After ranking the primary logos of all 123 teams in the four major sports leagues in North America (1-40, 41-80, 81-123), it only made sense to put them all into a bracket and have a tournament. So, that’s just what we did.
To fill out the field and get to 128 teams, five wild cards were slotted into the field: the defunct Hartford Whalers, Montreal Expos, Quebec Nordiques, Seattle Pilots, and Seattle SuperSonics. As the tournament has played out on Twitter, nostalgia has proven powerful: not only have three of the five wild cards knocked out the highly-seeded teams they were drawn against, two are now in the Elite Eight.
The lowest-seeded logo remaining also is a blast from the past, as the Brewers’ reborn ball-in-glove logo has been a juggernaut, tacky circle design be damned. Milwaukee is one of five MLB teams remaining, along with three NHL teams still in the mix. We’ve also got five American teams’ logos going against three Canadian outfits — one is guaranteed entry to the Final Four, too, as the Expos and Calgary Flames battle it out in this round.
Time to take a closer look at that matchup and all the rest. Voting begins Thursday on Twitter.
Red Wings: d. (113) Vancouver Canucks, 81-19; d. (49) Edmonton Oilers, 77-23, d. (17) Philadelphia Flyers, 70-30; d. (1) Los Angeles Dodgers, 62-38
Mets: d. (120) Kansas City NFL, 73-27; d. (56) Dallas Stars, 81-19, d. (105) Denver Nuggets, 72-28; d. (25) Toronto Maple Leafs, 52-48
Red Wings-Mets is a big-time rivalry… in the International League, where last year Rochester took the season series, 11-9, but Syracuse also had its biggest win of the season. When it comes to the New York Mets and Detroit Red Wings, there is a connection, as Mike Barwis is the Mets’ senior advisor for strength and conditioning, and the Red Wings’ director of sports science and human performance. Both teams have had their share of Hall of Famers who were better identified with other teams — Adam Oates, Luc Robitaille, Mike Modano, Rickey Henderson, Nolan Ryan, and Eddie Murray among them — and both previously played in arenas named for people who did not play for them, Joe Louis and Bill Shea. What would you rather have come flying in for a big game, an octopus, or a guy with a parachute?
Brewers: d. (28) Utah Jazz, 87-13; d. (92) Denver Broncos, 75-25; d. (5) Pittsburgh Penguins, 55-45; d. (12) New Orleans Saints, 66-34
Whalers: d. (4) Boston Celtics, 76-24; d. (68) Nashville Predators, 90-10; d. (29) Green Bay Packers, 81-19; d. (52) Buffalo Sabres, 77-23
Which did you realize first, that the Brewers logo has the letters “MB” in it, or that the Whalers’ logo has the letters “HW”? Also, do you see the arrow in the FedEx logo? How about the “31” in the Baskin Robbins logo? Anyway, these teams have led mostly miserable existences. The Whalers are more popular in defunct hood than they ever were as an active team, yet they still have more total playoff appearances (8) than the Brewers (6), despite having joined the NHL a decade after the Brewers joined MLB, and having left the NHL 23 years ago. Pucky the Whale and Bernie Brewer are cool. Also, Milwaukee can join Hartford in having said goodbye to whales, while the capital of Connecticut does have some brewing.
Expos: d. (3) Las Vegas Raiders, 72-28; d. (67) Cincinnati Bengals, 91-9; d. (30) Chicago Bulls, 71-29; d. (46) St. Louis Blues, 67-33
Flames: d. (118) Los Angeles Clippers, 89-11; d. (54) New York Giants, 76-24; d. (22) New York Rangers, 52-48; d. (6) St. Louis Cardinals, 53-47
Calgary was home to the Expos’ rookie-ball team when the Flames got to town, but had skirmishes with Montreal on the ice in the 1986 and 1989 Stanley Cup Finals, with each city winning once. The Flames do not currently have any players on their roster who were born in Quebec, let alone Montreal. You’d think that there would be more connections to make in the all-Canada matchup, but… Johnny Gaudreau and Pedro Martinez are popular in Boston? Jiri Hudler vs. Rex Hudler? The facial hair of Youppi! and Lanny McDonald?
Orioles: d. (109) Toronto Raptors, 67-33; d. (42) Colorado Avalanche, 62-38; d. (10) Boston Bruins, 58-42; d. (7) Montreal Canadiens, 50.5-49.5
Blue Jays: d. (111) Brooklyn Nets, 92-8; d. (82) Miami Dolphins, 79-21; d. (15) Pittsburgh Steelers, 67-33; d. (WC) Quebec Nordiques, 52-48
It’s impossible to get into this matchup without noting Edwin Encarnacion’s walkoff homer (and Buck Showalter’s inexplicable decision to go down without Zach Britton throwing a single pitch) in the 2016 wild-card game. Also, notably, Hall of Famer Roberto Alomar played for both Baltimore and Toronto, and there are some other guys who look weird with the “wrong” birds, like Jimmy Key, Jose Bautista, Kevin Millar, Armando Benitez, and Ernie Whitt. The Orioles were going to have a 1970 World Series 50th anniversary tote bag giveaway when the Blue Jays — who did not come into the league until 1977 — visited on April 25. The Jim Palmer bobblehead day on May 30 also doesn’t look like it’s going to happen.