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Book Reveals Super-Subtle Tweak in Packers’ Logo Evolution

I received an interesting note the other day from reader Andrew Beckman, as follows:

I just finished reading Packers historian Cliff Christl’s fine book Packers Heritage Trail. At one point he covers the origins of the team’s ‘G’ logo (it debuted in an intra-squad game on Aug. 5, 1961, at the old City Stadium) and notes the logo was revised to a more oval shape prior to the 1970 season. I was not aware of the revision.

Neither was I. Before we go down that rabbit hole, let’s start with how the Packers’ original logo was created. It’s spelled out nicely in this short video:

Did the logo actually change from 1969 to 1970? Photos appear to bear this out. First let’s look at this photo from 1969 (we can be sure of the year because of the NFL 50th-anniversary patch):

Now let’s look at this Associated Press photo from 1970 (there’s no way to know for certain that the date is accurate, but the AP tends to be good about dates):

Now let’s compare the two helmets side by side — 1969 on the left, 1970 on the right (click to enlarge):

At first glance it might seem like they just expanded the green border around the logo. But if you look closely you can see that the overall logo shape did indeed become more oval, with the shape of the “G” clearly changing as a result. One way to see this is to look at the negative space inside the two “G” letterforms — they’re clearly different.

This is, obviously, a very subtle distinction. Was it intentional, or did it just happen accidentally because the team switched to a new decal supplier or something like that? (That would never happen today, of course, because things are much more standardized now, and digital to boot, but graphic standards were a lot more mutable back in the day.)

If you look again at the passage from the book, it just says that “the Packers reshaped their ‘G’ logo into more of an oval shape” — it doesn’t give any sense of how or why that happened. So I contacted the author, Cliff Christl, and asked him. He said he couldn’t tell me because a source had sworn him to secrecy, so it’s still not clear how or why this logo revision took place.

In any case, it’s all very interesting. I’ll be alerting SportsLogos.net honcho Chris Creamer, so he can update his Packers logo page accordingly.

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Going, going…: Today is the next-to-last day to enter our Jaguars-redesign contest. Full details here.

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Culinary Corner: It was 70something degrees yesterday in NYC — a record high for Feb. 21 — so I got out the charcoal and fired up the grill. Pretty sure it’s the earliest date I’ve ever done that.

Nothing fancy — just a London broil, some corn, and some scallions (plus my landlord tossed on some burgers) — but damn did it taste good.

Granted, it’s a little messed up for it to be this warm, so it’s a bit ironic (or symbolic, or something like that) that I marked the occasion by putting more carbon into the atmosphere. But still: February grilling!

For all of these, you can click to enlarge:

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The Ticker
By Paul

Baseball News: White Sox P Hector Santiago created a very makeshift DIY jersey for Photo Day (from Todd Usher). … What’s better than a player named Scooter Gennett? A bobblehead showing Scooter riding a scooter (thanks, Alex). … Jarrod Saltalamacchia, currently without an MLB gig, has been playing in Mexico, where his 14-letter surname doesn’t look so huge amidst all the advertising nonsense (from @fittedsflannels). … There’s high-cuffed, and then there’s really high-cuffed. Yikes (from Robert Hayes). … New blue Sunday alternates for the Montgomery Biscuits (from Kristopher Sharpe). … Lots of uni number switcheroos in Red Sox camp, all summarized here (from our own Anthony Emerson). … New 25th-anniversary baseballs for the Northwoods League (from Zachary Loesl). … Clarification on yesterday’s Ticker item regarding MLB teams wearing Stoneman Douglas High School caps during their spring training openers: All teams will wear the caps for pregame workouts, plus teams have the option of wearing the caps during the games (from Anthony Emerson again).

NFL News: Some old Cowboys cheerleading costumes are headed to the Smithsonian. … 49ers WR Marquise Goodwin tweeted a photo of himself in a Photoshopped mono-white uniform and asked fans for their feedback. … Rudy Gutierrez was watching a Raiders game from 1979 and noticed inconsistent “2”s on the jerseys. … We’ve all seen old photos of NFL coaches wearing suits and fedoras on the sidelines, but how about a coach in a suit and a straw hat? That’s Paul Brown of the Browns. Also, I note that he’s wearing his wristwatch on his right hand. Was he a lefty? (From @tjcttr.)

