“Fair Game” Teams in Major League Baseball

What teams are fair game?  What teams are hands off?

In a previous post, I described my cutoff for teams that are entrenched with tradition (hands off) and teams that are “fair game” for discussions and ideas relating to rebranding and *gasp* relocation.  To read that post, click here.

Basically, I use an arbitrary blanket cutoff date of 1968 for the NFL, NBA, and Major League Baseball.  Teams that were added as expansion teams, moved, or were drastically rebranded after that date are “fair game.”

Major League Baseball has a rich history that commands respect and reverence.  For the most part.

For MLB, here are those teams and a quick analysis:

San Diego Padres (expansion, 1969)  San Diego seems to struggle a little bit supporting sports teams at the highest level.  “Padres” sounds like a minor league nickname. In fact, the Padres got their start in the old AAA Pacific Coast League.  That said, the San Diego Padres have compiled some history in the last 40 some years:  Tony Gwinn.  Robby Alomar.  Rollie Fingers in mustard yellow and brown. The Famous Chicken.  The Swinging Friar.  Ummm…..Tony Gwinn.   Whatever.  I like the Padres and they should stay where they are.  However, they need new uniforms.  Actually, they need old uniforms.  Time for a retro rebrand a la the Orioles.  Here’s a good article about it.   Sport Change Verdict: Hands Off

Kansas City Royals (expansion, 1969)  Nothing to change here.  Good baseball city, good baseball fans.  Good solid, consistent brand through the years.  Sport Change Verdict: Hands Off

Milwaukee Brewers (expansion as Seattle Pilots, 1969)  The name Milwaukee Brewers has existed in one form or other since the 19th century, and the name certainly fits the city.  Despite the tiny TV market, Brewers fans fill Miller Park and keep the Crew a viable franchise.  The retro Brewers uniforms were great and the glove logo is one of the best sports logos of all time.  The uniforms/logo that were introduced in the nineties were hideous, but their current dark blue and gold look works just fine.  Sport Change Verdict: Hands Off

Washington Nationals (expansion as Montreal Expos, 1969)  Despite the fact that the W on their hats looks exactly like the Walgreen’s W, the Nats have managed to develop a classy if understated brand.  Washington should have a team, and the Nationals are doing well.  Sport Change Verdict: Nothing to Change Here

Was Bud Selig filling a prescription when inspiration struck?

Texas Rangers (relocation from Washington, 1972)  The Dallas area has to have their franchise, and it’s hard to think up a more appropriate name.  Sport Change Verdict: Don’t Mess With Texas

Seattle Mariners (expansion, 1977)  I think Seattle Pilots is a better name, but the M’s have created enough history to make it work.  Seattle needs a team in EVERY major sport.  Sport Change Verdict: Hands Off

Toronto Blue Jays (expansion, 1977)  Love that they’ve reverted to their old logo/uniforms.  Good team for a good city.  A smiling Joe Carter says enough about history or tradition.  Sport Change Verdict: Hands Off

Miami Marlins (expansion as Florida, 1993)  Miami has their team and rightfully so.  Like everybody else, I hate the new Marlins look.  I like how they’ve become Miami instead of the clunky, exclusionary Florida, but I liked their old unis much better–telltale nineties teal and all.  If teal can work for any city, it should be Miami.  Sport Change Verdict: If the current brand implodes, consider some tweaks.

Colorado Rockies (expansion 1993)  The Rockies have done enough to establish themselves, but I am not a fan of the black and purple.  Sport Change Verdict: A new look wouldn’t hurt

Arizona Diamondbacks (expansion 1998)  I’m not a big fan of the Diamondback brand/look, but that will fall on deaf ears.  Phoenix will have their team and could plead tradition stemming from their two titles.  Still, Diamondbacks is more of a minor league name.  In fact it’s eerily similar to old Cubs affiliate, the West Tennessee Diamond Jaxx.  The best pro nicknames are broad and simple.  Rattlesnakes or just Snakes would be much better. Sport Change Verdict: Nothing pressing, but they should just change their nickname to ‘Snakes’ and call it good.

Tampa Bay Rays (expansion as Devil Rays, 1998)  Love the seamless switch from Devil Rays to Rays a few years ago.  Devil Rays was a minor league type name whereas Rays is nice and broad.  As a franchise, you’ve got to love how the Rays have made something from nothing.  But nothing is well, nothing.  If any team in the Majors relocates, it should be the Rays.  Despite being one of the most fun clubs in the majors, attendance is quite sad.  Tampa baseball fans might as well go to A-ball Tampa Yankees games.  The Rays moniker travels well because the sun does shine everywhere, right?  Wait!  The Rays cannot relocate to Portland!  Sport Change Verdict: If any of these teams is ready to change, this is it!

In their short history, they’ve already made one good change. But at some point, will the Rays glide out of St. Petersburg?

So in summary: if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.  MLB is doing just fine with the current franchises.

But what fun is that?  Potential projects: relocating the Rays and maybe rebranding the Rockies.

Another project will be renaming/rebranding the Houston Astros.  Last winter, the new Astros owner let it slip that he’s considering a rebrand.  This provoked plenty of outrage from ‘Stros fans, but since the cat has slipped out the bag, we’ll explore this in a future post.  Stay tuned.

Thanks for reading.  Comments are welcome.  If you would like to read a similar to post about the NBA, click here.  For the NFL, click here.



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