October 3rd: Best MLB Cap Logos, Ranked

Over the course of the baseball season, Todd Radom, a graphic artist and sports fan, ranked the top 30 MLB logos of all time on Buster Olney’s Baseball Tonight podcast. After every pick, there was, of course, plenty of discussion and debate about whether or not the logo selected was a good call or a bust.

In that spirit, I seek to rank the MLB logos used on-field right now. Before revealing my list, a few ground rules:

  • Each team is ranked based on their every-day primary cap logo, as found on MLB.com.
  • Every team is ranked, unlike Radom’s list where some teams received multiple best logos, while others were left off altogether.  
  • As a belligerent Cubs fan, the Cubs have been left off the list. Between the simplicity of the Cubs logo and the elegance of it, there is no way for me to find an unbiased place for it amongst its peers.
  • As the hat enthusiast that I am, I indicate parenthetically whether or not I own a hat with this logo.

With that, here are the 29 MLB logos ranked in order of greatness:

Tigers1. Tigers (Own)

The old English “D” is one of the best recognized symbols in the world, and it embodies a historic franchise during its entirety. Artistically done, yet cleanly updated over time, the Tigers have the most aesthetically pleasing logo that has been appropriately updated over time.

Yankees

2. Yankees (Own)

What was Radom’s best logo can’t slip out of the top two. The Yankees NY logo is the most iconic logo across the world, and speaks to a historically successful brand. While haters are aplenty, the Yankees logo is the envy of all fan bases across the sport.

Giants3. Giants (Own)

In a baseball world full of interlocking letters, the Giants “SF” takes the cake in simplicity and balance. It represents a team that has built a modern-day dynasty, and the sharp black and orange colors give this logo a dominant spot in my ranking.

Dbacks4. Diamondbacks (Own)

After the traditionalism of the first three logos, the Diamondbacks’ “A” is one of baseball’s modern masterpieces. The Sedona red and black go perfectly together, and the textured edge gives it depth in a way that distinguishes it amidst a field of two-dimensional logos.

Mariners5. Mariners (Own)

What could have been stuck as a boring “S” was injected with character with the addition of the compass to Seattle’s image. The best logos are the ones that acknowledge the heritage of the city, and the Mariners’ “S” is a beautiful homage to the town. The nautical color scheme only perfects the look.

Dodgers6. Dodgers (Own)

If the Yankees are the east coast’s most iconic image, than the interlocking LA is the best in the West. A Dodgers logo is immediately recognizable, and is connected to one of baseball’s most significant teams. The Dodgers logo is a masterpiece of space and design, and is one of the most popular in sports.

Rangers7. Rangers (Own)

A single letter isn’t a huge place for a statement about a team, but the Rangers use a lot of their image in their “T”. The stylized font matches the brand perfectly, and the shading offers the perfect texture. NOTE: The “T” on the blue hat far outperforms the red hat.

Angels8. Angels (Own)

Balanced and symmetrical, the Angels logo stands tall, embodying the team concept while also modernizing over the history of the franchise. This logo is crisp, clean, and contains a depth that distinguishes it from its competition.

Astros9. Astros (Own)

The Astros logo is a new iteration of a throwback for the franchise, and one that perfectly takes into account the single letter “H” in the context of the star in the background. The symmetry works perfectly to make a simple, but well-constructed look.

Reds10. Reds (Own)

It’s impossible to ignore the history of the Reds when evaluating the logo. The stylized “C” dates, in one form or another, for over a century and has embodied baseball’s oldest club. What it lacks in flash it makes up for in tradition, and is a solid representation of one of baseball’s best cities.

EVIL11. Cardinals (Of course not…)

It brings pain to my heart, but the Cardinals logo does a lot with a tall order. Working an “S, T, and L” into the logo could have been a disaster, but instead makes up one of the best uses of space in the business. While it represents the evil enemy, it also embodies one of the classiest designs on any ballfield.

Red Sox12. Red Sox (Own)

A logo is the singular reflection of a team’s entire font character, and the Boston “B” is one of the game’s most recognizable. While the pair of socks logo might be more exciting, the “B” is the most classic cap logo, and thus places the Red Sox in the middle of the pack.