Hockey News: Seattle’s potential NHL team will kick off its inaugural season ticket drive starting next week, so the Great Wheel was lit to resemble the old Seattle Metropolitans logo (from Markus Kamp). … A Chicago Tribune reporter suggests that Blackhawks fans who are upset about their fellow fans who recently taunted Capitals F Devante Smith-Pelly with racist chants should wear Smith-Pelly jerseys the next time the Caps are in town. Unfortunately, the Caps won’t be in Chicago again this season. … Reprinted from yesterday’s comments: According to this old New York Times article, the Kings, Seals, Penguins, Blues, and Red Wings were all planning to switch to colored skates in 1970. As it turned out, only the Seals, Blues, and Pens went ahead with it, at least based on the known photographic record (from longtime commenter Jet). … G.I. Joke jerseys tomorrow night for the Tulsa Oilers (from Mike Iles).

Basketball News: The Heat are adding a memorial patch for the Stoneman Douglas massacre victims (from Mike Chamernik). … New pink uniforms for the Auburn women’s team. … We may not have mentioned that Stanford has worn new GFGS alternates a few times this season (from Kary Klismet). … Mike Selock was watching the documentary Jacksonville Who?, about Jacksonville University’s improbable run to the national title game against UCLA in 1970, and saw Jacksonville playing a team with “Buccaneers CVI” on the back of the jersey and just a number on the front. I had no idea what that was about, but lots of people on Twitter told me that it’s the College of the Virgin Islands. Fascinating! … Northwestern will new uniforms for Senior Night tonight (from Dan Sagerman). … Kansas State wore shooting shirts in support of Texas’s Andrew Jones, who’s battling leukemia (from Riley Gates). … Illinois State and Drake went red-vs.-blue last night (from Josh Hayes).

Soccer News: Toronto FC played the Colorado Rapids in CONCACAF Champions League two nights ago, and they went burgundy vs. red, with the Rapids wearing last year’s burgundy kits instead of their newer design (from Ian Gerig). … New primary shirt for Argentina Racing Club (from Ed Zelaski).

Olympics News: Here’s a faaaascinating piece about Korean food at the Olympics (NYT link). … American skier Mikaela Shiffrin brought 35 pairs of skis (NYT link) to the Games. … Short track speedskaters are literally lopsided (NYT link). … As I’ve said all along, figure skating is really musical theater, not a sport. But if the Olympics have to have musical theater, it’s definitely better to see them to skating to AC/DC instead of what they usually play. … The US speedskating uniforms are generating chatter because of their contrasting crotch design. … Faaaascinating piece on how physicists don’t fully understand why curling stones curl. Highly recommended. … American skier Lindsey Vonn has the initials “D.K.” and a heart written on her ski helmet and the Greek word for “believe” on her right glove, all in tribute to her late grandfather, Don Kildow, who built his hometown’s first ski hill and was a competitive ski jumper himself (from Kary Klismet). … American hockey player Hilary Knight was spotted wearing a USA Soccer cap.

Grab Bag: Interesting piece on The Players’ Tribune (NYT link) and its implications for sports journalism. … The Yukon government is facing a storm of criticism after spending nearly half a million dollars on a rebranding logo and website redesign. … Apple’s old rainbow-striped logo is making a comeback. … New helmets/decals for UNC lacrosse (from James Gilbert). … New logo for Doctor Who. … New logo for the ABC-TV affiliate in Norfolk, Va. … Spectacular photos of vintage Michigan roadside attractions here (big thanks to John Korinek).

Up Shit Creek: Gophers Unveil New Uni Set

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February isn’t usually the time for college football uniform news items, but the Minnesota Gophers came up with a whopper yesterday, as they unveiled a new uni set that includes, as you can see above, an oar-themed helmet stripe and compass-themed helmet numbers. Those are references to Minnesota coach P.J. Fleck’s motivational “Row the boat” mantra (although I’ve never seen a compass on a rowboat), which he came up with during his previous coaching stint at Western Michigan.

“Row the boat” is more than just a coaching philosophy for Fleck — the slogan is rooted in the death of his second son, who had a congenital heart defect and died shortly after birth.

