If The NFL’s ‘One Shell Rule’ Were Revoked (AFC Edition)

By Phil Hecken

Good morning Uni Watch readers! I hope everyone is still doing OK and staying safe (and getting vaccinated if possible). Spring has sprung (at least in my nape of the way), and with the weather getting warmer and innoculations increasing, hopefully we can return to normalcy in the near future.

If you missed my piece on the NFC options if the NFL revokes the “one shell rule” (see last weekend’s post here for all the set up), this week I return with a look at the AFC. If you didn’t read last weekend, please read at least the first few paragraphs, where I set up the parameters. There’s a lot to get to today, so let’s dive right in.

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AFC East

Buffalo Bills

Right off the bat we have an excellent candidate if the one shell rule is lifted. The Bills wore these helmets (with the above uniform) from 1984-2001, and while they never attained the ultimate prize, did go to four straight Supes (a record which will probably not ever be equalled); unfortunately, they went winless in all of them, leading to the joke: “What’s Buffalo’s new area code? 0-4-4.” All kidding aside not only could they bring these unis back as throwbacks, they could, at least in theory, sport red shells with their color rush — or even better (and something I’ve hoped they would do since they introduced the CR), wear white hats/red jerseys/red white pants or (even better still) go red/white/red. I never really liked the Jim Kelly-era uniforms, but I wouldn’t mind seeing the team throw back to them, at least for one game. And a red shell would definitely make their CR unis work a lot better.

Should they? You betcha.

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Miami Dolphins

The Dolphins have always had a white shell, and even if the one shell rule were lifted, there’s no need for anything but white. And they already have the perfect throwback unis (as seen above) — they really just need to make them the official home/road (or color/white) unis and we’ll call it a day. There is absolutely no need for an aqua shell nor an orange shell. None.

Should they? Keep the white shells, make the throwbacks their regular unis. Done and done.

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New England Patriots

Aside from the return of Bucco Bruce, there is probably no other uniform that deserves a throwback return more than Pat Patriot (who became one of several victims of the one shell rule). I mean…c’mon. We need to see these on the field two or three times every year.

Should they? Indubitably.

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New York Jets

I’m sure many of you are saying, “wait, didn’t they just wear something like this a few years ago?” and while it was similar, the color green Namath’s Jets wore was more of a kelly than the almost-olive worn more recently. In fact, the Jets original CR unis got it pretty perfect, except of course for the mono-kelly pants and socks. Just wear white pants with this and it’s a winner. Alternatively…and definitely NOT something I’d advocate for…would be to add a black shell to wear with their current black alternate unis. The shiny kelly green hat atop monoblack looks awful, but giving them a black shell would at least make it less awful.

Should they? Yes to the white/kelly Namath throwback; no to the monoblack.

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AFC North

Baltimore Ravens

Since their “birth” in 1996, the Ravens have only ever had a black helmet, so a second color shell option could be to add a purple one — one that would match their CR uniform. But that’s waaaaaay too much purple, so my thought would be to modify the CR uni to wear the purple shell with the white jersey/purple pants, and pretty much no other combos. I don’t think the team needs an additional shell option…but purple/white/purple might be the best.

Should they? No.

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Cincinnati Bengals

We know the Bengals will soon be unveiling new uniforms, and they’ve already said the current helmet (which is orange) won’t be changing. But the lifting of the one shell rule would be a great opportunity for the team to complete the whole white tiger look their current CR unis evoke. I’ll admit when I first saw their CR set, I didn’t like it, but it’s really grown on me. Add in a white shell with stripes and you’d have a really sharp looking uniform.

Should they? Absolutely!

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Cleveland Browns

Assuming the leaks are correct (and there’s no reason to think they’re not), the Browns will be wearing a 1946 throwback this year (for their “75th” Anniversary), and of course back in 1946, the Browns wore white shells. Granted, those were pretty much leatherhead days, but a blank white shell would really make the 1946 throwback about as authentic as one could get.

Should they? Indeed, they should.

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Pittsburgh Steelers

The Steelers have worn a gold helmet before — both as a throwback and as a regular shell pretty much from 1933 through 1962. I didn’t love the throwbacks, so I wouldn’t necessarily want them to wear those again if the one shell rule were lifted, but I’d love to see the team pair it with their current black/gold jersey/pants set. In fact, I’d also love to see the team try a gold jersey with their current black CR pants, giving a gold/black/gold & black/gold/black option.

Should they? Sure, why not.

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AFC South

Houston Texans

When the Houston Texans’ franchise name and logo were unveiled in 2000, team and league officials posed with a white helmet. That was changed to the current blue shell by the time the team began play in 2002. Since entering the league, the team has made no significant changes to their original uniforms, so even if the one shell rule were to change, they have no throwbacks to well, throw back to. But, they could finally add the original white helmet to the current blue one, giving them more uni options. I’d love them to wear the white had only if paired with white pants, but that would work well with their white/white, blue/white and/or red/white unis.

Should they? Sure, why not.

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Indianapolis Colts

The Colts wore these uniforms, with two horseshoes on a blue helmet (ostensibly a throwback to 1955) in 2010. I love the idea of bringing back a blue helmet, but not necessarily the throwback — and ideally I’d love the blue helmet to essentially mirror the current white one. Now that the team has blue CR pants, how great would they look going blue/white/blue? Pretty great, right? But that’s the only combo where I’d want to see the blue hat worn — their uniform is too classic otherwise to change.

Should they? Love to see it at least once.

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Jacksonville Jaguars

As many of you likely know, the Jags’ original uniform design wasn’t what they ended up wearing on the field in their first year. They had planned on wearing a silver helmet (pictured above) and a white and teal jersey, but some legal issues with the car company of the same name resulted in them going in a different direction. And damn if those first year uniforms weren’t damn near perfect. Rather than attempting to resurrect (in some fashion) that silver lid, I’d rather the team just repurpose their current black helmet and wear 1995 throwbacks for three games a year.

Should they? No to the silver helmet. YES to the first year throwbacks!

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Tennessee Titans

When the Oilers left Houston for Tennessee, they didn’t become the Titans right away. For two years, they played as the Tennessee Oilers. And ever since they became the Titans, the team has failed to even acknowledge their awesome uni roots, save for when they wore early 1960’s throwbacks. But never did they throwback to the best ever set (which is very similar to their 1997-98 Tennessee Oilers uni). It’s time to fix that. Bring these unis back as a throwback, and think about making them the full time unis, Oilers Titans!

