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Tampa Bay Rays Honor Smokers, Diss Cigars

If you’ve been reading our blog for a while, you know that I am a huge baseball fan. So since Will is out today (feel better soon Will!) and I’m doing the blog in his place, I wanted to bring you another cigar-related baseball story. Following a trend that I’ve really been enjoying, the Tampa Bay Rays will be paying tribute to their team and city’s history by wearing throwback uniforms on July 2. Throwback uniforms for an expansion team that began play in 1998? Yes, they will be paying tribute to the 1951 Tampa Bay Smokers, champions of the Class B Florida International League. The Smokers, what a great name for a team based in “Cigar City”, and of course we like them because their logo features a big, fat, burning stogie right on the front of the jersey.

But hold on just a minute – the uniform the Rays will wear next weekend doesn’t have a cigar on it. In a move that smacks of kow-towing to PC ninnies, the Rays front office has decided to remove the cigar from the Smoker’s team logo, saying “this version of the logo is intended only to be a slightly more contemporary version of that wonderful history.” Funny, but when I read that quote all I can see is “blah blah blah, I’m afraid offending anyone”.

From where I’m sitting, this “historical tribute” all of a sudden got much less historical. If you want to wear throwback jerseys, then wear the old team’s logo!  Or don’t do the tribute at all if you don’t want to “promote” smoking. But why bother honoring a team, but drastically altering a main component of their uniform? Are we really at the point in society where people actually believe that an image of a cigar on the front of a baseball jersey is going to encourage children (or adults for that matter) to smoke cigars?

I suppose it’s not really worth getting all riled up about a design change of a uniform that one baseball team is going to wear for one game. I suppose that we should all be used to cigars being taboo and demonized by know-it-alls who want to make decisions for everyone. After all, it’s not like they’re photoshopping the cigar out of Winston Churchill’s mouth. I sure don’t have to like it though, and there is still something that really bothers me about this, and the fact that it even could be turned into an issue in the first place. One thing is for sure – I’ll sure be rooting for the Cardinals to beat the “Smokers” come 7/2, and not just because they’re creeping up in the standings behind my beloved Sox.