We always talk about winning rings, but do you know what all of those rings really look like? Here’s a breakdown of this millennium’s World Series bling.
As a Patriots fan, I’ve got championships on the brain. It still doesn’t feel real that my Patriots are champions, especially after everything that happened this season, from that pounding in Kansas City all the way through “deflategate” these last two weeks. Before the game, someone asked Patriots safety Devin McCourty if he was upset that, even if the Pats were to win, some would label the team as “cheaters.” McCourty said something along the lines of, “as long as I have a ring, I don’t care.” And he’s right – a ring means everything.
That got me thinking though. There is no greater moment for an athlete than receiving that championship ring, a gaudy, glittering reminder of your accomplishment. No matter what happens, no one can take that ring away from you. It’s the ultimate sign of success, and commands respect from anyone who sees it.
Typically, we talk about “rings” metaphorically; it’s not about the actual, physical piece of jewelry, it’s about what it means. But what about those actual pieces of hardware? I always felt that not enough time was devoted to them. No longer. In the spirit of my favorite football team earning its fourth ring, I thought I would look at some of the hardware Major League baseball has handed out over the years.
Full disclosure: I love sports aesthetics. I love uniforms, hats, helmets, warm-ups, and those championship rings. I always adhere to the “look good, feel good” mantra, and there’s nothing worse than an ugly jersey ruining the whole thing. Just like a great team should wear a great jersey, a great championship should be represented by a great ring. Otherwise, what’s the point of even winning?
Looking back at the rings given out by Major League Baseball’s champions, I noticed a few trends. First, the older ones are, predictably, less gaudy. Until around the mid-70s, rings were typically a gold or silver band with a single diamond set in the middle. Then, teams starting adding logos, extra diamonds, bigger bands, and the whole thing took off.
I won’t go through every single one; who has that kind of time? Instead, here’s my 100 percent subjective take on the last 14 rings handed out (sorry, Giants fans – your ring this year hasn’t been made, and therefore doesn’t count). Without further adieu, here’s how every World Series ring since 2000 stacks up, from worst to best:
14. Arizona Diamondbacks – 2001
Awful. Just atrocious. First, I’m not a huge fan of the gold band; I’m more of a silver guy myself. I also don’t like the all-diamond logo; add some color to that bad boy. There is a touch of purple on the left-side of the logo, but it’s not enough. Finally, that weird checkerboard patter behind the logo is awful. Great World Series, awful ring.
13. New York Yankees – 2000
Honestly, this ring is not horrible; the 2000s have just seen some really great World Series rings. My biggest knocks on this ring (other than it being the Yankees) are the gold band and the logo size. Again, not a big gold fan, but to each their own. Mostly, I find the “NY” logo too big and gaudy, to the point of being difficult to read. They cleaned this up on their other entry, and you’ll see than reflected in the rankings.
12. Florida Marlins – 2003
This ring looks like something from a Sports Illustrated for Kids. I like the logo in the middle in theory, but the gold word-mark on the silver background just looks…weird, right? Plus, that fish logo also felt immature, like something a minor league team would have. I do give them credit for the red stitching – that is a really nice touch. Not horrible, just a bit…kiddy.
11. San Francisco Giants – 2012
This is a real nice, really classy ring. My only issue with it is that it’s boring. When your team colors are black and orange, which would pop so well against the diamond background, not having any color of any kind is a misstep. The black around the logo helps make it stand out, but would it kill them to throw some orange gems on that sucker. Change the “SF” from diamond to orange, and this is the best ring on the board. Missed opportunity.
10. Chicago White Sox – 2005
It’s different, that’s for sure. The black background works perfectly for the team, and makes the “Sox” stand out really well. For the life of me though, I will never understand why the oval shape. I get that they needed to fit the vertical “Sox” script, but the result is something that looks like my grandfather’s class ring. The whole thing just feels dated, especially compared to the rest of these rings.
9. San Francisco Giants – 2010
Better than their second attempt, but only barely. This one at least has some contrast with the gold and silver, and the same black around the “SF” helps it out. The two smaller diamonds between “World” and “Champions” is a classy touch, and the whole thing just looks like a championship ring. Again, the lack of Giants orange is a missed chance, but overall, good effort.
8. Philadelphia Phillies – 2008
This is a really good ring. The red outline around the logo on the all-diamond backdrop is nice, stands out, and just has a real nice look to it. The only thing I would chance is the logo itself; I would have gone with a red logo and maybe a blue outline, to make that Phillies “P” stand out a bit more. The outline is good, I just thing the whole thing could have been a bit more eye-catching.
7. Anaheim Angels – 2002
This is sort of what I had in mind for the Phillies. The Red “A” with the gold and diamond halo is basically perfect. Again, I would have probably gone with silver in place of the gold, especially since the Angels have no gold or similar color in their scheme. I just think the whole thing would look newer and fresher with a silver trim. With the rest of these though, we’re really nit-picking.
6. Boston Red Sox – 2007
I love all three Boston rings, I really do, but this is the worst of the bunch. Personally, I like the Boston “B” more than the hanging sox logo, so having that gives it one strike. The uneven red gems also give it a weird, almost mosaic quality that I can’t tell whether it works or not. I do like the “World Champions” font, but it’s not enough to save the worst of the three Boston rings.
5. St. Louis Cardinals – 2006
This one just barely beat out the Sox for the top-five. Blah blah I don’t like gold, you get it. Still, I have a soft spot for the “StL” logo; I’ve always thought it was pretty classy and it surprisingly doesn’t get too busy on the ring. The baseball diamond, complete with bases, is a nice touch, and all of the words along the ring are easy to read. All in all, worthy of the top-five.
4. Boston Red Sox – 2004
This one will, obviously, always hold a special place in my heart. I love the Boston “B,” love the blue background with the diamond field all behind the red “B,” love the “World Champions” wordmark. The whole thing is excellent. Amazingly, I actually like one Boston ring more. Even more amazingly, I like the next ring more as well.
3. New York Yankees – 2009
I don’t know why exactly, but I actually love this ring. The logo issue from their other ring on this list was fixed; the “NY” pops now with the smaller outline and deeper blue background. The baseball diamond around it looks great, and the whole thing just has that championship feel to it. I hate to say anything about a Yankees championship is good, but this ring is spot on.
2. Boston Red Sox – 2013
I know I said I don’t love the hanging sox logo, but it works to perfection here. The World Series trophy – and this is the only ring of the bunch to feature it – is a creative touch that really stands out on the blue background, and the red gems in the sox logo look brighter and better than the 2007 version. I love this ring.
1. St. Louis Cardinals – 2011
This ring is perfect. The bird logo in red, on a gold bat, on a diamond and silver background, pops and catches your eye. The logo is detailed, with the wing and face outlined in gold, and stands out amongst the diamonds. This ring is everything you want to capture a championship; perfect logo, lots of diamonds, gaudy, but classy. It’s perfect, what else can I say?
My Patriots finally added a fourth ring to their collection this weekend, and I can’t wait to see what it looks like. If it even comes close to some of these World Series rings, we’re in for a treat here in New England. No matter who the team is, or what sport, we can all agree on one thing though; “World Champions” always has a nice ring to it.
All ring photos courtesy of www.worldseriesrings.net