Where There’s Smoke There’s, Um, Smoke?

Last week (Tuesday, April 3, 2012, to be precise) I had the pleasure of enjoying an exhibition game between the Washington Nationals and the Boston Red Sox at Nationals Park with my mother and my son.  It was a beautiful day to be outside, but I did find it a bit annoying that the digital “scoreboard” could not be relied upon to show the actual score, or any other pertinent information about the game, at any given time.  To illustrate my point, take a look at this video demonstrating the capabilities of the scoreboard at Nationals Park (if you watch, or fast forward, to the end, the cameraman pans around the park showing that all of the video surfaces can be taken over, with no location dedicated to game information):

I knew I wasn’t the only one confounded by the lack of a scoreboard when I noticed that the gentleman in front of me had his iPad with him and was using it as a virtual scoreboard.  The only other negative on this otherwise lovely afternoon was the final play of the day, as the Nats trailed 8-7 in the bottom of the 9th, having come back from a 6-0 deficit:

Repko, playing in center, then threw out Ian Desmond to end the game, with catcher Daniel Butler applying the tag.

“I thought I was safe, but I’m healthy. That could have ended a lot worse. I was rounding third, I was just telling myself, `Hey, be careful. It’s not that important.’ Nothing against the catcher, but we’ve got nothing on the line out there,” Desmond said. “I think he was No. 81. No offense to him, but he wanted to block that plate, and I wasn’t really going to fight him for it, you know what I mean? During the season, it might be a little different.”

So my mother, ever the devoted Red Sox fan, got to gloat for the rest of the day week.  That’s OK.  My reward was a great day out with two of my favorite people and a reminder about something that I’ve been wanting to blog about for a while…

Back in February, it was “reported” (I use the term loosely as the language in the article I quote seems, in my opinion, a bit biased) in February that the Atlanta Braves were going to modify their new weekend alternate uniforms:

It was a complete no-brainer, but props to the Atlanta Braves for placing a new crossed tomahawk logo on the sleeve of their new weekend alternates. The cream-colored throwbacks — which the baseball world learned about a few weeks ago — are based on the uniforms that the team first wore after moving to Atlanta in the 1960s.

The jerseys of those less-enlightened times featured a savage on the sleeve and it’s a wonder that anyone ever thought the image was OK. The logo strips Native Americans of any humanity and turns them into a one-dimensional character devoid of any sympathy or tribute. It honestly might be the only defense that the few defenders of Cleveland’s Chief Wahoo have left. (“Well, it’s not as bad as what Atlanta used to have.”)

Now to be completely fair, this is not a throwback uniform, simply a uniform based on a design from 50 years ago, so arguments about authenticity aren’t really valid.  What are valid, however, are the reasons Atlanta originally chose to be the Braves.  One of the article’s commenters sums it up well:

The real throwback Indian looks mean, brave, and ready to fight…that’s what a sports team is SUPPOSED to be.  It’s not a patch that’s put on there to say “look at how silly we can make those stupid Indians look…how superior we are to them!”
I’m all for not offending people, but it can be taken too far.  It’s been taken too far here.

And just when you thought professional baseball couldn’t get any sillier or any more politically correct, well, they did (don’t despair, dear reader, this one just might have a happy ending).  Also reported this February:

The Astros are celebrating their 50th anniversary this season. And as you may recall, last September they announced that they’d be marking the occasion by wearing an assortment of throwback uniforms from throughout their history — including Colt .45s uniforms — for Friday home games.

“[T]he Astros will wear retro jerseys from past decades every Friday home game this year, starting with the Colt .45s (minus the pistol, which was deemed inappropriate to include on a uniform).”

Now, just for the record, here’s what a Colt .45s uniform looks like with and without the pistol:

As I said, though, this story may just have a happy ending.  In March, Houston announced they had reversed their decision:

After getting the go-ahead from Major League Baseball and receiving overwhelming support from fans, the Astros announced Friday they were keeping the pistol on the original Colt .45s logo that will be on the throwback uniforms they’ll wear twice this year as part of their 50th anniversary.

“We made this decision for a number of reasons,” Astros owner Jim Crane said in a statement. “We listened to our fans, who were almost unanimously in favor of wearing the original jersey. We wanted to honor all of our past uniforms during this special 50th anniversary season, and we felt it was important to be true to the tradition of the franchise.”

But wait.  There’s an even happier ending.  Yesterday, the Astros beat the Braves 8-3, at least temporarily putting the score at POLITICAL CORRECTNESS 0, HONORING OUR PAST 1.

I would love to have finished this post with the perfect happy ending, telling you that the Astros went on to beat the Braves in their Colt .45s uniforms, but alas, it was not to be.  They lost 6-4 today.  But at least the Braves weren’t wearing their near-throwbacks, and at least they’re still the Braves.