Braves13. Braves (Own)

The script “A” is a representation of a team that won 14 straight division titles. While unfortunately very similar to the Alabama Crimson Tide’s logo, it is a classy and simple iteration of the team’s gritty play and the elegance of the game itself.

Brewers14. Brewers (Don’t own)

The Brewers have used more jerseys and styles in recent years than most can keep up with, but the Milwaukee “M” is the primary logo (for now). While the “MB” glove logo is one of the game’s best, the wheat-underscored “M” is a perfectly acceptable, if not slightly boring, iteration of the team’s identity.

Twins15. Twins (Own)

We are fast approaching the long run of interlocking letter logos, and the Twins are one of the best of its kind. The depth of the “C” crossing over and under the “T” is elegantly done, and the color scheme uses a classy rendition of reds, whites, and blues that match one another well.

Royals16. Royals (Own)

The Kansas City interlocking letters lacks flash, but it makes up for it in a recognizable and simple manner. It seems fair that this basic logo comes at the middle of the pack, as a rather benign logo corresponds with almost 50 years of history. (Plus, a white squatchee on the hat gives it the unique character to distinguish it from others)

White Sox17. White Sox (Don’t own)

The diagonal “SOX” script has been in existence since 1951, but the most recent rendition has been around since 1990. It borrows an old English feel from their Detroit rivals and, while the black and white contrast boldly. It also takes home the prize as the only team with a full name on the hat.

Jays18. Jays (Own)

The Blue Jays have had a hard time in the past with an ever-changing logo scheme while never venturing THAT far from home (with the early 2000s exception). The current hat logo is a trimmed down version of an earlier rendition, is a perfectly fine version, with an homage to the team’s Canadian heritage.

Marlins19. Marlins (Own)

The Marlins logo pays homage to the vibrant color and character of the the city of Miami, but does so in dizzying fashion. The marlin graphic seems to be one-step too much when mixed with the neon colors of the logo. The logo also appears extra large on the cap, making it a particularly unique and awkward look.

Phillies20. Phillies (Don’t own)

The Phillies are a team with a strong fan base and deep history. None of that is reflected in a “P” logo that lacks character and style. The Phillies are clearly suffering from what happens when simplicity becomes boring, rather than classy.

Mets21. Mets (Own)

The Mets are a team born out of an amalgamation of the Brooklyn Dodgers and New York Giants, and their logo looks so much like the Yankees’ sad little brother. The logo is fine, really, but too closely resembles their far more iconic cross-town rival.

Rockies22. Rockies (Don’t own)

Most interlocking logos are the result of a two-word city name, while the Rockies use their city and team name as their pair of icons. The logo fails to distinguish itself from the long list of other, similar logos, with the exception of the color scheme, which matches the team quite nicely and uniquely.

Padres23. Padres (Own)

The Padres logo has gone through color changes and font adaptations, but constantly maintains the same boring rendition of the interlocking “S” and “D”. This is one of the game’s least exciting logos, and fails to distinguish itself from something you’d find at the airport in a generic souvenir shop.

Pirates24. Pirates (Don’t own)

The Steel City has always rocked the yellow and black, and the Pirates have a really excellent concept across the board. That being said, their cap logo is as basic as they come, with only a little bit of accented flair to make the script pop. It isn’t a bad logo, but it certainly doesn’t deserve any extra praise.

Rays25. Rays (Own)

Tampa Bay got to redesign their concept in 2008, and had the chance to really do something unique. Instead, they simply updated the past “TB” logo, leaving two letters that don’t even intersect, but rather simply hang out near one another. It is a logo that is about as bleh as the fans who don’t go to the stadium.

Orioles26. Orioles (Don’t own)

I will be in the minority here, but cartoon mascots have never really been my thing. That being said, the Orioles have a great logo using a terrible strategy, so they find themselves near the bottom of this list. The team’s cap logo is so bad, even the bird doesn’t want to wear a hat with it.

Nationals27. Nationals (Own)

The Nationals are a great team with a cool logo. But, when you can’t wear your ballcap around town without getting confused with a Walgreens employee, you lose massive points. This hat also replaces a very cool “DC” logo from the earlier days in Washington, and I’m still salty about that.

