The Rule of Baseball Franchise History: If a team moves and retains its name it retains its history. If the franchise moves and re-brands then it starts a new history.
Immediately I was challenged by brother about how this rule would impact the future Montreal franchise, but the more pressing issue, is how this does impact the National’s franchise.
This brings me to part of B of my rule:
If a team does not retain the team’s history, it is returned to the vacant city until assumed by another franchise.
In the case of the Expos, the team records held by Gary Carter and Tim Raines belong to Montreal and the player and team history is assumed by the next MLB team to call that city home.
This also directly impacts the Nationals because both the Twins and Rangers still claim linage with the previous Washington based franchises. This doesn’t pass the common sense test, nobody in Minnesota or anywhere else considers Walter Johnson a former Twin (because he wasn’t) and no one considers Frank Howard a former Texas Ranger (again he wasn’t). The current state of things leaves a certain set of players left in the baseball history equivalent of purgatory.
The NFL got this right when the Browns moved to Baltimore and became the Ravens. The Browns records and history were not allowed to travel to with the Franchise. New city, new name, resulted in new team history. In reality the Joe Flacco Ravens are actually the same franchise that Bernie Kosar played for, but we all know pretending they are insults both cities. MLB needs to recognize the same.
Washington deserves to own its baseball history and if MLB or the Rangers and Twins don’t make it right the team should just take it back. This means writing or re-writing the National’s team records to reflect players who played their seasons in DC. Washington is actually one of the bedrock towns of baseball in America and the players such as Johnson, Howard, Sam Rice and Goose Goslin deserve their place in baseball history as Washington players and part of the National’s franchise history.