Should they? Of course. That uni looks as good today as it did 20+ years ago.

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AFC West

Denver Broncos

Much like Pat Patriot uniforms, Broncos fans unfortunately often equate these gorgeous uniforms (with the royal blue helmet) with a lack of success. Sure, they went to a bunch of Supes, but never got across the finish line while wearing them. Once they switched to the current(ish) unis, they immediately won two Supes, and with some minor changes along the way, still wear those dated unis. What better time than if the one shell rule is dropped to bring back the Orange Crush? They keep trying to, albeit in odd ways, from bring back orange jerseys to breaking out CR unis that fauxback (somewhat) to that look. Time to do it right and bring these back.

Should they? YES!

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Kansas City

Whether they played in Dallas or Kansas City, the team has always worn a red helmet, and until the team changes the name and rebrands, there’s no reason to switch to any other color. And really, unless the team broke out a white helmet, what other color could they wear? Gold? No. Best leave this one alone.

Should they? No.

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Las Vegas Raiders

I’m immediately going to put the kibosh on this one. With one caveat — the Raiders originally wore a black helmet — and in fact, their colors were black and gold. But since 1963, when Al Davis took over the team, the Raiders have always been silver and black, and have never acknowledged their original color scheme since that time. Even in 1994, for the NFL’s 75th anniversary, and again in 2009 (for the AFC/AFL’s 50th year), the team wore silver/black throwbacks. Even their current gorgeous CR uniforms harken back to the silver/black period. So, while a black helmet could actually qualify as a throwback, I don’t see it happening. The team needs to remain silver/black.

Should they? No way.

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Los Angeles Chargers

I never honestly liked the Chargers in a blue helmet, but I know a lot of people did, and if they were to wear any color besides white, this would be it. That set was worn between 1974 and 1984 and would still look good today — in fact, with all their current combos, they could basically do that now (except for the helmet). It would be great if the team could dump the dark blue entirely, pair up the royal jersey with the gold pants, and add the royalish-blue throwback helmet. That would make the best uniform set in the league (fight me!) even better still. This one is a gimme.

Should they? YES YES YES!

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And there you have it — just a few suggestions for (mostly) throwbacks if the one shell rule is lifted. It’s time.

What say you?

All That Glitters…

Yesterday the Dodgers broke out the now traditional “gold outline” World Series champs jersey — we’d known about this for a while, but it’s still nice to see it on the field. As you can see, the “Dodgers” wordmark was outlined in gold, as were the red numbers. The team also received their WS rings:

You’ll note a few things about the uniform from that video. First off, on the left sleeve, in place of their normal interlocking LA logo, the team had the following:

The roman numeral 7 (VII) refers to the number of World Series the franchise has won. Six of those have happened since the team moved to LA, and one of those (1955) happened while the team was located in Brooklyn. There was a single blue star beneath the VII — I put out some feelers but was unable to ascertain what that symbolizes. If anyone knows, please feel free to post it in the comments.

You’ll also note from that video the Dodgers right sleeve is now quite crowded — “patch overload” I believe Paul calls it. Not only does the right sleeve contain the 2020 World Series Champion patch, but also two smaller memorial patches for Tommy Lasorda and Don Sutton. Previously those patches were stacked vertically on the sleeve.

Here’s a closeup of the World Series patch:

Finally, the backs of the jerseys also featured gold outline: both NOB and number received the treatment. You can also see the special gold outlined “LA” logo on the cap:

Nicely done. Sure, every team since 2004 (when the Red Sox started the whole gimmick) has done this — with the sole exception being the 2010 Yanks — but it’s still fun to see the World Series champs from the prior season strutting their stuff!

Atlanta Honors Hammer & Knucksie

This is also not new news, but yesterday Atlanta (in what we believe was a pre-planned event) honored Henry Aaron and Phil Niekro by wearing throwback uniforms (both players wore many a Brave uni over the years, and both Knucksie and Henry Aaron wore the 1974-75 uniform [the one in which Aaron famously broke Babe Ruth’s home run record on April 8, 1974]).

The team did a pretty good job with the uniforms — including going NNOB. Both helmets and caps were period-correct. Unfortunately, while the players were pleasantly high cuffed, the hosiery was quite inconsistent:

I’m not sure which is worse — solid royal blue socks (not period appropriate) or faux stirrups. But aside from that the details, including the raglan sleeves and proper pants, were spot on.

Obviously, since the team will no longer be hosting the All-Star Game, there was no patch — and they wouldn’t have worn one on these jerseys in any event. So that’s a non issue. But since the team was honoring Aaron and Niekro with the uniforms there was no need to have memorial patches on these. How did the team handle it?

Well — they added their uniform numbers to the backs of their throwback caps:

I guess we’ll need to wait until their next series to see if they move those memorials to their now vacated right sleeves.

Guess The Game…

from the scoreboard

Today’s scoreboard comes from Bill Moss.

The premise of the game (GTGFTS) is simple: I’ll post a scoreboard and you guys simply identify the game depicted. In the past, I don’t know if I’ve ever completely stumped you (some are easier than others).

Here’s the Scoreboard. In the comments below, try to identify the game (date & location, as well as final score). If anything noteworthy occurred during the game, please add that in (and if you were AT the game, well bonus points for you!):

Please continue sending these in! You’re welcome to send me any scoreboard photos (with answers please), and I’ll keep running them.


Uni Concepts & Tweaks

Time for more Uni Tweaks from the UW readership.

I hope you guys like this feature and will want to continue to submit your concepts and tweaks to me. If you do, Shoot me an E-mail (Phil (dot) Hecken (at) gmail (dot) com).

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Today’s concepts come from Adam Marks, who has a redesign for the Orlando Magic.

He writes…

Hi Phil,
Here is a rebranding of the Orlando Magic. I wanted to embrace the franchise’s “golden years” of the mid-90’s, while also modernizing for today’s NBA. Simple changes like more subtle pinstripes and some dimension to the classic type styles really make it feel new and fresh. Those great teams with Penny and Shaq are some of my all-time favorites—why they deviated from such an iconic look is beyond me.

