God I love baseball. It's the greatest American sport because it is a big fat apple pie baked with all the most American ingredients: quasi-athleticism, belts, anthems, expanses of green grass, bubble gum, sitting around, boozing, and fresh air. It's the only sport I know where players can eat food while they're playing. I've loved it forever.
Loved it longer than I've loved birding, in fact. But that's another great thing about Major League Baseball - it treats birds pretty well. There are three MLB teams named after birds: The Baltimore Orioles, the Toronto Blue Jays, and the St. Louis Cardinals. First, these are great choices because they're specific. No invented baloney "Thunder Falcons" or anything, not even generic "hawks" or "eagles." These are classic, small, passerines. These are real birds.
In addition to the names of the teams, the logos do these birds justice. For the most part they're accurate, ornithologically speaking. For the most part, but not completely.
I wanted to take this opportunity to offer some edits to the logos of bird-named MLB teams, to see how different they'd look if given full respect to their avian inspirations. Let's see how it'll look.
Toronto Blue Jays
The Blue Jays have a beautiful set of logos. They'd tried to "toughen it up" a couple years ago, using logo showing an animated Jay angrily gripping a ball...but everyone knew it just wasn't them. The side-facing Jay with the split blue and white lettering is the Blue Jays, and it came back to stay. I grew up with them in powder blue, and I wouldn't mind it that came back full time.
Anyway, the Jays logo, frankly, takes few liberties with the actual Blue Jay. The biggest difference - the only difference - is that the bill and neck stripe of the Blue Jay is black. Well, the bill for sure. The neck stripe is a bit tougher to see. It's interesting, Blue Jays are such an easily-identified bird that field guides don't seem to pay much attention to the details. It's tough to tell whether the neck is a midnight blue or a black, but most images see it as black, so I'll go with that. A simple shift leads to a slightly different logo.
St. Louis Cardinals
One of the oldest and most storied franchises in pro baseball, St. Louis has been making cardinals cool for decades. Northern Cardinals are an interesting case, they're not an intimidating or tough bird, but they're so colorful and common that they're one of the few birds that everyone knows.
As I've covered before, despite their ubiquity Northern Cardinals are frequently misrepresented in broader culture. No one can seem to get the colors right, mostly insisting that they have bright yellow beaks. They don't. They just don't.
Spring brings two of my favorite things back into my life: migrating birds and pro baseball. Welcome back. Have a good 2014.