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What’s It Like to Be an MLB Reporter During the Pandemic?

We’ve seen a lot of articles about how players are dealing with the new rules and protocols brought on by the coronavirus pandemic. I’ve also heard quite a few broadcasters talking about how their own work experiences have been affected by this strange season.

But what about print and web journalists, the guys who are up in the press box? What’s it like to cover a sporting event this year compared to previous years? How does it affect the articles we read, and the people who wrote those articles?

I’ve been curious about that, so I asked my friend Ken Davidoff if he’d be willing to talk about it. He’s a baseball columnist for The New York Post (a role in which he covers all things MLB-related but with a strong emphasis on the Mets and Yankees) and a longtime friend of Uni Watch, going back over a decade. He spoke with me on the phone yesterday from his hotel room in Philadelphia, where he’s been covering the Yanks/Phillies series. We didn’t talk about uniforms, but I think our discussion will still be of interest to Uni Watch readers, or to anyone who’s interested in the behind-the-scenes details of the sports world. Here’s a transcript (lightly edited and condensed for clarity and length):

Uni Watch: Let’s start with the most basic thing: getting to the ballpark. Prior to this season, how would you get to Yankee Stadium or Citi Field, and how are you doing it this year?

Ken Davidoff [shown at right]: I live in Manhattan, I have a car, so I typically drive. But you know, sometimes for logistical reasons — like if I have a doctor’s appointment, or my wife is using the car — I would take the subway. But I have not taken any mass transit of any kind since I flew home from spring training on March 17. So I am driving every day.

UW: What about going to other cities? You usually travel a lot, but I assume things are different this year.

KD: Yeah. So far I’ve gone to DC and now Philly twice, so I’ve driven to those. My editor and I talked about flying to Tampa — the Yankees are in Tampa this weekend — but ultimately, I was just not comfortable making that trip because of how bad Florida is [regarding the pandemic]. And I am anxious about getting on a plane. If I could either drive to Florida or fly somewhere that’s less infested, I would have considered it. But the combination of the two just made me too uncomfortable.

UW: Have you “covered” any games simply by watching them on TV?

KD: I covered one of the Yankees/Mets exhibition game remotely, and this coming weekend I will cover the entire Yankees series in Tampa remotely.

UW: Have you ever done that before?

KD: No, not before this year. With Yankees/Mets, it was a function of the limits that they’re placing on media at the ballpark. You know, we [the Post] like to cover baseball aggressively. This year we can have a maximum of two people in the press box; we’d typically have more than that covering that game, including me, but with the current rules I had to do it remotely.

UW: Once you get to the ballpark, whether here in New York or on the road, what would you normally have done in previous years, and what’s different this year?

KD: Yeah, it’s all different. So, normally, let’s say for a typical night game, I would get to the ballpark around 2:30 and by three o’clock, 3:30, I’d be in the clubhouse, interviewing players, coaches, front office people, and whoever else. Then there’s the in-person news conference with the manager. Then you go on the field. Maybe you see, you know, an official from another team, an official from one of the New York teams, you do some schmoozing. Maybe you you even just say a quick hi to a player as he’s going from the batting cage back to the dugout. Maybe I’ll pop my head into the visiting clubhouse and see someone I know.

Now you just miss out on all of that. Each team has its own time in terms of when they open their ballpark, and I believe they’re doing it in conjunction with their respective cities. You know, health codes now come into play. So today, for the Phillies game [scheduled to start at 6:05pm], they open their ballpark to media three hours before first pitch. That’s on the earlier side, which I’m happy about. So I’ll get there at three o’clock today. Like, literally as we’re talking, I just got an email from the Yankees saying there’s gonna be at least two Zoom calls for the game — one with Aaron Boone at a time to be determined and one with Masahiro Tanaka at 3:45.

Even the act of eating, it was partially work. Maybe you would eat dinner with a scout or front office person, or with other media. That nice social element is gone now. We are not allowed to leave press box, so I have a cooler with me, with my ice pack, so I can bring my own food, and I’m making sure to stay at hotels with refrigerators and freezers so I can store my ice pack.

UW: I know they would usually provide food or sell food for the media — is it that they no longer do that, or you’re just not comfortable with that?

KD: No, they don’t do it. We need to bring our own. They do provide beverages.

UW: Regarding the Zoom calls, I assume Aaron Boone and the other managers are doing that every day, in lieu of their usual pregame press conferences.

KD: Exactly.

UW: And presumably, you don’t need to be actually be present at the ballpark for that. You could do that remotely if you were off doing something else.

KD: They tend to take place when I’m already at the ballpark, but it’s become a little tricky in that regard. I think last week I did a Yankees Zoom call from their big stadium parking garage, because I wasn’t allowed in the ballpark yet. And a couple days ago I was dropping off my son at a friend’s place in Connecticut, so I did the call in their backyard. Because again, it was too early to walk in the door.

UW: As you enter the ballpark, whichever one it might be, do you wear a mask? And does anyone take your temperature?

KD: Yes, a mask is required. And yeah, in theory, I get my temperature taken every day. In practice, they’re not batting 1.000 on that front. But yeah, the protocol is to have your temperature taken every day.

UW: At the point where you enter the ballpark?

KD: Correct. I think the cutoff is 100.4. And then there’s a questionnaire. You know, essentially, “Have you felt any symptoms? Have you been in contact with anyone who either has Covid or has symptoms?” Which, yeah, to be honest, it’s kind of worthless, because who’s gonna answer “Yes” to any of those questions?

UW: You have to fill that out every day?

KD: Now it’s usually verbal. A team employee will just ask you.

UW: What about testing? Do you have to be tested, or provide evidence of that?

KD: No. But I’m getting tested pretty regularly on my own, just because I am interacting with the public and my family really is not. So I am testing of my own volition. But it is not required.

UW: Normally, you’d spend the game in the press box with lots and lots of other writers, most of whom you know personally. What about now? What is the situation in the press box?

KD: There’s a maximum of 35 media members. That’s what was the collectively bargained number between the players and the owners. There is social distancing in the press box — you essentially have three seats to yourself. I’m usually in there with a co-worker from the Post — usually the beat writer covering that team — and you know, we’re socially distant but we’ll walk up to each other and say, “Okay, what do you think” and “Here’s what I’m thinking.” It’s definitely not as fun or intimate as the pre-Covid days, but I don’t feel like I’m an island or anything like that. I see everybody, we say hi to each other. But yeah, it’s still markedly different.

UW: Is everyone in the press box wearing a mask throughout the game?

KD: Yes, that’s required. You can take it off to eat, but I would say I’m wearing it 90% of the time. When I decide to eat is partially based on hunger and partially based on how much my ears are hurting from the mask.

UW: I’ve seen a lot of articles and interviews where the players have talked about what it’s like to play in an empty stadium. But what’s it like for you working in an empty stadium? Is that strange? You know, the lack of the crowd noise? And what’s it like for the stadiums that are using the fake crowd noise, you know, in the actual ballpark, as opposed to just on the broadcast?

KD: I’m not really a fan of the piped-in noise. I think it’s very cheesy. But I do miss the fans — the fans added an element and could even shape your story. “Giancarlo Stanton got booed after making a big out,” or when the Phillies were in town, Didi Gregorius would have gotten a huge ovation. So yeah, we’re missing that, we’re missing those stories.