All of which is a powerful and moving story, but it has exactly nothing to do with Minnesota. Putting an oar on the Gophers’ helmets sends the message that the coach is more important than the team. Putting a coach’s slogan on the inner collar (where nobody can see it) or on the nose bumper (where it’s inconspicuous) is one thing, but making it part of the uniform design reflects an upside-down hierarchy of priorities. It was bad enough when Fleck got to dress Western Michigan in oar-themed jerseys. When he inevitably moves on to his next coaching gig, and the one after that, and the one after that, will those schools wear the oar? What if he makes the jump to the NFL — will one of those teams wear the oar?

When the news of this move broke yesterday, Uni Watch reader Kary Klismet posted this in the comments:

[T]aking that phrase from being a form of individual inspiration and shoehorning it onto the uniforms of every football team [Fleck] winds up coaching strikes me as an exercise in personal vanity and selfishness.

I agree, but I’d go a step further: In a world that’s increasingly dominated by the nonsense of “branding,” what we’re seeing here is the ascension of Fleck’s “personal brand.” You can tell that’s how Fleck himself views the situation because he paid Western Michigan for the intellectual property rights to the slogan when he left that school and moved on to Minnesota. It’d be one thing if he wanted to use the slogan as the title of a self-help book, or to sell T-shirts, or to start a rowboat concession down at the lake. But giving his personal brand equal time on the uniform of the of the school he supposedly serves is nuts. It’s the tail wagging the dog, or the boat rowing the oar, or something like that.

All this for a coach who went 5-7 in his first year at Minnesota, and whose lifetime mark is 35-29. I mean, shit, Alabama didn’t wear houndstooth for Bear Bryant until he’d been dead for 27 years.

For the record: The new Minnesota set includes three new helmets, only two of which have the oar. The third helmet is a gold chrome design. There’s also the same miserable number font they had before and increased use of the anthracite dark-grey jersey and pants. What a mess. Lots of photos and a press release riddled with embarrassing grammatical errors here.

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Contest reminder: In case you missed it last week, our latest ESPN design contest is to redesign the Jaguars. The deadline is the day after tomorrow, so move fast. Full details here.

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The Ticker
By Alex Hider

Baseball News“Most, if not all” MLB teams will wear the cap of Stoneman Douglas High School during spring training games on Friday to honor the victims of last week’s school shooting (from Brinke and Mike Chamernik). … The Angels are lowering the right field fence at Angel Stadium from 18 feet to 8 feet (also from Mike). … Indians minor leaguers are wearing a memorial cap patch for the clubhouse manager of their Triple-A affiliate. It will remain there for the rest of spring training (from Robert Hayes). … Teams wearing green for St. Patrick’s Day will also have the option of wearing green striped socks (from Robert Hayes). … Newly acquired Giants 3B Evan Longoria posed for team photos yesterday, but his bat still had a Rays knob decal. … The Royals are auctioning off the old costumes from their hot dog race. Relish, ketchup and mustard are available (from Tyson Billings). … MLB The Show 18 features 19 throwback uniforms that players can choose (from Robert Hayes). … The Triple-A Omaha Storm Chasers will become the Runzas on June 9. Runzas, a Nebraska delicacy, are bread pockets filled with ground beef, cheese, sauerkraut, and other goodies. … Check out the striped basketball uni that Hall of Famer Nolan Ryan wore in high school (from Brad Eenhuis). … Good spot by Brice Wallace: It appears the A’s repurposed this photo from the 1972 World Series for their 1973 yearbook. It’s an odd shot for them to choose, because that photo shows Blue Moon Odom being thrown out at the plate to end Game Five of the ’72 Series. Here’s video of that play. … Kentucky wore classic pinstripes last night for their home opener. … New BFBS unis for Florida (from @SeaislandCaddie). … Louisville has added a memorial patch for a fan to their caps (from Joesph Matlock). … The Northwoods League, a Midwest college summer league, has a 25th-season logo (from Jerry Nitzh). … At the Olympics, a tech who was working on a Kazakhstani short track speedskater’s skate yesterday wore a Dodgers cap with the New Era logo covered up (from Eddie Lee). … The Gwinnett Stripers, the Braves’ Triple-A affiliate, have new jerseys that visually riff on the Braves’ old 1970s “feather” jerseys (from @freehawk).

Football News: A Guatemalan refugee was filmed wearing a 2007 Patriots “perfect season” sweater while arriving in the US for a recent CNN piece (from @OnlyInBOS). …
Remember when Aeropostale made Connecticut’s football uniforms? … Looks like Team Pennsylvania’s uniforms for the Big 33 game have been unveiled (from Noah Kastroll).

