With the NHL playoffs set to start this weekend, my latest piece for InsideHook is a set of NHL uniform rankings. You can check it out here.
I’ll be doing NBA rankings — but with a fun twist — in about a week, just in time for the start of their playoffs.
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ITEM! New podcast episode: This week’s edition of Unified is the “Ask Us Anything” episode, as Chris and I answer a bunch of listener-submitted questions. My thanks to everyone who contributed questions for us, and my apologies for not being able to get to all of them — we received way more submissions than we had time to address.
The show notes for this episode are here, and you can also watch this episode on video here:
Please consider supporting this episode’s advertisers, Homefield Apparel (15% off with checkout code UNIFIED) and Aced Out (20% off with checkout code UNIFIED).
This episode also comes with some news, which is that Chris and I have decided to move to a slower schedule for the summer. Our next episode will be sometime in mid-June, and then we’ll also have one episode per month in July and August. We hope to go back to a weekly or bi-weekly schedule in the fall.
There are lots of reasons for this, but the short version is that doing a podcast turned out to be a lot more work than either of us expected. Like, a lot more work. We’ve been lucky enough to have the great Chris Fraterrigo volunteering as our producer/editor, but even with his help there’s still a ton of preparation, photo research, promotion, creating the show notes, dealing with advertisers and their scripts, more preparation, more research, blah-blah-blah. It’s a way bigger time sink than we anticipated, and it’s left us feeling overextended and running short on personal bandwidth.
Things got particularly dicey when Ontario, where Chris lives, recently reinstituted a hard pandemic lockdown, so Chris’s young kids, who had finally started going to in-person school in February, had to switch back to remote/at-home learning — which, as it turns out, is not a situation conducive to producing a weekly podcast (or much of anything else, I gather). Chris is hoping things will be more settled at home when his kids go back to in-person school in the fall.
As for me, I found that planning and preparing each week’s show was eating up more and more of my weekends. I could sorta/kinda rationalize that when we were still mostly house-bound and it was cold outside. But now that Mary and I are fully vaccinated and the weather is getting warmer, I want to reclaim that part of my life.
Also: I have a new work project brewing that will soon create additional demands on my time (more on that later). That project will inevitably have some initial hiccups and false starts as it gets off the ground this summer, so I’ll likely have to devote a lot of energy to it. But I’m hoping it will be a smooth-running, low-maintenance operation by the time we bring the podcast back to a more frequent schedule in the fall. (Then again, that’s how I thought the podcast itself would be, and it didn’t turn out that way, so we’ll see.)
Also-also: Because the show has been focused largely on breaking or recent news, I’ve often found myself expressing the same ideas and analyses on the podcast that I had written just a few days earlier on the blog (sometimes in the exact same wording!). That doesn’t provide much growth or stimulation for me, and I figure it doesn’t provide much value for you folks either. What’s the point of listening to me say the same thing I just wrote? The slower summer schedule won’t work as well for breaking or recent news, so I’m hoping it will force us to adapt by creating new presentation approaches. (The new “Ask Us Anything” episode is one example of that, although we had already planned on doing that one even before we decided to go to the slower summer schedule.)
I don’t want to make it sound like the show has been a negative experience. On the contrary, I’ve learned a lot, I’ve had fun making something new, and collaborating with Chris has been a blast. But the way we’ve been doing the show so far has turned out to be unsustainable for both of us, so something had to give. Thanks for understanding, and enjoy today’s episode.
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The Ticker By Paul
Indigenous Appropriation News: A local tribe wants Ponaganset High School in Rhode Island to stop calling its teams the Chieftains (from Tim Finnegan). … The teams at Fresno High School in California will still be called the Warriors, but the old Indian-head logo has been retired — a move that has angered some local residents (from Aaron Wiens). … Some schools in Kansas are discovering that doing the right thing — like, say, schools scrapping their inappropriate team identities — sometimes costs money. Might’ve cost a lot less if they’d done it sooner (thanks, Phil). … The Spokane Tribe in Washington State has decided to reject all requests from area schools under the state’s new law that requires permission from local tribes to continue using Native American-themed team names and imagery (from Kary Klismet). … Also from Kary: Wayne Valley (N.J.) High School is soliciting public feedback on whether it should retire its “Indians” team name.