Hope you enjoy. Thanks!

Adam Marks

And here are his designs:

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Thanks Adam!

OK readers (and concepters). If you have some tweaks or concepts, shoot ’em my way with a brief description of your creation and I’ll run ’em here.

Podcast reminder: Paul here. For this week’s podcast episode, Chris Creamer and I talked about the Red Sox’s new yellow “City Connect” uniforms, plus we have the second and concluding part of our interview with Dodgers senior design director Ross Yoshida, who gave us a scoop about how the Dodgers almost ended up wearing purple in the late 1990s!

In addition, we discussed the situation regarding the 2021 MLB All-Star Game patch now that the game has been relocated from Atlanta to Colorado, plus the question of the week and more. It’s a really good episode!

As always, you can listen to us on Apple, Google, Stitcher, TuneIn, and Spotify, or just use the player below:

The show notes for this episode, which include photos of many of the things we discussed, are here. Those photos (and some additional ones) also appear in the video version of the episode, which you can see here:

Please consider supporting this episode’s advertisers, Streaker Sports (get 20% off any order with checkout code UNIFIED), Ebbets Field Flannels (10% off, except on NFL items, with checkout code UNIFIED), and Homefield Apparel (15% off with checkout code UNIFIED).

Enjoy the episode, and thanks for listening. Now back to Phil.

The Ticker
By Anthony Emerson

Baseball News: One of yesterday’s subledes featured this newspaper clip talking about Al Cowens and Gary Roenicke’s 1979 adoption of protective bars on their batting helmets. This led Matt Edwards, the original submitter of the newspaper clipping, to dig even deeper and ind a better look at Cowens’ helmet. He sent along these screengrabs from this YouTube upload of a full 1979 Royals/Yankees game. Further digging revealed that Cowens was still wearing it in 1987, for the Blue Jays! … Here’s a cool pic of Al Hrabosky pitching for the White Sox in Spring Training in 1983, with a blank nameplate (from @NFL_Journal). … Here’s a close look at the Dodgers’ World Series rings. … The Buffalo Bisons, Triple-A affiliates of the Blue Jays, will temporarily relocate to Trenton, N.J., and take the home of the Trenton Thunder due to renovations at Sahlen Field in Buffalo. In an odd move, the Bisons will wear the Thunder’s home unis when playing in Trenton, but still officially be called the Bisons and will continue to wear their regular road unis on the road. Official statement here (from Patrick McQuillen and @freydaddy4). … NC State wore special ALS jerseys last night (from Timmy Donahue). … Tennessee is now using 3D batting helmet logos (from Bronson Black). … No logo on the batting helmet last night for the Reds’ Tejay Antone, a reliever who doesn’t get a lot of ABs (from multiple tweeters).

NFL News: Brad Eenhuis found out that former RB Mike Adamle wore No. 1 in the NFL from 1971-1974. The NFL adopted its current numbering rules in 1973, and Adamle was grandfathered in until he left the Jets in 1975. … The Draft caps were officially unveiled today, and this year they seem to be especially dumb (from multiple readers).

Hockey News: Charles Pelletier noticed that Capitals RW TJ Oshie has the back of his collar cut out. Compare that image to this one of his teammate. Odd — does anyone know why he does that or if any other players do something similar? … ESPN has a good piece on the Cooper SK 2000 helmet, an instantly-recognizable design that has fallen out of favor with goalies in the last decade or so (from Nicklaus Wallmeyer and Wade Heidt).

College/High School Hoops News: During renovations at IUPUI’s Ball Hall, an old basketball floor was discovered beneath the flooring, making it without a doubt the coolest residence hall at IUPUI (from Erik Spoonmore).
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Soccer News: Basically every UK soccer team is going to wear black armbands in memory of Prince Philip, and the England and Wales women’s teams wore them in friendlies yesterday (from our own Jamie Rathjen). … Also from Jamie, yesterday marked the 24th anniversary of the time when Chelsea turned up in Coventry without their away kits, and had to wear Coventry’s aways for the match. Further info here. … Inter Miami’s stadium has a new corporate advertiser (from Wade Heidt). … There’s taking inspiration from one team, and then there’s outright thievery. Bulgaria’s Vihar Slavyanovo is a case of the latter (from @smtcsilverfox). … A scorer for FC Karpaty Halych in Ukraine whipped his shirt off in celebration — something we see pretty frequently in soccer. The difference is, he threw it into the stands, where a fan attempted to steal it before reluctantly returning it (from Ed Żelaski). … Also from Ed: Russian third tier side Znamya Noginsk have unveiled a new jersey that pays tribute to legendary Soviet soccer star Grigory Fedotov, a Noginsk native. It features a big ol’ hammer and sickle, but no Soviet red.

Grab Bag: Following the death of Prince Philip, all UK television presenters are required to wear black until the day after his funeral. … Speaking of the UK, what’s the deal with this not-quite-Helvetica font the Royal Air Force has going on? (from WB Young).

And finally… that’s it for today. Everyone enjoy your Saturday and I’ll catch you back here tomorrow.

Peace,

PH

Think Pink: 2021 MLB Mother’s Day Caps Leak

For all caps, click to enlarge

Almost all of MLB’s 2021 Ma’s Day caps briefly leaked yesterday on the Macy’s website. As you can see from the six designs shown above, they’re going with a simple (and mostly brutal) design approach this year, changing the standard cap logos to pink. Looks awful to me, but this is the world we live in now.

Three teams — the Blue Jays, Rays, and Atlanta — were not shown in this leak. But here are the caps for all the other teams:

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Let’s shift into FAQ mode:

They look like they got put in the wash with a red T-shirt and got stained when the shirt dye bled all over everything else!

Yes, they do.

That’s a weird choice for the A’s logo!

Yes, it is. Don’t recall seeing that before.

They’re not as bad as the ones with full pink crowns and/or visors!

No, they’re not. But they’re still pretty awful.

What about the maker’s mark and the MLB logo on the back — are they pink?

No, they’re in their usual colors.

Will there be pink-accented jerseys to go along with the caps?