Hockey NewsNew Flyers G Petr Mrazek was wearing his old Red Wings breezers during his first practice with Philly yesterday (from Moe Khan and @notthefakecasey). … New playoff logo for Allan Cup Hockey, the Senior AAA league in Ontario (from Ross Taylor). … Love these old WHA pennants (from Greg Burda). … Jarome Iginla, currently a free agent, practiced with the Providence Bruins of the AHL yesterday. He took the ice in a Kings helmet — the most recent team he played for (from Mario Vasquez). … Chris Mizzoni found this ad for a tabletop hockey game in an old Canadian Tire catalogue. … You can clearly see where they removed the NHL centennial patch from Canucks RW Nikolay Goldobin’s jersey (from @mbrenner53). … Speaking of the Canucks, they supported the LGBT community and sports inclusiveness by wearing rainbow-patterned jerseys for last night’s pregame warm-ups (from Richard Musterer).

Basketball News: Giannis Antetokounmpo of the Milwaukee Bucks has filed a trademark for his nickname, the Greek Freak (from Mike Chamernik). … Cross-listed from the baseball section: Check out the striped uni that baseball Hall of Famer Nolan Ryan wore in high school (from Brad Eenhuis). … Has anyone else seen this Iowa State dunking cyclone logo on former coach Johnny Orr’s shirt? (From Brian Edmiston). … Penn State had some juicy vertically-striped socks — and sleeved jerseys! — back in the ’60s (from Troy Caldwell).

Soccer News: The Houston Dynamo have unveiled their alternate kits for 2018. Perhaps a bit of inspiration from their neighbors on the diamond, no? … Has anyone else seen this US Soccer Federation logo before? Our own Jamie Rathjen found it on the cover of a 1978 program. … In case you haven’t seen them yet, here are the uniforms for Nebraska Bugeaters FC of the USPL (from Marc Viquez). … New home kit for San Antonio FC (from Brandon Hopkins).

Olympics News: White Lines, a snowboarding website, has ranked the best and worst snowboarding unis from the Olympics (from Kary Klismet). … USA’s nordic combined team practices cross-country skiing in a refrigerated parking garage in Slovenia (from Jim Vilk). … Cross-listed from the baseball section: A tech who was working on a Kazakhstani short track speedskater’s skate yesterday wore a Dodgers cap with the New Era logo covered up (from Eddie Lee). … American cross country skiers Kikkan Randall and Jessie Diggins wore great striped socks on the medal platform after winning the gold in the women’s team sprint freestyle (from Phil).

Grab BagDid you know that most of the flags at Disney World’s Main Street USA don’t have 50 stars? Most only have 45 stars, making them unofficial and able to be left out at night and in poor weather conditions without violating the U.S. Flag Code (from Jon Solomonson).

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What Paul did last night: There’s this Tuesday-evening lecture series about comics and illustration that I often attend at the Parsons School of Design in Manhattan. Usually it’s really interesting, but every now and then there’s a stinker. Last night was one of those, so I left early and went to one of my favorite spots, where I got the last seat at the bar.

This place is pleasant, cozy, and has the best deal in town: For the price of a drink (although I usually stick around long enough for two or three), you get complimentary tapas — usually cottage fries and meatballs, although chorizo, frittata, and chicken wings occasionally appear — along with perfect lighting, a nice crowd, one extremely friendly bartender, and one less friendly bartender who’s nonetheless a very interesting character. Usually they’re quite generous with the tapas, but every now and then they’re stingy, which seems fair, just so we don’t take these freebies for granted.

Many things about the place seem precarious. Each time I’m there, I think to myself, “This might be the last time. It could close or disappear any day now.” So far, though, that hasn’t happened. So each visit is a gift, much like the tapas themselves.

Sorry, not gonna tell you where it is, at least not today. Like I said, I got the last seat last night.