Hockey News: Jeff Jacobs — described by reader John Dankosky as “Connecticut’s best-known sportswriter” — really dislikes the new Bridgeport Islanders logo. … The Federal Prospects Hockey League will have a new team in Binghamton, N.Y., called the Binghamton Black Bears (from Wade Heidt). … Wow: Maple Leafs RW Wayne Simmonds, who is Black, has had to wear his hair longer than he prefers because the team’s quarantine-bubble barber doesn’t know how to cut Black hair (from Kary Klismet). … Speaking of the Leafs, here’s an interesting note from Mike Engle: “In my interactions with fellow collectors of game-worn NHL stuff, I found that Auston Matthews of the Maple Leafs has a smiley-face doodle on his gloves. So does his teammate Mitch Marner. Some photo research shows that for Matthews, it’s not always a smile — I’ve seen a hollow heart, two hearts colored in, a stick figure, and a smile with a tongue sticking out.” Anyone know more about this?
Soccer News: PSG’s new kit is heavily Jordan/Bulls influenced (from @mikeDfromCT). … Inter Milan wore a “special shirt” in Serie A yesterday. “I thought this design would just be merch when I first saw it, but it rather spectacularly is not,” says our own Jamie Rathjen. … The owners of the Columbus Crew whatever they’re called now, have issued a statement in response to all the fan outrage of the team’s recent rebrand (thanks, Phil).
Grab Bag: Some military personnel listed the dumbest things they’ve ever done in uniform. … New logo and identity for USA Lacrosse. I know the shape on the logo is supposed to look like a lacrosse stick, but to me it looks like a protective cup, or maybe a urinal (from Griffin Smith). … This is so cool: Check out this Twitter thread to see the contraption they use for chalking the track lanes at a track meet. Too bad there’s no video (from @SuitUpVarsity). … New helmets for Maryland lacrosse (from Wes Brown). … New logo for Google Fiber (thanks, Brinke). … The W Series, a women’s auto racing series, is going to have firesuits with a “female-first design” this season. “They must be one of the only sports that doesn’t do that already,” notes Jamie Rathjen.
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Special shout-out today to Phil. He knows why. Proud of you, buddy. — Paul
[Editor’s Note: For the second consecutive day, we have a soccer-centric entry written by another member of the Uni Watch team (because I’m basically unqualified to write about anything other than MLB umpires soccer). Today it’s Jamie Rathjen with a look at the kits for the new NWSL season. Enjoy. — PL]
By Jamie Rathjen
The NWSL’s regular season starts this Saturday, May 15. Team changes for this season include an expansion team, Racing Louisville; a name change for Sky Blue FC to NY/NJ Gotham FC; and a move for the former Utah Royals, back to their previous home base of Kansas City.
One league-wide uni-related change is that there is now a common sleeve ad again after a one-year absence. Unlike the previous league-wide sleeve ad, this one replaces the NWSL logo sleeve patch.
The number of new releases for each team this year varies from zero to two, at least for now (a few teams seem to be waiting for the start of the actual regular season before making their release). So while all of the league’s kits are shown in the photos that accompany the following team-by-team breakdown, only the new ones are discussed in this article. Those not mentioned here are addressed in my 2020 season preview.)
Not only is the new first shirt basically solid orange, which is the very thing I praised the Dash for avoiding last year, it’s almost as identical to the Dynamo’s new shirt as it can be with different manufacturers. The new second shirt is NASA-inspired, and somehow it’s not the only space-themed NWSL shirt this year, though this design restricts itself to a pattern of starry dots that isn’t visible from distance and doesn’t extend to the back.
The Dash also have a new crest, which is again similar to the Dynamo’s.
Kansas City NWSL
Kansas City NWSL has a temporary name and crest, along with a single very basic white shirt and white shorts with teal (or white) socks, which may only be worn for the Challenge Cup because the team calls it the “Challenge Cup jersey.” The team was only moved in December, so everything was put together on short notice.
NJ/NY Gotham FC
I’m sad to see the Sky Blue FC name go, because they were one of the last two teams whose name and colors predated the NWSL. (They and Chicago were members of WPS, one of the NWSL’s predecessor leagues.) But the name was also out of place for a few years because a rebrand-in-stages meant SBFC last wore their titular sky blue in 2018. In 2019, Sky Blue wore a dark blue kit at home that never looked anything but temporary, and last year they introduced a color scheme of black and a paler blue, which we now know is supposed to be Statue of Liberty-ish.
This is definitely an improvement on what was not an especially coherent identity — including a crest that, despite the Sky Blue name, had a lot of orange. But Gotham now reminds me of the WNBA’s more-established Liberty, because the two have essentially the same fairly uncommon color scheme and the same ideas for their logo (i.e., various parts of the Statue of Liberty combined with an “NY” or “NJ”). I think Gotham just about differentiated themselves with their two shirts, however, which are simple black and white with sky blue sashes.
