MANNY RAMIREZ started his rehab, reluctantly, in Albuquerque. Reluctantly, perhaps, because he thought they told him he would be joining a team called the I's-a-dopes, and Manny, being Manny, felt disrespected.
They talked softly because Ramirez totes a big stick. They patiently explained that the team was called the Isotopes, and that an isotope is any of two or more species of atoms of a chemical element with the same atomic number and position in the periodic table and nearly identical chemical behavior but with differing atomic mass.
Manny was OK with that, especially when they told him the air was thin and the fences cozy and the pitching mediocre. And yo, testosterone-breath, the team logo was cool, an abstract A with no crossbar. Just two of those slanted circles featuring an atom or a proton or a neuron, whatever.
It is a cool logo because it refers to the secret place outside of Albuquerque where scientists perfected an atomic bomb that blew away huge chunks of two Japanese cities and brought a swift end to World War II, making the world safe for democracy once again.
Shazam, that same week the Philadelphia 76ers announced that they were going back to the future by scrapping that black-and-gold hodgepodge to restore the old red, white-and-blue 76er logo with the circle of 13 stars.
Thirteen stars, uh huh, for the original 13 colonies that declared, in Philadelphia, their independence from old King George. History, that's what we have. Betsy Ross would have loved the new/old logo. Ben Franklin, peering through those bifocals he invented, would have adored it.
Ed Snider thinks I was around when Franklin wore knickers. Can't you hear Ben sneering: "We're talking about a logo here, a logo! Your franchise player is made of peanut brittle and your team is going to lose $30 million this year, and you're talking about a logo!"
The Phillies' logo is built around the Liberty Bell, a nice touch. The Liberty Bell was last rung on July 8, 1776. Or was it Feb. 25, 1846, to honor George Washington's birthday. Or maybe Sept. 25, 1920, when the 19th amendment was ratified giving women the right to vote. And how come Pennsylvania is spelled Pensylvania on the bell?
The Eagles' name and logo? Dates back to Franklin Delano Roosevelt and the National Recovery Act, trying to jolt America out of the Great Depression. The Eagle is cartoonish now, but the team is respectable, and that's all that matters.
We've had our share of woeful logos in the city. Take the A's symbol, an elephant perched on a ball with a bat in its trunk. Ugh.
It was bad, but not as awful as the Red Sox, represented by a pair of red sawx, appropriate for a laundromat but not a big-league baseball team.
That's still not the worst logo in baseball. Cleveland wins that dubious award for its humiliating caricature of a Native American.
Sometimes a team borrows its image from its logo. Take the Celtics and their swaggering leprechaun. There's an arrogance there, one symbol short of a victory cigar. Same with the angry bull in Chicago, at least when Michael Jordan played there.
Other ominous logos are out there. The Clearwater Threshers are represented by a shark about to take a bite out of a baseball. And there's the Shreveport Swamp Dragons, all lime-green and vicious. One of my favorites is the Winston-Salem Warthogs, all menacing tusks.
You want to sell jerseys and caps, sometimes you have to go Harry Potterish. There's the Lansing Lugnuts. And locally, the IronPigs. That logo is a neat, vertical steel beam, with a twisted pig's tail. It is 40 times better than the primitive R-Phils in Reading.
Sometimes less is more. The intertwined N and Y of the Yankees is timeless. The olde English D for Detroit's Tigers endures.
When it comes to college logos, I am fondest of the stark Iowa Hawkeye logo. I also like the simplicity of Miami's orange-and-green symbol. The Nittany Lion, poised to pounce, is a welcome antidote to those plain white uniforms Joe Paterno loves at Penn State.
Which brings us full circle to the Sixers' logo. Yo, didn't Wilt Chamberlain wear 13? Yes he did. And when anyone worried about a hex, Wilt would grumble, "Don't be superstitious, it's bad luck." *
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