As28. Athletics (Don’t own)

The Athletics use their simplified name on their caps, and it doesn’t come out very well. The “A” by itself looks rather cool, but the “apostrophe s” really ruins the simplicity and the style, instead making it look like a tacky after-thought. Maybe dropping it would help their place in the standings?

Indians29. Indians (Own)

Last, and certainly least, the Indians had to do something after their racist caricature wore out its welcome. Instead of using that as inspiration, they simply use a block “C” that, while present in the team’s history, represents nothing about Cleveland. Although everyone prefers a boring, dumb logo to a racist, offensive one.

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September 14th: Queen of the Hill

I’ve never liked Jemele Hill very much. She likes to talk about basketball and football, while I’m much more of a baseball and hockey fan. She and her co-host, Michael Smith, have taken up the mantel of discussing race as a lens for sports, and it just hasn’t been done as well as I would have hoped. I don’t love the fact that, even though what they have to say is incredibly important, it should be a specialty show, not a sportscenter spot. What I would enjoy as a political or racial conversation on a different platform or in a different format just isn’t what I’m looking for in a sports conversation, and Hill and Smith don’t always know how to balance that as well as I might enjoy.

Jemele Hill tweeted on Monday that Donald Trump is a white-supremacist. She tweeted that he has surrounded himself with other white-supremacists. She accused him of pandering to racists and bigots, and that his leadership is unacceptable. Hill, who has made a reputation for herself as a champion of African American issues and race relations in American sports, did what she does every day and she spoke out, voicing her take on the leadership of this country.

Well, as we might expect, the White House didn’t handle this particularly well. They immediately called for her termination at ESPN, insisting that these claims were unfounded and false. Unfounded may not be the right word, though. It says a lot about a man who is willing to speak with more conviction and passion about a person who said mean things to him than he would about the racists, bigots, and white supremacists to whom he is being accused of pandering.

ESPN put out a statement, essentially stating that Jemele Hill acted alone and does not represent the thoughts and feelings of the company, and Hill posted another tweet stating her thoughts as her own and declaring her respect for her company and colleagues to be unconditional. ESPN accepted the apology, and all is right with the world, right?

Not exactly. You see, freedom of speech is the favorite soundbite for every conservative republican in the country, right up until that person says something that the conservatives don’t like. Hill’s comments are not an unfounded statement of nastiness, but rather a reaction to countless times that the President has failed to lead this country in a positive direction. But regardless of what she said or why she said it, we live in a country that allows anyone to say whatever they want within a certain limit, and Hill is certainly on the right side of that limit.

Heath Evans, a coworker of Hill’s and a former NFL player, took to Twitter himself to be the leader nobody else seems willing to be. In a video filmed in his car, Evans said that while his politics don’t align with Hill on this matter, he supports his peer entirely in her right to say whatever she feels, and that his party needs to be willing to hear things that may make them uncomfortable without demanding the person lose their jobs or be silenced.

Whether or not anyone agrees with Jemele Hill is not the point. The point is that, as a black American, her voice cannot be silenced without confirming all the things she’s expressing, and the White House has, once again, proved their inability to focus on real issues at the expense of ensuring that nobody makes fun of them or says anything they don’t like.

On another level, Hill has finally done what I’ve been hoping for all this time: she has finally found a way that she can talk about the issues that are so important, to speak out against the injustice in the world, in a way that fits her message more specifically. While I may not want my sports to be overly politicized every day, I am delighted to hear her voice amidst the politics that needs to look her right in the eyes and listen to what she has to say.

August 29th: The Only Way to See Mayweather Suffer is to Not Watch

I paid $20 on Saturday to stand in a bar for 3 hours before watching two adult men beat each other up. I went in the hopes of watching as a despicable person got himself knocked around, and instead I wound up helping to make him one of the three richest athletes of all time.

Watching the Mayweather-McGregor fight, I was horrified by what was going on in the room around me. While I was trying to rationalize my watching by rooting against Mayweather, the majority of those around me had no problem cheering on a man known for his womanizing and domestic abuse. The sins of the man appeared to be forgiven in exchange for a little bit of violent entertainment.

