Jeff Riger: Classy Columbus?
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I know Michigan residents are not allowed to say anything nice about the state of Ohio and especially the city of Columbus, but I’ve got to give it them. The Blue Jackets, a team that probably has a fan base the size of West Bloomfield High School, came up with one of sport’s greatest ideas and hopefully other teams follow.
To understand the idea, we have to first go back to the offseason where the Jackets made a blockbuster deal to bring in Jeff Carter from the Flyers. The deal was supposed to put Columbus over the top and turn them into an instant playoff contender. I’ll be honest, I thought it would work. Carter and Rick Nash playing together, plus the Jackets also brought in James Wisnewski, sounded to me like Columbus would be an upcoming team in the Central division. Of course the team and I were dead wrong; as Carter was hurt the majority of the season and the Blue Jackets quickly became the worst team in the game.
At the trade deadline, Columbus decided to deal Carter and his big contract to Los Angeles for Michigan alum Jack Johnson, who reportedly is very excited to be in Ohio. A Wolverine working in Columbus? Hmm, seems like another idea for another blog sometime in the future.
Anyway, on Thursday night the Blue Jackets hosted the Kings and Carter was back in town for the first time since the trade. Columbus actually won the game 3-1 and believe it or not, the Jackets have now won 4 in a row which is a season high for the team.
So why am I writing about this in Detroit you ask?
Well, even though it is the Blue Jackets and we are taught to either hate them or not care about them, today we have to give them credit. At Thursday’s game, fans were invited to bring in their Jeff Carter jerseys, you know the ones that people got to enjoy for an entire 39 games before the trade and the team would change the nameplate free of charge. It just so happens that Johnson, like Carter wears the number 7 on his back, so fans could keep their jerseys relevant. All they needed was a quick name change and they could show their Columbus pride in the 2nd and 3rd periods.
What a fantastic idea!
If only other teams would follow suit?
Let’s face it; you take your chances when you buy players jersey. Maybe you get lucky and that jersey becomes legendary like that of an Al Kaline, Steve Yzerman or Joe Dumars and you can wear it even when the player retires. But for the most part, when you buy a uniform top with another guys name on your back, odds are you probably won’t get to wear it long before a change is made. Think about how many Charles Rogers, Joey Harrington, Juan Gonzalez, Placido Polanco, Marion Hossa and Rip Hamilton jerseys now hang in Detroiters closets, never to be worn again? It’s a tragedy that nothing can be done with those garments!
If only somebody thought of a way to keep those jerseys in circulation?
Who would have believed that residents of Columbus were that smart?
I understand that sports is a business and the team you root for counts on selling as many tickets, hot dogs and jerseys as possible and every fan knows that coming in. However, I’m calling for morals in sports! I think every team should follow the lead of the Blue Jackets! That’s right, a team that really has never done anything right, has shown me the future, and other franchises need to take note. I propose that every team replace the nameplate and even the number of a player that lasts in the organization for one season or less.
I would think teams could go along with this plan. We are really only talking about star athletes jerseys, and most of those stick around for more than a season. So on the off chance that we have another Carter-Johnson situation, why can’t teams hook up the fans like Columbus did? I know it sounds like I’m joking but I’m not. I think this should be common practice from now on!
Fans don’t ask much and let’s face it they don’t get much either. This is the least a team can do to show that they care about their paying customers!
I know it will never happen, but a guy can dream can’t he?
So what do you think? What realistic actions do you now demand from your team after seeing the classy move that Columbus made this week?