North Carolina Courage
Two shades of blue are better than last season’s one, but in what is a theme for the Courage this year, the raglan pattern was used not that long ago. This shirt is allegedly sea-themed, which is not that visible but is supposed to tie in with the second shirt.
The second shirt has a mountain pattern. I appreciate the effort to avoid a plain white shirt, but this immediately feels familiar because Utah had a very similar idea last year, leaving us with related variations on the same theme like the space-based shirts.
Tacoma, Wash.-based OL Reign’s shirts are similar to last season’s, but blue becomes primary and white becomes secondary. The shirts display more influences from the parent club, Olympique Lyonnais, as the color schemes of both, including the white shirt’s red accents on one side and blue on the other, are close to OL’s first and third shirts this season.
Well, that new first shirt sure is something. But that’s not intended to be a knock; I appreciate the imagination with this one. It’s a good measure of how far the NWSL has come from the days of templated lookalike designs.
The shirt partially has a star pattern — a reference to the nearby NASA installations. One shirt actually did go into space along with a ball that’s to be used for Orlando’s first regular season home game.
This is worn with black shorts and socks, which I think is a better, more coherent choice than purple, even if it forsakes the actual team color.
Even though the crest is purple with purple accents, the first shirt is very dark, almost black, and has a flower pattern. This feels like yet another multi-team trend, as flowers are lately a growing theme for Nike-outfitted women’s soccer teams (like the Portland Thorns, who we’ll get to momentarily), but a positive trend as I think all those designs have turned out well. The shirt even works in a reference to Louisville native Muhammad Ali with small butterflies and bees between the flowers. Add it all together and we have one of the most well-received designs of this year.
The white shirt has a small fleur-de-lis pattern, laid out similarly to Houston’s white shirt.
No changes for the Thorns, who are keeping both of their kits from last year.
The Spirit don’t have any current changes except for starting the season without a front ad, which they also did in 2019, but they may be replacing their mono-white second kit at some point.
One final note: Angel City, the league’s new Los Angeles expansion team, is planning to start play in 2022 but will release shirts this summer. So by the time of their first game, their shirts will already have been out for almost a year — unusual for a soccer team.
ITEM! Uni Watch gets on-air shout-out: Back on May 3, I mentioned on Twitter that Mets outfielder Albert Almora, like several other MLB players, has his jersey sewn shut to create a de facto pullover (a phenomenon I first wrote about back in 2016). That tweet apparently caught the attention of SNY roving reporter Steve Gelbs, who mentioned Almora’s sewn jersey placket during the broadcast of last night’s Mets/O’s game and gave credit to Uni Watch — nice! You can see the video in the tweet embedded above.
I’ll admit that it’s a kick to be name-checked during my favorite team’s game. More importantly, it’s great that this broadcast crew cares about small uni details and is willing to discuss them on the air.
Too good for the Ticker: Personally, I think the whole notion of hyping or promoting the imminent release of the NFL schedule is a bit silly. But the video clip that the Patriots used for that purpose yesterday, showing some sort of bobblehead or action figure being designed, is pure gold. Best 105 seconds you’ll spend today, guaranteed. (The video clip is only 35 seconds, but it’s so good that I figure you’ll want to watch it at least three times.)
Ordering a membership card is a good way to support Uni Watch (which, frankly, could use your support these days). And remember, a Uni Watch membership card entitles you to a 15% discount on any of the merchandise in the Uni Watch, Uni Rock, and Naming Wrongs shops, plus the discount also applies to our Uni Watch Classic Cap. (If you’re an existing member and would like to have the discount code, email me and I’ll hook you up.)
As always, you can sign up for your own custom-designed card here, you can see all the cards we’ve designed so far here (now more than 3,100 of them!), and you can see how we produce the cards here.