The fight also brought out the worst in people. In a Buffalo Wild Wings in suburban Cincinnati, I saw people getting territorial and greedy, people getting offensive and pushy. A fight was about to break out in the bar just as Mayweather landed his final punch. To see humanity devolve like that was both sad and disgusting.

When the fight was over and I was walking to my car, I saw men and women celebrating Mayweather’s victory. They were cheering and gloating and partying. I wanted to ask them “How do you celebrate the success of someone who abuses women? How do you support someone who has no regard for morality or caring? How do you root for that kind of villain?”

It was on my drive home that it occurred to me that even with my disdain for the fighter, his paycheck was coming from my $20 just as much as it was from theirs. Even when trying to watch him lose, I had inadvertently lent credibility and celebrity to someone who deserves neither.

The best way to punish Floyd Mayweather, as I’m learning, is not to pay to watch someone inflict pain upon him. The best way is to demand that everyone remember who and what he is, and to remember that no amount of comfortable entertainment is enough to make any of his crimes go away.

August 23rd: Football Can’t be Football Anymore

During a preseason football game last week, two of the game’s most exciting young players made a powerful statement. While teammate Khalil Mack kneeled for the national anthem, Raiders quarterback Derek Carr placed a hand on his shoulder, a symbolic gesture of support. This week, about a dozen Cleveland Browns kneeled in a prayer circle during the national anthem, while their peers, both black and white, stood near them, hands on shoulder and on their hearts.

A year ago, Colin Kaepernick took a stand by refusing to do so during the national anthem. He was hoping to demand a conversation about race relations in a country that feels so broken. Now, it has cost Kaepernick a job, but the NFL seems to be having the conversation he inspired despite the protests of many football fans.

What started as a single uncomfortable protest has clearly grown into an opportunity for dialogue in locker rooms across the country. Black players have taken (and been given) an opportunity to tell their peers about their experience, to share their stories and how they feel about the world around them. White players have begun to offer support and a willingness to see from someone else’s perspective, or, in many ways, to come to terms with their inability to truly understand.

We’ve reached a point of deeper nuance. It is no longer true to say that sitting makes you unpatriotic, that anything other than standing is hostile to your own country.

The country as a whole has something to learn from the evolution of this conversation. As the world has gotten more complicated, we have, for some reason, demanded a simplicity that is impossible to uphold. Everyone is either a Democrat or a Republican. Everyone is either a racist or a snowflake. Everything must be completely good or completely bad.

We have to learn a new willingness to embrace the nuance. This doesn’t mean compromising our values or accepting the abhorrent. Yet, a true understanding of our reality demands that we be willing to listen to one another. We need to be willing to reach out a hand and be supportive of those who are fighting for their rights and for their ideals, even when we can’t fully understand why.

When Colin Kaepernick began his protest, America was too uncomfortable to talk about our challenges. Too many wanted to pretend everything was ok, to hide our heads in the sand from the dissent and frustration different groups felt toward one another. Now, though, we have realized we cannot escape the friction between groups of people. We can’t let football just be football. If we are going to have to confront the polarization, we must begin with better understanding and a willingness to listen. The Cleveland Browns have accepted that we have something to work on, and have begun the process. The rest of America needs to follow suit.

July 26th: Holding A Franchise Hostage

This past week, Kyrie Irving asked the Cleveland Cavaliers to trade him. Apparently, playing with the greatest player in basketball (perhaps ever) doesn’t suit him, especially when it means losing so much vacation time playing in May and June. In a league where players are all scrambling to join forces on super teams, Irving wants to take his one-man-show to a destination all by himself.

The baffling part of the story is that, after asking for a trade, the Cavaliers seem to be shopping in order to make a deal. The NBA is one of the only industries in the world where you can make outlandish demands of your employer with relative certainty that you will get what you want. Of course, the Cavaliers don’t HAVE to agree to trade Irving, but a disgruntled star’s performance is unlikely to be more valuable than any of the possible players that could come back to Cleveland in a trade.

