By Brendan T. Gleason
Mark you negative-image pushing, bad-role-model endorsing, punchline explaining bozo. There is a time for subtlety, and it can even come when paying tribute to a team of yesteryear. Now granted, there are worse things that happen in our day to day lives than seeing a cigar on a baseball uniform for one throwback regular season game, but that doesn’t mean we have to celebrate and glorify every bad habit that the people who came before us made.
First of all, I have no idea who the Smokers were. I don’t know what years they played, I don’t know what league Oakland A’s wearing throwback jerseys of the Kansas City(or Philadelphia) Athletics. This isn’t even the Nationals deciding to don Expos attire for a game this summer. I just looked this up, the Smokers were a minor league team that won the international league in 1951. If a team plays in the middle of a century, and there’s no one there to witness it…does it make a sound? Obviously it does. This just in, the Rays are going to wear the uniforms of my little league team from 1991 next year.
Secondly, do we really need a picture of a cigar on a jersey that says “Smokers” across the chest? Would they need a picture of a guillotine if they were paying tribute to the Nottingham Executioners? Would they need a picture of moonshine embroidered on the throwback uniforms of the Dodge City Drinkers? Would we need a picture of a whip if we were honoring the Bradenton Crackers? Not only would those pictures be unnecessary, they would, for the most part, be wrong.
I’m all for paying tribute to the smokers. I’m all for Tampa being steeped in cigar making and smoking. Hell, I’m all for taking part in smoking a stogie from time to time. What I’m not for, and this is my final point, is beating a dead horse. We’re paying tribute to the smokers, right? That’s not a word that needs to be explained to people. Adults know what it means, kids over the age of 10 know what it means, and kids under the age of 10 will only know what it means if we decide to make it a cartoon. Let the kids today keep a little bit of their innocence.
I think it was the correct move by the Rays. No one remembers the smokers, no one needs to see the picture to know what smokers means, and no one needs to choose this as their battle.
Smoke ‘em if ya got ‘em.