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The return of professional baseball in London, Ontario is off to a controversial start.  The London Rippers will begin play in the independent Frontier League in 2012.  The nickname was introduced Tuesday and its likeness to serial killer Jack The Ripper is drawing plenty of criticism.   London City Council has asked the club to reconsider its moniker.



The new logo for the London Rippers of the Frontier League.

Word of professional baseball returning to London began circulating in September.  It's not the first go-around for independent ball in London.  The London Werewolves were Frontier League members from 1999 to 2001 and won the league title in its first season.  Their mascot was Warren Z. Vaughn, get it?  Before the Werewolves, London hosted Detroit's Double-A affiliate, the London Tigers, from 1989 to 1993, winning the Eastern League title in 1990.  Also, there was the London Monarchs of the independent Canadian Baseball League in 2003 but the league folded before the year was out.  Former K.C. Royal Willie Wilson managed the club, who played the first league game against Montreal before 7,000 fans at Labatt Park but averaged 500 butts in the seats before going out of business.

The new London franchise, formerly the Oakland County Cruisers out of Waterford, Michigan, will play at the award winning Labatt Park next season.
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Helpmates - Wednesday, November 16 2011 @ 01:00 PM EST (#246731) #
Whoa...beyond horrible.
BlueJayWay - Wednesday, November 16 2011 @ 01:26 PM EST (#246732) #
Oooh I love that name.  Unfortunately it probably won't stick.
Mike Green - Wednesday, November 16 2011 @ 01:30 PM EST (#246733) #
The Angels have gone from being Los Angeles Angels to California to Anaheim to Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim.  I guess the next step is "Charlie's" with a picture of Manson on their logo.  To the marketers in London, Ontario, I have one word.  Fail.

You might be able to do something ironic with a picture of Ripper Collins (who was 5'9" and 165, but hit homers) and get away with it.  But this?

92-93 - Wednesday, November 16 2011 @ 01:48 PM EST (#246734) #
Ingenious marketing. Nobody would have a clue such a team exists without this.
rpriske - Wednesday, November 16 2011 @ 01:59 PM EST (#246735) #
I don't see the problem.
Chuck - Wednesday, November 16 2011 @ 02:16 PM EST (#246736) #

From the article:

"But team president and general manager David Martin was unapologetic, saying the name, Rippers, is a common baseball term that speaks to the bat prowess of the cartoon character they've created as part of a marketing strategy"

Does that pass the sniff test?

Clever marketing or not, I wouldn't bet on a long stay in London. This town failed to support the Tigers' AA team in the early 90's, and the Tigers are terrifically popular here. And every two-bit team from every two-bit league that has come since has not been able to make a go of it. And that's even with the wonderful Labatt Park in the equation.

smcs - Wednesday, November 16 2011 @ 02:27 PM EST (#246738) #
Does that pass the sniff test?

Not when you name the mascot Diamond Jack.
rpriske - Wednesday, November 16 2011 @ 02:32 PM EST (#246739) #
I have now spoken with someone who is offended by it, and I have seen some more of thier ad copy. Now I see the problem. Bad idea.
Dewey - Wednesday, November 16 2011 @ 02:53 PM EST (#246740) #
Dumb.  Just flat-out dumb.  Unless youíre nine years old, I suppose; and are a historical illiterate.   Dumb, dumb, dumb.

Maybe theyíll try a Stranglers franchise in Boston next.   Thatíd be cool.
DLyons - Wednesday, November 16 2011 @ 04:00 PM EST (#246747) #
It doesn't pass the sniff test when the guy is obviously dressed in 19th century clothing and looks menacing. Add in that his name is Jack, the team name is the Rippers and you have a terrible marketing strategy. It's actually quite disgusting, especially given the fact that Jack the Ripper killed and mutilated women.
adrianveidt - Wednesday, November 16 2011 @ 04:39 PM EST (#246749) #
This trivializes the Whitechapel Murders and is an insult to the victims, to say the very least. If you don't currently have a problem with this, go read all the grisly details of the murder of Mary Kelly.
braden - Wednesday, November 16 2011 @ 04:56 PM EST (#246750) #
Too soon.
Timbuck2 - Wednesday, November 16 2011 @ 05:07 PM EST (#246751) #
Is there no longer ANY respect left in this world?  Last week people were protesting Remembrance day and stealing poppy boxes... 