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The Ticker By Lloyd Alaban
Baseball News: Reds P Wade Miley threw a no-hitter on Friday after his son gave him a temporary Hulk tattoo. Fans now want him to make the tattoo permanent (from Brice Wallace). … Astros CF Myles Straw apparently wore teammate Alex Bregman’s arm sleeve last night. Straw wears No. 3 (from @SteveinLC). … The Yankees are wearing their Whitey Ford memorial patch on the left sleeve this season, but C Gary Sanchez had it on the right sleeve last night. Some quick photo research indicates that he consistently had it on the proper sleeve prior to last night (from Dave Rakowski). … Brewers IF Luis Urias started an at-bat last night against the Cardinals in the bottom of the eighth wearing blue batting gloves. He fouled off a pitch in the middle of his at-bat and then returned to the batter’s box wearing yellow and white gloves (from Andrew Lehman). … Rays OF/3B Yandy Diaz was still wearing his pink Mother’s Day belt last night (from Ryan Webster), and A’s SS Elvis Andrus was still wearing his pink batting gloves (from Samuel Lam). … Speaking of Oakland: The A’s announced they would explore relocation yesterday, and ESPN broke the story using a graphic of the team’s script with a fly on it (from multiple readers). … The Mets will unveil their Tom Seaver statue on Opening Day next season (from our own Brinke Guthrie). … Childhood Cancer Awareness caps for Arkansas yesterday (from Matt Snyder). … P Max Meyer of the Pensacola Blue Wahoos, affiliate of the Marlins, wore a Wilson jersey with Majestic pants last night (from @chriscobos). … The Progressive ad behind home plate at Cleveland’s ballpark shows spokeswoman Flo wearing a red helmet — an odd choice considering Cleveland has never worn a red batting helmet and hasn’t even worn a red cap since 2018 (from Ben Teaford). … A pitcher in the Chinese Professional Baseball League was told by officials to change his cleats after the the opposing team complained that his reflective footwear was distracting batters (from multiple readers). … Ole Miss softball graduates will wear an SEC-themed graduate patch this weekend (from Gray Hardison). … White Sox P Dylan Cease changed gloves during last night’s game (from Mark Kelly).
Football News: WR Robert Woods of the Rams will switch to No. 2 (from Andrew Cosentino). … Giants WR Sterling Shepard will switch to No. 3 (from our own Brinke Guthrie). … Georgia Tech P Pressley Harvin III, who was drafted in the seventh round by the Steelers earlier this month, wore a Steelers-themed graduation cap at his school’s commencement ceremony (from James Gilbert).
Hockey News: The Jets released a commemorative logo for C Paul Stastny’s 1,000th game, featuring the number fonts from the various teams for which he’s played. In addition, Stastney wore a No. 1000 pregame jersey (from Michael Remis).
Basketball News: New court design, banners, and other refurbishments for UTEP (from Mark C. Gutierrez).
Grab Bag: England is changing the name of its national second XV rugby union team from England Saxons back to England A (which is the nomenclature used by all other nations, with the exception of New Zealand, which calls its second team the Maori All Blacks) to “better reflect rugby’s diversity” (from Eric Bangeman). … The Toronto Rock of the National Lacrosse League is moving to Hamilton. It’s not yet clear what this will mean for their team name (from Wade Heidt). … This past Sunday’s episode of The Simpsons had a subplot of a high school-age Lisa trying to decide which college to attend, with assorted college logos shown in varying degrees of accuracy (from Michael Rich). … New AFL indigenous design for Adelaide (from our own Jamie Rathjen). … New volleyball uniforms for Slovenian men’s team NT (from Jeremy Brahm).
[Editor’s Note: Today’s lede is by longtime Uni Watch team member Alex Hider, who has the latest on an inexplicable MLS redesign. — PL]
By Alex Hider
“Not needed. Tone deaf.”
Those were the words that a good friend of mine — a lifelong Columbus Crew fan and season ticket holder — used to describe the team’s new team name and logo, which were unveiled yesterday after a weekend full of leaks.
His description is probably an understatement. A team coming off a successful push to save its club and a second MLS championship now sees some of its most ardent supporters in a mutiny over a redesign that few fans asked for.
The team is now officially known as Columbus SC and has banished the word “Crew” — a moniker the club has used since it was founded as one of the charter MLS members in 1996 — from its new primary badge.
However, the club told local media outlets that it hopes fans still refer to the team as “the Crew,” just as Liverpool fans call their club “the Reds” and Arsenal fans call their team “the Gunners.” The team even included “The Crew” and “Crew 96” wordmarks as part of their unveiling. It feels like a weak attempt to have it both ways.
For a team that likes to tout its extensive MLS history and heritage, there’s no reason to make a move this drastic. Supporters who had stuck behind the team for 25 years were unlikely to be clamoring for a name change, so making that change only alienates the club’s most hardcore fans.
Moreover, the new badge feels like a serious aesthetic downgrade. Just six years after unveiling a crest that was near-universally praised, the team opted to ditch it for a new mark featuring a “C” shaped like Ohio’s distinctive pennant-shaped state flag:
It’s a good concept in theory, but the execution misses the mark. The pennant is a difficult shape to work with, especially when trying to house letters or words. The final product feels a bit clunky, especially when compared to the simple, straightforward roundel the team has been using.
