Sunday, February 24, 2013

I Got 5 On It

     This upcoming season, the Houston Astros will be moving to the American League of Major League Baseball. This means new opponents, new divisional foes, and of course a complete overhaul of everything logo and word mark related. The Astros organization and their associated minor league franchises could have gone crazy with this artistic opportunity and started from scratch, but thankfully they resorted to finding inspiration from an era of the past.

     The Astos new logo's for the upcoming season (which can be seen HERE) are drawn conceptually from the incarnation of the franchise’s history in 1965, up until 1993. To me, it really screams "baseball" and not sports entertainment; which is what we all really want deep down. I enjoy the simplicity to the fullest.

     Gone are the days of rust orange stars, Craig Biggio, and winning seasons. Although some might be upset with this news, cap collectors will be able to rejoice, as most merchandise of the Greeneville Astros is on sale. The cap shown above is the official road cap from last season for the G-ville Astros, which I bought for 5 DOLLARS. That's correct, 5 DOLLARS. The shipping cost more than the cap, unbelievably. The caps, along with further merchandise can be found HERE.

     The Greeneville Astros are the rookie level affiliate of the Houston Astros, in the Appalachian League. The team has been part of the league since 2004, playing in the West division. In their very first year in Greeneville, they were able to capture both division and league titles. Since then, however, the team has struggled. They haven't finished in first place since, and they've only has 2 players of note make it to the big leagues. Those two men are Felipe Paulino, who made his Major League Baseball debut with the Astros in 2007, and 5'5 shortstop, Jose Altuve; who is arguably the face of the franchise as they move to the junior circuit.

     The cap above, featuring a grey under-brim (which technically makes this an old cap, probably locked in a stock room since 2005), also has a black crown and brim, with the now retro Astros star on the front. In addition, a capital "G" for Greeneville overlaps the star. On the side, the New Era Cap logo is located. To conclude, the back features the Minor League Baseball logo, with the team-according color scheme.

     Check it out. If you don't hate it and they have your size, give it a shot. After all, it is a "throwback" now.



Wednesday, February 20, 2013

A Prehistoric Bird Brings New Hope

     Yes, New Orleans, Louisiana has had an NBA franchise to call its own for the last ten plus seasons, but it never felt quite right. An old team name, old team colors, and a temporary, yet neccessary, relocation to Oklahoma City for 2 seasons, left a feeling of wanting "more" for the franchise and fanbase; well, "more" just knocked on the door of "The Big Easy".

     "The New Orleans Pelicans" was officially revealed as the re-brand name for the Louisiana-based NBA franchise, on January 24th of this year. Albeit a wordy and lackluster name for a professional sports team, it does at least carry a sense of tradition with its direct link to local culture. The pelican, more specifically the Brown Pelican, is the official state bird of Louisiana. The bird is included on the state seal and state flag of the state officially known as "The Pelican State". So yeah, the bird is kind of a big deal; We get it.

     Although naming them the "Louisiana Pelicans" would have been more suitable, may have looked "cleaner", and would have had a better ring to it, we should be grateful for what we ended up with. After all, it could have been one of the other proposed nicknames; those of course being: he "Mosquitoes", the "Rougarou", the "Swamp Dogs", and the "Bull Dogs". Yeah, you read those correctly; no need to adjust your monitors. 

     Along with the name change, new colors (red, white, navy blue, and gold), new logos, and new wordmarks are here. Sure, the America colorway always works and looks pretty, but why not keep with the state-homage motif? Just one mans opinion, here, but I feel these colors would have worked just fine (maybe even better).

     The logos in their entirety, I have no problems with whatsoever; they're all very professional, timeless, and fitting of the teams location. Those can all be seen HERE. The fleur-de-lis and the "Crecent-City" alternate logos are really nice. Hopefully they use them either on the jersey or home court design when the time comes for all of that. 

     The Hornets will finish in New Orleans with what most would call mild success. In their ten-plus years in Louisiana, the franchise has only made 5 playoff appearances, at best losing in the Western Conference Semifinals in the 07-08 season. The one bright spot in the franchises history was the drafting and development of star point guard Chris Paul. In his Hornets career, Paul won the rookie of the year for the bugs in 2006, captured multiple steal and assist titles, was named to 3 all-star teams, and was even named all NBA first team once. He was truly a reason to go to the games, tune in on T.V., and likely even claim the Hornets. Once Paul decided to move on to bigger and better opportunities, it was clear a re-building was on the then current ownerships hands. In April of 2012, the team was sold to car dealership mogul, and New Orleans Saints owner Tom Benson. This would be the beginning of what is now a recurring theme of "out with the old, and in with the new". 

