Sunday, March 30, 2014

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

In our continuing review of Major League Baseball license plates, we move to the National League East. Where previous posts had noted the lack of plate offerings in certain divisions, the NL East gives us way more to look at.

The Washington Nationals travel to Queens on Monday, home of the New York Mets. The Nats represent the District of Columbia, of course, but they are also followed in a wider area encompassing much of western Maryland and northern Virginia. Thus, all three jurisdictions offer a plate to honor DC's team. And interestingly, they all appear to have been designed along the same lines with the "curly W" logo at left on a white background, with red lettering for the legends. The DC plate is shown at right. (Note the appearance of "District of Columbia" rather than "Washington, DC" on this plate - the District has recently committed to using their legal name on plates as of this year.) Virginia and Maryland versions appear below.

Meanwhile, the Mets are represented by two jurisdictions as well. New York's own edition is based on the recently introduced "Empire Gold" base, but carries over the general design of the old "Empire Blue" variety. Meanwhile, New Jersey also offers a Mets plate on the usual yellow base, but printed flat rather than embossed like most other NJ plates (though the flat design is now reportedly spreading through the rest of the state's plates as we speak). New York's plate is shown at left, and New Jersey's appears below.

It should also be noted that New York offers a license plate for jilted Brooklyn Dodgers fans, or at least for Brooklynites who wish to "keep the flame alive" in a way. This may be the only instance I'm aware of in which a team that no longer has any presence in a given market is represented by a license plate - you will remember that the Bums moved to Los Angeles and the sunny confines of Chavez Ravine back in 1958. That was well over 60 years ago, which is why it's remarkable that enough people in Brooklyn still care about the loss of the Dodgers to earn a plate commemorating them.

Philadelphia's Phillies take on the Texas Rangers in Arlington on Monday afternoon. As noted with Pittsburgh in the NL Central, Pennsylvania does not offer plates to honor their sports teams. Too bad for Keystone Staters, then, but no problem for the Garden State - western New Jersey, being within the Phils' reach, offers a plate to pick up the slack.

The Atlanta Braves head to their old digs in Milwaukee, now the home of the Brewers, on Monday afternoon. Georgia is fairly prolific with their specialty plates these days, and especially so now that they've redesigned many of them to better fit the new flat printed production method. That said, considering the new level of color and detail that many Georgia plates now offer, this Braves design is fairly subdued.

Finally, the Miami Marlins host the Colorado Rockies on Monday evening. Having recently redesigned everything about themselves - new stadium, new colors, new logos, new uniforms - the Marlins naturally got a new plate from Florida to match. Not everyone is a fan of the new-look Marlins logo and colors, but I think they work well - no other team, save possibly for the Orioles, has truly embraced orange like the Marlins have. Now if they could actually put a competent baseball team together, they'd really have something special. I guess they'll have to settle for good-looking license plates.

Next installment, we'll return to the junior circuit and the wild west.

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