There’s also that little triangular element at the bottom-right corner of the new badge, which somehow seems simultaneously unnecessary yet essential to keep the logo from feeling incomplete. You have to figure an issue like that could have been avoided if the team chose to orient the logo horizontally instead of vertically.
For a group of fans that just fought like hell to #SaveTheCrew and keep the club in town, Monday’s formal announcement was a gut punch.
On Sunday night, the Nordecke — a coalition of the club’s largest supporters’ groups — condemned the rebrand, alleging that the club did not involve any of the fan groups in the design process and that the team recruited fans for promotional materials without informing them of changes ahead of time. A handful of fans even went to the team’s stadium on Monday evening to formally protest in person.
In some ways, Columbus fans could have seen this coming. Among those who stepped up to buy the team and keep them in town was Tennessee businessman Jimmy Haslam — the owner of the NFL’s Cleveland Browns, who had their own ill-advised redesign in 2015.
Haslam remedied that mistake after five seasons — the quickest timeline allowed by the NFL. Could he do the same for the Crew if fans continue to voice their displeasure?
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Click to enlarge
ITEM! History mystery solved: Yesterday I showed this photo of Tom Paciorek wearing a Mariners road jersey with centered numbering. The photo was clearly taken at Chicago’s Comiskey Park, probably in 1978 (the M’s wore an All-Star Game patch in ’79, had two-tone batting helmets in ’80, and switched to a different uni design in ’81, so ’78 is the year that makes sense).
I was so excited to share this photo with you yesterday that I didn’t do what I should have done first: show it to uni scholar Bill Henderson. I ran it by him yesterday and got this response:
Never seen this before! Ever. The Mariners were incredibly sloppy and cheap. And inconsistent. I wonder if he was reissued a jersey that had the 4 as the first number, and to be quick they just stuck a 1 in front of the existing 4. To prove this theory, I would look to see if he was a mid-season add to the team or if he was on the opening day roster.
That was an interesting theory, so I looked up Paciorek’s 1978 game log. And sure enough, Atlanta released him in May of that year, and then he joined the Mariners on June 22 — in Chicago. So as Bill suggested, they probably gave him a makeshift jersey, and then this photo (along with a similar shot clearly taken as part of the same photo shoot) was probably taken right after he suited up for the first time. It likely went out over the wire with a caption saying that he was the newest addition to the Seattle roster.
“It’s possible that the local shop in Chicago sewed his uniform, using whatever the team trainer had in his kit, and probably on deadline,” says Bill. “That would be similar to what happened when Mark McGwire joined the Cardinals in Philadelphia.” For details on that, look here and here.
That June 22 game in Chicago where Paciorek made his Mariners debut was the final game of a three-game series. After that, they played a three-game set in Milwaukee (the Brewers were still in the American League at the time). Paciorek didn’t play in the series opener but did appear in the second and third games. It’s not clear whether he was still wearing the centered-number jersey for those games, but the M’s went back to Seattle for a long homestand after that, so he presumably had a proper jersey when they went back on the road on July 7.
All of which is a long way of saying that Paciorek probably wore this jersey for a few games at the most, and possibly only for one game. So that photo documents a very rare phenomenon!
(My continued thanks to Twitter-er @ianb78 for bringing the Paciorek photo to my attention, and to Bill Henderson for providing the probable answer to the mystery.)
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ITEM! Uni Watch mask makes televised vaccination debut: Uni Watch reader Sean Kautzman received a Covid vaccination yesterday at a drive-thru site in Sudbury, Ontario, and then was interviewed by a TV news crew — while wearing his Uni Watch mask! — as he prepared to drive back home.
You can see the full video clip here. Sean appears about a minute into the report.
I’m very proud to see Uni Watch having a presence to help promote public health. Congrats on your first vaccination shot, Sean, and also on your televisual appearance!
Leading off this week with some terrific calendrier officiel art on this 1987 Montreal Expos pocket schedule. Look at those stirrups! The artwork on the 1981 and 1982 schedules is almost as good. I remember getting these way back when, when postage was a dime or something. I’d write to teams and ask for a sticker and schedule, and usually got a nice reply.
Now for the rest of this week’s picks:
• This is a stadium giveaway Cincinnati Reds “Schottzie” Energizer Flashlight. Now, I don’t see any connection between Marge Schott’s dog and a flashlight, but logic didn’t always apply with Mrs. Schott. (True story: Marge once wanted to smoke in my Mazda Miata, and I told her no. Her reply was, “Awfully small car, honey.” Also: Schottzie once sat on me in Marge’s office. A huge, huge dog. And I fed Schottzie Lorna Doones and Yoo-Hoo in a limo once, but that’s another story.)
