The Tampa Bay Rays are planning to pay tribute to the 1951 International League champion Tampa Smokers by wearing throwback Smokers uniforms on July 2. The Rays themselves have only been around since 1998 and don’t have anything to “throw back” to, so they have to do the thing the Nationals do where they pretend the Washington Senators are them and not the Twins. The only problem is that the Smokers … uh, have “smoking” in their name, and because this is 2011 the Rays are removing the image of a cigar from the Smokers jerseys.
This begs a few questions, the most pressing ones being “Why are you paying tribute to a team called the ‘Smokers’ if you’re worried about people thinking about smoking?” and “Are you worried that kids are going to start smoking because they saw a picture of a cigar?” Maybe they removed it because it looks like a turd. When The Tampa Tribute asked about the PC Thug whitewashing, the Rays issue the following statement:
“We have chosen to wear the Smokers jersey to celebrate the rich heritage and traditions surrounding baseball in Tampa Bay and this version of the logo is intended only to be a slightly more contemporary version of that wonderful history.”
Man, that’s weak. That would be like the Cleveland Indians realizing the big smiling caricature face of a Native American was prejudiced and offensive and trying to change the logo to a cursive letter I, or even worse, a block letter C.
My suggestion? Let the Rays play the July 2 game in screenprinted shirts with Fred McGriff on the front. That’s really all you have to throw back to.
[h/t to Big League Stew]