Some (More) Thoughts About Being a Critic: Why Some Uniforms Are Graded on a Curve

As longtime readers may recall, about four years ago I wrote an entry about the role of cultural critics like myself. I was reminded of that post when reader Jason Hillyer recently pointed me toward a piece on Slate about critics. It’s not an ideal analysis (among other problems, the author doesn’t seem to understand the difference between a critic and reviewer, which is a big thing to gloss over), but it has lots of interesting bits and is worth reading. I was particularly intrigued by this part:

Sturgeon’s law [is] named after its originator, science-fiction author Theodore Sturgeon, who once observed, “It can be argued that 90% of film, literature, consumer goods, etc. is crap.” The “It can be argued” part usually isn’t quoted, and the figure is very ballpark. But it’s inarguable that the majority of what comes down the pike, in any medium, is mediocre or worse. It would be tiresome for critics to constantly be counting the ways that the work under review is crap, nor would their editors and the owners of the publications they write for be happy with a consistently downbeat arts section. The result is an unconscious inclination to grade on a curve. That is, if something isn’t very good, but is better than two-thirds of other entries in the genre—superhero epics, quirky or sensitive indie films, detective novels, literary fiction, cable cringe comedies—give it a B or B-plus.

A bit later, there’s this:

[C]ritics fall prey to a sort of hermeneutic Stockholm syndrome. They experience so much bad work that they get inured to it. They are so thankful for originality, or for a creator’s having good or arguably interesting intentions, or for technical proficiency, or for something that’s crap but not crap in quite the usual way, that they give these things undue credit.

All of that rings true, especially the “grading on a curve” and “hermeneutic Stockholm syndrome” lines. (Those are good — wish I’d thought of them.) I say that not just as a uniform critic but also as a former rock critic, a former restaurant critic, and an occasional design, book, and movie critic — but especially as a uniform critic. There are soooo many designs, and so many of them are either crap or just taking up space with no particular reason for existing. It can be exhausting, or at least numbing. I’m not proud to admit this, but sometimes I do find myself sort of instinctively grading on a curve.

Why do I find myself doing that? Part of it, for sure, is that I don’t want to be perceived as being relentlessly negative. But I think a bigger part of is that I don’t want to be relentlessly negative. That’s the drag about being a critic: You spend a lot of time being, well, critical. And although I realize it probably seems like I enjoy being a nay-sayer, it’s actually no fun. It’s much more enjoyable to be positive about things. The problem, as noted by Sturgeon’s law, is that most things don’t deserve a positive response. So while I try to maintain certain standards and benchmarks, and try to be true to my aesthetic convictions, there are times when I feel myself bending a little.

Not that I’m complaining, mind you. I’m just saying that the gig does have its downsides, and that there are days when it definitely feels like hard work.

It’s all good food for thought. Thanks for listening.

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Collector’s Corner
By Brinke Guthrie

Great-looking catalog page here from fall of 1969 for J.C. Penney’s line of Rawlings NFL gear. The player shown is wearing Packers No. 15, no doubt due to Green Bay winning the previous season’s Super Bowl. You got the helmet, pads, jersey and pants for just $14.88! (Not recommended for competitive play.)

As a p.s., if you’ve never visited WishbookWeb, I highly recommend it. Tons of holiday catalogs, and you’ll see a whole lot of NFL gear from back in the day, just like the above-linked Packers stuff! A real treasure trove.

Now for the rest of this week’s picks:

• Baseball program cover art doesn’t get much better than this 1973 Oakland A’s scorecard, which commemorates their World Series title from the previous fall. Notice Joe Rudi on the bottom left of the cover — I happened to be sitting just above the left field fence when he made that catch during the bottom of the ninth in Game Two. We initially didn’t know if it was a home run since the ball dropped right in front of us, but I quickly saw that the other side of the stands weren’t cheering, so I knew he had caught it. A sad day at Riverfront. Yes, I’m still bitter.

• This is a 1970s Philadephia Flyers “Flyerjak,” made exclusively for The J.C. Penney Co.

• Here’s another one of those great 1970s Fleer NFL Big Signs — this one is for the Jets, but I’ve seen the source photo, and it’s definitely Bengals defensive back Tommy Casanova, who wore No. 37.

• This DIY NFL helmet blanket is covered with individual patches of the various teams and is very nicely done.

• Ah, the classic 1980s/1990s Dallas Cowboys Starter jacket. I got one of these for Christmas from the program director of my Top-40 station — he was a Cowboys fan too, to the extent that our station van was blue/silver, and so were our staff jackets! He always denied that was the reason why, but we knew better.

• I sure would love to see the San Francisco Giants wear these late-1970s orange throwbacks on a regular basis.

