With our first full weekend of NFL preseason action now in the books, a few quick observations are in order. To wit:
• Several dozen readers wrote in to express alarm over the sight of the Colts wearing solid-top socks on Thursday night — a serious downgrade from the striped socks they’ve been wearing for the past couple of seasons. Recent Uni Watch Profiles subject Witesock has the depressing explanation: “Pine Sports (the Colts’ sock supplier) told me earlier this summer that the Colts did not renew their striped sock order. The NFL is still moving backwards in terms of sock design.” Indeed.
• Many readers also pointed with dismay toward the Browns, who wore solid-topped hose, instead of striped, in their first preseason game. Here’s the deal on that: The Browns used to have two different kinds of striped socks — this design, which was meant to be worn with the dark jerseys (note how the sock stripes match the sleeve stripes), and this design, which went with the white jerseys (again, note the sleeve/calf parallelism). Their current uni set still includes that second sock design, but not the other one. The solid-top format is now their official dark-jersey sock. Too bad.
• I hadn’t realized the Saints would be wearing a Louisiana-shaped jersey patch this season (here’s a closer look). It’s similar to the patch they used to wear on their sleeves and hips (both of which are now emblazoned with the fleur de lis.
• The Bengals still can’t get that white side panel to look consistent (well, unless “consistently awful” counts). On some players, it stops at the underarm; for others, it extends up toward the nameplate.
• The most subtle uni revision of the season: The Titans now have a belt-buckle sleeve, which means there are now three teams wearing this utterly useless accessory (the other two being, of course, the Jets and Broncos). The kicker is that the Titans actually have three different belt sleeves, depending on which pants they wear.
• A few visor-clad players appear to be wearing the Oakley “O” logo on their visor tabs. In the past, this logo has only appeared on the tabs of NCAA players, because Oakley hasn’t been an official NFL licensee (so NFL visor tabs have typically been clear, black, or team-branded). Not sure if the “O” — which I’ve only spotted on a few NFL visors so far this preseason, not all of them — reflects a new branding arrangement between the league and Oakley or just a typical case of preseason regulatory laxity. I’m looking into it.
• In another logo creep development, reader Brooks Reuter writes: “It appears that Adidas is up to the same tricks that have gotten them in trouble in tennis. These gloves are obviously Adidas gloves, with the three stripes all the way around the palm. But as I’m sure you know, only the Reebok logo is allowed to be visible on NFL gloves. This could get interesting, as I cannot see the NFL allowing this design to play during the regular season.”
Of course, all of this is just a warmup for the real “treat”: tonight’s game in Minnesota, which will mark the on-field debut of those horrific new Vikings uniforms. Can’t wait.
Memphis Musings: As we all know by now, the St. Louis Cardinals require all players in their minor league system to wear their pants hiked up high. So imagine my surprise when I attended a Memphis Redbirds game on Friday night and saw the pitcher — and only the pitcher — sporting the pajama-pants look. The explanation: The pitcher was St. Looie starter Mark Mulder, who was making a triple-A rehab start and was apparently exempt from the pant protocol. Would’ve been a lot cooler if Mulder had just gone along with the program, instead of big-leaguing it like a prima donna.
In other Memphis news, the Redbirds batboys were wearing facemasks. But the real story was Uni Watch reader Luke Pellagra, who turned out to be a very interesting case study in uniformity. I saw Pellagra on three consecutive days during my stay in Memphis, and on all three occasions he was wearing the same basic attire: a Cardinals baseball cap, a Ralph Lauren Polo shirt (complete with logo creep), a long-sleeve T-shirt under that, and a white T-shirt under that. The Polo shirt was always either red (in which case the long-sleeve tee was navy) or navy (in which case the long-sleeve tee was red). The cap color always matched the color of the long-sleeve shirt.