UW: What about after the game? Again, you would normally go down to the clubhouse. What do you do now?

KD: They usually do Zoom calls very quickly after the last out. You get emailed the links. So yesterday, [former Yankees manager and current Phillies manager] Joe Girardi is obviously a person of interest for our readers, and [former Met] Zack Wheeler pitched yesterday, so I did those Zoom calls. So instead of, you know, burning a few calories by at least walking to the clubhouses, I just sit on my rear end and go from one Zoom room to the other.

UW: In the clubhouse, you have access to pretty much everyone, or at least everyone who doesn’t hide from you. Whereas now you’re sort of at the mercy of who they choose to put on these Zoom calls. How frustrating do you find that?

KD: Extremely. But, you know, I get it. I certainly would not want to be in the clubhouse right now, when you look at the outbreaks with the Marlins and Cardinals. God willing, we’ll have a vaccine sooner than later, and when that happens, I would certainly hope the old rules resume. And, even right now, I wish there was a way to do more one-on-one access. But I’m quite sympathetic to the teams’ vantage point, and I get why they’re not really doing one-on-ones. It is what it is, and I just hope it’s a short-term situation.

UW: Do you or the other writers ever ask the team PR guys to make a particular player available — someone who isn’t obvious like that night’s starting pitcher or whatever — if there’s a particular subplot or angle you want to pursue?

KD: Yes, but the teams have veteran public relations officials and I’ve found that they have a pretty good feel for what we need. Good example: I think in the second game of the season, Giancarlo Stanton and Aaron Hicks both knelt during the national anthem, and they both did Zoom calls after the game. We didn’t have to ask — the Yankees understood why that would be a big story. I think Stanton actually did have a big hit, too. But Hicks did not, and he spoke too. The bulk of the questions were about the kneeling, and the Yankees anticipated that. That’s what you hope for, right? You hope for that level of professionalism.

UW: How do you feel about a manager or a GM Zoom interview versus a live press conference?

KD: A hundred times out of 100, I’ll take a live press conference. I mean, it’s just far better to be in the same room with the person. I think there’s just a different dynamic in play. So it’s much worse, undoubtedly, but I understand and support what’s going on right now.

UW: Being a reporter is so much about developing relationships and building trust. How do you do that under the current circumstances?

KD: It’s close to impossible. For the most part, you’re not dealing with anyone live, in person, except the public relations official. And you know, the best relationships get formed from in-person dialogue, whether that’s just connecting on some non-baseball level — “Oh hey, you’re from New Jersey, I’m from New Jersey” — or, you know, Luke Voit is a Midwest guy, so he and I will talk Big 10 football because I went to Michigan. So that’s lost, that’s gone. You know, there’s just nothing that can be done to replicate that. So yeah, it hurts a great deal.

UW: We all know some players have opted out of playing this year. Are there any reporters who’ve opted out because they don’t feel comfortable being at the ballpark?

KD: Certainly some reporters are not going to the ballpark. Many of them, I guess all of them, have some high risk factor, whether it’s age or a medical condition. But the beauty of our job right now is that you can cover it remotely to a large extent. So yeah, reporters aren’t necessarily giving up their salary and service time, like the players are.

UW: Assuming things eventually get back to some semblance of normalcy, do you think there are any aspects of covering the sport this year that will be retained in the future?

KD: That’s a concern. I certainly hope not.

UW: Okay, that’s enough about covering the game. Let’s see how your crystal ball is working: Of the various rule and format changes — seven-inning doubleheader games, the runner starting at second base for extra innings, the expanded playoff system, the universal DH, and so on — which of those do you think will become permanent parts of the sport?

KD: I think a lot of them are gonna stay in place. You know, like seven-inning doubleheaders — I think there’s gonna be a lot of momentum for that. For the extra-inning rule, I don’t know if that’ll go into effect next year, but I think it’s going to happen in the next five years. What else..?

UW: Universal DH.

KD: It’s funny — I think it’s definitely coming in 2022, but I did think that next year they would revert, to have one farewell year for the hitting pitcher. But now that we’ve played a couple of weeks, just my hunch says that will become permanent starting next year. I just don’t think anyone misses the hitting pitcher a lot.

UW: Expanded playoffs?

KD: Unfortunately, that’s probably gonna stick. Although, you, know, I’m skeptical we’ll get to that point this year.

UW: That was my last question, actually — do you think they’ll actually finish the season and get all the way to the World Series?

KD: I don’t, no. And I don’t really blame that on Major League Baseball as much as I blame it on the United States of America. It’s just pretty clear where we’re not taking this virus as seriously as we need to.

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And there you have it. Big thanks to Ken for sharing his experiences — fascinating stuff.

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Trading card reminder: Response to the Uni Watch trading card continues to be tremendous — thank you!

Full details on how to pre-order your own card are available here.

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Brooklyn Branches update: The winner of the auction for the one-of-a-kind Brooklyn Branches jersey, based on Ron Ruelle’s brilliant concept and executed by the great DIYer Wafflebored, is Rick Wessley, who submitted a winning bid of $300. I’ll be donating that amount to the Arbor Day Foundation, so Branch Rickety’s demise will result in the planting of new trees. Congrats to Rick, and my thanks to everyone who submitted bids.

Speaking of the Branches project: Yesterday I showed you the home white and road grey Branches T-shirts. Today we have two alternate versions — brown and green:

Here’s where you can order the brown and green tees, as well as the home white and road grey versions I showed you yesterday.

Immense thanks to Ron and Wafflebored for making this such a fun project!

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August Pin Club update: The Uni Watch Pin Club’s new design for August — a salute to old-school baseball scoreboards, complete with a few misfiring light bulbs — is now available. (If you want more info on the line score and the 4:07 time on the clock, there’s an explanation here.)

This is a limited/numbered edition of 250. As of this morning, there are 67 remaining. You can get yours here.

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Uni Rock update: Some new designs (shown above) have been added to the Uni Rock Shop.

Thanks for all the positive feedback on this project. You can see the full Uni Rock collection here.

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Catch of the day: I’ve written a new piece for InsideHook about cooking seafood (including a whole red snapper, shown above) on one of those tiny mini-kettle grills. Super-fun article to work on! You can check it out here.

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Chili dog: When the Tugboat Captain and I convened on the porch yesterday evening (more about that in a minute), we found that our T-shirts were two great tastes that taste great together. Completely unplanned, I swear!

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The Ticker
By Anthony Emerson

Baseball News: For the second game of Wednesday’s doubleheader and also for last night’s game, the Orioles wore their white home unis at Camden Yards, even though the Marlins were the designated home team for those two. The Marlins wore black jerseys with grey pants. (from Andrew Cosentino). … Rockies P Jairo Díaz normally wears No. 37, but took the mound yesterday wearing the No. 35 jersey of backup catcher Elias Díaz (from multiple readers). … There’s a ton of cool Blue Jays uni notes in this article from Bluebird Banter. Highly recommended. … Egon Schiele sends along this wonderful, short podcast episode about the demise of the Pawtucket Red Sox. Another one that’s highly recommended. … Bob Gassel has sent us almost an hour’s worth of footage from the first All-Star/Celebrity softball game, from 1967. … A bunch of Phillies fans positioned just outside the team’s ballpark annoyed Yankees skipper Aaron Boone by blowing an airhorn when Yanks P Jordan Montgomery was in his windup. … The A’s apologized after bench coach Ryan Christenson, apparently trying to elbow-bump, instead made a Nazi salute and then repeated it after a player corrected him.

