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What happens when a team isn’t making it in the Majors? They get sent in for a makeover and go from aging failures to vibrant expansion teams. Franchises that find themselves down and out often have to give their product a makeover by relocating, renaming and rebranding.
Here are five franchises that fell victim to bad teams or bad circumstances and found themselves getting grinded into the makeover machine and coming out in a new city or even country with a new name and new management.
1. Houston, we have a problem.
The Houston Colt .45s’ life in Major League Baseball was short-lived—only three years to be exact. Even though their name and logo are arguably the best in MLB history, the owners decided that having named the franchise after a firearm was not the best decision in trying to create a “family-friendly” atmosphere at the ballpark.
The team didn’t disband but the brass in the head office decided that they should switch the gun to a star and trade the name Colt .45s for the Houston Astros, the name that they continue to play under today.
2. Houston, we have another problem.
Major League Baseball wasn’t the only sport with a beleaguered Houston franchise. The NFL was home to the Houston Oilers from the late 60s to 1996. The team’s logo was an oil derrick because the owner was an oil tycoon. He was also a spoiled brat and constantly threatened to move the team out of Houston. In 1996 he took his team and left for Tennessee. The team played with the name the Oilers for an additional two years until eventually becoming the Tennessee Titans who continue to play in the league today.
3. Les Expos De Montreal
The Montreal Expos were the first MLB franchise that was located outside of the United States. Hailing from Quebec, the Expos stunk up the National League from 1969 to 2004. Their career as a team was so unremarkable that it’s not even worth talking about.
The Expos first had a mascot named Souki who had a baseball shaped head but he only lasted for one season. He was then replaced by a giant orange creature named Youppi.
Youppi is French for Yippee and was the long time mascot of the Expos until they moved to D.C and were rebranded as the Washington Nationals. Youppi was so beloved by the Canadian public though, that he got a job in hockey and stayed in Montreal as the mascot for the Montreal Canadiens.
4. Scoreless in Seattle
The Sonics played in Seattle from 1967 to 2008. In 1979 they won the championship. But despite some great seasons and a few close calls, they never made it back to championship caliber again. True fans of the Supersonics will cite many different great games and outstanding seasons as high points for the Sonics, but anyone who looks at it objectively knows that the most exciting moment in the history of the Sonics was February 1993.
It was February of ‘93 when Ice Cube dropped It Was A Good Day with the legendary line, “It’s Ironic, I had the brew she had the chronic, The Lakers beat the Supersonics.”
Even though the line was about them getting beat by the Lakers, Ice Cube insured with that line that no matter what happened to the franchise, their name would live in infamy forever through one of the most classic songs of the 1990s.
The Sonics got sold and relocated to Oklahoma where they went from Supersonic to Thunderous and continue to play to this day under the name of the Oklahoma City Thunder.
4. Iced Out
Don’t worry, we didn’t forget about hockey. In fact, with almost twenty stories of failed or relocated franchises in their history, the NHL could have several lists of its own.
We’ll spare you all the boring stories of failure and bad timing and just give you the highlights of some of the best and weirdest names of franchises that didn’t make it in the NHL: the Montreal Wanderers, the Philadelphia Quakers, the Montreal Maroons, the Brooklyn Americans, and the Cleveland Barons.
If the NHL ever decides to bring back one of these dead teams, our vote is for the Brooklyn Americans—they can play in the same stadium as the Brooklyn Nets, just like the Knicks and Rangers share the Garden.