They haven’t used holiday jerseys since 2018. In 2019, they had the pink caps but teams wore their regular jerseys with the pink ribbon patch, and my understanding is that they planned to do the same thing last year before the pandemic wiped out all of last year’s holiday dates (well, except for Labor Day, which MLB chooses not to recognize in any special way, presumably because you can’t pander about the labor movement the way you can about patriotism and cancer, plus someone might start pointing out that the caps and jerseys are made outside the USA, mostly by exploited workers, blah-blah-blah — but I digress). Here’s hoping they don’t do holiday jerseys this year either.

Are they going to wear these for the full holiday weekend, or just on May 9?

Except for Independence Day, they ditched the weekend format in 2019 and went back to wearing the holiday merch only on the actual holidays. Again, here’s hoping that’s the case this year.

Are the caps that leaked yesterday just the ones they had planned for last year?

I don’t know that for a fact, but it seems likely.

When will we see the caps for the other holidays?

Soon-ish, I’d think, but I have no specific info on that — sorry.

(My thanks to Macy’s for leaking the caps, and to Ken Bartelt for letting me know about it.)

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WNBA, NWSL Team Up for Big Day of Uni Reveals
By Jamie Rathjen

Thanks to several coincidences of timing, yesterday was a banner day, — possibly the banner day in a long while — for uniform releases in women’s sports. The biggest news came from the WNBA, which released three new uniforms for every team — the “Heroine,” “Explorer,” and “Rebel” editions. (Yes, the first letters of those words spell out “H-E-R.” Nike is nothing if not subtle.)

The major WNBA changes include the following:

• For the first time since 2015, each team has a white uniform.

• Ads, which previously were prominent on the jersey front, sometimes in place of a team name or insignia, have generally been moved to two spots: below the back numbers and to the same upper-left front spot as NBA ad patches. Some teams, but not all, also have them below the front numbers.

• The jerseys also have the WNBA 25th-anniversary logo as a patch.

One of the three uniforms for each team — the “Rebel” design — at least vaguely represents either the team’s city or some aspect of women’s empowerment while not necessarily sticking to team colors. You can see those jerseys here (click to enlarge):

Two of the more obvious inspirations for these uniforms are the New York Liberty’s “Equality” design and the Washington Mystics’ design, which references the 19th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution. There are some outliers, though: The Indiana Fever chose to represent the Netflix series Stranger Things, which takes place in Indiana, and the Connecticut Sun went with an Indigenous theme by rendering “Sun” in Mohegan.

The other two uniforms are conventional colored and white options. Just as in the NBA, there are no home, away, or alternate designations. You can see each team’s two colored jerseys, but not the white ones, on this page, which also has lots of background info.

Meanwhile, yesterday also featured some uniform releases from NWSL teams (who’ve been procrastinating ahead of today’s season opener). The expansion Racing Louisville released their first two kits, and the newly renamed NJ/NY Gotham FC, formerly Sky Blue FC, did likewise with their first two shirts since Tuesday’s renaming.

Kansas City NWSL, which moved from Utah in the offseason, also announced that they’ll wear a plain white shirt, at least for the season-opening Challenge Cup.

I’ll have more to say about those and other new releases in the NWSL next week, but it’s safe to say that Louisville’s dark shirt is the latest in a series of well-received NWSL shirts, and in general the league’s current designs blow MLS out of the water.

In still more women’s soccer news, Scottish Women’s Premier League club Forfar Farmington switched outfitters, from Adidas to Joma, and released a new kit:

That change comes even though they’re in the middle of the recently restarted SWPL 1 season, and surely makes the town of Forfar one of the smallest places to have a pro team showcased on Uni Watch above the Ticker!

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Atlanta update: For a week now, we (or at least I) have been wondering if Atlanta would move their rear-cap memorial patches for Henry Aaron and Phil Niekro to the right-sleeve spot that suddenly became available when MLB decided to move the All-Star Game out of Georgia. I figured if they were going to give Aaron and Niekro the proper sleeve treatment, they’d do it for their home opener, which is today.

Instead, they announced last night that they’ll honor Aaron and Niekro by wearing 1970s throwbacks for “Opening Week.” Their first homestand is indeed seven games in seven days, so the plan is apparently to wear these throwbacks for that full week.

Although I haven’t confirmed this, I’m fairly certain that this was the team’s plan all along for the first homestand, irrespective of the All-Star drama. Meanwhile, we’ll have a wait until they go back on the road next Friday to see what happens with the cap memorials, the sleeve situation, and so on (well, unless they make some announcement before then).

Meanwhile, still no All-Star patch for the Rockies. I’ve asked them about this and will report back if they respond.

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Podcast reminder: For this week’s podcast episode, Chris Creamer and I talked about the Red Sox’s new yellow “City Connect” uniforms, plus we have the second and concluding part of our interview with Dodgers senior design director Ross Yoshida, who gave us a scoop about how the Dodgers almost ended up wearing purple in the late 1990s!

In addition, we discussed the situation regarding the 2021 MLB All-Star Game patch now that the game has been relocated from Atlanta to Colorado, plus the question of the week and more. It’s a really good episode!

As always, you can listen to us on Apple, Google, Stitcher, TuneIn, and Spotify, or just use the player below:

The show notes for this episode, which include photos of many of the things we discussed, are here. Those photos (and some additional ones) also appear in the video version of the episode, which you can see here:

Please consider supporting this episode’s advertisers, Streaker Sports (get 20% off any order with checkout code UNIFIED), Ebbets Field Flannels (10% off, except on NFL items, with checkout code UNIFIED), and Homefield Apparel (15% off with checkout code UNIFIED).

Enjoy the episode, and thanks for listening.

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Hot corner: The Cardinals have a history of great program/scorecard covers, and this year’s is no exception. What a beauty!

(Big thanks to Kevin Eckhoff for sending this one my way.)

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Mask mystery: I’ve always been fascinated by MLBers who’ve worn masks connected to their batting helmets after suffering facial injuries. That definitely includes Orioles outfielder Gary Roenicke, who wore a football-style facemask in 1979 (as immortalized on one of his Topps cards).

The photo above, which appeared in The Hartford Courant on May 30, 1979, shows Roenicke comparing headwear with Royals outfielder Al Cowens because, according to the caption, “Both wear protective bars on their batting hats.”

