By Jim Caple
Page 2

Editor's Note: Considering one of the team names already in use in our nation's capital -- the Redskins -- and the direction in which corporate sports sponsorships is heading, the possibilities for re-naming the Expos when they move to Washington, D.C. are almost too frightening to imagine. But we did, anyway.

What would the news story read like if the same people who refuse to change the name of Washington's football team were in charge of naming the Expos? Page 2 prepares for the worst ...

In what would be a dramatic -- and controversial -- development in naming rights and corporate sponsorship, Page 2 spies have learned that when the Montreal Expos begin play in Washington, D.C. next season, baseball plans to rename them the Washington Hebrew Nationals.

"This represents an exciting new venture for baseball, as well as for the nation's best maker of hot dogs,'' a Washington D.C. insider told Page 2 under conditions of strict confidentiality. "It's about time baseball learned to market itself better. And what better way than to take a page from their NFL brethren. They'll pay homage to an important minority group, just like we here in Washington honor Native Americans by calling our team the Redskins. Isn't that what D.C. and the NFL do for Native Americans every time the Redskins take the field?''

It had been widely speculated that baseball would choose "The Nationals'' as the Expos' new name over a long list of possibilities.

"First,'' the source said, "baseball considered naming them the Washington-Ottawa Senators, and having them play in Ottawa until the new stadium is built in D.C. But we told them that if no one was going to see the Expos play in Montreal, who would go see them in Ottawa? Then, they were real excited about naming them the Washington AC/DCs, figuring it would help bring a lot of young rockers into our fan base. We had to point out that there were some sexual connotations to it, and they dropped that pretty name pretty quickly.

"They also considered the Washington Generals, the Washington Monuments and the Washington Posts, but none of them really grabbed us. Then someone suggested the Washington Nationals, and we couldn't talk them out of it.''

A fateful lunch break, however, sparked another name.

"A couple of us were talking about the new name when we stopped to buy a couple hot dogs from a pushcart,'' the source said. "We saw the name on the package -- Hebrew Nationals -- and it was like a light bulb went off in all our heads at the same time. It's a natural. Nothing is more traditional to baseball than hot dogs. The promotional opportunities are virtually limitless.

"I mean, Rickey Henderson would be a natural fit as the country's foremost hot dog. And players would be encouraged to grow their hair and beards like Johnny Damon to give them that 'Old Testament' look.''

Under terms of the agreement, the source said Hebrew National will pay baseball an undisclosed sum each season to have its name on the team. Baseball, in turn, will sell only Hebrew National hot dogs at all 30 stadiums.

"And that's not the end of it,'' the source said. "They're already taking bids from Heinz, French's and Poupon-Dijon to be the team's official ketchup, mustard and relish.''

Asked whether the name might be considered offensive to people of the Jewish faith, the source acknowledged that a handful of fans might be bothered.

"So we asked an African-American, a European, a Buddhist and a Republican politician, because they speak for everyone," he said. "And they all agreed 'Hebrew Nationals' was fun. I'm not Jewish myself, but actually, I think it's about time. For decades, the Catholics have been represented by the San Diego Padres and, to a lesser degree, by the Anaheim Angels and the St. Louis and Phoenix Cardinals. It's time we extend this equal opportunity to our fans of the Jewish faith.''

"Off the record,'' the source added, "when you think about the name of our football team, I don't see what the big deal about this could be. I mean, c'mon. As long as we share the town with a team that offends as many as the Redskins do -- and I'm not talking about football -- the Hebrew Nationals can safely fly under the radar. But we've got time, and we can come up with names that are much more questionable, believe me.''

Jim Caple is a senior writer for ESPN.com




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