After a 37 year absence, The Baltimore Orioles finally bring the word "Baltimore" back to their road uniforms today. It's about time. Those who don't understand the relationship between Baltimore and Washington and their respective sports teams will probably have trouble understanding why this is such a meaningful development to Baltimore sports fans. But it always struck many of us as a slight against the city and its people that our own baseball franchise refused to put the word "Baltimore" on its uniforms for so long.
Baltimoreans (and those like me who grew up in the Baltimore/Washington suburbs but chose to identify with Baltimore over Washington) are a proud, stubborn, and--it must be said--slightly insecure people. John Elway refused to play for us. My blood pressure still rises slightly every time I see that tool on TV. Then we lost our football team and after years of being jilted and screwed by the NFL (and Washington Redskins) we had to steal another town's to get one back. (I'm sure that sucked for Cleveland, but at least they got to keep their team's name and records, ours skipped town in the middle of the night on Mayflower moving vans). Our own airport changed its name to include the dreaded "W" word (some of us still defiantly call it "Friendship Airport"). At least we never had to endure the insult of an official name change like "the Washington Orioles of Baltimore." Thank God for that.
But today is a day to set past insults and slights aside and celebrate. Today is a great day because the Baltimore Orioles are once again the Baltimore Orioles. Crack a cold Natty Bo in celebration.
The team has also tweaked their uniforms slightly in other ways, including yet another relatively minor change to the bird logo that appears on their caps:
The new bird is a little better than the old one. It's a little more streamlined and stylized, and they mercifully dropped the pointless yellow highlights. But in terms of branding it still says "Audubon" to me more than it says "Baseball." Also, the bird's black head is (still) not sufficiently distinguishable when put on a black baseball cap--from a distance it kind of gets lost.
Of course, there is a logo that works much better. Graphically bold, at a glance it says both "Baseball" and "Baltimore." I have no idea why the Orioles don't just give up on all these variations on orthinologically correct birds and go back to the logo that was associated with the franchise from the 1960s through the 1980s:
There is a reason you see more Orioles fans wearing throwback caps than the new ones, and it's not just because the team hasn't been worth a damn in so long. This is a butt-kicking logo.
Bringing "Baltimore" back to the road jerseys is most welcome (and long overdue) development. I'll take it. Would it be greedy to also hope for a winning season?