And you all thought Witesock was weird. I think I speak for everyone here when I say that the thought of a Uni Watch reader accumulating a dresser drawer full of Ralph Lauren Polo shirts is waaaaaaaaay more disturbing than any hosiery fixation could ever be (although there’s no truth to the rumor that Pellagra is the guy featured in this article [with thanks to Paul Burclaff for the link]).
Incidentally, the temperature in Memphis was just shy of 100 degrees on two of these days, and the humidity was in the 90s on the third day. So the whole city was basically a sauna, and this dude’s wearing three shirts. “It’s just what I’ve gotten used to,” said Pellagra when I asked him about it. “If I don’t wear three shirts, I feel, uh…”
Right. Sartorial quirks notwithstanding, Pellagra’s a super-nice guy, and it was great to meet him during my stay in Memphis. He’s about to begin his sophomore year at the University of Tennessee, where he’s studying sports administration, in hopes of becoming an agent, … la Drew Rosenhaus. We should all root for him to succeed, if only because his Polo-driven look would certainly be an improvement over Rosenhaus’s purple tie.
Uni Watch News Ticker: Plenty of throwback action over the weekend, as the Mets and Nationals donned Negro Leagues unis on Friday night (here’s another view) and the Pirates and Cards did likewise on Saturday night. … More super-cool Japanese high school stirrups courtesy of Jeremy Brahm here,
here, here, and here. … Anguished logo creep confession from University of Alabama media relations rep Jeff Dunnavant, who writes: “I’m ashamed to say I’m partly responsible this mock-up of our 2006 women’s soccer media guide cover. You’ll have no problem whatsoever determining which athletics company sponsors Alabama soccer, as the company’s logo appears an amazing 36 times in the photo. Please don’t excommunicate me!” Too late, Jeff — your reservation in uni purgatory is now confirmed. … Interesting note from Jeremy Ellermeier: “Every day durning fall camp, the Nebraska coaches give out a yellow jersey to the top performer on offense, defense, and special teams. Interestingly, when Clayton Seivers recived the yellow jersey, he apparently got some yellow socks to go with it.” … Eric Ritschdorff notes that “Robinson Cano had a problem keeping his shirt tucked in during his at-bat in the top of the 7th on August 10th against the White Sox. It looked as though the ump made a point to tell him to tuck it in. He did, but it was partly hanging out on his right hip side.” … Good tip from Michael Lindsay, who recently came across a cool exhibit at the Salt Lake City Library, called Diamonds in the Rough, described as “a popular interactive exhibit that reveals the colorful 100-year history of Japanese-American baseball through memorabilia, photos and artifacts. … The exhibit’s visit to Utah is sponsored by the motion picture The American Pastime, which tells the story of Japanese Americans herded into the Topaz internment camp during WWII, where they turned to baseball as a way to deal with their plight.” Lindsay took a few photos with his camera phone, which you can see here, here, and here. … Another pink link: The Portland Beavers held a “Strike Out Breast Cancer” promotion yesterday, featuring this jersey design (with thanks to Jeremy Brahm. … Remember last month when Bosox starter Kyle Snyder pitched an entire inning with his undershirt tag sticking out? On Friday it was Wilfredo Ledezma who had the tag showing, which generally made him look ridiculous during the entire 7th inning (good catch by Tom Kot). … How the hell did purple find its way back into the Devil Rays’ color scheme? … Buccaneers linebacker Derrick Brooks — one of only three current Tampa players to have worn the team’s old creamsicle unis back in the day — is campaigning for the team to revive the orange attire this season as a Thanksgiving Day throwback (with thanks to Mike Edgerley). … In a stunning development that may cause the Earth to wobble clear off its axis, Buck Showalter has worn a uniform jersey — instead of his usual windbreaker — for three consecutive games! Sorry, no photos (presumably because conventional cameras aren’t equipped to record paranormal phenomena), but the tip comes straight from a source in the Rangers’ dugout. … Logo Creep Alert: Check out Fidel Castro’s convalescence outfit. Some socialist he’s turning out to be!