Sunday, September 18, 2016

Sunday Edition

St. Louis Browns and Relocation 

Browns cards are foreign to me.  Even as the number of them in my collection has grown, they still seem out of place.  I was in my twenties before I even knew they existed as relatively "recently" as '53 (I'm sure some younger readers will debate my use of "recent").  Any mention of them was always dismissed in my head as being from some long by gone era of tiny gloves, silly hats, and games played with ropes keeping spectators off the field.  It wasn't until I realized they became the Orioles following the '53 season that I finally gained some perspective.  And even then, my primary take-away was "wow, I always figured the Orioles had been around longer than that."  The Orioles after all, are a team with a rich history full of old Hall of Famers and aging underwear models.  "They had always been on cards," hadn't they?

Someone, no one I know, grew up a St. Louis Browns fan.  The team dates back to the 19th century.  Someone grew up a Browns fan, taught their children to love the Browns, and in all likelihood a few of those kids at least started to teach a third generation to love the Browns.  Then they were gone, and a mere three decades later, young avid baseball fans like myself, ripping packs of cards and studying the history displayed on the back, were completely oblivious to the fact that they ever even existed.

Relocation has always bothered me.  As a child, I loved the Expos.  My family moved a lot, and had relatives spread throughout the country, so I was oblivious to the normal geographical factors tied to fandom.  I saw nothing illogical about loving the Expos.  My daughter is now six, and at some point in the near future one of her baseball inclined friends will probably ask who the hell the Expos are.  And my head will explode.

But my dislike of relocation took root much earlier.  When I was about eight or nine, I was living in Phoenix, AZ, when a "huge" thing happened.  The St. Louis Cardinals NFL team was relocating to Phoenix.  Getting caught up in the excitement was unavoidable. It dominated the news.  Our local Chillis immediately added large amounts of Cardinals ephemera.  I remember heated debates about how tv coverage would be tied to the sellout requirement for games.  I even had a "When Lomax looks long, The Cardinals look Strong!" t-shirt that was given to me by a neighbor.  Never mind that I had no idea who the hell the cartoon caricature of Neil Lomax on the front was, it was all a very big deal.

But something never sat right with me.  I remember asking who would be the new team in St. Louis, and feeling bad for their fans.  In asking about the Cardinals move, I learned that it happened all the time.  And the examples my father used, hit home.  In Pheonix at the time, Kevin Johnson and the Suns were all the rage, and my family went to a few games every year to cheer on K.J. and the Gorilla that dunked off of the trampoline.   And it seemed in the NBA relocation was common a event.  The hated Lakers, were in fact stolen from Minnesota, where there are in fact lakes.  The Jazz came from New Orleans (I'm sure my father made the usual jokes, but they probably landed flat on me at that age).  Our home region, Syracuse, NY, used to have a team, a championship team, but they lost it.  What if the Suns left?  It just didn't sit right with me.

It still doesn't.  I'm hard pressed to think of a single move I approve of.  But I can think of plenty I don't.  Here's a run down of my most egregious relocation's in professional sports (bias, recency, and my own ignorance to facts all play a major role in these rankings)

Top Ten Annoying Relocation's

Honorable Mention: Baltimore Colts to Indianapolis 

This one is mitigated a little bit by the fact that Baltimore would go on to steal the Cleveland Browns a few years later.  But I'm also old enough to remember the images of the moving trucks packing up and leaving.  I'm big proponent of the idea that names belong to cities, and if you're going to move, the name stays.

All things considered, this seems like the right spot for this one.  This is probably the only instance where I wouldn't want to see the new team in Baltimore change their name back to Colts.  The idea that an NFL team this day in age can take it's name from American Literature is not a small source of amusement for me.  Oddly, the NFL Shop doesn't sell Ravens T-shirt with Poe references.

#10 New Orleans Jazz to Utah This one is strictly name based.  I've never really lost any sleep on the Jazz moving to Utah, and wasn't even aware of it until years after I knew who the Utah Jazz were.  But now that there is a team back in New Orleans, they should be the "Jazz."  I can't imagine Salt Lake has any strong opinions on the subject.

#9 Houston Oilers to Tennessee  I'm not sure the people of Houston really cared about this move, but I was a big Warren Moon fan going back to his days at Washington.  I always thought the Oilers had a cool helmet and uniform, and given Houston's current air pollution issues, there would be a sort of cruel irony to it if their football team was still called the Oilers.

#8 Syracuse Nationals to Philadelphia I was born in Syracuse while my parents were attending graduate school there.  I have a good amount of family in Central New York, lived in Central New York for as long as I ever lived anywhere, graduated from a High School in Central New York, and have actually been inside the Syracuse War Memorial.  It's an aging relic unfit for low level minor league hockey.  But inside an NBA Championship banner still hangs.  It's hard to argue Syracuse needs an NBA Team today, with Great the Jim Boeheim providing area residents with the greatest coached basketball teams the world has ever known, but this one still feels personal to me.

#7 Hartford Whalers to Carolina  Anytime a loved northern Hockey team moves someplace where there is no naturally occurring ice, it pisses me off.  Bring back The Whale.  They won't miss hockey down there, they have better things to do, like police the bathrooms.

#6 Cleveland Browns to Baltimore The people of Cleveland have long had enough things working against them.  Stealing their football team was just unnecessary cruelty.

#5 Brooklyn Dodgers to Los Angeles  This was way before my time, but in New York, everyone still has or knows a grandpa who was a Dodgers or Giants fan.  I'm not trying to anger any LA Fans, they're innocent in all of this, but I can't help but think there'd be some interesting history these last 60 years if the Dodgers had stayed in Kings County.

#4 Minnesota North Stars to Dallas This is one of the more egregious name situations on this list.  I know Texas thinks they invented the "star," but come on.  I don't car if Texas is "The Lone Star," state, it's not a hockey state, and not the only state with "Star" in it's motto.  Minnesota's state motto is "The Star of the North," and the North Stars had some of the best uniforms and logo in all of sports.  I'm sure Dallas could come up a new name.  I'm pretty sure "Oilers" is available.

#3 Quebec Nordiques to Denver  I was living in a Denver Television Market the year the Nordiques moved to Denver.  At least Denver had ice.  But I was surrounded by morons who couldn't tell a blue line from a line of goons, and insisted on saying Quebec wasn't getting screwed because Denver made a ton of changes that directly led to the Cup.

#2 Montreal Expos to Washington (for obvious reasons)

#1 Seattle Super Sonics to Oklahoma City How you can take a storied and beloved NBA Franchise with a championship history from one of America's greatest cities, and move it to a collection of truck stops clustered where a few major interstates merge in the middle of nowhere is beyond me.  The fact that "Loves" was or maybe still is one of the major sponsors in the new city would be funny, if it wasn't so sad.  Someone should be in jail for this.


  1. I always thought tht Dallas missed out by naming the team the Stars. Shouldn't they have become the Dallas Lone Stars??

  2. You mentioned, "Someone, no one I know, grew up a St. Louis Browns fan." I don't know if he was much of a Browns fan, but my grandfather was at one time an usher at Sportsman's Park. When I arrived on the scene (long after the Browns had moved), he instilled in me a love for the St. Louis Cardinals.