By Phil Hecken
As the World Baseball Classic, or WBC ’09 reaches its second stage, with 8 of the 16 teams advancing into the next round, it’s time to give the uniforms for each nation a grade. Unfortunately, if this were a test, most of the teams would not fail … but neither would they pass with flying colors. Perhaps it’s an ‘old school’ bias or perhaps it’s just that these uniforms just don’t stand out, but it’s safe to say we won’t be calling them “classics” any day soon. On another note, each nation does represent itself fairly well, whether it be through its color scheme, it’s ‘unique’ font, or a combination of both, and while there are no “stand out” uniforms, there are really no duds either … well, almost none, but we’ll get to that tomorrow.
Each uniform will be graded on a number of factors, including an overall appearance grade, from the team’s choice of cap, alternate or away jersey (and pants, if applicable), advertising patches, color scheme, batting helmet, playing status and any superfluous or extraneous factors. Before we begin, however, lets examine how these uniforms are all similar, before we examine their differences. We’ll explore the teams by groups of eight, going alphabetically, with the first eight today and the second eight tomorrow.
Each team sports a white (home) uniform, which is nice. On the left sleeve of every team is the WBC patch, and on the left side of the cap is a flag patch, representing the nation for which each team member is playing. That patch is also replicated on the right sleeve, although in the case of Korea, the patches are reversed on the jersey.
Enough of the similarities, lets move on the the individual nations:
Australia: Definitely one of the nicer uniforms of the classic, Australia features a solid white home uniform bedecked in green and yellow piping. The cap is a gorgeous solid green with a yellow-gold “A” and five stars, mimicking the Australian flag. This pattern is also repeated on their jersey, which is a nice touch. Their coaches jackets and pullovers are also a deep forest green, and their uniforms are made by Majestic. About the only BIG complaint that can be made about these uniforms, which are common to all but two, are the pit stain patches, and the small advert they stuck on their helmets. Overall, though, a solid baseball uniform, one of the best of the WBC. Australia has been eliminated from further WBC play. Grade: B+
Canada: Like it’s commonwealth counterpart from Australia, Canada also has nice unis. Crisp white homes and a deep red away with gray pants, the Canadians have one feature almost all the others do not, and this earns them high grades: NO pit stain piping! Their uniforms feature both a red and a black with red brimmed cap, and their home jersey is white with red raglan sleeves, while the away jersey is solid red. This uniform would earn top marks except there is no gray away jersey (BP jersey is black), and, like some of the other nations, features a rather large advertising patch on the left sleeve, dwarfing the WBC logo. Overall though, a nice uniform. Canada has been eliminated from further WBC play. Grade: B
China: One of four Asian nations competing in the Classic, China echoes the colors of its flag on its uniform. Their home white features red lettering, in Olde English script, outlined in yellow. They wear white pants when designated as the “away” team, along with red jerseys and white cleats. Full names (FNOB) appear on their jerseys, and their away’s feature an odd silver color for both name and number. Uniforms are made by Majestic and their cap is solid red with a yellow “C” in mimicking Olde English script. Their sleeves feature no advertising. While this is a fairly staid uniform, the odd combination of seemingly mismatched colors for the rear of the uniform, the white cleats (which don’t look bad, but don’t look good either) and a lack of gray away pants earn China a less than stellar grade. China has been eliminated from further WBC play. Grade: C
Chinese Taipei: Taiwan, or for the politically correct, Chinese Taipei, had a 2-game stay in the WBC, wearing blue tops with white pants. Like their neighbors on the mainland, Taiwan wore white pants and cleats, but chose to use last name plus initials on their backs (name in white, numbers in red outlined in white). Their uniforms are made by Mizuno and their solid blue cap features an interlocking “CT”. Left sleeves have advertising but the piping is a nice red, double stripe. Unfortunately, due to their early exit, and a dearth of photos on the US wires, only their one uniform is being used as a basis for grading. Nevertheless, it’s not particularly good, nor is it particularly horrible. The only saving grace was the lack of any apparent armpit piping. Chinese Taipai has been eliminated from further WBC play. Grade: C+
Cuba: One of the tournament powerhouses, and runner-up in 2006, Cuba features a red, white and blue home uniform, which is pretty nice, while their ‘famous’ solid red away uniform is, um … red. At least they break it up somewhat with blue undersleeves and a blue belt. They sport red caps and batting helmets, and their sleeves are bereft of any obnoxious advertising. Cap is red with a white “C” outline in blue and their jersey features red raglan sleeves on the homes. Of course, like almost all other teams, they have annoying pit patches on both the homes and roads, and surprisingly, their uniforms are manufactured by Majestic. This uniform set would score low based on the red away uniform anyway, but when worn by rather large players and without any sock showing, it’s particularly noxious. Cuba has advanced to the second round of the WBC. Grade: D