• New York Yankees and Giants managers Bill Dickey and Mel Ott heartily endorsed Chesterfield cigarettes in this 1946 magazine ad. A) Always Milder. B) Better Tasting. C) Cooler Smoking. Checks all the boxes! (No mention of that pesky lung cancer.)
Calendar reminders: May is always a big month on the Uni Watch calendar, and this year will be no exception. Here’s what’s in store:
• May 17 — a mere six days away — will mark the (15th!) anniversary of the very first post on this blog in 2006. Per longstanding tradition, that means it will also be Purple Amnesty Day — the only day of the year when I’ll accept orders for purple-inclusive membership cards, so get those purple orders ready! As usual, designer Bryan Molloy and I will also have some purple merch offerings that will be available for exactly 24 hours — no more, no less!
• Nine days later — May 26 — will mark the 22nd anniversary of the very first Uni Watch column appearing in The Village Voice in 1999. It will also be the date of a very special uni-centric event that longtime Uni Watch reader and all-around swell guy Jason Von Stein has organized. I’ll let him explain:
I love Uni Watch because it brings people together, no matter what uniform they wear or root for. Uni Watch also celebrates the arts. So please join us for a free celebration Wednesday, May 26, as a bunch of wonderful musical performers celebrate Uni Watch’s 22nd anniversary and also raise money for worthy charities.
The event will be live-streaming on this Facebook page. Here’s the schedule of who’ll be performing, and the charities they’ll be supporting [click to enlarge]:
The performers will be live-streaming from their homes on the event page. You’ll know who is currently performing by the red “Live” box appearing in the upper-right corner of the screen, and you’ll be encouraged (but not required, of course) to donate to that performer’s charity.
We will also be having “Stupid Sports Trivia” between performers, with prizes courtesy of Ebbets Field Flannels, Asgard Press, and others.
Feel free to interact with us during the event and tell us what Uni Watch means to you. If you like, we encourage you to wear your favorite uniform and post photos of yourself on the event page! The person whose photo has the most “Likes” will win a Uni Watch prize package that Paul has provided, featuring a Uni Watch koozy, trading card, magnet, and membership card. (Don’t have a uniform to wear? Between now and May 26, use the checkout code UNI22 to get 10% off at Ebbets Field Flannels.)
We hope you’ll join us to celebrate 22 years of Uni Watch, to enjoy lots of great musical performances, and to support lots of worthy causes. Thanks!
Isn’t that nice? I’ve had nothing to do with the planning of this event, so Jason deserves every last bit of credit for putting it together. Thanks, Jason!
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The Ticker By Alex Hider
Baseball News: On Sunday, the Marlins decorated their mound with two team logos around a heart, spelling out “Mom” (from Brice Wallace). … Schlafly, a St. Louis-based brewery, has released a new Cardinals-themed T-shirt (from Andrew Cosentino). … The Rocket City Trash Pandas, the Angels’ Double-A affiliate, will wear gold-trimmed uniforms for their home opener tonight (thanks to all who shared). … More Ump Watch: Umpire Hunter Wendeltstedt wore Jordan 11 sneakers during the Atlanta/Phillies game Sunday night (from Tim Shriver). … Arkansas has unveiled a new, fantasticbaseball-specific logo — Pitching Ribby (from Matt Snyder and Taylor Crabtree). … The Lotte Marines of Japan’s Pacific League will wear black uniforms for nine games in July and August (from Jeremy Brahm). … Oh man, check out this fantastic 1986 spring training photo of Tim Raines wearing an Expos bucket hat (from Jeff Bryniarski).
NFL News: Thanks to the league’s new numbering system, Panthers rookie CB Jaycee Horn has chosen to wear No. 8 in honor of Kobe Bryant (from Kary Klismet). … Speaking of the new numbering system, the current count is that 16 newly eligible players — not including Horn — will wear a single-digit number next season (thanks Brinke). … Man, the Seahawks’ current uni set would sure look nice in the team’s retro color scheme (also from Brinke).
Hockey News: The Islanders’ AHL affiliate in Bridgeport, Conn., is changing its name from the Sound Tigers to the Islanders. Here’s their new logo (thanks to all who shared). … Check out these Stars prototype designs that the team considered but ultimately rejected in 2011 and 2013.
