Saturday, November 20, 2010

Home Sweet Home?

BY SCOTT MORGANROTH

Are there any lakes in Los Angeles, let alone in California?

Do people really sing much Jazz in Utah?

What makes a good rivalry? Is it when a pair of teams win for many years, an inter-city or inter-state match-up? What about when they return to their old stomping grounds?

Franchise relocation has been a part of the American Sports Scene for years. Owners take teams in Smaller Markets and move them to Major Metro Areas. They also move them to play in State Of The Art Arenas.

In recent weeks, there has been talk about Los Angeles building a stadium downtown. With Denver Broncos Owner Pat Bowlen having health issues, Stan Kroenke, who owns the St. Louis Rams, in addition to the Denver Nuggets and Colorado Avalanche, would swap franchises with Bowlen, thus allowing Bowlen to move the Rams back to Los Angeles.

Time will tell if this happens.

But today, I'm going to list some of the most interesting Franchise Moves and I welcome your feedback.

1) Los Angeles Lakers (Minneapolis Lakers) returning to the Twin Cities to face the Minnesota Timberwolves.

2) Atlanta Braves (Milwaukee Braves) return to the Beer City to face the Brewers. Former All-Time Home Run King Hank Aaron retired with the Brewers.

3) Calgary Flames (Atlanta Flames) return to Atlanta to face the Thrashers. As a kid growing up in the 1970's, I remember when the Detroit Red Wings swept the Atlanta Flames out of the 1977-78 playoffs and Bill Lochead was the hero in this series by scoring a pair of goals in a 3-2 victory at Olympia Stadium.

4) Dallas Stars (Minnesota North Stars) return to the land of 10,000 lakes and face the Wild. I once told a Wild PR Guy when he asked me if there was anything missing in his media guide to add the franchises first victory over the Stars. The following year, the result was in the book.

5) Arizona Cardinals (St. Louis Cardinals, Chicago Cardinals) returning to face the St. Louis Rams and Chicago Bears.

6) Baltimore Ravens (Original Cleveland Browns) returning to Ohio to face the new Browns. Former Owner Art Modell never made this trip back to Cleveland, but in reality, to build the Rock & Roll Hall Of Fame ahead of a new Browns Stadium, was a bad decision and I don't blame Modell for moving the team, which would eventually win a Super Bowl.

7) Tennessee Titans (Houston Oilers) facing the Houston Texans.

8) Atlanta Braves (Boston Braves) returning to Beantown to face the Red Sox during inter- league play.

9) Texas Rangers (Washington Senators 1961-1971) returning to the Nations Capital to face the Washington Nationals. It doesn't happen much but when it does, now that the Rangers are a good team, historians will mention it. The first manager in the history of the Rangers was Hall of Famer Ted Williams.

10) San Francisco Giants (New York Giants) last World Series title was in the Big Apple. But they return to New York to face the Mets every year and once in a great while will face the Yankees. My late Friend/Uncle Ernie Harwell called Bobby Thomson's the "Shot Heard 'Round The World" in 1951. The Giants last won a World Series in 1954. During the year Harwell dies, the Giants are champions again. Ernie must be smiling in heaven.

11) Los Angeles Dodgers (Brooklyn Dodgers) return to New York to face the Mets every year and have had some great battles with the Yankees in the World Series since there move out west. Does anybody remember the late Billy Martin versus Tom Lasorda? Reggie Jackson hit three home runs in the sixth game of the 1977 World Series on Oct 18 enabling the Yankees to win 8-4 and win the championship.

12) New Jersey Devils (Colorado Rockies) return to Denver to face the Avalanche periodically.

13) Minnesota Twins (Washington Senators 1901-1960) when they face the Washington Nationals. The Twins have three World Series Championships and their business model for a small market franchise is one many teams copy with their commitment to using their farm system. This season, they moved into a brand new outdoor stadium.

14) Oakland A's (Philadelphia A's & Kansas City A's) return to face the Phillies periodically during inter-league play and see the Royals every year.

15) Utah Jazz (New Orleans Jazz) face the New Orleans Hornets.

16) New Orleans Hornets (Charlotte Hornets) return to North Carolina once a year and face the Charlotte Bobcats.

17) Golden State Warriors (Philadelphia Warriors) return to Philadelphia to play the 76'ers every year. Hall of Fame Center Wilt Chamberlain played for the the Philadelphia Warriors and 76'ers. On March 2, 1962, Chamberlain became the only player in NBA History to score 100 points in a game with the Philadelphia Warriors, a 169-147 win over the NY Knicks. He also grabbed 25 rebounds.

18) Indianapolis Colts (Baltimore Colts) return to face the Baltimore Ravens. Thanks to late Colts Owner Robert Irsay, who moved the team in the middle of the night to Indiana, there is no love loss between these two cities. Their battles in the NFL playoffs get real emotional for the fans in Maryland.

19) Oklahoma City Thunder (Seattle Super Sonics) return to the Pacific Northwest to face the Portland Trail Blazers. Seattle may be two hours north but there are some Sonics diehards that take this commute to see their one-time championship franchise. In 1979, the Sonics were indeed Super.

20) Carolina Hurricanes (Hartford Whalers) when they return to New England and face the Boston Bruins. The Whalers were the one-time home of NHL legend and Hall of Famer Gordie Howe. These two New England teams had a nice rivalry but a new stadium in Raleigh, North Carolina sent this franchise south. Boston's last Stanley Cup Championship was in 1971-72 while the Hurricanes won their first title in 2005-2006.

Scott Morganroth can be reached at scottsports33@aol.com and his blog can be seen at www.scottsports33.com.


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