Any way you slice it, the Baby Cakes will be a hot topic in New Orleans.
The Triple-A New Orleans Zephyrs officially revealed its new name and logos Tuesday evening, rebranding itself as the New Orleans Baby Cakes in a nod to the city's unique culture and spirit.
"It's so emblematic of what's important to these folks," said Cookie Rojas, New Orleans' senior vice president and general manager. "Families having fun and the cake bringing people together."
New Orleans, an affiliate of the Miami Marlins, considered more than 4,000 name ideas submitted by fans before finally settling on a few finalists, including Tailgators and Night Owls. The team teased those options on its website Tuesday before announcing the real winner.
Rojas said the name, colors and logos are uniquely New Orleans.
"Basically we sat down with [design firm] Brandiose and our season ticket holders, and we had an epiphany," Rojas said. "Everyone down here refers to everyone as 'baby' as a term of endearment. And, of course, they have the famous baby in the king cake, which is celebrated during Mardi Gras."
Baseball fans not familiar with New Orleans or the concept of "king cakes" may be rightfully curious and confused. King cakes, part of the celebrations surrounding Mardi Gras, are round treats often covered with colored sugar and can include a variety of fillings. The most unusual of ingredients? A small plastic baby figurine.
"People enjoy eating the cakes to find out what's inside," Rojas said. "The person who gets the baby has to buy the next one."
It's that sense of quirky local flavor and culture that Rojas and the Baby Cakes hope will energize and excite fans around a team that ranked toward the bottom in attendance last season in the Pacific Coast League. The new name is unusual and will get people talking, while the colors are classic Mardi Gras.
"It's so unique," Rojas said. "There are other teams that have owls, and that would've been a cool logo but quickly forgotten and not as unique. This place is not like anywhere else -- it's like an island in America. They have some unique stuff."
And so, fittingly, the Baby Cakes' logo is unlike anything in sports. It features a newborn wearing a crown and eye black, swinging a bat while popping out of a purple, green and yellow cake. Secondary logos feature the cake with a crown, while another depicts the baby laughing and wearing Mardi Gras beads.
Rojas said the team hopes the new name and logo make fans smile and pique their curiosity as both locals and tourists embrace the fun new look.
"It's quirky, it's different," he said. "It brings vibrancy. It uses Mardi Gras colors, which is cool. We're paying homage to Mardi Gras and the cultural components of the community."
Rojas explained that the baby's "determined" expression represents the community's will and strength in surviving and rebuilding from Hurricane Katrina, a storm that devastated New Orleans more than a decade ago. The city and culture made it back, as has the party spirit.
"I want them to look at the logo and see the baby busting out -- a determined look, swinging a bat, ready to play ball," said Rojas. "People down here are fierce -- they overcame one of worst natural disasters in American history. They're strong. These are people who embrace family. Generations of people stay here forever and are part of the community. These are determined people, but people who want to have fun."
Is the team worried about fans' hesitation to change or to embrace an outside-the-box name?
"It's going to be a shock, and there will be the naysayers and they can say whatever they want," said Rojas. "Over time, they will say it's unique. No one has this tradition like we do.'"
Rojas is also excited about the team's jersey. While the club's primary colors are navy blue and gold, they also prominently feature a familiar purple and teal green color combo. The uniform tops say "NOLA" with a crown-adorned cake as the "O" and a small crest on the sleeve that includes a pelican (the state bird) and a nod to the team's former name, the Zephyrs.
The team was receptive to fans who felt the name shouldn't change, noted Rojas, adding that the Zephyrs nickname was brought to New Orleans when the team relocated from Denver. It had no real local ties or significance, but it had been around since 1993 and become ingrained in the community.
"Was there pressure [to keep it]? Absolutely," said Rojas. "But you have to do your job. This is an opportunity to reboot a franchise that needed to be rebooted."
Rojas hopes the buzz around the team will draw more fans to games and to the events and concerts hosted at its stadium.
"If you look at the baby, it has a determined look. It represents people who are determined, strong and who embrace the whole spirit of going out and having a great time," Rojas said. "Basically, we want to let people know we're planning on making this place a lot of fun."