NFL/CFL News: Browns players have finally gotten the chance to don their new unis (from Bob Moon). … A new Broncos fashion cap from New Era misspells the team’s name (from multiple readers). … The Winnipeg Blue Bombers have unveiled their Grey Cup rings (from multiple readers).

College Football News: Troy has new silver helmets. Better look here (from multiple readers). … New helmets for Charlotte. … Several Texas Longhorn marching band members say they will not perform the school’s alma mater song, “The Eyes of Texas,” which has long been criticized due to its connection to minstrel shows with characters in blackface (from Timmy Donahue).

Hockey News: A hockey blog has ranked all 31 home sweaters in the NHL, and reader Gregory Baker has called it “the worst ranking ever.” … Here are the pads for Wisconsin G Cameron Rowe for next season (from Jerry Nitzh).

NBA News: Fanatics appears to have leaked the Spurs’ 2020-21 Statement alternate. Like all of next season’s Statement designs, it will have a Jordan maker’s mark instead of the Nike logo. … Here’s a wonderful article about a designer who’s making retro-style posters for each Mavericks game this season (from Dan Kennedy). … Also posted in the soccer section: LeBron James donned a new Liverpool shirt walking to the arena in Orlando. Though he’s a part-owner of Liverpool, he rarely wore Liverpool gear during the club’s contract with New Balance. Now that they’re with Nike, it appears he’s ready to rock the red (from JohnMark Fisher). … Bad quality pic, but Lakers G Talen Horton-Tucker wears “Black Lives Matter” as his social justice message. With the NBA adding NOBs beneath uni numbers for players who have a social justice message, that makes 28 letters on his back. Wow (from Steve Kriske).

Soccer News: New kits for Premier League clubs Everton and Crystal Palace. … Sunderland of England’s League One have revealed their new home kit (thanks, Jamie). … Also from Jamie, clubs in the Champions League and Europa League have been wearing “Thank You” above their club crest, in the native language of the club. … One more from Jamie: West Ham’s women’s team is moving to Dagenham and Redbridge’s stadium, Victoria Road. … Valencia has unveiled their new kits (from Kary Klismet). … The following are all from Ed Żelaski: Hannover 96 has unveiled all three of its new kits. … Spanish side Deportivo Alavés unveiled their new home, away and third kits. … Belgian side KAA Gent have posted a teaser video of their new kit on Twitter. … Scottish side Dundee United have a purple away strip. Paul, shield your eyes. … Russian club FK Tambov have a new crest. … Cross-posted from the NBA section: LeBron James donned a new Liverpool shirt walking to the arena in Orlando. Though he’s a part-owner of Liverpool, he rarely wore Liverpool gear during the club’s contract with New Balance. Now that they’re with Nike, it appears he’s ready to rock the red (from JohnMark Fisher).

Grab Bag: Formula One has unveiled a very nice 70th-anniversary logo (from @jayappletree). … Joe Werner sends along this slideshow of the history of Valvoline Oil, as well as its packaging evolution. … The New York Times Magazine has an article about how the pandemic has impacted the fashion industry (from Tom Turner). … Also from Tom, Henrico, Va., High will retire its “Rebels” nickname. … The following are all from Kary Klismet: Military.com has a series of articles on the uniforms of all six branches of the U.S. Armed Forces. … New logo for the Trenton (Mich.) High School Trojans (from Kary Klismet). … The cities of Erving, Mass., and Liberty, S.C., both have new logos. … Gordon College has a new athletics logo, which they’re annoyingly calling a “spirit mark”. … The Las Cruces, N.M., school board has voted to change the name of Oñate High School to Organ Mountain High School, because the school’s namesake, former Spanish colonial governor Don Juan de Oñate y Salazar, was a key figure in the genocide of indigenous Acoma Pueblo people in the late 16th century.

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What Paul did last night: When I started the Pandemic Porch Cocktails™ project, I knew from the start that I planned to take a photo every single day. But I didn’t think I’d be featuring a photo here on the site every day and writing about it — I figured I’d do that only occasionally. But the response to the first couple of PPC™ was so strong that I just kept doing it, and it soon became a daily feature of the site.

That’s pretty awesome — I love it when things happen organically like that — but it’s also taken up more of my personal bandwidth than I anticipated. Tossing a photo up there and writing a couple of paragraphs may not seem like much, but it takes some thought, and it’s often the last thing I do every night (or, if I don’t get around to it, the first thing I do the following morning), which means I’m working at a time I’d generally prefer not to be working. Obviously, nobody’s forcing me to do it, and I’m certainly not looking for sympathy. I’m just explaining that it can be more of a drain than you might think, especially during a year that has more of its share of drains.

All of which brings me to this: As most of you know, I usually take a break from the site in August. I didn’t do that this week, in part because the NBA and NHL were finally restarting their seasons and I wanted to see how things played out. After today, however, two things will be changing for the rest of the month:

1. Phil will be running the site on weekdays, just as he’s done for for previous Augusts.

2. We will not be publishing on weekends.

Things will go back to normal on Sept. 1.

Although I won’t be blogging for the next few weeks, I’ll still be busy (August is when I work on my annual college football and NFL season previews), and I’ll be making various cameos here on the site. But I won’t be running the site on a day-to-day basis — and I also won’t be producing these daily porch dispatches, which will give me a nice chance to recharge my batteries.

I’ll still be taking daily PPC™ photos, though, and you’ll still be able to see them here.

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Important: If you usually scroll past the Pandemic Porch Cocktails™ section because you don’t care about it, go back and read it today. Important info.

Everyone take care, stay safe, and enjoy the rest of your summer. See you in a bit. — Paul

Only in 2020: Yanks Wear Road Unis, as Home Team, on Road

It turns out that even the mighty Yankee pinstripes are no match for the coronavirus.

Here’s the deal: The Yanks and Phils played a doubleheader yesterday in Philadelphia. Game One was a rescheduled game that had previously been postponed. Nothing unusual about that — pretty much every doubleheader in recent years has been the result of a postponement. The difference this time around is that the postponed/rescheduled game was originally supposed to take place in Yankee Stadium, not in Philly. So the Yankees were the designated home team for the opener, even though they were playing on the road.

Since the Yanks were the home team, they presumably wore their famous pinstripes, right? Wrong. In an understandable attempt to keep things logistically simple, the Yanks requested and received permission to bring just one set of uniforms with them — their road greys:

So for the first game, the Yanks wore their road uniforms despite being the home team, despite being on the road.

And that wasn’t the only weird thing about that game. The first game of the doubleheader started at 4pm, and the Phils usually wear their cream alternates for daytime home games. But instead — I guess because they were actually the road team..? — they wore their home-night pinstripes:

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And wait, it gets better: Although the Yanks were the home team and the Phils were the road team, the stats will count torward the Yanks’ road stats and the Phils’ home stats because the rulebook states that the “home team is the team on whose grounds the game is played.”