Basketball News: When the Timberwolves unveiled their new uni set in 2017, there was a lot of talk about how the striping conveniently housed the Nike maker’s mark. But Peyton Winters notes that now that Nike uses the Jordan makers’ mark on their Statement uniforms, it leads to the logo awkwardly straddling two different fields of color. … @OrangeandPloo notes that the warm-up gear colors for Sunday’s Knicks/Clippers game seemed flipped — the black-clad Clips wore blue warm-ups on the bench, while the white, blue and orange Knicks wore dark gray warm-ups. … A new Arizona women’s uniform may have leaked in a commitment video posted by prospect Maya Nnaji (from Rocky De La Rosa).
Soccer News: An FC Cincinnati blog had some fun with the Columbus logo unveiling by adding that floating triangle from their new badge to every MLS logo (from John Flory). … Washington Capitals star Alex Ovechkin is a new investor for the NWSL’s Washington Spirit, so they gave him a custom shirt (from our own Jamie Rathjen). … Also from Jamie: AC Milan’s new first shirt will be debuted next weekend by its women’s team, which makes them the first Serie A club to do that. … Several versions of the Tampa Bay Rowdies have existed through the years dating back to the 1970s. Matthew Algeo was watching a NASL Indoor match from 1982 and noted that the team added the word “Indoor” to their jerseys. … New match ball for the Bundesliga and 2. Bundesliga (from Ed Zelaski). …
Olympics News: New men’s and women’s volleyball uniforms for Brazil (from Jeremy Brahm).
Grab Bag: Australian Football League Essendon is the first AFL club to release Indigenous uniforms this season (from our own Jamie Rathjen). … The next four items are from Kary Klismet: A Canadian newspaper has published a profile on the first member of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police to wear a turban. … New uniforms for the Royal Thai Police. … These are the eight mascot finalists for the 2023 Winter World University Games in Lake Placid, N.Y. … Japan has a new costumed mascot to promote Covid safety measures. … It appears that Amazon has updated its Android notification tray icon. It’s now the smile arrow logo. According to @PhillyPartTwo, the company used to use the shopping cart icon in that spot. … Wingate University, a D2 school in North Carolina, is considering changing the name of the school after it was found that its namesake was a slave owner. What’s more interesting was that the namesake was not involved in the school’s founding at all (from James Gilbert). … The Pensacola Police Department is removing Confederate imagery from its police badges, uniforms, and cruisers (from Timmy Donahue). … Also from Timmy: Interesting new non-mono uniform for courthouse officers in Frederick County, Md.
Good morning and welcome back to Ump Watch (now revised from the longer and clunkier Ump Patch Watch), where we continue to obsessively document the world of umpire attire.
As you may be aware, yesterday was Mother’s Day. We already knew that the players would have pink-logo caps (and lots of other pink gear, which we’ll get to in a minute), but we didn’t know that the umps would be wearing royal blue caps with pink MLB logos.
The blue caps were most apparent on the base umps, but they also stood out under the plate umps’ masks, as you can see here:
At least one ump — Marvin Hudson, who was working the plate for the Atlanta/Philly game — had a royal blue neck gaiter to match his blue cap:
The blue caps were an odd match for the umps wearing black, but they worked well for umps wearing blue jerseys. That made for a strange situation in Texas, where the umps and the Rangers looked like they were on the same team, at least above the waist:
I couldn’t recall the umps wearing blue caps for previous Ma’s Days (or at any other time, for that matter), so I decided to do a little digging. Obviously, there were no Ma’s Day games last year because of the pandemic, but here are the caps that the umps wore for the five years before that:
2019: Black crown, pink brim, pink MLB logo
Also: Note the crucifix bracelet in that second shot! That’s Ángel Hernández, and he’s been wearing it for years. (Yes, we all know he’s a bad ump, so let’s please skip the obvious jokes. Thanks.)
2018: Pink crown, black brim, red MLB logo
2017: Black crown and brim, pink MLB logo
2016: Same as 2017
2015: Standard ump caps
So yesterday marked the fifth consecutive time that the umps wore a commemorative hat design for Ma’s Day, but it was the first that the cap design was blue. Maybe they’ll use this same design for Pa’s Day next month..?
Now, we all know that MLB sells the Ma’s Day team caps. But can you also buy a Ma’s Day ump cap? Yes, apparently.
And we also know that MLB auctions off the game-used Ma’s Day gear. But does anyone really bid on game-used Ma’s Day ump caps? Yes, apparently.
As an aside: While researching the ump caps from previous years, I came across this shot from 2019, showing a plate ump (I didn’t note which game this was from, so I don’t know who the ump is, sorry) with black tape covering up a patch — probably a memorial patch, just like we saw a week ago:
Holiday gear overlapping with a patch cover-up — that’s some peak Ump Watch right there!
