On Monday, the Stanley Cup was handed out. It is a a nearly 120-year-old trophy that is more revered than the actual event that is played for the right to have it. People have drunk out of it, had their kids baptized in it, it’s been thrown in rivers and pools and knocked off tables. There are names on it that are misspelled or put on as gags. Wherever it goes, it has at least one concierge with it. Every year, it produces a instant image that would become etched in the mind of that team’s fans: the captain hoisting it above his head, parading it around the ice.
In October, the winner of the World Series will receive the Commissioner’s Trophy (did you even know it had a name?), a rather uniconic statuette that has a new copy made every year for the champion, unlike the Cup, which goes from team to team. It only dates back to 1967. There are no iconic images of the Commissioner’s Trophy: no hoistings by the team leader, no images of a unflappable star weeping as they hold it and certainly no thrustings into the air as confetti falls. Why, the default pose with the Commissioner’s Trophy is just kind of holding it, like Lance Berkman did. Although Pedro used it as a hat, which is kind of cool.
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Clearly, something must be done about this. How is it that the oldest postseason championship in North America (by virtue that the Stanley Cup wasn’t actually given for the postseason until the 1910s, instead being passed around by way of challenges between teams, sort of like boxing championship belts) has the worst trophy of the four? I mean, people don’t even remember the trophy’s name!
Some possible solutions:
Revive one of the previous trophies
Before the modern AL vs. NL World Series, there had been other such contests, and they had their own trophies with them. The most notable of these proto-World Series was the Temple Cup, which was played in the mid-1890s after the dissolution of the American Association. As it was a game between the first and second place teams of that year’s NL pennant race, the players really didn’t take it all that seriously, leading it to end after only a few years. It is now in possession of the Hall of Fame. Here’s one picture of it. And here’s a picture of Keith Olbermann hanging out with it, to give an idea of scale.
Another possibility is the old Chronicle-Telegraph Cup, given to the winner of a series between the first-place Brooklyn Superbas and second-place Pittsburgh Pirates (the Superbas won).
Honor a long-lost tradition
In ye olde days, back before ballteams were in official leagues, big games often had challenge baseballs at stake. Basically, at the end of a big game, the winning team would receive a ball from the loser, carrying the score and what had been at stake. An interesting idea would be to revive this idea in trophy form: a giant golden baseball that says in big letters all of the scores of the series. That way, it would not just remember the triumph of the victor, but also the loser they overcame. It’d look good in trophy cases: “Yes, you see this over here? We beat the Yankees for that.”
Actually have pennants again
Did you know that pennant flags actually aren’t officially given out? If a team wants to hang a gonaflon flag, they have to make it themselves. Well, what if there actually were pennants given out? Each one could be done all nice to reflect the teams that played that year, so each year would be unique. And, it would be a cool always-visible reminder of the World Series title, and a good photo op for the team to gather around after victory.
Build some mythology over the Commissioner’s Trophy
If they want to keep the Commissioner’s Trophy, the least they can do is try to make it special in some way. Give it a theme song, or something.
It doesn’t have to be Stanley Cup.
But it sure needs to be better than what it is right now.