• Technigraph helmet plaque alert! This one is for the Detroit Lions. The seller has five other teams up for auction, too.

• This promo flying disc from the 1970s was sponsored by CAR-X and unequivocally states, “We Love the Brewers!”

• Wow, check out this really nice 1970s Damac Seattle Seahawks poster by Chuck Ren.

• More brilliant NFL poster art, this time a 1960s poster for the Denver Broncos.

• And from reader Jeff Flynn, this game-used The King and His Court softball uniform is probably outside most Uni Watch readers’ price range but is still worth looking at. What a beauty!

Got an item to include on Collector’s Corner? Send any submissions to uniwatchcollectorscorner@gmail.com. Thanks!

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Contest reminder: In case you missed it last week, our latest ESPN design contest is to redesign the Jaguars. Full details here.

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The Ticker
By Paul

Baseball News: The Twins appear to be the latest MLB team moving to matte helmets and 3-D helmet logos. … UT-Arlington’s softball uniforms appear to be based on the 1986 Mets design (from Jason Hendrix). … New softball uniforms for the U. of Washington. … Last week new Tigers skipper Ron Gardenhire said it might take him a while to learn everyone’s name, and that he might therefore be referring to a lot of players as “Hey, Buddy.” So yesterday a bunch of players showed up wearing “Buddy” NOBs (from Steve Vibert). … Brewers mainstay Ryan Braun, making the shift from OF to 1B, says he’ll have to start wearing a cup for the first time in over a decade (from Mike Chamernik). … New blood clot softball uniforms for Florida Southern College (from Wayne Koehler). … New Padres free agent signee Eric Hosmer will wear No. 30 as a tribute to his former Royals teammate Yordano Ventura (from Mike Chamernik and Brady Phelps).

NFL News: What’s worse than logo creep? Double logo creep! That’s Falcons DB Ron Davis with the dual Russell Athletic logos on his left sleeve in a 1995 game against the 49ers (good spot by Johnny Garfield).

Hockey News: “My son plays in an adult hockey league at the UPMC Lemieux Sports Complex in suburban Pittsburgh,” says Paul Wood. He named his team the Mighty Yuks and designed the jersey in honor of my neighbor, Dr. Richard Moriarty, the pediatrician who conceived and created Mr. Yuk symbol in 1971.” This photo shows Dr. Moriarty wearing the Mighty Yuks jersey, accompanied by Paul’s son. … The Panthers responded to the Florida school massacre by adding helmet decals and jersey patches. … Canucks G Anders Nilsson has a rainbow icon on his mask’s backplate to promote LGBTQ rights. … Olympic figure skater Mirai Nagasu used to work as an ice girl for the Avalanche (from Kary Klismet). … The Golden Knights wore white at home last night.

Olympics News: Really good piece on Olympic Zamboni drivers (NYT link). … American skier Lindsey Vonn has a 48-star American flag on a piece of her gear. “I couldn’t find any other photos of that particular piece of equipment on other athletes to see if it’s unique to her,” says Bryan Grupp. … Last week we linked to a New York Times story about American curler (and my pal) Tyler George using the same pair of ratty sneakers for eight years. The story generated so much feedback that the Times took him shopping and bought him new footwear, which sounds really sketchy from a journalism ethics perspective. … Tyler has also been wearing a series of flashy socks (thanks, Phil). … If figure skaters and ice dancers just wore a unitard and a number like all the other athletes, instead of ridiculous costumes, they wouldn’t have to worry about the type of “wardrobe malfunction” that a French ice dancer experienced on Monday. … The rest of these are from Kary Klismet: American freestyle skier Gus Kenworthy was wearing owl-themed mittens during the slope-style competition. If you have a LinkedIn account, you can see more info here. … Reprinted from the hockey section: American figure skater Mirai Nagasu used to work as an ice girl for the Colorado Avalanche. … In a related item, Nagasu generated a lot of chatter by wearing kinesio tape on her inner thigh.

Grab Bag: NASCAR driver Austin Dillon and his crew celebrated their Daytona 500 win by getting “Champ” tattoos on their butts. … Apple is seeking a new trademark for its rainbow-patterned logo. … New Rugby shirts for Germany.