This week we have we have what may be the  most horrific name I've ever seen for a team!  May as well name them the "Unabombers" or "Sons of Sam".  My gosh the Cleveland Indians almost look politically correct next to this....



TimberLee - Wednesday, November 16 2011 @ 07:02 PM EST (#246754) #
Not only all that, but isn't it a bit of an insult to the city of London to choose a mascot based on its connection to another city that has the same name?  Whatever, it's certainly unsavoury and insensitive.  Maybe someone thinks "the ripper" was just a movie character (?).
scottt - Wednesday, November 16 2011 @ 07:22 PM EST (#246755) #
That's right up there with the Liberty City Swingers.
Chuck - Wednesday, November 16 2011 @ 07:56 PM EST (#246756) #

Not only all that, but isn't it a bit of an insult to the city of London to choose a mascot based on its connection to another city that has the same name? 

Many things in London reflect the original city of the same name: the Thames River, White Oaks, Jalna, Wellington, etc. So I don't think it's necessarily offensive to use connections to the original city when naming teams. It's been done before and no one took offense then. In fact, the whole Warren Zevon connection was considered kind of cool.

Mike Green - Wednesday, November 16 2011 @ 08:29 PM EST (#246757) #
The Werewolves of London would have worked for me as a name for a club.
ayjackson - Wednesday, November 16 2011 @ 09:05 PM EST (#246758) #

Too soon

Apparently.  Too bad there isn't a Gilbert and Sullivan version of Jack The Ripper like there is of Pirates.  Because nobody's offended by Pirates.  Let's celebrate their legacy of rape and pillage instead.

Beyonder - Wednesday, November 16 2011 @ 09:35 PM EST (#246759) #
Finally, someone with a sense of humor. Isn't the outrage about a 100 year old crime spree that has already been sensationalized in every other conceivable way, a trifle overblown?
smcs - Wednesday, November 16 2011 @ 09:49 PM EST (#246760) #
Too bad there isn't a Gilbert and Sullivan version of Jack The Ripper like there is of Pirates.

Spinal Tap never had the chance to finish "Saucy Jack."
adrianveidt - Thursday, November 17 2011 @ 12:08 AM EST (#246763) #
"Pirate" is a generalized term covering a lot more ground than Jack the Ripper. That term refers to the Whitechapel murders specifically.

The pirates in the G&S opera are not the bloodthirsty ones you credit with "rape & pillage". Enjoying that opera does not constitute celebrating horrendous crimes.

Ask Mary Ann Nichols, Annie Chapman, Elizabeth Stride, Catherine Eddowes, and Mary Kelly if this nickname is OK with them. If they say it's fine, then I'm OK with it too.
rpriske - Thursday, November 17 2011 @ 09:13 AM EST (#246765) #

The age of the crime is why I thought there was no problem. I grew up with Jack the Ripper as a CHARACTER, almost like Frankenstein or Dracula.

 

The reason I changed my view is that I spoke to someone who said that the symbolism of someone who specifically murdered women transcends the act itself. I understand this. Much in the same way the Polytechnique massacre symbolizes violence against women.

 

THEN, they claim it has no connection with Jack the Ripper, proving themselves both liars and by makign that claim acknowledge that it isn't appropriate to use Jack the Ripper incongraphy in this context.

 

All-around lose.

Mike Green - Thursday, November 17 2011 @ 09:46 AM EST (#246767) #
George Carlin on Muhammad Ali's decision to not serve in Vietnam (paraphrased):
"You've got to draw the line somewhere.  I beat people up, but killing them is going too far."

Omar Little:
"A man's gotta have a code."

I have robust standards, but glorifying serial killers (free-lance or political) falls outside that line. Minor league baseball is the strangest place to attempt to test the limits of it.  It reminds me of the final scene in Traffic when Benicio del Toro's character (damn I forget his name) goes to a baseball game after all the madness of the drug wars, and it feels as if he has found some temporary sanctuary.

Beyonder - Thursday, November 17 2011 @ 10:03 AM EST (#246774) #

I think your "temporary sanctuary" comment is a good insight, and is the way many of us feel about sports. 

I'm just saying that the only reason "Jack the Ripper" occupies a mental bookmark in any of our conciousnesses today, is because "he" has been sensationalized and commercialized beyond recognition.  In contrast, no one will be talking about Robert Picton a hundred years from now.  I think it's a bit too late to take the position that we shouldn't sensationalize or glorify Jack the Ripper.  Horse has long left barn.  