This marks the second consecutive season that the Yankees have worn a uniform contrary to their home/road designation. For last year’s two-game Yanks/Bosox series in London, the Sox were the designated home team for both games. But the powers that be decided that they needed to showcase those famous Yankee pinstripes to the overseas audience, so both teams wore home uniforms, even though the Yanks were the road team.

Getting back to last night’s twinbill: The Phils were the home team for the nightcap, so both teams wore the same uniforms they wore in the first game — grey for the Yanks, pinstriped whites for the Phils. But just to make things more confusing, Yankees catcher Gary Sanchez (who didn’t play in the first game) wore the team’s glossy home batting helmet, instead of the matte road helmet:

That concludes this installment of “Only in 2020.” I’m sure the next installment is being written as we speak.

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Trading card update: The full set of 500 Uni Watch trading cards arrived in the mail yesterday (the ones I showed you earlier were printer’s samples). Exciting!

Shortly after the cards arrived, I sat down to sign 11 of them — 10 in green ink, one in purple. It was a bit trickier than I’d anticipated, because the card doesn’t have much white or light-colored space, plus it has a lot of green, so I had to pick a spot where the signature wouldn’t be swallowed up by the background colors. After practicing a bit on the printer’s samples, I went ahead with the real cards, and also numbered each signed card in the top-left corner:

And then I put the signed cards in random spots in the set. Whoever gets them, gets them!

I can’t mail out the cards yet because I still don’t have the plastic sleeves for them, but those are due to arrive in a few more days, so I should get all the pre-ordered cards out the door by the middle of next week.

Speaking of which: Full details on how to pre-order your own card, along with the backstory on this saga, are available here.

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LAST CALL for the Branches auction: Today is the final day to submit a bid for the one-of-a-kind Brooklyn Branches jersey, with proceeds going to the Arbor Day Foundation. Full details on the jersey, and how you can bid on it, are available here. I’ll announce the auction winner tomorrow.

But wait, there’s more. If you can’t afford to bid on the jersey, we now have Brooklyn Branches T-shirts available — including a road grey version with a “Brooklyn” insignia (click to enlarge):

Here’s where you can get the home white and road grey versions.

We may also have green and brown alternates — possibly as soon as tomorrow — so stay tuned.

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August Pin Club update: The Uni Watch Pin Club’s new design for August — a salute to old-school baseball scoreboards, complete with a few misfiring light bulbs — is now available. (If you want more info on the line score and the 4:07 time on the clock, there’s an explanation here.)

This is a limited/numbered edition of 250. The pin launched a few days ago and as of this morning there are only 73 remaining, so they’re going fast. You can get yours here.

Speaking of inventory levels:

• There are now about 45 of the July bobble-pins remaining. Still available here while supplies last.

• There are about 40 Uni Watch Key Rings remaining. You can get yours here.

My thanks, as always, for your consideration.

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Uni Rock reminder: In yet another ICYMI item, a bunch of new designs have been added to the Uni Rock Shop (and if you missed the launch of Uni Rock last Friday, here’s an explainer). We’ll have more designs tomorrow. You can see the full collection here.

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The Ticker
By Paul

’Skins Watch: Lane Tech, a high school in Chicago, is dropping its Native American logo (from Kenneth Traisman). … Cincinnati Country Day School will no longer call its teams the Indians (from Kary Klismet). … Also from Kary: A Pennsylvania attorney has filed a lawsuit seeking to postpone a vote by Unionville High School officials on a measure to stop calling its teams the Indians. … One more from Kary: A descendant of the Wappinger Native American Tribe is urging Ketcham High School in upstate New York to keep its “Indians” team name, conflicting with an earlier call from other Wappinger descendants for the school to retire it.

Working Class Wannabes™: An article by ESPN NHL writer Greg Wyshynski — a smart guy who really ought to know better — said the Blue Jackets have a “blue-collar defense.”

Baseball News: An artist named Carl Skanberg has been creating “Scorecard Sketchcards” for White Sox games this season, including some excellent retro-style faux program covers. “He’s been doing baseball (mostly White Sox-related) artwork for years, and his Twitter feed is a heck of a rabbit hole,” says Eriq Jaffe. Indeed — recommended. … In 1964, KC A’s owner Charles Finley challenged the White Sox to make the teams’ upcoming doubleheader into a “style show,” and urged local newspapers to send their society editors to cover it (from Bob Gassel). … The Phillies have added cutouts of some of their players, in the spots where their home runs landed (from @kodywiddak). … The Nationals have continued to wear their gold-trimmed championship uniforms for all of their home games so far. I haven’t confirmed this myself, but @sports_fashion1 says that if they wear their three other white jerseys, they’d be the first team ever to wear four different white jerseys in one season. … Tough night for the Twins batting helmet logos: 2B Luis Arraez’s was badly askew and 1B Marwin Gonzalez’s was missing altogether (thanks to all who shared). … Anyone else notice that the only distinct or even visible detail on the Marlins’ black jerseys is the new maker’s mark? (From Bud Parks.) … The collegiate wood bat Souris Valley Sabre Dogs played last night in jorts! (From Seth Hagen.) … We’ve seen lots of MLBers wearing their uni numbers on their belts, but D-backs 1B Christian Walker’s belt has the team’s logo on it, and teammate Ketel Marte appears to have some lettering printed on his (good spots by Joanna Zwiep).

NFL News: Raiders QB Derek Carr will wear a compression sleeve this season as a tribute to Kobe Bryant (from Nicklaus Wallmeyer). … Washington posted a video of the new helmet numbers being applied to the shells, along with photos of the new helmet design from various angles (from many readers).

College Football News: UCF’s stadium has long been nicknamed the Bounce House. Now that is its official name (from Colin Dilworth).
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Hockey News: The Coyotes have released a video hyping their Kachina uniform, which they’re wearing throughout the current postseason. Incidentally, the jerseys still have the mismatched skate blade colors, a glitch I wrote about back in May (from Alfonso Ferrari). … New logo for the Gillette (Wyo.) Wild, a junior team in the North American 3 Hockey League (from Kary Klismet). … New jerseys for the FPHL’s Columbus River Dragons (from Jack Patterson). … Canadiens LW Jonathan Drouin got a pretty serious haircut between Monday’s and Wednesday’s games. I haven’t had a haircut since February, so I’m envious.

Basketball News: Cross-listed from the NFL section: QB Derek Carr of the NFL’s Las Vegas Raiders will wear a compression sleeve this season as a tribute to Kobe Bryant (from Nicklaus Wallmeyer).

Soccer News: Wisła Kraków F Rafał Boguski appeared to have a wristwatch on his left arm during yesterday’s friendly (good spot by Ed Zelaski). … English club Bristol City’s Women’s Super League team has moved their home games to Twerton Park in Bath. “That feels kind of weird because they were the only women’s soccer team in the U.K. that built their own stadium, although it was smaller,” says our own Jamie Rathjen. “Now they share with a local lower-level men’s team (in this case, sixth-tier Bath City), like most of the other women’s teams do.” … Also from Jamie: “Nike’s apparently been making more accessible shoes/cleats/boots/etc. for different sports, and just released the soccer version. This story includes an interview with Orlando Pride left-back Carson Pickett, who was born without the lower part of her left arm, so she’d especially benefit from these boots because they’re easier to put on.” … Interesting piece on three proposed number fonts that were rejected by Serie A (from Ryan Maquiñana). … Here’s a list of the most creative team names in American soccer. “It serves as a repudiation of the trend toward simply using ‘United’ or ‘FC,'” says Kary Klismet. … Two more from Ed Zelaski, both about Polish teams: New home kit for Jagiellonia Białystok and Kappa is the new outfitter for Widzew Łódź. … And yet another one from Ed: New kits for French side Red Star.