I don’t know about you, but I can’t discern the mask on Cowens’s helmet — frustrating! Moreover, I’d never seen a photo of him wearing a mask, so I went looking for one. No dice. Grrrrrr.

If anyone can shed some light on this situation of Cowens apparently wearing some sort of protective attachment on his batting helmet in May of 1979, I’m all ears. Thanks.

(Big thanks to Matt Edwards for finding and sharing this photo.)

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Sweet: Earlier in the week I mentioned that I’d scored a vintage Golden Seals blank jersey on eBay for a mere 35 beans. It arrived in the mail yesterday, and I absolutely could not be happier with how it fits — it really looks and feels like it was made for me.

As a bonus, check out the tagging:

Isn’t that great? The jersey on the tag mimics the actual jersey — very meta!

Here are two more shots:

A very satisfying purchase. Now the only question is whether I should leave it as is or put a big winged stirrup crest in the center of it. Hmmmmmm…..

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Screen shot 2009-10-04 at 10.07.15 PM.png

Culinary Corner: The Tugboat Captain, like so many people during the pandemic, has been making a lot of sourdough bread. She usually uses the discard to make sourdough waffles (we have a shitload of those in our freezer), but this week she decided to make homemade sourdough wheat thins! They turned out really well, plus they form a very pleasing grid pattern on the baking sheet. The photo above shows some of the raw dough before it went into the oven, and here are some shots of the finished product:

Cool-looking, right? That last photo looks a bit like a map of the lower 48!

Addictively tasty, too.

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Membership update: Card designer Scott M.X. Turner is always upping his game. Lately he’s come up with a speckle effect that really makes gold elements pop, as you can see here on Sam Mostow’s card, which is part of a new batch that’s been added to the membership card gallery and is based on the Nats’ gold-trimmed championship jersey from last year. Great work!

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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Pin Club reminder: With the Masters now under way, here’s one last reminder about the Uni Watch Pin Club’s April release, which has a golf/Masters theme. It’s a numbered edition of 200, with each pin individually numbered on the back, and there are now about 60 remaining. It’s available here, and we’re donating all the profits from this one to Fair Fight. (You can learn more about why we’ve chosen to do that here.)

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The Ticker
By Anthony Emerson

Baseball News: Cap chaos in yesterday’s Mets/Marlins game, as Mets P Miguel Castro mistakenly wore the team’s alternate home cap and Marlins manager Don Mattingly wore his team’s BP cap (from multiple readers). … Authentic versions of the Red Sox’s City Connect jerseys will retail for an eye-popping $435 (thanks, Phil). … A’s P Cole Irvin appears to still be using the glove from his Oregon Ducks days (from Brendon Smith).

Football News: A new Vicis helmet has received the best score ever in the Virginia Tech youth football concussion tests. … The XFL’s Houston Roughnecks, who were being sued by the NFL for trademark infringement over their very Oilers-esque helmet logo and Patriots-esque alternate logo, have chosen to drop said logos (thanks, Phil).

Hockey News: Rangers RW Vitali Kravtsov had his NOB misspelled last night (from multiple readers). … A ski resort in Idaho has a new logo that looks very similar to the Kraken’s logo (from Eric Taylor). … The Islanders have revealed the sweater numbers of new acquisitions Kyle Palmieri and Travis Zajac (from Jacob Zaldin).

NBA News: New NBA uni number news from Etienne Catalan: Heat C Dewayne Dedmon will wear No. 21 and Rondae Hollis-Jefferson will wear No. 2 for the Blazers.

Soccer News: Haitian side Arcahaie has some uni number size inconsistencies during the CONCACAF Champions League (from Bob Wilmot). … Neither Ajax nor Roma can wear their primary kits for their Europa League quarterfinal, as it’s been decided that they clash (from our own Jamie Rathjen). … Napoli’s new kits have leaked and they are, uh, something all right (thanks, Phil).

Grab Bag: New athletics logo for Lawrence University in Wisconsin (from Kary Klismet). … T.C. Williams High, the school featured in Remember the Titans and the largest high school in Virginia, is being renamed to Alexandria City High School. The school’s original namesake, Thomas Chambliss Williams, was a longtime segregationist (from William F. Yurasko).

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Today is my indestructible mom’s (97th!) birthday, so I’m heading out to see her. And this time I’ll be permitted to hug her! My brother, who I haven’t seen in well over a year, will be there as well, so this will be a long-overdue family gathering.

Have a great weekend, enjoy Phil’s weekend, and I’ll see you back here on Monday. — Paul

‘Unified’ Turns 10: Yellow Sox, Purple Dodgers

Good morning! For this week’s podcast episode (our 10th — double digits!), Chris Creamer and I talked about the Red Sox’s new yellow “City Connect” uniforms, plus we have the second and concluding part of our interview with Dodgers senior design director Ross Yoshida, who gave us a scoop about how the Dodgers almost ended up wearing purple in the late 1990s!

In addition, we discussed the situation regarding the 2021 MLB All-Star Game patch now that the game has been relocated from Atlanta to Colorado, plus the question of the week and more. It’s a really good episode!

As always, you can listen to us on Apple, Google, Stitcher, TuneIn, and Spotify, or just use the player below:

The show notes for this episode, which include photos of many of the things we discussed, are here. Those photos (and some additional ones) also appear in the video version of the episode, which you can see here:

Please consider supporting this episode’s advertisers, Streaker Sports (get 20% off any order with checkout code UNIFIED), Ebbets Field Flannels (10% off, except on NFL items, with checkout code UNIFIED), and Homefield Apparel (15% off with checkout code UNIFIED).

Enjoy the episode, and thanks for listening.

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Star time: Last week I mentioned that Cubs outfielder Jason Heyward came onto the field on Opening Day carrying a Chicago city flag with the improper stars. That malady appears to be spreading: Yesterday Cubs first baseman Anthony Rizzo’s shoes featured a Chicago flag theme — with the same improper stars. (And yes, Rizzo’s footwear also had a nice wiener dog pattern, a reference to his dog, Kevin.)

Again, the stars on the Chicago flag look like this:

What is it about that shape that the Cubs find so difficult to get right?

(Great spot by Jerry Pemberton on the stars, and my thanks also to Joe Zook for explaining the wiener dog design.)