 

ayjackson - Thursday, November 17 2011 @ 10:22 AM EST (#246776) #

You've got to draw the line somewhere.

I agree with this statement.  Taking offense to a cartoon of Jack the Ripper seems to cross it to me.  I don't consider this to be a glorification of violence against women.

It's just a gut feel though.  I can be convinced otherwise.

Mike Green - Thursday, November 17 2011 @ 10:42 AM EST (#246779) #
The combination of the team name and the cartoon makes it clear that the team is being named after him.  Manson is probably the best example.  It is one thing for Marilyn Manson to use the name in the rock and roll context for the purpose of shock, which is part of what rock and roll does.  Baseball is not like that. Or at least it hasn't been, and that has been part of its charm.
Beyonder - Thursday, November 17 2011 @ 10:54 AM EST (#246780) #

I don't think any one on this board disagrees with you that the team is being named after him.  Anyway, if your position is "we shouldn't glorify a serial killer of women", it should apply in all contexts -- not just baseball.  A "code" that you can glorify a killer for the purposes of shock, but not in the context of baseball, is a strange one. 

I think those of us who disagree/don't care do so because for us, Jack the Ripper is not much more than a cartoon character.  The one I am most familiar with is the version that fought Batman.

Chuck - Thursday, November 17 2011 @ 11:48 AM EST (#246785) #

A "code" that you can glorify a killer for the purposes of shock, but not in the context of baseball, is a strange one.

Rock music is, ostensibly, counter-culture. Of course it's really been long ago consumed by corporate America and only now plays at being counter-culture, but nevertheless, Marilyn Manson is an "artist" commenting on the world in a "provocative" way. Doing so is, ostensibly, the role of an artist in society.

When professional sports plays at being counter-culture, it is always for thinly veiled marketing purposes. Whether it's the outre world of (heavily corporately sponsored) X-Games or a junior hockey team calling itself the Hitmen or a pissass baseball team calling itself the Rippers, the ambition is not to be provocative in any artistic sense, but to be controversial to get attention and generate revenue. Yes, Marilyn Manson's behaviour is likely fueled by those very same motives, but he, at least, can purport to be an artist fulfilling an artist's role. That posture, however dubious, would stand up in court.

The owner of the Rippers is not even pretending to be intentionally provoking a discussion that questions the merits of a long-ago dead murderer being appropriated for modern day use as a mascot. He is not pretending to wear an artist's hat to suggest, perhaps, that a statute of limitations of sorts has expired and that the historical figure, having been superceded by numerous fictionalized versions, is no longer a figure of any real stature. Rather, he has concocted an "alibi" that is so clearly disengenuous that it implies that he's not comortable defending his decision with integrity.

Like many issues discussed on these boards, I'd be surprised if this one doesn't also find itself with age as the biggest determinant of a person's opinion.

Dewey - Thursday, November 17 2011 @ 11:49 AM EST (#246787) #
The London Pictons.   How would that fly?

 There  are a lot of people on baseball blogs who seem to have difficulty distinguishing between fantasy/comics/videos, video-games, etc and actuality.  I find that truly frightening.  Frankenstein and Dracula and Batman are fictional characters, for bleepís sake.  Havenít hurt a soul.  Would someone name a ball team after Marc Lepine? (who, in my view, symbolizes nothing:  he was simply a very sad, very sick man.  He in no way represented the male sex or some such generalization.)

 And I donít get why the fact that the ripperís crimes are old ones changes anything.  Has Attila the Hun become warm and fuzzy, or amusing, over the centuries?   If so, how so?  A hundred years from now will Stalin and Hitler seem pretty good guys?  In the comics?  A lot of very muddled Ďargumentsí here. 

ayj,  people arenít offended by the cartoon in itself, but by what is represented by the figure it depicts.  London is my home town, and I donít want it to be represented by a ball team named after Jack the Ripper, no matter how many cartoons one has seen, or how trivialized the historical personage has become in pop media.

And, finally, yes I do have a sense of humour.  It's just that there's none here.   None, none, none.
Jevant - Thursday, November 17 2011 @ 11:49 AM EST (#246788) #
As a Londoner, my opinion on this was initially "Really?  Kinda weird, but what's the big deal?"

Upon looking into a bit further, I think it is a mistake and a bad idea.  Despite the fact it's 100 years after the murders, it just doesn't look good, and maybe most importantly, is entirely unnecessary.