     The new hope for success came in the form of the number one overall pick in the 2012 NBA Draft. The Hornets selected Collegiate National Player of the Year Anthony Davis, out of Kentucky. Davis certainly provides a foundation for success. The talented big man, along with multiple trade pieces for the now Los Angeles Clipper, Chris Paul, and key free agent signings certainly puts the club in a decent position to grow quickly. Being in the Western Conference, let alone a division with Dallas, Houston, Memphis, and San Antonio, is no easy feat, but the way things look this year, 10-15 games over .500 should get you into the playoffs. Is it impossible to picture the team in the eighth spot in the West next year? No, but for a franchise that's currently owners of a 19-35 record through the all-star break, the road seems to be uphill. 

     The cap shown in today's post was purchased at Cap City, in West New York, New Jersey. The cap, along with other Pelicans 59/50's can be found HERE. It features a navy crown and bull, with the primary pelicans logo across the front. On the left side, the New Era logo is located in white. On the back, the alternate Pelicans logo is located low and center. A great cap for a budding franchise in the ashes of the old.  

     Maybe with the vacating of the Hornets name, the rights can be sold back to the Charlotte franchise. C'mon, M.J.! Call it a belated 50th birthday present! Bobcats sounds like a minor league team name, anyway. 



Monday, February 11, 2013

World Baseball Classic Preview: Puerto Rican National Team

     It's hard to believe a team with names such as Carlos Delgado, Jorge Posada, and  Ivan "Pudge" Rodriguez in its lineage has yet to win the World Baseball Classic, let alone place in the top three. With a fifth place finish in each of the past two WBC tournaments, improvement is certainly the mission.

     As mentioned earlier on The Fitted Diaires, The World Baseball Classic will begin in early March. Pools A and B will begin play on the second, while teams in pools C and D, such as Puerto Rico will start on the seventh. Along with Puerto Rico, Pool C consists of the fore mentioned Dominican Republic team, Venezuela, and newcomers Spain. All things accounted for, Puerto Rico should be able to advance to the second round of the tournament, but as the old adage goes, don't count your chickens before they've hatched.

     It has been a star-studded affair for the P.R. team, but as this Yankees fan will tell you, that doesn't always result in championships. This year, the other-other red, white, and blue team enters play in the 12 spot of the IBAF rankings; not exactly ideal in a field of 16, but results may vary (Official Rankings).

    Although, the days of Roberto Clemente and Bernie Williams are long gone, there are still some names in the program you're likely familiar with:

Nelson Figueroa of the Arizona Diamondbacks, Javier Lopez of the Giants, J.C. Romero formerly of the Phillies, and well traveled starter Javier Vasquez.

Jose Molina of the Tampa Bay Rays, Yadier Molina of the St Louis Cardinals, and Martin Maldonado of the Milwaukee Brewers. 

Mike Aviles of the Cleveland Indians.

Carlos Beltran of the St. Louis Cardinals, Angel Pagan of the San Francisco Giants, and Alex Rios of Chicago White Sox. 

     Puerto Rico will play its first game of the tournament against Spain on Mar. 8th, followed by a contest against Venezuela on the 9th, and concluding Pool C play on the 10th against the always difficult Dominican Republic team. The one thing going for Puerto Rico, is that all games are essentially home games, despite the necessary designation; this is of course becuse San Juan, Puerto Rico is one of the 4 hubs of pool play this year. All games will be played at Hiram Bithorn Stadium; a modest 18,000 seat park, named after the first Puerto Rican born player to reach the Major Leagues. If the humble island-commonwealth can pack the local setting for 3 games, Puerto Rico should have all the support they need to compete and advance. 

     The cap features a red crown and brim, with a white overlapping "P" and "R" outlined faintly in blue located across the front panels. On the left side of the cap, the Puerto Rican flag is featured. On the back, the WBC logo is centered across the 2 back panels. This is a really clean looking cap, which I originally added to my collection during the first Wolrd Baseball classic in 2006, in its alternate blue colorway, no longer being used. The cap can be found HERE at the official site of the WBC shop. 

     Next, we will feature a recently debuted cap representing a rebranded NBA franchise for the 2013-2014 season. Stay tuned.