Let me begin this piece by asking a simple question. If you had something that was perceived by many to be the best of its kind, what would you do with it? Wouldn’t you want to show it off as much as you could, flashing its greatness in the highest possible way? Many of you would answer yes, which makes the topic I’m about to discuss even more frustrating.
Time to travel back a few years to 2000. The Brewers were on the doorstep of a new era. Miller Park was set to open the following year. The team was aiming for a rebranding to partner the new state-of-the-art home (after the short tenure of the love-or-hate 90’s style “MB look”). They ushered in the rebirth with the uniforms and logos we’ve all grown accustomed to today: the cursive “Brewers” font on the front of uniforms.
Now, I’ll admit: I’m a fan of these logos, especially the one that captures the statewide essence with the “M” that situates the hats. I appreciate the sprig of barley that represents the terminology of the team name. It’s a subtle touch that captures the history of brewing in Milwaukee. However, nothing, and I mean nothing, beats the classic glove logo that captures such an important pedigree of Brewers baseball.
Ask baseball fans of any team which team has the coolest logo in the sport. I guarantee at least 75 percent of them will say the Brewers’ ball and mitt. Who would blame them? This logo is a piece of art — no ifs, ands or buts about it. The simplicity yet unmatched creativity of the M and the B that form a glove is a combination that puts it on the pedestal of arguably the greatest logo in all of sports. I’m serious when I say it deserves a spot in the Louvre right next to the Mona Lisa.
The Brewers can’t keep getting away with mocking us in this manner. At this point, robbing us from that iconic logo is becoming a crime of the highest degree. It began in 2006 when Retro Fridays debuted and it took another step this season with the introduction of the refreshed retro look. Anything more and I’ll have to file a harassment charge to local authorities. Retro Fridays are simply breathtaking. I always try to make it to as many as I can. It goes beyond just the jerseys and hats. The graphics on the video board in centerfield are just as marvelous as the uniforms. The retro sweatshirts that bench players and coaches wear in the dugout look better than the normal ones. For me, games on a Saturday following a Retro Friday night are extremely agonizing, simply due to the realization of the greatness we’re missing out on.
There’s no better time to make the transition than now. Fans have accepted the fact of the inevitable rebuild. Similar to when the current logo was established 16 years ago, we’re in the midst of a new era of Brewers baseball. Excitement and anticipation surrounds our farm system once again. David Stearns is waving his wand left and right in his works of catapulting this team back to its glory days. So, why not pay homage to those glory days and fully resurrect the retro look?
The obvious and probably most reasonable answer to that question is money. Perhaps Brewers executives know that a rebranding sits on the horizon. Maybe they have intentions of milking every last cent out of memorabilia sales with the current primary logo set. But my rebuttal to that argument is the following: Why not just switch the roles of the two logos? Now, I’m not a business major by any stretch but bear with me here. Shops in Miller Park sell retro apparel despite it not being the primary logo. In fact, it wouldn’t surprise me if that clothing line sells more than the current branding. Just because the team would be donning the retro look full time does not mean fans would quit buying apparel of the current logo.
To add more fuel to my fiery rant, some of the teams that have traveled the rebuild road have conducted a rebranding. Let’s take a glance at some of the most recent cases:
- Arizona Diamondbacks (2007): The D-Backs laid to rest one of the more rare color combinations in sports of green and purple (By the way, I loved when the Bucks rocked those colors) for a more newer look. Their old look seemed to scream a 90’s trend, especially with the vest uniforms. The red, black and tan color combination gives off more of a southwestern desert vibe.
- Tampa Bay Rays (2008): They didn’t just do a change of the logo, they revamped their actual name (previously the Devil Rays). However, they ridded the sting ray out of its primary logo and introduced a sleek new look that resembles the soothing atmosphere of the Florida city.
- Baltimore Orioles (2012): Though it was more of a change in cap insignia, the O’s still rebranded when they finally made it back to the playoffs. They decided to resuscitate the vintage bird and lowered the use of the more realistic oriole, posing the following question: Why do sports teams prefer violent looking minimalist logos over the greatness of innocent cartoon logos?
- Toronto Blue Jays (2012): Despite the fact they didn’t create much noise in the playoffs until last season, the team north of the border still gave a nod to years past in their rebrand. They ditched the (in my opinion, horrendous) futuristic look for arguably my favorite logo in the game. In fact, Toronto even has my favorite jerseys in baseball. A+ rebranding.
- Houston Astros (2013): This is probably the best example of how the Brewers should go about turning back the clock to their retro days. Knowing they had a plethora of young talent, the Astros shed their blandish looks for a new emblem that comes off as both retro and vibrant, similar to what the Brewers could aim for.
There are other teams that have rebranded, but for the most part, this list shows teams rebuilding and that made a playoff run soon after. We all know about the Marlins’ transition from when they became the Miami Marlins and their rainbow-of-sorts combination of electrifying colors. The Indians have also begun the process of eliminating Chief Wahoo from making appearances on uniforms, but for reasons that spark a whole other debate.
Back to the Brewers and the retro look. When I say I want the team to go all out retro, I mean all out retro. Put that ball and glove on every hat. Mix it up a bit and make this an alternate hat. Don’t just shelter it for batting practice. Those color combinations were worn in the ’82 World Series. Show that baby off! Go way back and reestablish the Barrel Man as the alternate logo. Bring back the pinstripes. Use the cursive look that was worn in one of the most historic Brewers moments of all time as an alternate jersey. Wear the powder blue jerseys on Sundays. There are so many opportunities that are just waiting to be taken advantage of. I want every baseball fan to experience that mind numbing realization when the brain comprehends that the logo is not just a glove, but that it actually says “MB.” (Editor’s Note on 3/7/18 — like this)
Just picture it now. Game 7 of the 2020 World Series. Bottom of the 9th, all tied up. Runner on first. Orlando Arcia at the plate with a chance to bring a World Series championship back to Milwaukee for the first time in 63 years. He bullets a shot to right center. The crowd, already standing, goes into a frenzy. Brett Phillips races around third as the throw reaches the cut-off man. His helmet donning the ball and glove logo flies off as he’s halfway down the line.
Joe Buck broadcasts to millions of viewers: Phillips waved around at third, there’s going to be a play at the plate! Not in time and for the first time in franchise history, the Milwaukee Brewers are World Champions! Arcia, the hero in Game Seven!
Miller Park erupts in pandemonium. Streams of blue and yellow confetti cascade from the catwalks and fill the air as the crowd generates movement on the Richter scale. Bernie goes down his slide and waves a Brewers flag. Bob Uecker has tears running down his cheeks in the press box. Boom, boom, boom! The fireworks keep being shot off. Players wearing pinstripes with blue font letters outlined in a trim of vibrant yellow hurdle the dugout fence. Some run for Arcia, others celebrate with Phillips. Mark Attanasio jumps over the railing from his seat behind home plate to participate in the joyous mob. Everyone in the stadium is hugging each other in disbelief. “WORLD CHAMPIONS” is broadcasted on the video board. The Commissioner’s Trophy is presented to a champagne soaked Craig Counsell, who holds it in the air, the ball and glove logo sitting on his hat just below. The Brewers are World Champs. Goosebumps are forming on my arms and chills are running down my spine typing this. What a scene that would be.
It doesn’t have to be done overnight. We can wait until the team is on the cusp of reaching the playoffs, but I’m setting my patience at three years, max. No more playing around. It’s time to provide that quintessential logo with the recognition and spotlight it deserves. This is something that needs to happen.
Brewers, please don’t constrain this to just my dreams. Make it a reality.