92-93 - Thursday, November 17 2011 @ 12:07 PM EST (#246790) #
Kids these days.
limeyjaysfan - Thursday, November 17 2011 @ 12:38 PM EST (#246791) #
Hi everyone,

I've been reading here for the past season or so, but this made me want to sign up and send over my thoughts...

I'm English and live in London (UK) (my wife thinks I'm the biggest Jays fan here in the UK, though I'm sure that's open to debate!) and I have been on the Jack the Ripper tour... they have photos of some of the victims and take you to the places where they found the bodies or where the buildings used to be.

Jack the Ripper was a crazy psychopath who sliced up women for his own perverse pleasure. I wasn't able to look at the photos, though I'm sure many of your have now found them on line.

Do you really want to make a team in his honour and have families with children come and watch the game decked out in Ripper merchandise?

I'm sorry but I can't understand how that could be a good idea.
ayjackson - Thursday, November 17 2011 @ 12:39 PM EST (#246792) #

ayj,  people arenít offended by the cartoon in itself, but by what is represented by the figure it depicts.

I don't think the intent was to name the team after a serial killer, but to name the team "Rippers".  Rippers is not synonomous with "Jack".   They then chose a cartoon logo that they thought might have some appeal and generate revenue.  I can see how this is problematic as it makes the connection. 

I think I just am a bit offended by society's sensitivities.  It's probably the only thing that offends me.

Chuck, at what age can I expect to take offense to things like this?  Maybe it's a level ofwisdom that I'll never achieve? 

I'm 41.

ayjackson - Thursday, November 17 2011 @ 12:42 PM EST (#246793) #

It's probably the only thing that offends me.

I'm also adverse to groupthink, which is why I probably made the comment in the first place.  It's been a good discussion, though.

James W - Thursday, November 17 2011 @ 01:18 PM EST (#246796) #
The Calgary Hitmen are so named because they're (partially?) owned by a man whose nickname is "The Hitman". I wouldn't classify that as an attempt to be counter-culture or controversial in any way.
Beyonder - Thursday, November 17 2011 @ 01:25 PM EST (#246797) #

This is a difficult distinction to delineate Chuck: I'm not sure the line between artist and non-artist, and culture vs. counterculture is a sharply drawn one.  

I also think that once you stand up in defence of artistic license (Marilyn Manson's), it's a bit of strain to deny it to someone setting up a baseball team. 

As for whether any of this will stand up in Court, I would hope it all would.  So far we have (mercifully) not been talking about whether calling a team the "Rippers" is legally permitted, but rather whether it is offensive.

Anyway, I don't want to piss off any more of the knowledgeable baseball posters on this site.  Presumably they come hear to discuss baseball, and not my philosophical views.  So I won't rag the puck anymore on this.   

Ryan Day - Thursday, November 17 2011 @ 02:12 PM EST (#246802) #
While it's true Jack the Ripper has been prominent in plenty of culture & literature, turning him into a cuddly cartoon mascot is rather different. Marilyn Manson also seems a bit irrelevant - he's a shock rocker whose entire act was based around being shocking & offensive. That's not exactly the sort of thing you want for a family-oriented sports team.

It's even more offensive that the team claims there's no connection at all. Yes, "rip" is a baseball term. But once you throw in London and the mascot, it's obvious it's an intentional reference. Using Jack the Ripper as a mascot may be questionable, but assuming people are stupid is much worse.
Ryan C - Thursday, November 17 2011 @ 02:30 PM EST (#246804) #
I don't think the intent was to name the team after a serial killer, but to name the team "Rippers". Rippers is not synonomous with "Jack". They then chose a cartoon logo that they thought might have some appeal and generate revenue. I can see how this is problematic as it makes the connection.

The team being in London is what makes the initial connection, the cartoon logo/mascot just cements it. It's like someone above said, you couldn't have a team named "The Boston Stranglers" either, even if "strangle" was a perfectly legitimate and harmless term on it's own.
Chuck - Thursday, November 17 2011 @ 03:09 PM EST (#246814) #

Chuck, at what age can I expect to take offense to things like this?  Maybe it's a level ofwisdom that I'll never achieve? 

I'm not suggesting that the two camps are 100% defined by age, nor am I suggesting that it takes wisdom to be offended by this. I'm arguing that, generally speaking, what offends one age group may not offend another. This seems to me to be on of those issues where there is an age-based cultural divide (again, generally speaking). I often have conversations with my son, who is 17, about what we consider offensive. You'd think we were from different planets.