KyrieThis doesn’t bode well at all for Cleveland. With rumors already swirling about LeBron James leaving next summer as a free agent, the Cavs could very quickly go from being the three-straight Conference Champions to a franchise struggling to regain an identity. Kyrie Irving’s demand only accelerates that process.

Irving isn’t the only player who has put his team in a bad spot because of a demand for a change of scenery. Carmelo Anthony has made it known not only that he wants out of New York, but that he specifically wants to play in Houston, putting incredible pressure on the Knicks. Paul George’s desire to play for the Lakers in the future forced the Pacers to trade him, for fear of losing him to free agency with nothing in return. The NBA offseason continues to leave teams scrambling to fill out a roster before contracts change the game again and again, while the players look out for their own self-interests with demands and threats.

The 2017 offseason has seen a collection of teams amassing talent while others are forced to rebuild. A season after one of the least dramatic playoffs in recent memory will show a small collection of powerhouse teams clashing, while almost all competition takes place in the Western Conference. Power dynamics are all out of whack, even before we consider the whims of what a particular player wants.

Kyrie Irving’s trade demand is selfish and damaging to the Cleveland fans and the league as a whole. The nature of a contract is that he is expected to play for the team for a certain duration of time, with the freedom to choose a new home when it expires. Trade rumors and speculation may be fun in the short term and get people talking about the sport while it isn’t on TV, but this kind of hijacking of a team can prove dangerous for a franchise that, until recently, was hoping to build a tradition of success.

July 1st: All Star Game Starting Predictions

After weeks of voting, the MLB All Star rosters will be announced tomorrow. While voting may generally result in a popularity contest rather than an actual assessment of talent, here is how I would construct the lineup for each position in baseball

American League:

Catcher: Salvador Perez: There is no catcher in baseball as exciting and fun to watch as Perez. Nobody stands out statistically either, so I have to go with the guy who is going to make for the best TV.

First Base: Eric Hosmer: Hosmer has led the fan vote, but been left off most insider predictions. He ranks in the top five or six of almost all offensive categories at his position, and has gold glove defense.

AP ASTROS YANKEES BASEBALL S BBA USA NYSecond Base: Jose Altuve: The face of the rebuilding Astros, Jose Altuve has finally gotten to enjoy the success of the power-house Astros. The spark-plug gets another All-Star selection (his fifth in six years)

Third Base: Miguel Sano: The Twins have been sticking around in the AL Central, and Miguel Sano’s maturation as a hitter is a big reason why. Sano will be fun to watch in the Home Run Derby, and deserves the start at third base for the AL.

Shortstop: Carlos Correa: Correa has made good on his talent potential since he first emerged in the league, and is now at the center of the best offense in the league. He gets the nod over his peers Lindor and Bogaerts.

Outfield: Mike Trout, Aaron Judge, George Springer: The reigning MVP, the likely soon-to-be MVP, and one of the most exciting, fun-to-watch young players in the game make up the AL starting outfield. Even with Trout’s injury, he was having debatably his best season. Judge has proven that he has lasting power in the league. And Springer is a five-tool player capable of changing any game on a dime. This is one of the most athletic groups of players the league has to offer, and will probably each be All-Stars many, many more times in the future.

DH: Corey Dickerson: Nelson Cruz is a more popular name in baseball, but I won’t vote for anyone who has a steroid conviction on their record. Besides, Dickerson has been out of his mind of late, and his bat is a huge reason why the Rays are contenders in the AL East.

ASG ballot

National League:

Catcher: Buster Posey: While the position isn’t very deep, Posey would run away with it even if it was. He is single-handedly carrying his team’s offense, and he is maintaining offensive and defensive statistics that make him baseball’s best catcher.

First Base: Paul Goldschmidt: Disclaimer: I’ve been voting for Anthony Rizzo, because I have a massive man-crush on the man, but Paul Goldschmidt has added yet another under-the-radar MVP caliber season. Goldy is putting the Diamondbacks in post-season position, and has a strong claim on the NL MVP award.

Second Base: Daniel Murphy: After the 2015 playoffs, Daniel Murphy has become a brand-new player. His bat has been the hottest of anyone over an 18 month stretch, and his place as the table-clearer for the Nationals compensates for his mediocre defense.

