Saturday, March 29, 2014

Opening Day: License plates of baseball's National League Central

Opening day for Major League Baseball starts Sunday night with the Dodgers and Padres, but most teams will toss their first pitch on Monday. That includes much of the National League's Central Division, whose commemorative license plates we'll be exploring here.

The Chicago Cubs and Pittsburgh Pirates get first crack on Monday. Since Pennsylvania does not offer plates for their pro sports teams, Chicago fans can at least take pride that their state will honor the Cubbies where the "gods of baseball" have yet to do so - at least for the last hundred years or so. This is a clean, well-done plate in the style of Illinois' other plates for sports teams, featuring the Big-C logo and a pinstripe along the top.

Later in the day, the Atlanta Braves visit their former home in Milwaukee to tangle with the Brewers. The Brew Crew are notable for offering not just one, but two plates to honor their nine. One version features the team's current logo style, and is rendered in the current color scheme of royal blue and old gold.

However, long-time fans and/or traditionalists may prefer the second option, which uses the old "m-b" logo and a bright blue/yellow theme in keeping with the team's old look from the 1970s and 1980s. Of the two choices, I have to say that I rather like this one better - not just because I tend to prefer the old logo and colors, but because it also makes for a more effective license plate. See how the yellow makes the legends "pop" off the blue background?

Finally, the St. Louis Cardinals travel to the Queen City for a tilt against the Cincinnati Reds, in a divisional match-up between two of the league's most storied and successful franchises. Missouri offers a somewhat subdued plate for Cards backers, featuring a stoic cardinal perched in his usual place on a bat. Honestly, it seems fairly similar in layout to the Brewers plates above, but one could wish for a bit more color.

As for the Reds, Ohio offers a plate that is broadly similar to the rest of the state's specialty plate choices, featuring the characteristic "C" logo and the "Reds on Radio" legend at the bottom - which is effectively an ad for the Cincinnati Reds Radio Network. Nearly every other Ohio sports plate just carries the team name on the bottom, so why they got a special call-out, I'm not sure. (If anyone knows why, please fill me in and I'll report back.)

Coming up next: our first visit to MLB's junior circuit.

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