Uni Watch Field Trip: Van Nest Lanes in the Bronx

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For many years I’ve thought that there are no bowling alleys left in NYC with manual, non-electronic scoring, which is why I’ve been doing most of my bowling in New Jersey over the past decade-plus. But last month The New York Times did a story about Van Nest Lanes, an old-school pin-bashing facility with 16 lanes (an endearingly non-round number), vintage 1960 fixtures, and manual scoring. On Saturday I went up there to check it out, accompanied by the Tugboat Captain and our friend Matt.

It did not disappoint. The lanes were a feast for the eyes, with gorgeous avocado green masking panels, magnificent ball returns, and multi-colored stripes painted on the left and right walls:

Even the scorers’ tables had that old-school space age vibe from the 1960s:

I don’t like “cosmic bowling” (i.e., bowling with black light and fluorescent pins), but it’s hard not to like this sign:

That same pin/letter motif was used for the sign on the door to the men’s room (but not for the women’s room, alas):

Prices were very fair: $25/hour for the lane, $3.50 for a bottle of Bud, no charge for shoes (I already have my own but it’s still nice that they don’t treat footwear as a profit center). The old guy who runs the place is a little cranky, but in a fun way. I was a very happy camper:

And yes — scoring with nothing more than a sheet of paper and a pencil! Halle-freakin’-lujah.

Can’t believe I didn’t already know about this place. For someone who had pretty much given up on NYC bowling, Van Nest Lanes rewrites the book. I will definitely be back.

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NBA All-Star wrap-up: The biggest uni-related item from last night’s NBA All-Star Game was that Anthony Davis began the game wearing the jersey of his injured Pelicans teammate Boogie Cousins, who had to miss the game due to a ruptured Achilles tendon. Davis eventually switched to his own jersey.

Three other notes from the game:

• The nets included little All-Star Game logos:

• The baseline design looked like a box of aluminum foil:

• I don’t usually care so much about what fans wear, but this is pretty good:

As for the rest of the game, the numbers were pretty much illegible, and the black/white color pairing was pretty stark, but we already knew both of those things would be the case. Here’s some video:

(My thanks to Chris Perrenot and Austin Earl for their contributions to this section.)

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NBA Uni Tracking
By Collin Wright

Color-vs.-color matchups occurred in a season-high 42% of all games last week (including six games on Wednesday, the season high for a single day). Here’s our latest chart (click to enlarge):

A few additional notes:

• White vs. blue remains the most common uniform matchup, occurring in 288 (33%) games.

• The Nuggets are the team most likely to sport the unitard look — they’ve matched their uniforms, leggings, and socks in every game all season. At the other end of the spectrum, the Pelicans have had some form of contrast in 65% of their games, including every game since Dec. 4th.

• All 30 teams have four basic uniform designs this season, plus eight of those teams also have throwback designs, making a total of 128 uniforms in the league. All of those uniforms have now appeared on court except the Clippers’ sky blue fourth design, which I believe they’re scheduled to wear six times over the remainder of the season.

• Since the fourth designs have been debuted, the Heat and Nets have been most likely to wear them, doing so eight and seven times, respectively.

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Contest reminder: In case you missed it last week, our latest ESPN design contest is to redesign the Jaguars. Full details here.

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The Ticker
By Jamie Rathjen

Baseball News: New cream uniforms for Arkansas (from Matt Snyder). … New away jersey for VCU. … There were color-on-color matchups between Ole Miss and Winthrop (from Alex and Seth Austin), and Valparaiso and Alabama (from Griffin Smith). … Reader Paul Quirk saw this Brewers bullpen cart-themed shirt.

Football News: A photographer at Super Bowl VIII captured the chinstrap of Vikings defensive end Jim Marshall flying through the air as he defended a pass (from Ray Hund). … Chiefs G Laurent Duvernay-Tardif, who is about to graduate from medical school, says he asked the NFL for permission to put “M.D.” after his NOB (from Ryan Atkinson). If being a potential football-playing doctor wasn’t enough, that article mentions that Duvernay-Tardif is currently at the Olympics as a reporter for Radio-Canada, the CBC’s French unit.