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Membership update: Great job by card designer Scott M.X. Turner to create Greg Morrison’s new membership card, which is based on Darrell Waltrip’s car. Scott really captured that metallic feel — not easy to do!

Greg’s card is part of a new batch that’s been added to the membership card gallery, as we continue to plow through all the orders from last month’s membership drive.

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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Just my type: Back when I worked in book publishing, I was lucky enough to work with a lot of great authors who wrote about graphic design — a tremendous experience that taught me so much. One of those authors was Steve Heller, who has gone on to become America’s (and probably the world’s) greatest design historian.

Last night Steve gave an online lecture called “The New Typography in America, 1920–1940.” I imagine the video will be archived and posted at some point (I’ll share it when it’s available), but in the meantime I took the liberty of making a few screen shots to share, including the one shown above. If you like that (and who wouldn’t?), you’ll probably like the rest of them, which you can see here. Enjoy.

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The Ticker
By Paul

’Skins Watch: Colorado is the latest state to consider a ban on Native American mascots and team names. Meanwhile, the Washington state Senate has approved its own ban. Approval by the House is still pending (both of those from Phil). … Camanche High School in Iowa will no longer call its teams the Indians (from Kary Klismet). … Also from Kary: The Philadelphia Cricket Club, which has been featured before in ’Skins Watch for its Native American-themed sign, has now decided to remove that sign after complaints from a neighboring church. … One more from Kary: Newington High School in Connecticut, having previously dropped its “Indians” team name, will now call its teams the Nor’Easters.

Baseball News: The whole point of having Francisco Lindor on my favorite team was that the Mets would finally have a player who wore stirrups every day. But yesterday, in only the third game of the season, he went low-cuffed. What the fuck?! … Although the team hasn’t yet announced it, the Rockies will reportedly retire Larry Walker’s No. 33 on Aug. 21 (thanks, Phil). … I’ve written before about Dodgers 3B Justin Turner’s unusual custom jersey tailoring. It appears that new teammate Trevor Bauer is having the exact same thing done to his jersey (good spot by Matt Sanderson). … Hillsborough High School in New Jersey is making players “earn” their batting helmet logos, because “successes in life don’t come from free handouts” (from Fred Versaci). … New caps for the Hartford Yard Goats. … The Cubs are planning to add a statue of former pitcher Ferguson Jenkins at Wrigley Field (from Andreas Papadopoulos). … New costumed mascot for the Pioneer League’s Missoula PaddleHeads (from Kary Klismet). … Red Sox skipper Alex Cora wore the team’s BP cap during yesterday’s game, although I’m told he later changed it to a game cap (thanks to all who shared). … The WCBL’s Regina Red Sox have released renderings of their proposed 3,500-seat stadium (from Wade Heidt). … Trust me, this is worth the click: FIU’s uniforms are really, uh, something (from Stephen Mason).

NFL News: Nike has suspended its endorsement deal with Texans QB Deshaun Watson, who’s been accused of sexual assault and other inappropriate behavior by nearly two dozen women. … With the NFL considering a less restrictive policy on uniform numbers, the Patriots’ official Twitter account posted mock-ups of what some of their players might look like if they were allowed to wear their college numbers — and, of course, they used the wrong number font for some of them (thanks to all who spotted this — proud of you!).

Hockey News: New “Irish Night” uniforms for the ECHL’s Allen Americans (from Chris Mycoskie).
 
 

Basketball News: A USC grad has created homemade trading cards to commemorate UCLA’s improbable run to this year’s Final Four (from Kary Klismet). … Good article on college hoops coaches now going with more casual attire (from Warren Ehn).

Soccer News: Liverpool winger Harvey Elliott has signed an endorsement deal with New Balance. … Inter Milan’s new shirt is the first one to feature their new club badge (thanks, Phil). … Meanwhile, here are several dozen Inter logo designs that didn’t make the cut (thanks, Anthony). … Camila Castilhos created mock-ups of the AFC Richmond Fantasy kits from the TV show Ted Lasso. … MLS expansion franchise Austin FC has partnered with a local animal shelter to feature a new live mascot for each game — a dog that’s ready to be adopted by a good home (from Kary Klismet).

Grab Bag: Reprinted from yesterday’s comments: Chinese TV is blurring out the logos of Western companies (from Peter, who prefers that his last name not be used). … Colorado is auctioning off a series of marijuana-themed license plates (from Max Weintraub). … Here are some thoughts on the logo for the 2026 Milan Olympics. … Microsoft marked its 46th anniversary by reviving its original 1975 logo, which was definitely a a product of its era. … Aussie football team Brisbane Lions are asking for public input to name their new lioness mascot (from Kary Klismet). … New athletics logo for D2 school Humboldt State. … I’ve previously written about my visits to the Neon Sign Museum in Las Vegas and the American Sign Museum in Cincinnati, so I’m super-excited to learn that there’s a new neon sign museum opening much closer to home — in Philadelphia (big thanks to Rob Riegert for the tip). … Here’s a pretty cool video clip showing the evolution of Ohio Roller Derby jerseys (from Dan McGowan). … This is pretty funny: an article on why so many comic book villains wear my favorite and least-favorite colors — green and purple (big thanks to James Poisso). … The @Super70sSports Twitter account asked people to name their favorite uniform and got lots of great responses (from Erick Kriewaldt). … New maternity uniforms for the U.S. Marine Corps. … New uniforms for Nashville police officers (from Timmy Donahue). … Even without fans, sports owners got richer last year. Tell me again why we need all those new ads that were added during the pandemic?

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What Paul did last night: Our neighbor Hunter is a Phillies fan, and he knows I’m a Mets fan. So with the Mets getting thumped by the Phils yesterday afternoon, he moseyed over in the Phillies cap, just to give me the business. I like that he even wore the proper blue cap, which is what the Phils wore yesterday because it was a day game.

As always, you can see the full set of daily Pandemic Porch Cocktails™ photos — now well over a full year’s worth — here.

Nikefication of MLB Begins with Bosox ‘City Connect’ Uni

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We’ve known for a while now that MLB would be adopting some of Nike’s NBA-style uniform programs, but we didn’t know when those programs would launch. We got our answer yesterday, as the Red Sox became the first team to unveil a uniform as part of MLB’s new “City Connect” series.