Grab Bag: Women in the U.S. Air Force can now wear pants, instead of floor-length skirts, as part of their “mess dress” uniforms. … After a wave of criticism, the Dept. of Homeland Security plans to replace the military-style uniforms worn by federal police personnel. … Here’s a peek at the new uniforms for the upcoming season of Star Trek: Discovery. … Someone on eBay is selling a bunch of very nice vintage Durene tees, if you’re into that kinda thing. … Here’s the logo for the NLL’s 2020 draft, plus lots of team-specific versions (from @PhillyPartTwo). … “For anyone interested in the history of military uniforms, the Uniform History YouTube channel is a phenomenal resource,” says Kary Klismet. “Their most recent video is a deep dive into the story behind the U.S. Army’s three-color desert camouflage (aka “coffee stain”) uniform.” … Also from Kary: Kern High School in Bakersfield, Calif., is soliciting community feedback on whether it should keep calling its teams the Rebels. … The Fort Worth police dept. has suspended “themed dress days” after several 911 employees wore Black Lives Matter-themed attire.

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What Paul did last night: Usually I have beer on the porch and Mary has something else. But yesterday she was in the mood for beer, so she ran around the corner to grab a 40 for us to share. And goddamn if it didn’t taste better out of that big bottle than it usually does. Sometimes bringing a little festiveness to the occasion makes a difference.

As always, you can see the full set of daily Pandemic Porch Cocktails™ photos here.

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Signal flare: Reader Tom Dennis, are you out there? I received you email about shipping a card and key ring to the UK, but when I responded to your Outlook.com email address, it repeatedly bounced. Please give me a shout from a different email address, or DM me on Twitter. Thanks! — Paul

Chargers’ New Unis Don’t Match Unveiling Mock-Ups

When the Chargers unveiled their new uniform set back in April, all of the “photos” they released were actually Photoshop mock-ups. At the time, I said:

It’s unusual for a team to unveil [a new uni set] with nothing but Photoshopped images instead of real photography. I don’t mean that as a criticism (we all know the world is complicated right now), but I do mean that there could be certain aspects to these designs, and to how they function in real life, that aren’t yet apparent to us. I always say, “Let’s see how it looks on the field,” but that goes double for this set. I’m sure it’ll still look good, but let’s keep in mind that what we’ve seen so far is a simulation, not the real thing.

Three and a half months later, we still haven’t seen these uniforms on the field, but we’ve finally seen real photos of the players wearing them, because the Chargers posted to online photo galleries earlier this week (look here and here). And guess what: The original Photoshop images — the ones that everyone went bonkers over when they were unveiled — aren’t quite an accurate representation of the real thing, at least in one key aspect.

To see what I mean, take a look at this side-by-side comparison. The image on the left is from one of the Photoshop mock-ups the team released back in April, and the one on the right is from the photo galleries posted earlier this week (for all images that follow, click to enlarge):

Do you see the big discrepancy? The lightning bolts on the shoulders don’t wrap around as much in real life as they did the Photoshopped image, and the bolts’ white border is also significantly thicker.

That was a comparison of head-on views. How about a side view? Here — again, it’s Photoshop on the left, real photo on the right:

This is a particularly good comparison, because the two models are actually the same player — running back Austin Ekeler. Here you can really see the difference in the bolt’s contours and white-to-yellow ratio. You can also see how the bolt in the real photo is positioned more on the sleeve than on the shoulder, leaving an extremely wide gap between the bolt and the collar. It would be better they moved the bolt over to fill the space better. As it stands now, that empty space feels too big, like it’s begging to be filled by a TV number.

What about a view from the other side? The photo galleries didn’t offer much from that side, but here are the best two comparisons I can provide:

That’s enough to confirm what the other two comparisons showed.

There are several different issues here. Let’s start with the white-to-yellow-ratio: I much prefer the real life version, which seems truer to Chargers history and is also a closer match to the bolts on the helmet. In fact, one of my few misgivings about the April unveiling, although I didn’t fully articulate it at the time, was that the white border on the bolts didn’t feel quite right. It looks much better now.

Then there are the issues of where the bolts are positioned and how far they wrap around. For both of those variables, I’d say the real version isn’t as good as the mock-ups. The real bolts are positioned too far outside, and they don’t wrap around enough. In some of the new photo gallery images, the bolts are barely even visible:

Obviously, I realize there are different tailoring templates for skill position players and linemen, form follows function, blah-blah-blah. But the lightning bolt has been the Chargers’ visual signature for six decades now. It’s disappointing to see its impact diminished on the new jerseys, and all the more so after the initial mock-ups told a different story.

(My thanks to reader Adam Tow, who brought the bolt discrepancy to my attention.)

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Campaign message: Two weeks ago, U.S. Sen. Kelly Loeffler, who’s a part-owner of the WNBA’s Atlanta Dream, criticized the league’s support for the Black Lives Matter movement and the larger issue of mixing sports and politics. Last night Dream players, and players throughout the WNBA, responded by arriving to their games wearing “Vote Warnock” T-shirts — a reference to Rev. Raphael Warnock, who’s bidding to unseat Loeffler in this November’s election (lots of additional info here).

The sight of pro athletes publicly repudiating their own team owner through their clothing is rare but not unprecedented. Following racist comments by Los Angeles Clippers owner Donald Sterling in 2014, Clippers players wore their warm-up gear inside-out and also wore black socks and armbands.

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Card reminder: In case you missed it on Tuesday, I’m now taking pre-orders on the first-ever Uni Watch trading card, featuring illustration work by the incomparable Rob Ullman! The response yesterday was fantastic, with over 100 pre-orders and lots of enthusiastic feedback. Thank you!

Full details, including how you can order, are available in Tuesday’s blog post.

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Power Rankings reminder: Also from Tuesday, my latest piece for InsideHook is a new edition of the Uni Watch NFL Power Rankings, with all 32 NFL uni sets ranked and assessed. Check it out here.

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Auction reminder: In case you missed it on Monday, the one-of-a-kind Brooklyn Branches jersey is now complete (and completely amazing!). We’re auctioning it off and donating the proceeds to the Arbor Day Foundation, and today is the next-to-last day to bid. Full details on the jersey, and how you can bid on it, are available here.

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August Pin Club reminder: Another thing you may have missed on Monday is that the Uni Watch Pin Club’s new design for August — a salute to old-school baseball scoreboards, complete with a few misfiring light bulbs — is now available. (If you want more info on the line score and the 4:07 time on the clock, there’s an explanation here.)

This is a limited/numbered edition of 250. The pin launched a few days ago and as of this morning there are only 85 remaining, so they’re going fast. You can get yours here.

Speaking of inventory levels:

• There are now fewer than 50 of the July bobble-pins remaining. Still available here while supplies last.

