Hopes for Isotopes part of Homeric quest


Don't have a cow, man, but when the Triple-A Calgary Cannons move to Albuquerque, N.M., next season, they'll be getting a new nickname.

It might be the 66ers, Atoms, Dukes or Roadrunners. Those are four of the candidates voted on in a recent Albuquerque Tribune Internet poll. The runaway reader favorite, though, is the Isotopes.

The nickname comes from a March 2001 episode of The Simpsons in which Homer, our favorite baseball-loving cartoon doofus, learns of a plot to move his favorite minor-league team, the Springfield Isotopes, to Albuquerque and protests with a hunger strike that makes him delirious.

Isotopes, for those of you who skipped out on high school chemistry, are one of two or more atoms having the same atomic number but different mass numbers.

It fits when you consider that the Los Alamos National Laboratory isn't far from Albuquerque and that the government's Sandia National Laboratories are right in town.

Still, Mayor Martin Chavez is not amused.

"I love Bart Simpson. I'm a Simpsons fan. But the team name is fundamental to how we see ourselves and how others see us," he said.

Mike Scully, the producer/writer who created the fictitious Isotopes, sees Albuquerque as a quirky name.

"We wanted a city famous for its minor-league baseball. And it came down to Pawtucket [R.I.] and Albuquerque," Scully said. "For comedy-writing purposes, it's a great name. Albuquerque would be right up there with Kalamazoo [Mich.] and those types of places. It just has a great sound to it."

Added Scully: "I think the mayor should definitely be impeached immediately."

The Simpsons episode ends with the Albuquerque mayor realizing the Isotopes aren't moving to New Mexico. He turns to an assistant and tells her to "see what Dallas wants for the Cowboys."

When she tells him the Cowboys play football, he yells, "They'll play what I tell them to play, for I am the mayor of Albuquerque!"

Ay caramba!

It turns out there already was a team named the Albuquerque Isotopes -- a coed softball squad in Ottawa, of all places.

It was the brainchild of 25-year-old Simpsons fan Travis Allen.

"I think I saw a rerun of the episode maybe a couple of weeks before I put the team in, and said, 'Why not?' " he recalled.

Area of interest

The Triple-A team in Las Vegas is called the Area 51s, a name inspired by the semi-secret military base 120 miles northwest of the city, which, legend holds, houses aliens and their spaceships.

The 51s' logo has an alien head. The mascot is named Cosmo.

No Wazzu? Whyzat?

Sales of Washington State merchandise bearing the "Wazzu" nickname have nearly doubled since school officials announced that they wanted to purge the word from T-shirts, coffee mugs and other school-related products.

WSU president V. Lane Rawlins said in April that the nickname is derogatory and plays to the perception that students favor booze over books. Indeed, a 1999 poll declared Washington State the No. 9 party school in the nation.

Seattle Post-Intelligencer columnist Robert L. Jamieson takes issue with eradicating the nickname, saying Wazzu is an endearing term and the "sound people make when they say 'WSU' as if they had a mouthful of marbles."

School officials, he wrote, have found a way to "Coug it. That phrase, you might recall, became popular years ago when the WSU Cougars found amazing ways to lose football games they'd had in hand."

One thing has not changed: People still will be able to buy Wazzuopoly, the university's version of the popular board game Monopoly.

Compiled from wire reports and Web sites.

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