The simple yellow/blue design, shown above, references the finish line at the Boston Marathon:

I didn’t have advance access to this one, but ESPN and SportsLogos.net did, so I strongly encourage you to read their articles on this uniform, which includes good background info and quotes from various connected parties.

Let’s shift into FAQ mode:

When will the Red Sox wear this uniform?

On April 17 and 18 — the Saturday and Sunday of Patriots’ Day weekend — when they host the White Sox.

What about their traditional Patriots’ Day game on April 19, which is also the day of the Boston Marathon?

They’ll wear their “Boston Strong” alternates that day, as usual.

Will every MLB team have a “City Connects” uniform?

Yes, but not all at once. Six other teams besides the Red Sox will be part of the program this season: the Marlins (whose alternate will make its on-field debut on May 21), White Sox (June 5), Cubs (June 12), D-backs (June 18), Giants (July 9), and Dodgers (late August).

When will those uniforms be unveiled?

It’s not yet clear, but presumably shortly before their respective on-field debuts.

What about the other 23 MLB teams?

Some will join the program in 2022, and the rest in 2023. By the end of that season, all 30 teams will be participating.

Even the Yankees?

Yes, even the Yankees.

In the NBA, City alternates are worn for only one season. Will that be the case with these uniforms too?

No. The plan is for them to stay in each team’s wardrobe for three seasons.

For the seven teams that are part of the program this season, why did they wait until the season had already started to unveil the designs?

Good question (sure would have made my MLB Season Preview more interesting!). Might have had something to do with retail production issues, or maybe they just wanted to space it out.

Those aren’t Red Sox colors.

Sharp eye! But as we’ve seen in the NBA in recent years, a team’s established color program doesn’t matter that much for this type of alternate uniform program.

Didn’t Boston once have a team with those colors?

Good memory! In the late 1930s, the new owners of the Boston Braves (forerunners of today’s Atlanta franchise) rebranded changed the team’s name to the Boston Bees, and they did indeed wear blue and yellow. (They later went back to the old Braves name and colors.) But that was a National League team that had nothing to do with the Red Sox, and the Bees weren’t referenced at all in yesterday’s Bosox announcement, so that historical antecedent is just a coincidence, not a “storytelling” detail.

It looks like a UCLA uniform!

That was the most common reaction I heard yesterday, especially because UCLA has a cap with a “B” logo (for “Bruins”) that looks a lot like the Red Sox’s “B”:

It looks like the Eagles’ 1930s throwbacks!

Yeah, kinda.

It looks like a maintenance staff uniform!

You’ll get no argument from me on that point.

So you hate it?

I don’t think it’s a terrible uniform. But I do think it’s a fairly terrible Red Sox uniform.

Do you have anything good to say about it?

Sure. The design of the “bib number” sleeve patch is very nice:

Also, I’m thrilled that the team I root for won’t be part of this program until at least next year — and maybe not until the year after that!

I haven’t seen a rear view yet. What do the uni numbers look like on the back? Will the jerseys be NNOB?

Here’s a screen shot from the hype video (poor image quality because of all the fake smoke, but it’s enough for you to get the idea):

You can see how other numerals look in that font by checking out the retail versions.

What do you think of all this in the big picture?

A few thoughts:

1. This is obviously where MLB uni design is heading, at least for the near future. Or to put it another way, this is why MLB hired Nike — to do stuff like this. MLB exec Noah Garden said as much in that ESPN story I mentioned earlier: “This is what we expected, and this is what we wanted. This is the plan we always set out for.”

2. The league, the teams, and Nike understand that not everyone will like this approach, and they’re fine with that. Red Sox exec Adam Grossman told SportsLogos.net, “These were not designed for the traditionalists, we recognize it may not be everyone’s cup of tea, and we’re okay with that. That’s something that we talked to Nike about. They said, ‘These are designed to push the envelope and it’s okay to acknowledge that not everyone’s going to gonna like these.'” So if people like me (or you) don’t like it, I’d say they’d consider that a feature, not a bug.

3. Further to that point, Grossman also specifically said that this uniform is intended to appeal to “younger, more diverse crowds” — in other words, not a middle-aged White guy like me. MLB has the oldest fan base of any of the Big Four leagues, so this is part of a big push to change their fan demographic because they’re worried that their core fan base will literally die off and they’ll be left as an also-ran sport while everyone else plays soccer and watches football and basketball. They realize this approach may be a turn-off to some longtime fans, but they believe they have more to gain than to lose by going this route, and that the risk of sticking with the status quo outweighs the risk of shaking things up.

4. Here’s another Grossman quote from that jumped out at me from the ESPN article:

Grossman said that the City Connect series provides baseball an opportunity to grow its audience among casual fans and become a part of daily lifestyle culture.

“When you see this convergence and for us and the sport, we want to be more part of the lifestyle,” Grossman said. “We do as a game, but getting outside the white lines of the diamond, that merch and hats are part of everyday culture is essential to growing the game just as the game itself.”

The approach he’s articulating there — reaching the casual fan or even the non-fan via merchandising, and calling it “lifestyle” — is consistent with what I reported in my recent InsideHook article about NBA marketing. Compare Grossman’s quote above with this one from Cavs exec Tad Carper:

Our brand really is bigger than basketball, and it’s bigger than sport. We want to be at the intersection of lifestyle, culture, sport, fashion, music, food — all of those things that fit into that equation. When you look at it that way, our potential to reach fans expands beyond wins and losses.

And then check out this quote from Cavs creative director Daniel Arsham, describing the approach he’ll be bringing to the team’s new uniforms:

A lot of people looking at basketball overseas, they don’t really follow the games or the season — they’re more interested in the idea of this American sport. So you could see a kid walking around in Tokyo wearing, say, a Lakers jersey, and they don’t know anyone who’s on the team and [have] probably never even watched a game. That’s the kind of interesting universe that I’m trying to push toward.

So I think there are two things at work here: First, there’s MLB’s attempt to grow and diversify its fan base (an understandable and commendable goal, even if I don’t much care for the resulting aesthetics). And then there’s MLB’s attempt to sell baseball as a consumerist experience to people who don’t actually care that much about baseball (a goal for which I have much less sympathy, at least to the extent that it affects the on-field look of the game).