But wait, there’s more! Umpire Manny Gonzalez, who was working the plate in the D-backs/Mets game, had several things — presumably names — written on his mask’s backplate:
I can’t make out what those inscriptions say. Maybe the names of his mother and wife..?
Or maybe they have nothing to do with Ma’s Day. I couldn’t find any other rear-view shots of Gonzalez’s mask from this season, so we don’t know for sure when he added the inscriptions. But he definitely didn’t have them last September.
Meanwhile: It has come to Ump Watch’s attention that the umpires share the field with a bunch of insignificant also-rans called “players.” Apparently these “players” also wear uniforms, and these uniforms sometimes have interesting quirks of their own. Strange but true! For example:
• Cardinals catcher Yadier Molina wore a pink chest protector (so did lots of other catchers yesterday) and a pink mask, the latter of which suffered some damage when he took a foul ball off his forehead:
• Lots of players, including Padres first baseman Eric Hosmer, wore pink compression sleeves with “Thanks Mom” (missing the comma of address, tsk-tsk) printed on them:
• The A’s debuted their “O” cap logo — the one that looks like labia when rendered in pink — and, as usual, looked even stupider than all the other pink-accented teams, because pink clashes with their magnificent color scheme:
That wraps up this edition of Ump Watch. Sorry to have gone slightly off-topic with the non-ump stuff!
(My thanks to all contributors, including Tim Akins, Steve Dodell, Elena Elms, Mike Nessen, @buckwildinsani1, and our own Brinke Guthrie.)
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History mystery: I can’t recall if we’ve seen this photo before, but check out this shot of Mariners first baseman/outfielder Tom Paciorek, probably from 1978. What’s with the centered number? My first thought would be, “Must’ve been something they were experimenting with during spring training,” but the photo was clearly taken at Comiskey Park in Chicago. Hmmmm.
Anyone know more..?
(My thanks to Twitter-er @ianb78 for this one.)
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Too good for the Ticker: The Shawinigan Cataractes — a team in the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League — had some really unusual uniforms in the mid-1980s. For starters, there are the teal Cooperalls. Then there are the strange partial UCLA-style shoulder stripes. And then, most of all, there are the vertically stacked sleeve numbers! Never seen that before.
This uniform was worn in the 1985 Memorial Cup Final. In this video clip, you can see how the shoulder stripes actually extend down into full-fledged side panels. Also: It’s a Cooperalls-vs.-Cooperalls game! Check this out:
(Big thanks to Wade Heidt for this one.)
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The Ticker By Jamie Rathjen
Baseball News: By coincidence, two Astros/Blue Jays frankenjerseys appeared for Mother’s Day. One was worn by Patty Biggio, the mother of Toronto 2B Cavan and wife of former Houston 2B Craig (from Ignacio Salazar) and the other by Olga Gurriel, the mother of Houston 1B Yuli and Toronto LF Lourdes Jr. (from multiple readers). … A roofing company in Colorado uses a Rockies-like logo (from Perry Sailor). … Fashion designer Ralph Lauren is launching new baseball-themed apparel collections for the Cardinals, Cubs, Dodgers, and Yankees, with the Red Sox and some other teams to follow later this year (from Tom Turner).
Football News: Our hopes of the Patriots possibly adding silver pants this season, based on a mannequin that appeared at the recent NFL draft, have been quashed (from multiple readers). … The reason why officials wear black and white stripes is apparently thanks to an official at modern Eastern Michigan University in 1921 (from @Wilds_Lee). … This year is the 100th anniversary of the CFL’s Hamilton Tiger-Cats’ “Oskee Wee Wee” cheer, which started with one of the Ticats’ predecessors, the Hamilton Tigers. “For people who know the cheer and think it is nonsensical, the article somewhat explains it,” says Wade Heidt.
Grab Bag:This article explores the occasionally bizarre Australian Football League color clash policy. Complicating factors include that clash guernseys only became common in the late ’90s, some teams held out without one for even longer, and changing to white shorts is often preferred instead (also from Kary Klismet). … The U.K.’s Netball Superleague’s Surrey Storm wore black armbands in memory of longtime Zimbabwean coach Ledwin Dondo, who led their national team at the sport’s last World Cup in 2019. … The next two are from Kary Klismet: Star Trek: The Next Generation’s Starfleet uniforms were redesigned after two seasons because they were uncomfortable. … Division II Indiana University of Pennsylvania has a new mural in its arena.