MLB Teams That Need a Complete Rebranding
Tradition dies hard when it comes to Major League Baseball clubs. They're not afraid to make little changes, but it's not especially often that a franchise says "Screw it!" and goes for a completely new look.
There are a couple clubs out there, however, that ought to give it a shot.
Maybe even more than a couple, come to think of it. Heck, there might be as many as a dozen teams out there that could benefit from making like the Tampa Bay Rays in 2008, the Miami Marlins in 2012 or the Houston Astros in 2013 and going for a full-on rebrand.
But to keep things manageable—and, hopefully, to try to outrage as few traditionalists as possible—I'm going to restrict the following list of teams in need of a major rebrand to just five.
No, "Rockies" isn't the problem. "Colorado" isn't either. "Rockies" is a fine name, and "Colorado Rockies" certainly pleases the ear more than "Denver Rockies."
So let's keep that part. What really needs changing is how the Rockies present themselves.
In a word, the look the Rockies have is lame. Their pinstriped home whites make them look too much like New York Yankees/Chicago White Sox wannabes, and the choice of a dark purple mountain range as a logo is starting to feel dated two decades after the franchise's inception.
What would be cool is if the Rockies spiced things up with a new color scheme more befitting of the Rocky Mountains themselves. If not that, I personally wouldn't object to the Rockies making it easy on themselves by going for the truly awesome Gold Rush-inspired rebranding effort that Andy Stewart imagined on Behance.net last year.
Whatever the case, it's not like going in a new direction would be spitting on so much past glory. The Rockies are close to 200 games under .500 in their 22-year history and have been to the playoffs three times. There are more embarrassing histories than that, but it's still not one to be especially proud of.
Also, the Rockies shouldn't be worried about killing the golden goose.
Despite attendance figures that are trending in the right direction, Bloomberg.com put the Rockies at 25th in revenue last year. That put them behind the Milwaukee Brewers, Cincinnati Reds and Pittsburgh Pirates despite how, according to Baseball-Almanac.com, the three of them play in smaller markets.
Mixing things up couldn't hurt.
The last big Seattle Mariners rebrand happened in 1993 when they adopted the compass motif logo and teal and blue color scheme.
Their timing couldn't have been more perfect, as the good-looking young team the changes were applied to quickly morphed into contenders. Things stayed that way until 2001, when the Mariners won 116 games and made the postseason for the fourth time in seven seasons.
Which, of course, was also the last time the Mariners played in October. And after they wrapped their eighth losing season out of 10 last year, Scott Weber of Lookout Landing was correct in writing that the Mariners had "become one of the dullest franchises in sports when it comes to identity." A new look was needed.
Rather than a cosmetic new look, the Mariners went for something more tangible by signing Robinson Cano away from the Yankees. Not a bad idea given their dire need for a second superstar alongside Felix Hernandez, but the new Mariners have yet to look much unlike the old Mariners.
The team is off to a sub-.500 start, for one. Two, attendance at Safeco Field has only increased by around three thousand per game. Since the Mariners were No. 1 in the American League in attendance in 2001 and 2002, we know Seattle can do better.
Obviously, nothing brings 'em out to the yard like winning. But the Mariners should see if they can't butter up Seattle fans by selling the idea that a completely new era is underway. The team certainly has the players to sell the idea, as they have youngsters like Mike Zunino, Brad Miller, Dustin Ackley, Taijuan Walker, James Paxton and Reonis Elias in addition to King Felix and Cano to rally a new cause around.
They should give it a shot and see if they can't make history repeat itself.
The Chicago Cubs have been in existence since 1876 and just celebrated their home ballpark's 100th birthday. Clearly, this is a franchise with a lot of tradition.
Very little of which is pleasant, unfortunately.
No World Series championships since 1908. No World Series appearances since 1945. Out of 139 seasons, 66 have been losing seasons. Based on how things have started in 2014, No. 67 is more than likely on the way.
In light of all this, it's no surprise there were rumors in early 2013 (originating from Bleacher Nation) that the Cubs were considering an overhaul to their brand, including new uniforms and a new logo.
Good idea. But so far, poor execution.
There've been no changes to the Cubs logo yet, which is still the same now as it's been since 1979. And while the Cubs did unveil a new alternate jersey for 2014, it's more of a throwback than anything new.
And do we need to talk about the new mascot, Clark? I guess we do, but I'll keep it simple by summing up the truth about it in one word: Yikes.
If the Cubs are going to go for a new direction, then they really need to go for it. New logo. New uniforms. New attitude. New everything. It's past time for a complete directional shift.
And it's a darn good time for one as well. Wrigley Field is due for a face lift. And with guys like Kris Bryant and Javier Baez headlining an excellent collection of prospects, so is the Cubs roster.
Might as well give the franchise a face lift too.
The Atlanta Braves will soon be moving into a new ballpark. It was revealed in November that the club had gotten the go-ahead to build a new stadium in Cobb County, with plans to move in by 2017.
But the Atlanta Journal Constitution teased that the new stadium might not be the only change in the Braves' future: "Could it be a chance also to rebrand the Braves' image? The scuttlebutt among some politicos is that the team may also look to change their logo amid the move."
It doesn't sound like this is actually the case, as NewRepublic.com reported shortly after that the Braves aren't planning on changing their look.
But they should. The Native American stuff has to go, and sooner rather than later.
We can give the Braves some credit for ditching their plans to revive their "screaming Indian" logo in 2013, but the franchise isn't going to be fully enlightened until it ditches the tomahawk and, by extension, puts a stop to the tomahawk chop—40,000 or so people gleefully acting out a stereotype of Native Americans should be more out of place in the year 2014 than it is.
For what it's worth, I don't think that a name change would necessarily have to be a part of the transformation. Sort of like how "Golden State Warriors" has come to work just fine without any Native American imagery, I can see "Braves" being able to work without any too.
I understand if the Braves are worried about what's a decent revenue flow (15th out of 30 teams last year, per Bloomberg.com) relative to their market size, but it's hard to ask for a better excuse for a risky change than a move to a new park. Some purists would be turned off, but likely not enough to keep the new stands from being filled.
Now, as for a team that does need a new name...
The Cleveland Indians, to their credit, seem to have some understanding that we're in the year 2014. So too, to their own credit, do a good many of their fans.
Though they haven't done away with him yet, the Indians have demoted Chief Wahoo from their primary logo in favor of the block letter "C." And while there are clearly still fans with a strong attachment to Chief Wahoo, there are plenty others who are willingly "de-Chiefing" their Indians gear.
This will do for a start. But at some point down the line, "Indians" is going to have to go too.
I'll grant that "Indians" doesn't sound quite as bad as "Redskins," but it's still a term that should have been left behind in less enlightened times. Nobody calls Native Americans "Indians" anymore, and for good reason: Per the lines on the map, they're not Indians.
And can it with the "It's tradition!" argument. As Joe Posnanski pointed out on Hardball Talk earlier this year, the Indians got their name (a) because the club was looking to mimic the Braves after their World Series win in 1914 and (b) because, in Posnanski's words, "It was a glorious opportunity for HI-larious Native American jokes and race-specific cliches and insults that fit well in headlines."
The Indians name and the Chief Wahoo mascot have been making a mockery of Native American people ever since. And as you might have noticed, they've noticed.
This isn't a tradition to honor. It's a tradition to forget.