Third Base: Kris Bryant: Many will argue this is another homer pick, but Bryant has been a rare bright spot in a struggling Cubs lineup. His generally solid stats have been hurt by a few slow patches, but overall, Bryant is the star of the show and should get the chance to shine.

Shortstop: Zack Cozart: All donkeys aside, Cozart has taken his contract year and turned it into a gold mine. His offense has finally risen to match his defense, and he is a big reason that the Reds have been relevant beyond Opening Day this year.

Outfield: Bryce Harper, Charlie Blackmon, Marcell Ozuna: Charlie Blackmon is the best player on the up-and-coming Rockies. Marcell Ozuna is both a hometown player for the All Star hosts, as well as a monster power for the Home Run Derby (possibly). And Bryce Harper is an absolute monster, the most entertaining player in baseball.

MLB: Atlanta Braves at Washington NationalsDH: Ryan Zimmerman: After a hot start to his career, Zimmerman had faded into the background of the Bryce Harper-owned Nationals. This year, though, Zimmerman has put together not only his best season, but an all-around great season, and deserves the credit in a crowded first base conversation.

 

We will see on Sunday how close these predictions are to reality, but in any case, the All Star Game is the game’s best chance to show off the excitement and talent that true fans get to enjoy every day.

 

 

June 2nd: Waiting for the Cubs to Find Their Identity

Baseball, as Kyle Schwarber will tell you, is a fickle sport. One week ago, the Cubs were coming off a 7-2 homestand, including a sweep of the Reds and a strong three-game winning streak.

Cubs 3Well, it has been a week since the Cubs won a ballgame, and the past six games have been the worst we’ve seen in the Joe Maddon era. A sweep at the hands of the Dodgers would be hard to swallow, but being swept by the lowly Padres was beyond anything Cubs fans could have expected. No one thing is wrong with the Cubs, and it isn’t simply waiting for one or two players to perform at their expected level. There are 20 players on the Cubs who aren’t living up to expectations, and until they do, this is going to be a sub-.500 team.

Going into the 2017 season, Cubs fans were dreaming of what it would feel like to be a modern-day baseball dynasty, following in the footsteps of the late ‘90s Yankees. We had a young, controllable core, a manager who seems to know all the right buttons to push, and a fanbase that had tasted victory and wanted more.

2017 has proven to be less than kind, and Cubs fans are finally getting frustrated. For the first two months of the season, Cubs leadership has claimed that everyone is calm, that things will change, that we will snap out of it any day now. Some Cubs have made the ridiculous claim that it has never been this bad before, forgetting the 108 years of losing that had come before. As a 24 year old, I’ve seen a lot of bad baseball in Chicago, and this hasn’t even broken the surface of how bad it could be.

MLB: Chicago Cubs at San Diego PadresYet, the Cubs have to realize that the struggle here is in the dissonance between how good we SHOULD be and how bad we HAVE been. A team that was supposed to be the greatest offense in the league, maybe in history, is now struggling to hit minor-league caliber pitching. Starters haven’t been able to hold a lead, and the offense hasn’t been able to give them one. The bullpen went through two or three rough weeks to start the year, then got good just in time for there to be no need to be; games were lost far before we got to the 7th inning.

The Cubs roster is too good to stay this bad for long. There will be a moment for the team to click, and for everything to get back into the swing of things. Last year, the Cubs had a similarly awful streak in late June and early July. The All-Star break gave everyone the chance to relax a bit, and then they took off with the division and never looked back. There is a strong chance that is what will happen this year, although the Cubs can’t afford to wait until the mid-July to turn things around. The rest of the NL-Central has been waiting for the Cubs, with both the Brewers and Cardinals losing in bunches as well. The division is ripe for the taking, but the Cubs aren’t in any position to do that until they figure out how to hit again.

The season is young, and there is still plenty of baseball left to be played. But the Cubs have some soul searching to do to figure out what kind of baseball team they can be and how to make that happen. For now, as a Cubs fan, it isn’t fun to watch this team play, and every day comes with the desperate plea that maybe, just maybe, today will be the day that the Cubs remember who they are.