime in the next 400,000 years, it’s going to destroy two-thirds of North America.

Bottom line is that the Rockies are the best team in baseball. At least according to their nickname.