5. HOWEVER … despite all of the above, here’s something worth keeping in mind: History shows that when it looks like the uni-verse is heading off in a new direction, the pendulum often swings back toward established norms — not just in baseball but in most sports. For example:

• MLB: In the 1970s and ’80s, most MLB teams wore some combination of pullover jerseys, sansabelt pants, and powder blue road uniforms, plus we had the Astros’ tequila sunrise, the White Sox’s leisure suits and shorts, and a lot more. By 1993, all of that — all of it — was gone and everyone was back to wearing buttoned jerseys, belted pants, grey on the road, and and fairly conventional designs.

More recently, after the Diamondbacks introduced an “innovative” uniform set in 2015, all of the “innovative” elements — the blood-stained pant cuffs, the snakeskin fabric pattern, the charcoal road uniforms, the half-length pants piping — had fallen by the wayside within a few years.

• NBA: In the 1990s, as sublimation opened up new design possibilities, lots of NBA teams came out with fairly gonzo uniforms. Within a decade, all of those teams had moved to something more conventional.

More recently, in 2015, the Hawks launched the most outré NBA uni set in a generation. A mere five years later, they scrapped that and returned to a much more traditional approach.

• NFL: From 2013 through 2015, the Browns, Buccaneers, and Jaguars all pushed the envelope in terms of NFL uniform design. By 2020, all of them had gotten back to basics. (Jury’s still out on the Rams and Falcons, but I’d be willing to bet that at least one of them will ride the pendulum back in the other direction in a few years.)

In short, despite all the branding nonsense and marketing mumbo-jumbo, it appears that fans often have a somewhat stubborn notion of what a sport is “supposed to look like,” so attempts to redefine the look of a sport often meet with a fair amount of pushback (and not just from middle-aged White guys). That’s not always the case — the Broncos and Seahawks are examples of teams whose newfangled designs have stuck, for example — but it’s an indication that new trends don’t always pan out in the long run.

Still, all of those pendulum-swing examples I just listed had to do with primary uniforms, which fans tend to feel more strongly about, while this new MLB program is about alternate uniforms, where there tends to be less resistance to tinkering. I think that’s probably what we’ll be seeing a lot more of, in all of the major pro sports: fairly straightforward primary uniforms, at least for most teams (there’ll always be a few outliers), and lots of wackadoodle stuff for the alternates.

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So that’s it for now. The next team up is the Marlins. Miami Vice, MLB version?

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Patchwork: At left is the best photo I’ve seen of the cover-up patch that Atlanta is using to obscure their All-Star Game patch. Yesterday was the first time they wore their navy alternates since the announcement of the ASG’s relocation, so we got to see that cover-up patch’s debut.

People have been asking why they covered up the patches instead of simply removing them or even getting new jerseys. Removing the patches probably wasn’t an option because there likely would have been lots of sticky residue. And being on the road at the very beginning of the season during a pandemic probably isn’t the best time to coordinate a whole new set of jerseys (or two sets, if you count the grey and navy versions). So as counterintuitive as it might seem, the cover-ups may have been the most feasible option.

I fully expect the team to have fresh jerseys for their home opener this Friday. I figure that’s also when we’ll find out if they plan to move their Henry Aaron and Phil Niekro cap memorials down to the now-available sleeve — Friday or never.

Meanwhile, the Rockies played their first game since the announcement that the All-Star Game will be played at their ballpark. So far, no patches for them, but of course it’s still early days. We’ll see how that develops.

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Pin Club reminder: In case you missed it last Thursday, the Uni Watch Pin Club’s latest release has a golf/Masters them. It’s a numbered edition of 200, with each pin individually numbered on the back, and as of this morning there are about 65 remaining. It’s available here, and we’re donating all the profits from this one to Fair Fight. (You can learn more about why we’ve chosen to do that here.)

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The Ticker
By Lloyd Alaban

Baseball News: Here’s a new D-backs uni tracker for this season. … A sportswriter has ranked the 10 best Mets unis ever (from our own Phil Hecken). … Graffiti legend Blake Lethem, aka Keo aka Lord Scotch 79 aka Jonathan Lethem’s brother, made this fun two-tone Mets piece (from Ebin Sandler). … Here’s a look at the cold weather gear that Cleveland and the Marlins wore for Game Three of the 1997 World Series, which was played in frigid conditions (from Graham Clayton).

Football News: The Edmonton CFL team doesn’t yet have a new name, but it has quietly changed its logo (from Johnny Garfield).
 

Basketball News: NBA numerologist Etienne Catalan has a bunch of new NBA uni number assignments. … Remember those March Madness-themed route-marker signs that recently went up along Interstates in Indiana? Here’s what will happen to them now that the NCAA tourney is over (from William Yurasko).

Soccer News: New third kit leak for Manchester United (from our own Phil Hecken). … Sky Blue FC of the NWSL has a new name and logo (from multiple readers). … England’s Women’s Super League has a new 10th-anniversary logo (from our own Jamie Rathjen). … ESPN has ranked all of MLS’s new shirts (from our own Phil Hecken). … New shirts for Army men’s (from Justin Rocke). … FS1’s graphics for the CONCACAF Champions League match between the Portland Timbers and CD Marathon showed the wrong logos for both teams. When Portland scored, the graphic showed the badge of Werder Bremen; when Marathon scored, it showed the badge of Bayern Munich (from LM Grismer). … New kits for Alianza Lima (from Trevor Williams). … Also from Trevor: Alajuelense and Atlanta United both wore “metallic” numbers and NOBs in their CONCACAF Champions League game last night. … One more from Trevor: New fourth kit for Inter.

Grab Bag: The No. 28 will return to NASCAR Cup after a 12-year hiatus as part of driver Joey Gase’s Davey Allison fauxback/tribute entry for the Spring race at Talladega (from Christopher Hickey). … New UFC fighter unis (from @vicious155). … Russia has been banned from numerous worldwide competitions because of doping, which means Russian teams are not allowed to use the country’s flag. Instead, the Russian curling team has used the abstract shapes of a curling house to echo the white, blue, and red of the national flag. You can see it at the top of this screenshot, fifth flag from right (from Scott Rogers).

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Does anyone have an extra March 2021 Uni Watch pin that they’d be willing to sell or trade to another reader? If so, please give me a shout. Thanks. — Paul