Moving Violations: Relocation saga is a tale of more than two cities
This story appears in the Jan. 25, 2016, issue of Sports Illustrated. Subscribe to the magazine here.
When you consider that Los Angeles stole the Rams from St. Louis, which had previously stolen them from Los Angeles, which had long before stolen them from Cleveland, whose NHL Barons had been the California Golden Seals before Cleveland stole them from Oakland, whose Raiders were stolen by—and then stolen back from—Los Angeles, which is the city that stole the Dodgers from Brooklyn, then you can hardly blame Brooklyn for swiping . . .
The Nets, which the borough stole from New Jersey, which had stolen them from Long Island, which had stolen them previously from their original home in New Jersey, a state that would steal the Jets and the Giants away from New York while also stealing the hockey Devils from . . .
Denver, whose NHL Colorado Rockies were called the Scouts before Denver stole them from Kansas City, which had already stolen the Athletics from Philadelphia before those A's were stolen again, this time by Oakland, which also stole the Warriors from San Francisco, the city that previously stole them from Philadelphia and also stole the baseball Giants from Manhattan, which the Dutch stole from the Lenape Indians, original residents of New York, which also stole . . .
The Yankees (né Highlanders) from Baltimore, which stole the Cleveland Browns (rebranded the Ravens) after Indianapolis had stolen their Colts, a team that itself had risen from the still-warm corpse of the Texans of Dallas, a city that paid it forward by stealing hockey’s North Stars from Minnesota, a state that had already stolen the Twins from Washington (where they were the Senators), a city that in turn stole basketball’s Bullets (now Wizards) from Baltimore, which had previously stolen them from Chicago (where they were called the Zephyrs), the same Chicago that saw its football Cardinals stolen by St. Louis, which would in turn see them stolen by Arizona, necessitating the theft by St. Louis of the Rams from Los Angeles, which is no City of Angels because . . .
Los Angeles also stole the Clippers from San Diego, which had stolen them from Buffalo, where they were known as the Braves, just like the baseball team in Boston that now plays in Atlanta, which stole them from Milwaukee, the same Milwaukee that—after robbing Boston of the Braves and being robbed of them by Atlanta—had the good sense to steal the Pilots (rebranded the Brewers) from Seattle, whose basketball Sonics were later stolen by Oklahoma City and renamed the Thunder, which is why Seattle has tried and failed to steal the Kings from Sacramento, even though . . .
Sacramento had already stolen that team fair-and-square from Kansas City, which had renamed them the Kings after stealing them from Cincinnati, where they were the Royals, a team Cincinnati had stolen from Rochester, whose NBA-loving citizens could still drive a modest distance to watch the rival Syracuse Nationals—or might have been able to if the Nats hadn’t been stolen away and turned into the 76ers by . . .
Philadelphia, whose professional lacrosse team, the Wings, now ply their trade as the New England Black Wolves of Connecticut, a tiny state whose Hartford Whalers were stolen by Raleigh and became the NHL’s Carolina Hurricanes, whose home state in turn had its NBA Hornets stolen by New Orleans, whose Jazz had been stolen by Utah, whose WNBA Starzz were stolen by San Antonio, which has been trying for years to steal the Raiders from our old friends in Oakland, who may yet see their Raiders stolen instead by . . .
Los Angeles, which also stole the Lakers from Minneapolis and still might steal the Chargers from San Diego to complement the Rams, newly stolen from St. Louis, whose baseball Browns had been stolen by Baltimore (they’re now the Orioles) but whose St. Louis football Cardinals had been stolen, you’ll recall, from Chicago, an otherwise blameless city that only ever stole its current NFL team, the Bears, who were formerly the Staleys before being lifted from central Illinois, a state whose people never stole anything (if you don’t count half their governors), which is why the city you should really feel sorry for in this whole NFL-to-L.A. debacle is . . .
Decatur, Illinois—“Pride of the Prairie,” “Soybean Capital of the World,” former home of the Decatur Staleys and the only American hamlet that can truly say, without fear of contradiction, We was robbed.