Hockey News: The Regina Pats (WHL) celebrated their 100th anniversary this weekend, and the festivities included an alumni game between Team Saskatchewan, made up of former WHL and Pats players from the province, and Team West, made up of other WHL players (from Wade Heidt). The Pats also wore uniforms yesterday honoring the team’s namesake, the infantry regiment Princess Patricia’s Canadian Light Infantry (from Nelson Hackewich and Wade again). The unit, founded at the start of World War I, was itself named after the granddaughter of Queen Victoria and the daughter of Canada’s Governor-General at the time. The uniform’s numerals are orange in that picture, but they definitely turned out white. … We’re not done with this game yet: The other team, the Moose Jaw Warriors, wore ’90s-era throwbacks, and the Pats retired No. 15 for Jock Callander (also from Wade). … The Canucks’ board advertisements were bilingual for Chinese New Year (also-also from Wade). … @WashedUpGoalie has some pictures for us of a game-worn Chicago Wolves (AHL) jersey. More here. … Paul’s worst nightmare: the Cleveland Monsters (AHL) are doing “The Purple Game” March 24 (from Trevor Wilson Patton). … A fan at the Metropolitan Riveters’ (NWHL) game yesterday was wearing a Pawnee Rangers jersey, with a crest and name based on that of the Boy Scouts-like group run by Ron Swanson in Parks and Recreation (from @molemanfilms).

Basketball News: Reader Matt Stringham noticed some similarities between the logo for Utah’s 1993 NBA All-Star Game and the Jazz’s logo beginning in 1996-97. “Specifically, the shape and font of the ‘Utah’ wordmark at the top are very similar on both logos as well as the shape, color, and shading of the stylized mountain ranges,” he says. … Women’s teams wearing pink or pink accents for breast cancer awareness included Virginia and Miami (Fla.), the latter for the second week in a row, Purdue, Northwestern, Illinois State, and Western Kentucky, the last one of those from Josh Claywell. … There was a color-on-color game between Wichita State and Cincinnati (from Brian Speiss). … New Hampshire had some small-ish NOBs against Stony Brook (from Alan Kreit). … Illinois State wore throwbacks Saturday (from Adam Anderson). … FC Barcelona’s basketball team was wearing two different number styles in a 1978-79 team photo (from Albert Iosifovitch Rojov).

Soccer News: Scottish team Hibernian, along with opponents Aberdeen, became the fifth of Irish midfielder Liam Miller’s former teams to wear black armbands in his memory. … In a D.C. United/Philadelphia Union preseason game in Tampa, one DCU player from the team’s academy wore NNOB. Interestingly, the player was not identified by name in any report I read. … English Championship team Hull City wore a memorial sleeve patch for the city’s 1968 “triple trawler tragedy” in Friday’s FA Cup tie against Chelsea. It marks the 50th anniversary of three fishing trawlers from the city sinking in unrelated circumstances within a few weeks of one another. … Callum Johnston has more FA Cup sleeve patch shenanigans: some of the lower league teams, who don’t wear sleeve ads in their leagues, wore ads (or something else, in Hull’s case above) on one arm and the FA Cup patch on the other, including Sheffield United and Wigan Athletic. Every team in this weekend’s fifth round wore the patch, but Callum says Coventry City were the only ones to wear it on both sleeves. It’s probably worth mentioning by now that the patch isn’t required until the semi-finals, according to the competition’s rules. … New first-choice kit for League of Ireland Premier Division team Waterford, but look carefully at the checkers: squares that are light on one shirt are dark on the other (from @therealnugget).

Olympics News: Preparing cross-country skis with wax can have such an effect on performance that it’s a minor crisis that most teams, including the U.S. and Norway, couldn’t bring their technicians’ dedicated wax trucks to PyeongChang (from Tom Turner). … Also from Tom: curlers work out now. The lead image in that article is Norwegian skip Thomas Ulsrud and his pants at last month’s Continental Cup in London, Ont. … You may not know that every Olympic curling stone is made from granite quarried from Ailsa Craig, a tiny island off the coast of Ayrshire in Scotland (from Jason Hillyer).

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What Paul did last night yesterday: The Tugboat Captain loves cats but is unable to have pets due to her current housing situation. So one of my presents to her for her recent birthday was a one-hour session with the friends of her choice at the Brooklyn Cat Cafe, one of several NYC spots where you can just hang out and be surrounded by cats. We went there yesterday, accompanied by our friends Nicole and Katie.

Here are a few photos I took (if you can’t see the slideshow below, click here):

However you spent your Sunday, hope it was a good one. If you have the day off today, as I do, enjoy the holiday. If you’re working today, thanks for keeping the world spinning while the rest of us take a break. — Paul