Not since the glory days of Harry Caray (right) has baseball had such an amusingly bespectacled character as Devil Rays skipper Joe Maddon. A nice-seeming man who’s somehow impossible to take seriously, Maddon helpfully plays along by wearing a spring training uni number, displaying an impressive knack for unfortunate body language, and, lest we forget, managing one of the worst clubs in baseball. Last night his team hosted Anaheim, where he’d spent the past 31 years working in the Angels organization. In a classic moment that would’ve made Ryne Duren proud, the Halos saluted the former coach by donning Maddon-esque eyewear during the national anthem. Maddon, eager to please, obligingly got into one of his oddly amusing rhubarbs in the 5th inning and was tossed from the game, which the Rays actually managed to win, and everyone went home happy.
Uni Watch News Ticker: The jersey patch being worn by the two Stanley Cup Finals teams is so busy that the outline of the cup — which is supposedly the whole point of the patch — gets lost in all the graphic fuzz. Compare that to past Stanley Cup patches, like, say, this and this. … Not only that, but why does the patch have “Eastern” on the left and “Western” on the right? … Reason No. 517 why MLB players shouldn’t wear their pants down to their ankles: Jeff Cirillo’s stripe snafu last night. … Coupla weeks ago Uni Watch reported that Kevin Millar of the Orioles wanted to wear stirrups, like he’d done with the Red Sox, but was told that “stirrups are forbidden in Baltimore because of a rule from ownership,” so he had to settle for solid socks. Fortunately, as several readers have pointed out, cooler heads have prevailed, and Millar is now gloriously stirrups-clad. Not only that, but so is teammate Jeff Conine! … Also, note that Millar and Conine both have their pants tailored short, which looks soooooo much better than having long pants and then bunching them up at the knee. … A confidential MLB source tells Uni Watch: “Looks like Cool Base will become even more common next year. MLB will start marketing it aggressively, and it appears New Era will start to use the same name on some of their caps.” Yikes. … Brian Hansen reports that Nebraska is apparently changing their football sleeve stripes from this to this. “The official store across from the stadium has them in the window,” he writes. Uni Watch hadn’t heard anything about this and wonders if these might just be fashion replica jerseys, but it’s worth noting that the new Nebraska stripes (if that’s what they actually are) are called Northwestern stripes, so named because the thin-thick-thin pattern was pioneered by the 1928 Northwestern football team. … Latest Japanese baseball observation from Uni Watch Far East bureau chief Jeremy Brahm: The Hiroshima Toyo Carp have a team patch on the left sleeve and a Mazda advertising patch on the right — except for left-handed pitchers, who have the pathces reversed. … With former MLB ump Eric Gregg having passed away yesterday evening, look for umpiring crews to start wearing some sort of memorial patch tonight.