From meme to team.
The Staten Island Yankees will take the field as the Staten Island Pizza Rats during five Saturday night home games this season, the team announced Monday.
In a series of social media posts, the Yankees’ short-season single-A affiliate showed off two navy caps with new logos and the “Pizza Rats” wordmark. One cap features a snarling rat juxtaposed onto a slice of pizza; the second, a logo that riffs on the old subway token’s “NYC” design, with a slice of pizza in place of the Y.
“We’re going to have some fun with this brand at the ballpark in 2018,” Yankees president Will Smith said in a statement. “Of the five finalists, this was always an intriguing direction. I understand it’s polarizing when heard for the first time. We believe these designs define a new brand that has something for everyone.”
The promotion was the culmination of past efforts to completely rebrand the team. In the fall of 2016, the team announced an online poll to allow fans to choose from five new names. In addition to the Pizza Rats, the team pitched the Bridge Trolls, Rock Pigeons, Heroes and Killer Bees — the latter an homage to the rap group Wu-Tang Clan.
The new look features a total of five logos, including a rat running while lugging a slice over its shoulder and the Yankees’ more familiar interlocking “SI” logo that includes a bat and a slice. The home uniforms are white with navy pinstripes, with the red “Pizza Rat” wordmark running across the chest.
Some fans weren’t onboard with any of the proposed names in 2016, and there was still some distaste among elected officials Monday.
Borough President James Oddo — an ardent Mets fan — called the idea “dopey” in a statement, saying it was “further evidence that the minor league baseball rebranding craze has long since ‘jumped the Rumble Pony’.
“I bear no affinity for that organization with the interlocking ‘N’ and ‘Y,’ but if you are walking away from the arms of the most recognizable brand in professional sports, it has to be better than a rodent dragging a fresh mozzy spread across a thin crust,” Oddo said. “For 50 bucks and a bottle of Jim Beam, in 12 hours my fantasy baseball buddies and I could have come back with something much better than this.”
City Councilwoman Debi Rose tweeted that the team “went from iconic to bubonic,” and pointed out that the borough is not served by the MTA’s subway system.
The Staten Island Pizza Rats will debut on June 23 against the Abderdeen IronBirds. They will reemerge from the subway tunnels for games on July 7, 14, 21 and Aug. 4.