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, those three non-Seattle entries all have advanced to the Sweet 16.
Hockey, not surprisingly, is the dominant sport as the tournament gets down to its final stages. Half of the remaining teams are from the NHL, where logos are prominently festooned on jerseys, with seven MLB teams still going and the New Orleans Saints as the one remaining NFL entrant. The NBA, which got only three teams to the Round of 32, is completely done now.
As we move on to the round of 16, it’s time to look at the matchups. Voting begins Monday on Twitter.
Dodgers: d. (WC) Seattle SuperSonics, 56-44; d. (65) Minnesota Wild, 66-34; d. (97) Oakland Athletics, 59-41
Red Wings: d. (113) Vancouver Canucks, 81-19; d. (49) Edmonton Oilers, 77-23, d. (17) Philadelphia Flyers, 70-30
Do your best Marty McFly and head on back to 1955, because we’re getting that year’s World Series winner against that year’s Stanley Cup champion. The Dodgers’ history with Detroit is limited. They’ve never met the Tigers in the World Series, though Clayton Kershaw did pitch a two-hitter against them in interleague play in 2011. The Red Wings have had only two playoff series against Los Angeles, sweeping the Kings in 2000 but losing in six games in 2001. There is, however, some precedent for Dodgers/hockey crossover.
Mets: d. (120) Kansas City NFL, 73-27; d. (56) Dallas Stars, 81-19, d. (105) Denver Nuggets, 72-28
Maple Leafs: d. (104) Texas Rangers, 82-18; d. (40) Carolina Panthers, 74-26; d. (8) San Jose Sharks, 56-44
These teams have gotten together once before, as the Maple Leafs roughed up Bartolo Colon in a 7-1 rout of the Mets in 2015… at least according to WCBS. Thing is, that game was in June, a month in which the Leafs have never played a game. Seriously, the latest into the spring they’ve ever played was May 31, the date on which they were eliminated by the Buffalo Sabres in the 1999 Eastern Conference finals. The Toronto Mets are a team that exists, and their logo is oddly disturbing!
Brewers: d. (28) Utah Jazz, 87-13; d. (92) Denver Broncos, 75-25; d. (5) Pittsburgh Penguins, 55-45
Saints: d. (117) Oklahoma City Thunder, 85-15; d. (53) San Francisco Giants, 70-30; d. (21) New York Islanders, 57-43
Each of these teams has knocked out one opponent from each of the other three leagues on the way to this matchup, so whichever wins this duel will have a grand slam of sorts. The Brewers had their Triple-A affiliate in New Orleans from 1993-96, the strongest connection to make here. Deion Sanders had one home run and three stolen bases in his career against the Brewers, and four interceptions and one touchdown in his career against the Saints. But when it comes to Brewers-Saints, it’s clear that the guy to talk about is much deeper in history: St. Arnulf of Metz.
Sabres: d. (77) Tennessee Titans, 72-28, d. (13) Dallas Cowboys, 62-38; d. (45) Boston Red Sox, 53-47
Whalers: d. (4) Boston Celtics, 76-24; d. (68) Nashville Predators, 90-10; d. (29) Green Bay Packers, 81-19
The Adams Division is back! The Whalers were the visitors for the Sabres’ last game at The Aud in 1996, and the next year the Sabres played what turned out to be the next-to-last home game the Whalers would ever have. Buffalo and Hartford never met in the playoffs, which is somewhat surprising, but not entirely when you consider that for all the nostalgia about them, the Whalers were generally pretty terrible over the course of their 18 NHL seasons, missing the playoffs 10 times and advancing past the first round exactly once. When they did get on the ice together, it was beautiful, except when it was horribly ugly.
Expos: d. (3) Las Vegas Raiders, 72-28; d. (67) Cincinnati Bengals, 91-9; d. (30) Chicago Bulls, 71-29
Blues: d. (83) Florida Panthers, 80-20; d. (19) Minnesota Vikings, 56-44; d. (14) Detroit Tigers, 54-46
When you hear “Expos-Blues,” you immediately have to think of Gary Carter, Andre Dawson, Tim Raines, and those beautiful road uniforms. They had a little splash of red on them, too, just as the… no, please no… just as the… seriously, no… JUST AS THE BLUES ONCE DID. The Expos had good teams that couldn’t quite keep up with the Cardinals in the 1980s, while the Blues were swept by Montreal in the Stanley Cup Final in 1968 and 1969.
Flames: d. (118) Los Angeles Clippers, 89-11; d. (54) New York Giants, 76-24; d. (22) New York Rangers, 52-48
Cardinals: d. (123) Washington NFL, 87-13; d. (59) Buffalo Bills, 57-43; d. (27) New York Yankees, 53-47
It was just two months ago that Matthew Tkachuk was in St. Louis for NHL All-Star weekend and, during the skills competition, took off his Flames jersey to reveal a hockey version of a powder blue Yadier Molina jersey. A few months before that, back in October, the Cardinals scored one run in seven innings against Mike Soroka, who is from Calgary, in Game 3 of the NLDS — St. Louis led when Soroka left that game, but the bullpen blew it for Adam Wainwright, who is from Georgia, where the Flames played before moving to Calgary. It was a really good game. Remember when we had sports?
Canadiens: d. (122) Chicago NHL, 62-38; d. (71) Pittsburgh Pirates, 79-21; d. (26) Golden State Warriors, 70-30
Orioles: d. (109) Toronto Raptors, 67-33; d. (42) Colorado Avalanche, 62-38; d. (10) Boston Bruins, 58-42
Whatever happens here, both Youppi! and the Oriole Bird will be inducted into the Mascot Hall of Fame this June, at least assuming that the museum in Whiting, Indiana, has reopened by then. This matchup would have been rife with cool things to reference had the Orioles not beaten the Boston Bruins in the last round, but here we are, left with an Orioles concept hockey jersey and… whatever this is.
Blue Jays: d. (111) Brooklyn Nets, 92-8; d. (82) Miami Dolphins, 79-21; d. (15) Pittsburgh Steelers, 67-33
Nordiques: d. (2) Miami Heat, 74-26; d. (63) Carolina Hurricanes, 81-19; d. (31) Winnipeg Jets, 69-31
There’s an Eric Lindros baseball card with a Blue Jays jersey. There’s an Eric Lindros hockey card with a Nordiques jersey (in his hand, anyway). Lindros played zero career games for the Blue Jays and zero career games for the Nordiques. Wendel Clark played for the Nordiques and offered drink specials for the Blue Jays. There are six Canadian teams in the Sweet 16 of this tournament, but this is the only all-Canadian matchup.