As most of you know, I’ve been mildly obsessed this season with the growing phenomenon of MLB players who write things under their cap visors. (For those who missed it, here’s the ESPN column I devoted to this topic a few months back.) Then, in a separate underbill development, a few weeks ago I passed along news from a National League source who said there would be changes to all MLB caps next year — including a switch from gray underbills to black.
I originally assumed there was no connection between these two stories, and that the switch to black was due to the increasingly popular school of thought that black underbills are better for reducing glare. But last week on Chris Creamer‘s message boards, buried in the midst of a long discussion of the Diamondbacks’ new logos (which I’ll have more to say about soon, promise), there was this:
A friend inside MLB said that the inscriptions by players (number, initials, etc.) are getting out of hand, and changing the underbill [to black] was one way to eliminate the problem without getting into potential backlash from players and media.
Faaaaaascinating. If this is true, it raises some interesting points:
• Black brims wouldn’t eliminate underbill inscriptions, since players could still use silver Sharpies (although I agree that fewer players would do that, because there’s just something counterintuitive about writing on a black surface).
• Why is the MLB office so worked up about underbill scribblings anyway? Assuming you can see them at all, they’re usually illegible, so what’s the problem? They’re a charming quirk, and are among the very few ways that a player can personalize his uniform without being all “Look at me!” about it. Eliminating them — or trying to — is a short-sighted move.
• Whether it’s the White House or the MLB office, anytime someone is paranoid about “media backlash,” it’s a pretty safe bet they’re doing something stupid.
Meanwhile, we can add two more players to the ranks of the underbill scribblers. The first is Nationals reliever Jon Rauch, who’s got something fairly elaborate — although it’s not clear what — written on his home and road caps. The second is Cleveland’s Shin-Soo Choo (already notable for his double-flapped batting helmet), whose underbill notation appears to be written in Korean. If the closing days of this season really do constitute the twilight of the gray underbill, Rauch and Choo may go down as the last players to take full advantage of it.
(The Choo pics, incidentally, are courtesy of Toronto photographer Aaron Reynolds, who’s generously offered to make his vast photo archive available for Uni Watch research purposes — thanks, man!)
Uni Watch News Ticker: We weren’t the only ones talking about logo leaks yesterday — look here. … Bryan Redemske has gotten an advance copy of this book (due out in about three weeks) and says the photos feature some fantastic uni details, including a shot of Honus Wagner with a little “P P” collar embroidery — never seen that before. Full report to follow when I can get my hands on a copy. … Monday’s nomination for the worst prep uniform ever brought several competing picks, the most notable of which was Riverside High in South Carolina (props to Ronnie Poore). … Speaking of high school teams, great article here about high school teams that use college or pro helmet logo designs (with thanks to P.J. Mallardi). … Notes you may have missed from yesterday’s Comments section: Rice players will wear a “39” helmet decal for the rest of the season, in memory of teammate Dale Lloyd, who died on Sunday (with thanks to Richard Grossman). … And Adam Denob noticed that Panthers kicker John Kasey was wearing a watch in Sunday’s game against Tampa.