• There are also fewer than 50 Uni Watch Key Rings remaining. You can get yours here.

• Blue and green seam rippers are currently out of stock. Plenty of yellow, white, and red. Available here.

• I’m down to my last chain-stitched winged stirrup patch. Who wants it? Now sold out!

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ITEM! Uni Rock update: As you can see above, a bunch of new designs have been added to the Uni Rock Shop (and if you missed the launch of Uni Rock last Friday, here’s an explainer). These designs have been added to the ones we had last week:

Working on these with designer Scott M.X. Turner has been a hoot. We’ll have more designs at the end of this week. You can see the full collection here.

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The Ticker
By Lloyd Alaban

Baseball News: Blue Jays OF Teoscar Hernández recently added a accent over the “A” on his NOB. Apparently. he’s been doing this since the Blue Jays’ home opener (from @jsg15). … The Beloit Snappers of the Single-A Midwest League are soliciting fan submissions for a new team name as they get ready to move into a new stadium for the 2021 season (from multiple readers). … With the Blue Jays getting set to play the remainder of their home games in Buffalo, here are a few photos of the infield at Buffalo’s Sahlen Field being replaced in preparation for the big league games (from multiple readers). … Braves OF Ronald Acuña Jr. has his uni number — and maybe his name? — on his bat handle wrap (from Doug Simpson). … Rare situation in the current National League East standings: The Marlins, at 3-1, have a .750 winning percentage and are in first place. But due to the disparity in games played, they’re actually a full game behind the Braves.

Football News: The Iowa State engineering department designed anti-coronavirus face shields for Iowa State’s helmets (from Sean Jankowski). … Arizona Coyotes G Adin Hill of the NHL wore a Seahawks cap while on the bench yesterday (from Randy Policar). … The striping on UVa’s navy helmet is now painted on, just like on the white helmet. The navy lid’s stripes had previously been applied as tape (from proud UVa alum Jamie Rathjen).

Hockey News: Cross-listed from the football section: Coyotes G Adin Hill wore a Seattle Seahawks cap while on the bench yesterday (from Randy Policar).
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Basketball News: ESPN’s Zach Lowe spoke to NBA coaches about suits vs. polos (from Mike Chamernik). … Scorebug confusion for the Blazers’ telecast of their color vs. color game against the Rockets (from Lukas Shaw).

Soccer News: New third kit for German side Arminia Bielefeld (from @yff26). … The English second-tier women’s team London City Lionesses have only existed independently for one season after previously being Millwall’s women’s team, but already switched manufacturers to Kappa from Nike and therefore released a new kit (from our own Jamie Rathjen). … Also from Jamie: Scottish League Two team Queen’s Park built and owned Scotland’s national stadium, Hampden Park, but completed its sale to the Scottish Football Association and are moving to Lesser Hampden, which is just outside the stadium, once they build some stands for it. Hampden Park holds several attendance records that are currently impossible to break because they were achieved with a stadium of mostly terraces instead of seats. … Górnik Zabrze have left Adidas for Hummel (from Ed Zelaski). … Fulham F Ivan Cavaleiro had some NOB issues yesterday (from Jeffrey Seals). … New outfitter for Italian side Sampdoria, which has inked a six-year deal with Macron (from Ed Zelaski). … New home shirt for English side Nottingham Forest (from @AndrewNewts).

Grab Bag: UCLA is aggressively seeking a new apparel deal after Under Armour pulled out of its contract with the school (from Kary Klismet). … Also from Kary: The Hail State Unis website, which covers Mississippi State uniforms across a variety of sports, has just launched an interactive uniform tracking database. … The No. 77 Spire Motorsports Cup entry is being renumbered to No. 74 in order to obtain film footage for an upcoming Netflix comedy series (from Christopher Hickey). … Ireland and England’s men’s cricket teams played a One Day International yesterday and wore black armbands in memory of Northern Irish politician John Hume, who passed away recently (from our own Jamie Rathjen).

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What Paul did last night: Yesterday’s storm didn’t last long — just a few hours — but it was powerful, causing power outages and one death in our city.

Thankfully, our neighborhood was spared the worst of it. We ended up with a lot of scattered debris, but our landlord had already cleared most of it away by the time porch o’clock rolled around. As you can see, some of our flowers got bent out of shape and a few of Branch Rickety’s cousins ended up at the curb, but by that time the storm had passed and it was a beautiful evening, almost like nothing had happened. Weather is so crazy.

As always, you can see the full set of daily Pandemic Porch Cocktails™ photos here.

MLB Snub Leads to Awesome Uni Watch Trading Card

Our story so far: Last December I told you how I was going to be featured on my very own Topps trading card. Exciting! In February I provided an update on how that was coming along. Also exciting! And then in May I shared the news that MLB had put the kibosh on my card because I’ve been such a meanie to them over the years. Kinda sad, but mostly funny!

As I explained in that May post, my plan was to turn the whole experience into a new creative project by collaborating with illustrator/designer extraordinaire Rob Ullman on my own one-off card, with each card coming with a piece of the shirt I wore for my Topps photo session.

It took a little longer than I expected (Rob and I have both been busy, plus you may have heard that the world has been a little off-kilter lately), but the card is now finished. Take a look (for this and all images that follow, you can click to enlarge):

Not bad, right? Those are sample cards from the printer. Here’s a closer look at the design for the front of the card:

If you’re old enough, and/or if you’re a card aficionado, you’ll recognize that we patterned the design after the 1973 Topps baseball set — one of my favorite card templates. (Uni Watch reader John Okray, who’s a serious card collector and provided invaluable advice throughout this project, tells me the ’73 set is held in low regard by the collecting community, which I was surprised to hear, but whatever — I love it!) The front illustration is based on one of the photos I had submitted to Topps for the card they were going to do of me. As is usually the case with a Rob Ullman illustration, he made the subject — in this case, me — look a lot cooler than the real thing. Thanks, Rob!

For my “position” in the lower-right corner, I chose “Esotericist,” because it sums up my career and my way of looking at the world (and because “Minutiae Fetishist” wouldn’t fit). The little silhouette of the inspector/detective guy with a magnifying glass is perfect.

My original plan was to leave the back of the card blank, but Rob convinced me that we should do a back design. Again, we patterned it after the 1973 Topps set:

Oh man, I love how Rob perfectly captured the feel and spirit of the little cartoon at the top. Since I didn’t have any statistics to list, we just went with a timeline of my various creative projects (including Uni Watch, obviously). Fun!

Okay, so what’s next? Here’s the deal:

1. I’ve had 500 of these cards printed. They’re on the way and should arrive at Uni Watch HQ in a couple of days.

2. I will sign 10 of the cards in green ink (these will be numbered 1/10, 2/10, etc.) and one in purple ink (1/1). The pens I’ll be using for this will be Staedtler Lumocolors, which John Okray tells me are the same pens Topps has athletes use when signing their cards. The signed cards will go randomly into the set.

