The Staten Island Yankees are trading pride and pinstripes for pizza and rats.
The minor league team announced a name change for five Saturday night home games in June and July. Instead of the Staten Island Yankees, they'll be the Staten Island Pizza Rats. The team's uniforms will also change for the select games.
The idea, team officials said, is to boost buzz, crowds, and revenue.
Last season, the team drew just 2,040 fans per game — about half the attendance compared to when the Richmond County Ballpark opened in 2001.
It's not the first time a minor league baseball team has adopted a splashy and comedic name, but some local elected officials aren't impressed with this one.
"I can't see any positive things coming out of that name," Staten Island City Councilwoman Debi Rose said. "I know they want to be whimsical, but in reality it just is a negative connotation."
Borough President James Oddo called it "dopey."
"This is a slice too far," Oddo tweeted. "If you are walking away from the arms of the most recognizable brand in professional sports, it has to be for something better than a rodent dragging fresh mozzy spread across a thin crust."
The Staten Island Yankees, a minor league affiliate of the Bronx Bombers, held a naming contest two years ago.
The name "Pizza Rats," inspired by a viral video of a rat tugging a pizza slice in the subway, came out on top — a puzzling choice because although the borough has some delicious pizza it doesn't have a subway line.
After the contest, the team kept the Yankees name, so the decision to adopt Pizza Rats now, even for five nights, is something of a surprise.
Staten Islanders are divided:
"The rats — it's got to go," one man said.
"If it's cute and if it's something that, you know, they can relate to, I'm all in favor," another said. "Anything that entertains is fine with me."
The team said the response to the promotional name change has been positive so far - but added that there are no plans to make it permanent.
Image above via the Staten Island Yankees.