I hadn’t planned on posting anything during the holiday weekend, but here’s a bit of breaking news that just can’t wait: The ongoing scandal of Nike’s accursed dot-matrix undersleeves (which look like total shit, but of course you knew that already) has now gone from the aesthetic to the practical. Thanks to Swooshville’s insistence on branding everything it touches, one of the game’s best pitchers will miss his start tonight, and one of yesterday’s games was less competitive than it should have been.
Some quick background: As you may recall, umpires have frequently ruled that pitchers cannot wear the dot-patterned sleeves, because the dots could be a distraction to the hitter. This has led to several instances of pitchers being forced to change undershirts, and some have even had their sleeves cut off on the spot. One such instance occurred back on May 26th, when Pedro Martinez wore the Nike sleeves during the 1st inning of his start against the Marlins but was then confronted by umpire Bill Miller as he walked off the mound. When Martinez came out for the 2nd inning, his lower sleeves had been removed.
It now turns out that when Martinez went into the Mets’ clubhouse between innings to shorten his sleeves, he slipped on a wet floor tile (see artist’s rendering above) and fell on his hip. The pain in that hip has worsened over the ensuing weeks, to the point where the Mets announced yesterday that Martinez would be scratched from tonight’s start. That in turn affected last night’s Mets/Yankees game: Instead of bringing in dependable long man Darren Oliver to relieve struggling starter Alay Soler, Mets skipper Willie Randolph had to hold Oliver back because he’s slated to make the emergency start in place of Martinez. So Randolph instead had to bring in the not-so-dependable Heath Bell, who quickly turned a manageable three-run deficit into an insurmountable nine-run hole.
If Martinez’s hip turns out to be an ongoing problem, Nike’s sleeves could actually end up affecting the Mets’ postseason chances. Enough is enough already: Uni Watch hereby urges MLB to purge all remaining dot-matrix undershirts from big league clubhouses, have Majestic (or whoever) make a bunch of plain-sleeved replacements, and send Nike the bill.
From the Metrodome to Baghdad?: No, that wasn’t the White House’s latest troop-recruitment scheme on display over the weekend in Minnesota — it was the Twins’ annual salute to the military (full details of which are available here). Both the Twins and Brewers wore assorted armed services caps for their Saturday and Sunday matchups, featuring the name of an armed services branch on the front, the American flag on the left side, and the respective team logos on the right side (here’s the Brewers version).
If MLB teams really want to honor the military, there’s a much easier way: Get rid of all the alternate uniforms. That’s what the U.S. Army is doing — as you can see here, they’ve decided to phase out their alternate green and white unis, and will now stick with basic blue. (Big thanks to Matthew Self for that link.)
Uni Watch News Ticker: You’ve probably seen this logo, which the Cardinals used from 1956-66. But Lauren King reports that when the Cards held their annual T-Shirt Day promotion last Friday, the front of the shirt looked like this — the bird now has stirrups! … The “44” memorial that the Orioles have been wearing on their left sleeve this season, in honor of Elrod Hendricks, was missing from Russ Ortiz’s jersey on Saturday night (good catch by Brenden Fougere). … As promised, the Blue Jays wore special (and really ugly) unis for Canada Day, featuring red-accented jersey insignia, a Canadian flag sleeve patch, another Canadian flag on the cap, and “Canada” in place of player surnames. The Phillies wore the Canadian flag on their caps as well. … In that same game, B.J. Ryan appeared to be wearing a black short-sleeve undershirt and a black long-sleeve undershirt under his black jersey. Seems like a bit much for an 84-degree day, no? … Remember Jae Seo’s reverse-contoured nameplate? At least the Rays got it right on his green alternate jersey. … Speaking of which: Michael Black notes that while the rest of the Rays were wearing this jersey on Sunday, catcher Dioner Navarro began the game wearing the team’s batting practice jersey (note the lack of piping and the omission of the chest uni number). But he’d switched to a proper jersey by the time of his second at-bat. … Nice catch by fellow uni maven Chris Creamer (see his excellent site is here), who noticed that the MLB logo appeared to have been torn off of A-Rod’s jersey last night. Take a look — you can sort of see the outline or imprint of where the logo had been, but the actual logo itself isn’t there (as you can see if you compare that photo to this one).