Dominican Republic: A standout nation loaded with star major league talent, the Dominican Republic has disappointed many with their performance in the WBC. Breaking ranks with their contemporaries, “Dominicana” preferred their Spanish spelling for their uniforms, which features white homes and gray aways. Their coaches wear blue pullover jackets. While the uniform, like most others, is pretty crisp, it features a huge and annoying advert on the left sleeve, which makes the WBC patch almost inconsequential, and their helmets also contain some kind of advertising. The uniform set has a blue and a two-tone red and blue cap, with an interlocking red “R” and white “D”. Too much advertising and a poor showing does not a good combination make. The Dominican Republic has been eliminated from further WBC play. Grade: C
Italy: One of two European teams in the Classic, Italy showed promise. That promise was not to be realized, but they did provide some exciting moments. While they sported their blue batting practice jerseys for their exhibition game against the Nationals, in competition, they wore a white home and a gray away uniform. A fairly classic script, the Italians, like the Dominicans, chose to wear their Italian spelling of their country name on their jersey. Unlike other nations, however, Italy had an interesting discrepancy, in that most jerseys contained uniform numbers on the front of their jerseys, some did not. The uniform itself is quite pleasing, with the blue script and red numbers (on most of the jerseys) very evocative of the Los Angeles Dodgers. Unfortunately, another giant advertising patch dominated the left sleeve. The cap was a nice deep blue, with a white “I” outlined in red. Italy has been eliminated from further WBC play. Grade: B-
Japan: The defending World Baseball Classic champions have the most unique of the WBC designs, beginning with the odd shoulder design found on both the home and away uniforms. They also feature neat matte helmets with raised lettering. Like the Taiwanese, the Japanese uniforms are made by Mizuno, and although it’s very difficult to see, they feature a striated and sublimated design interwoven in the fabric. The jerseys feature a “Japan” wordmark in red with gold outline, which is evocative of kanji characters. Like other WBC teams, the Japanese have an advertising patch on their left sleeve, but their helmets appear advert free … until you look at the non-flap side. Major points deducted for this overload. Overall, just too much going on with this uniform, including the weird shoulder design and side stripes. However, we’ll be seeing a lot more of this uniform. Japan has advanced to the second round of the WBC. Grade: C+
What do you think? Too harsh in the grading? Too lenient? About right? Think I’m
full of shit absolutely correct? Thought so. Let me know. I’ll have the second set of eight tomorrow, which include the worst (receiving an “F”) and the best of the bunch.
This and That: Man, this sucks, like a LOT … but wait, in a related development on the previous story, there’s help on the way … Kentucky wore black uniforms yesterday, and LSU kicked their asses — I’m sure there is a lesson to be learned here … Further evidence that camo sucks: The City of Montreal is worried that police wearing camouflage pants may piss people off more than police wearing their regular unis — why would the police need camo pants? They’re worried about violence erupting at a rally protesting — wait for it — police brutality … NFLers spent the entire season wearing GU63 patches; now, they’ll meet to pick a new boss, and hope he doesn’t die soon, so as to avert wearing another league-wide sticker/patch for next year … If you read between the lines in this story, it sounds like the A’s either want a taxpayer-funded stadium, or want to move out of Oakland … because, only a day before that, they asked Bud Selig for his help — which means they’re really desperate … Pretty sure this may have already been posted, but just in case: New Nike hoops unis for the tourneys … Hey Philadelphians, do you have memories of the Spectrum? You can share them & pics here … This article says that baseball is a beautiful thing — I’d have to agree … Wanna make news for not wearing a uniform? Be like Henrik — or, not … Shawn Kemp he’s not — and not in a good way either … Fresh out of the Toughest Sheriff in America‘s tent city, the Round Mound of DUI admits to drinking and driving “100 times a year,” certainly paving the way for a new whopper of a contract from TNT and that phone company … Lane Kiffin is a douchebag — but you knew that already … Looks like the Celtics were feeling golden last night …
“muthaf*cka” “OUCH” … this is a picture, taken March 13, 2009, of manram — what, they couldn’t get him a new helmet? … What WBC? … yeah — it’s still only spring training, but it sure is nice to see both teams in real uniforms.
Sort of reprinted from yesterday’s comments: there was a bunch of talk about Milwaukee’s old County Stadium, and linkies were posted to various pics and threads of the stadium; if you didn’t see them, here’s some wonderful pics from Baseball-fever.com: April 24, 1952, 1953, again in 1953, this time on September 27, assembled for Packer football, two photos, one here and the other here of the ’54 expansion; 1956, from “Mockingbird Hill,” and two nearly identical shots, one from September 29, 1957 and the other from April 11, 1975, for the home opener; finally, a nice aerial shot of the 1982 World Series (love the Goodyear blimp in that shot).