A podium and microphone were set up in the media workroom on Day 2 of baseball’s winter meetings at Mandalay Bay on Monday, just in case native son Bryce Harper signed the most lucrative free agent contract in baseball history.
Or, even more blockbusting: The Aviators and UNLV completed a 2-for-1 trade in which their new logos were sent to the Vancouver Canucks for its retro and minimalist hockey stick design, previously thought to be the most poorly conceived logo in sports history.
Alas, neither happened.
At first blush, the Aviators’ logo seems what you might get if you put the actor Jeff Goldblum on one of those laboratory telepods and a house fly on another. To say it was a story on a day that Hall of Famers Lee Smith and Harold Baines were introduced to the media would be “j-u-u-s-t a bit outside,” as Bob Uecker said of Charlie Sheen’s fastball.
But if you pulled out a printout of the Aviators’ logo, a lot of baseball people — and even a very large basketball person — were willing to offer opinions.
“What the @#$%?” said Wally Backman, who during four seasons as Las Vegas 51s manager eventually worked up the courage to wear a cap with an alien head stitched on front.
Backman took another look at the logo.
“!@#$%,” he said, followed by a “!@#$%” and a couple of “&*%$#.”
Swing and a miss
After adjourning to the swimming pool patio to have a smoke, “Waldo” provided a sanitized view about the alien head having been replaced by a “Revenge of the Fly” movie poster.
The logo reminded him of Fernando Valenzeula’s screwball.
“I’m still trying to figure it out,” Backman said of the design which depicts a modern fighter pilot, with the Summerlin backdrop reflected on his helmet visor. “I like the colors. But the logo? I don’t know about that.”
It was designed by a company called Brandiose, which according to its website has designed logos for more than 100 pro sports teams. Aviators president Don Logan said he doesn’t believe Brandiose and officials at team headquarters whiffed when they picked the logo from among submitted prototypes.
“Mostly positive,” Logan said about the feedback so far. (And here you questioned home plate umpire Laz Diaz’s judgment.) “The Aviator idea has evolved. What Howard Hughes was back in the Spruce Goose era, this is a new wave kind of thing.”
At the trade show on the third floor of the convention area, Craig M. Cole, a regional sales manager for ring manufacturer Herff Jones, said there wasn’t a design that couldn’t be incorporated into a championship ring.
I showed him the Aviators’ logo.
“But that one would be a challenge,” he said.
The baffled look on the face of ESPN’s Tim Kurkjian suggested I probably should have sought out his former colleague — and ex-Las Vegas Star — John Kruk for feedback.
“What is it? Is that an aviator? Now that I look at it, I can start to see that,” Kurkjian said. “I’m no artist; my daughter is a designer. I guess I should ask her exactly what this is.”
Mike Oz, who writes the Big League Stew blog for Yahoo Sports, was more diplomatic. “It kind of looks like the hockey one (Golden Knights), only upside down, right?” Oz said.
We flipped it over, hoping that a classic Yankees’ logo somehow would emerge from the ink blot.
“There’s a lot of minor league logos that look like cartoony animals,” Oz added. “So I appreciate that it wasn’t that. I don’t love it, but I don’t hate it.”
This being the baseball winter meetings, I bumped into coach Bill Laimbeer of the WNBA’s Las Vegas Aces, who had the audacity to ask what I was doing there. I unfolded the Aviators logo, held it above my head and jumped so he might see it.
“HA, HA, HA, HA, HA, HA,” the big man chortled, sounding much like the guy who did the cola nut commercial for 7UP back in his day.
Finding a baseball (or basketball) person who liked the logo was like finding a fungo bat at the trade show. Leave it to 51s slugger Peter Alonso, who hit a walk-off home run in the final at-bat of the final game in Cashman Field history, to toss a curveball that not even Rod Carew could have hit.
“I think it’s really cool,” Alonso said after receiving the Joe Bauman award and a check for $32,000 — $1,000 for every home run he hit to lead the minor leagues in 2018. “I want a hat. Size 7⅜.”
I told him somebody at the Aviators team shop should be able to help him out, because those hats probably won’t be flying off the shelves any time soon.