3. Each card will be placed in a plastic “penny sleeve” and then in a green-bordered “toploader” (two terms I wasn’t familiar with until working on this project). So if you order a card, it will arrive like this:

4. In addition, I will slip a 7/8″ square piece of my Uni Watch Tequila Sunrise Deluxe shirt — the same one I was wearing for the Topps photo that the card illustration is based on — into the back of each sleeve. So every card will be a relic card, and the relic will represent the overall experience of getting to have my own Topps card, then having that opportunity taken away, and then creating this new card in its place:

Topps relic cards come with the relic pieces sealed into the card. That wasn’t an option for us (too tricky, too expensive), so Rob and I initially planned to have a relic piece affixed to the front of each card with spray-mount adhesive, so it would look something like this. But I ultimately decided that it was better to leave the relics free-floating and loose — that way the card isn’t defaced and you can enjoy the relic on its own. (Of course, if you want to affix the relic to the card, you’re welcome to do so!)

5. Although I don’t yet have the cards on hand (or the sleeves, for that matter, although they too are on the way), I’m ready to start taking pre-orders. Here’s the deal:

• For one card or two cards, the price is $5.99 per card plus $1 for shipping.

• For more than two cards, the price is $5.99 per card plus $5 for shipping. (That’s because anything more than two cards will need to be shipped in a bubble mailer at the package rate.)

• Please don’t offer to pay extra in order to get one of the signed cards — those will just come up randomly, and I’m not going to accept a higher price for them.

• If you want to combine a card purchase with a seam ripper and/or a key ring, contact me and I’ll give you a total that includes a combined shipping charge. (Sorry, you can’t combine an order for this card with any other Uni Watch merch except rippers and key rings, because everything else ships from other locations.)

• Tally up the total for your purchase and then send me the proper amount via Venmo (use @Paul-Lukas-2 as the payee), Zelle (plukas64@gmail.com), or Google Pay (plukas64@gmail.com). If you’d rather use Apple Pay or a paper check, contact me and I’ll give you the info you need. Sorry, no PayPal.

• After sending payment, email me with your mailing address.

• If you’re outside of the USA, contact me so I can calculate the shipping charge and arrange an alternate form of payment for you.

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That’s it. Thanks for indulging me with all of this.

There are so many people I need to thank for their roles in this project, beginning with Topps brand manager Patrick O’Sullivan. If he hadn’t contacted me last winter and invited me to be featured on a card, none of this would have happened. He also turned out to be the World’s Nicest Guy and was incredibly supportive and helpful, even after MLB nixed my card. When the pandemic is finally over, I’ll definitely be taking him out for a beer. Thanks so much, Patrick, and to all your Topps colleagues as well.

I’ve been a Rob Ullman fanboy for more than a dozen years now. It’s always a privilege to get to collaborate with him, and it was a particular treat to do so on this project. He was super-patient with my fine-tuning, always extremely enthusiastic, and a total pleasure to work with. As soon as I conceived of this project, I knew he was the right guy for it, and he proved me right at every turn. Thanks, buddy!

I know almost nothing about the card-collecting world. Fortunately, longtime Uni Watch reader John Okray knows quite a bit. He served as a my unofficial consultant throughout the project, patiently responding to my many questions and giving invaluable advice and info on everything from which pens to use when signing the cards to how the cards can be mailed. I learned a ton from him along the way, and I’m grateful to him for sharing his specialized expertise.

The photo I originally sent to Topps, which then became the basis for the illustration on this card, was taken on a cold December morning by the Tugboat Captain. She’s been super-supportive throughout this whole saga, and has never once said, “Do you think maybe you’re getting a bit full of yourself with this whole trading card thing?” (although I’m sure she was tempted a few times). Thanks, sweetie — you’re the best.

Finally, I also want to thank whoever it was at MLB who blacklisted me from the Topps set and thereby made this project possible. Sure, it was a bit of a drag that the original card didn’t happen, but the larger experience has absolutely been worth it. No hard feelings, guys, and thanks for opening up a new creative outlet for me. Who knows — this might even be the start of a whole Uni Watch card series.

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ITEM! New NFL Power Rankings: My latest piece for InsideHook is a new edition of the Uni Watch NFL Power Rankings, with all 32 NFL uni sets ranked and assessed. Check it out here.

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Early and often: Now that we’ve passed the first four days of the NBA’s restarted season, players who’ve chosen to keep the social justice messages above their numbers have had their NOBs added below their numbers. (That plan was originally announced back on July 3, although most fans don’t seem to have been aware of it.) In the case of Nuggets forward Paul Millsap, the combination of his “Vote” message, uni number, and name makes the back of his jersey look like a campaign ad. Vote for Pedro!

And if you think that’s weird, check out Thunder guard Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, whose prodigious surname looks particularly odd when positioned below his number:

Just more stuff to file in the “Only in 2020” folder.

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Collector’s Corner
By Brinke Guthrie
    

Peanuts! Getcha peanuts heeyah! That’s the time-honored sales pitch heard at baseball parks for decades, but an added bit of promotion from a big-leaguer — like, say, Reds pitcher Joey Jay, as seen on this display card — never hurt. Speaking of Jay, he had a decent 13-year career, including back-to-back 21-win seasons in 1961 and ’62. But he finished with 99 career wins and 999 strikeouts — so close to the big milestone numbers! Maybe a few more peanuts would’ve put him over the top.

Another one from the Reds as long as we’re here: these 1961 N.L. Champions buttons refer to the team in quotation marks — the “Reds.” Weird.

Now for the rest of this week’s picks:

• How about this 1960s Joe Namath thermal cup! Notice the helmet logo is football-shaped, as it should be — but instead of “Jets,” it has Namath’s initials, “JWN” (for, of course, Joe Willie Namath).

• This 1970s plastic Baltimore Colts beer cup says “Council of Colts Corrals” on the side.

• Another cup to check out is this one for the Chicago Cubs. You’ve got a cartoon pitcher and batter, and the interesting thing is a snap-on lid that says “This Is [print your name in Sharpie here] My Mug.” So when it gets stolen from the break room, the thief will know who it belonged to!

• And two more from the drinkware department: This 1983 Roy Rogers promo Philadelphia Phillies glass shows a variety of team logos from their 100-year history up to that time, and this 1980 Phillies decanter celebrates the team’s 1980 World Series win.

• This is a 1952 Brooklyn Dodgers “plastic scraper emblem.” I had no idea what that was until I read the fine print — it’s an ice scraper!

• This Cleveland Browns bumper sticker says, “The Winningest Team in Pro Football.” When was that exactly? (I don’t think it was referencing the Paul Brown/Otto Graham era.) In any event, they were nattily attired back in the day, as QB Brian Sipe shows us on this 1982 Superstar QB Calendar.

• “Talkin’ Baseball” singer Terry Cashman was the fellow singing on this picture disc album of Earl Weaver, called The Earl of Baltimore. You can hear the song here, and no post about Weaver would be complete without this oldie but goodie video clip. Boom! You run yourself, Earl! (NSFW, but everyone is WFH, right?)

• This 1957 baseball board game, Mickey Mantle’s Big League Baseball, has some great cover art, and is “a baseball game for the entire family — authentic, suspenseful, and exciting!” Plus it comes with an autographed photo and playing record!

• This Boston Red Sox lunch box comes with a Thermos inside. The seller makes no reference to its age; I’ll say early 1960s for this one, and it appears to be in perfect shape.

• One more for the Sawx: This 1960s Red Sox/Fenway Pahk snowglobe could use a bit of water, or whatever goes in those.