As for whether any of this will stand up in Court, I would hope it all would. 

My reference to court was purely metaphoric. I wasn't intending to suggest that this should be a legal issue.

It's even more offensive that the team claims there's no connection at all.

To me, that's the most offensive thing about this whole affair. Just how stupid does the team owner think everyone is?

vw_fan17 - Thursday, November 17 2011 @ 05:01 PM EST (#246826) #
I think that calling a team the "London Rippers", and having (for example) a ripsaw as your mascot (dumb, but you get the idea) if the town has a thriving lumber industry would be ok - there's a clear reference to something OTHER than JtR that is associated with "ripping". Having a guy named Jack with 100-year-old clothes as the mascot is, IMHO, way over the line.

For those not offended by this, I'm going to re-use an idea someone else mentioned: let's say we have the Adolphus Hitters with a bat as their logo. Offensive or not? Now, they want to change their logo to include a swastika - offensive or not? What if they want their mascot to be named Adolph? Dressed up as a balding guy with a comb-over, spectacles and a small mustache who speaks with a german/austrian accent over the PA? Who exhorts the fans to cheer for the Hitters' closer to come in and "gas the <insert other team name>" in the 9th inning? Offensive or not? Where does it cross the line? (yes, I realize I Godwinned my own post)

Or, for example, if Yuma wanted to name their team "The Yuma Bombers". Even if there was some kind of connection to the military, it would still be in bad taste, IMHO, without adding a mailbox as their logo, a guy with a long beard nicknamed "Kaz" as their mascot (or a UPS guy). And ads that include references to "The Yuma Bombers' Manifesto".

What are the odds that the team marketing machine won't come up with slogans like "Let's rip this guy" or "Rip 'em, Jack"? To me, this kind of a name/marketing campaign belongs squarely in the realm of the WWF/WWE or whatever they're called these days. Saw "The Muppets" on wrestling the other day - left me stunned. The Muppets, promoting wrestling? Wow, these are sad times indeed.

Personally, I don't think JtR has been "over-sensationalized", but then again, I'm not an expert on pop culture. Haven't seen him up against Batman, for example. Just that one TOS Star Trek episode. But, IMHO, the core remains: they were a series of vulgar, despicable acts, and we should not give them even a shred of recognition.

I guess I belong to the "is nothing sacred anymore?" crowd. I will readily admit - I've always been on the conservative side of things like this. Perhaps being born in Germany didn't help (grew up mostly in Canada, now live in the US). At 40, I still think there are somethings worth protecting/being offended over.
ayjackson - Thursday, November 17 2011 @ 05:41 PM EST (#246831) #
For the record, I'd find a team called the Hitlers to be quite objectionable.  
Chuck - Thursday, November 17 2011 @ 06:55 PM EST (#246834) #
For the record, I'd find a team called the Hitlers to be quite objectionable.  

You old fart!
vw_fan17 - Friday, November 18 2011 @ 01:21 PM EST (#246893) #
For the record, I'd find a team called the Hitlers to be quite objectionable. 

Just in case it's in response to my post - I called them the Adolphus (a real city) HiTTers, not HiTLers. May be hard to tell with quick reading of lowercase letters..
ayjackson - Friday, November 18 2011 @ 08:40 PM EST (#246956) #

 I called them the Adolphus (a real city) HiTTers, not HiTLers. May be hard to tell with quick reading of lowercase letters.

I only read the beginnings and ends of words.

Adolphus Hitters....that`s gold, Gerry, gold!

Bankertuck - Saturday, November 19 2011 @ 08:16 AM EST (#246962) #

I read some where that there is a theory that Jack The Ripper may in fact  have been a doctor from southern Ontario and near London Ont. For the life of me I can't remember where I got that info.

 

#2JBrumfield - Saturday, November 19 2011 @ 11:30 AM EST (#246969) #

Listening to 640 in Toronto Friday afternoon, a lot of callers surprisingly thought the whole controversy was much ado about nothing.  One caller said, why not call them the Lorena Bobbitts. 

I went to a Majors game in Labatt Park this year and I'd like to go again to see Indy ball because I missed out on the Werewolves due to my personal snobbery of unaffiliated ball at the time.  My year in Edmonton during the Scott Richmond days changed my mind about indy ball. I hope they do change the name or at least the logo because I'd like to check out a game at that park.  I miss the London Tigers.

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