No Cigars in Cigar City


The Tampa Bay Rays, a Major League Baseball team established in 1998, have not been around long enough to accumulate old-timey uniform designs for "throwback days," so they raid the closets of defunct teams such as the Tampa Tarpons and the St. Petersburg Pelicans. This year, for a throwback game against the St. Louis Cardinals on July 2, they picked the 1951 jersey of the Tampa Smokers, a Florida International League team whose name honored a major local industry. The jersey did too, until the Rays redesigned it to eliminate a black cigar stitched into the red swoosh under the team name. "We have chosen to wear the Smokers jersey to celebrate the rich heritage and traditions surrounding baseball in Tampa Bay," the team explained, "and this version of the logo is intended only to be a slightly more contemporary version of that wonderful history."

As someone who last sat through a baseball game circa 1975 (and who had to check to make sure the Rays were in fact an MLB team), I am certainly no expert on such matters. But doesn't bringing an old design up to date miss the whole point of throwback days? In any case, the contemporary sensibility that the Rays are accommodating—a tobaccophobia so extreme that it cannot abide a stylized, historically authentic image of a cigar, even in a town known as Cigar City—is worth resisting. It is the same unreasoning intolerance that counts every image of a tobacco product in a movie as a crime against children and airbrushes cigarettes from historical pictures of musicians and artists. If the Rays are willing to be Smokers for a day, despite the risk that children watching them play will emulate their example by embarking on deadly cigarette habits (just as kids who watch the Pirates play frequently become marauding buccaneers), why not go all the way? 

[Thanks to ClubMedSux for the tip.]