• Here’s an NFL paper placemat set of unknown vintage. Fifteen to a set. No team logos on the uniforms, unfortunately.

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Auction reminder: In case you missed it on Monday, the one-of-a-kind Brooklyn Branches jersey is now complete (and completely amazing!). We’re auctioning it off and donating the proceeds to the Arbor Day Foundation. Full details on the jersey, and how you can bid on it, here.

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August Pin Club reminder: Another thing you may have missed on Monday is that the Uni Watch Pin Club’s new design for August — a salute to old-school baseball scoreboards, complete with a few misfiring light bulbs — is now available. (If you want more info on the line score and the 4:07 time on the clock, there’s an explanation here.)

This is a limited/numbered edition of 250. As of this morning, there are 102 remaining, so we’ve already sold through more than half of them. You can get yours here.

While we’re at it: There are now fewer than 50 of the July bobble-pins remaining. Still available here while supplies last.

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The Ticker
By Paul, pinch-hitting for birthday boy Alex Hider

’Skins Watch: Years after the University of Illinois officially retired its Chief Illiniwek mascot, Native American imagery and costumes stubbornly persist among certain fans (from Kary Klismet). … Good article on how the minor league Spokane Indians have partnered with the local Spokane Tribe (NYT link) for a variety of respectful initiatives. … North Quincy High in Massachusetts is changing its cartoon mascot from a Native savage to a colonial patriot (from Paul Friedmann). … Wisconsin brewery Leinenkugel’s — which I toured in 1999 and quite enjoyed — is retiring its logo featuring a Native American woman.

Working Class Wannabes™: Nebraska defensive line coach Tony Tuioti says freshman Nash Hutmacher “is as blue-collar as it gets.” … Speaking of Nebraska football, an article about their outside linebackers says they “have the blue-collar type of mentality needed to play at Nebraska.” … An article about the upcoming NFL season says the Patriots lost a “a handful of blue-collar defensive starters.” The writer then adds that the team’s defense “is largely a collection of blue-collar guys who thrive in skill-specific roles” and goes on to say that “New England’s collection of fundamentally sound, blue-collar defenders will simply get the job done by flying to the football and making solid tackles.” Get this guy a thesaurus!

Baseball News: Minor league teams are looking to generate much-needed revenue by repurposing their ballparks for golf. … “The Iowa High School State Baseball Tournament, which just concluded this past weekend, always includes several uni-notable moments,” says Kary Klismet. “Among this year’s highlights are Gilbertville Don Bosco’s grey raglan sleeves on blue road jerseys, unconventional faux-headspoons for Council Bluffs St. Albert, and, as always, plenty of teams with great stirrup games.” Lots of additional photos here. … The Mariners have added a cutout of Steve Bartman to their stadium, near the corresponding spot where he infamously sat at Wrigley Field. “Odd case of trolling, since the M’s and Cubs are in different leagues and don’t play each other this year,” notes Mike Chamernik. … The Covid-stricken Marlins announced a flurry of roster moves yesterday, and Shane Bua notes that two of their new pitchers include Josh A. Smith and Josh D. Smith. Could make for some interesting NOBs. … Great observation from Chris Falvey, who notes that the Cardinals’ schedule includes a 25-game stretch against teams with a “C” in their logo. … If you build it, they might not come after all: The Cards/Chisox Field of Dreams game in Iowa, originally scheduled for Aug. 13, has been postponed to 2021 (Mike Chamernik again). … Giants skipper Gabe Kapler wore the wrong hat for last night’s game against the Rockies. … Good eyeglasses vs. eyeglasses matchup during last night’s Cubs/Royals game (from @DTW94).

Football News: The Broncos have an interesting walk-through body sanitizer at their training facility. Does every team have this? (From Mike Chamernik.) … Houston LB Grant Stuard will wear No. 0 this year (from Ignacio Salazar). … New uniforms for Rutgers, and they look pretty solid. … Can’t say the same, alas, for Fresno State (from Phil Neslund).

Hockey News: This is pretty great: At the Edmonton NHL bubble, they’re putting the attendance on the scoreboard (from Alan Kreit). … Hurricanes RW Andrei Svechnikov scored a hat trick yesterday. Since there were no fans on hand to throw hats onto the ice, his teammates left a bunch of hats in his locker (from Mike Chamernik). … New 50th-season center-ice logo for the Prince Albert Raiders (from Kim Johnston).

Basketball News: NBA coaches are enjoying not having to wear suits in Orlando (from Mike Chamernik). … Here’s the story of how “Education Reform” ended up as one of the NBA’s social justice jersey messages. … New court designs for Young Harris College in Georgia and the new Little Rock Southwest High in Arkansas (from Kary Klismet).

Soccer News: New home shirt for Manchester United (thanks, Anthony). … New custom font for German side Hertha (from Ed Zelaski). … Also from Ed: New kits for Polish side Wisla Krakow. … From our own Jamie Rathjen: “There’s a bizarre stat related to English Football League playoff finals that comes into play for Tuesday’s Championship final: Teams that traditionally wear red and white striped shirts and black shorts — irrespective of whether they wore that combo in the playoff final — have never won a playoff final in any of the three EFL tiers, losing all 15. If Brentford loses on Tuesday, the streak will be 16.” … Also from Jamie: The English Football League has a new ball, a yellow version of which debuted last week in the Scottish Premiership. … Portuguese side Santa Clara will now be outfitted by Kelme (Ed Zelaski again). … And yet another from Ed: New home kit for Serbian side Red Star Brigade.

Grab Bag: An electronic system, instead of live line judges, will be used for most tennis matches at this year’s U.S. Open (NYT link). … Did you know chips and pretzels were at one point packaged in soda-style cans so they could be sold in soda vending machines? It’s true! (Thanks, Anthony.). … This story from Nevada Public Radio examines the implications of UNLV’s decision to remove a statue of its “Hey Reb” mascot from campus (from Kary Klismet). … Here are some of the new Mississippi state flag design proposals that people have submitted (thanks again, Anthony). … The Heartland Collegiate Athletic Conference — that’s a D3 conference consisting mostly of schools from Indiana, Ohio, and Kentucky — has a new logo (from Craig McKean). … After her divorce, Princess Diana refused to wear the Chanel logo because it reminded her of Prince Charles and Camilla Parker Bowles. … New logo for fast food chain Bojangles. … New logo and name for South Dakota School of Mines & Technology. … Holy moly, check out this spectacular curling sweater that Wafflebored spotted at a vintage shop! The patches are magnificent, but the buttons really put it over the top.

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What Paul did last night: Rare bit of uni content in today’s installment of Pandemic Porch Cocktails™, as a guy in an Aaron Judge Yankees jersey passed by yesterday. Hadn’t really occurred to me before that we almost never see people in jerseys while sitting on the porch.

It was very calm outside yesterday evening. It was the calm before the storm, as the Hurricane with the Odd Name is heading our way today. Shouldn’t be too bad by the time it reaches us, but we’re supposed to have a very rainy, windy day.

As always, you can see the full set of daily Pandemic Porch Cocktails™ photos — now 140 of them! — here.

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Tomorrow: Some new additions to the Uni Rock Shop. See you back here then. — Paul