By Phil Hecken
The 2010 Major League Baseball season is almost upon us, which means that it’s time for many of us to begin our annual ritual of “tracking the (insert team here).” What is “uni-tracking” you may ask? For those who aren’t familiar with it (or incredibly anal), it’s the practice of painstakingly recording the precise outfit your favorite team wears throughout the season, and the W-L record in those games. For teams like the Yankees or Tigers, there isn’t much “point” to the exercise, since one can basically put them down for 81 home pinstripes (or home whites) and 81 road grays.
Of course, when MLB requires the wearing of the
blood of our soldiers red caps, or teams play in a negro league tribute, those teams without much uniform variety mix it up a little. However, for the most part, it’s home and away unis and that’s that.
Then, you have teams like my ‘hometown’ Mets, who last season seemed to be trying to set the record for most uniform combinations in a single season (more on that below). Keeping track of their myriad uniform combinations can be quite entertaining, especially when their on-field play is, shall we say, less-than-stellar. Some interesting trends begin to appear when you analyze the Mets record “by uniform.”
Last season, several of you also took part in “uni tracking” your teams, and for those who sent me their “end of season” wrap ups, I haven’t forgotten about you. Very shortly those write ups will become part of the “Uni Watch archives,” and will appear at the upper right of the column, preserved for all eternity. If you didn’t send me your end of season wrap-ups, there’s still time to get them to me.
This season, I’m hoping more of you will participate in uni tracking. If you’re not sure what that is, it can be as simple or as complicated as you want to make it.
It all begins by keeping some form of record of your team’s uniform combinations — including cap, sleeves and socks, and the record of the team in those games. This can be done on a note pad, in an eXcel spreadsheet, a simple chart…any way. Once you have these data, how you present them is also up to you.
Some folks, like Mike Bergan simply make notes on a schedule. Others, like Alex Poterack create an eXcel spreadsheet (you may need “google docs” to view that), while Doug Keklak take a similar tack. Guys like Scott Curl combine spreadsheets and graphics, while Scott Gladin take a similar approach.
One of our Marlins trackers, Mike Jaworski used spreadsheets to track the record by uniform and the record by pitcher. One of the “worst” uniform (in terms of combinations) offenders, the Astros, was tracked in graphical form by Kenny Montross. Our Canadian tracker, Mike Styczen, tracked the Blue Jays by going this route.
Most trackers keep records both by spreadsheet and by graphical representation, like Brew Crew tracker Andrew Greenwood. One of our lady trackers, Justine DeCotis tracked her Red Sox by caps and stockings as well as by jersey and cap.
So, really, there are infinite ways to track your team. But what do you do with that information? Well, in some cases, it might be just a fun exercise. In other cases, tracking the uniforms actually shows what combinations your team has more or less success while wearing. Sometimes, your team just plain SUCKS while wearing a certain combination — perhaps it’s their “unlucky” combo. Other times, at least based upon record, a teams W-L has nothing to do with the uniform.
The 2009 Mets were terrible by any yardstick, and of course, injuries played a part in that. But they had a better record wearing certain combinations — combinations, incidentally, that they may want to consider wearing more often in 2010. Below is a “shortened” version of the final 2009 uni tracking that will (soon, along with those who’ve sent me their 2009 final tracks) be added to the UW archives.
And now, here’s a quick look at the Mets 2009 season:
Last year, the Mets continued to wear myriad uniform combinations, on a regular (but seemingly random) rotating basis, all of which continued to employ the use of black to varying degrees. This gave them seven possible ‘regular’ uniforms, along with 5 “special” uniforms, for a total of twelve different uniform combinations for the 2009 season.
The Mets seemingly had no rhyme or reason for their uniform selections throughout the course of the season (some teams wear a certain uniform on a certain day of the week, or the starting pitcher sometimes chooses what outfit a team will wear), although they began the season with three distinct preferences, some of which held true throughout the season. At home, they tended to wear their black tops & caps on Fridays, weekdays were predominantly snow whites with black/blue caps, and Saturdays were almost always snow whites with blue caps/socks/sleeves. They began the season by wearing the “official” pinstriped uniform on weekends. This pattern would neither be hard and fast nor would it last throughout the season.
On the road, there was no set pattern to uniform usage, although they predominantly wore the gray road uniform (this combination was worn more than any other — a total of 59 times — in which they sported a record of 22-37). Their second most popular outfit was the road gray pants with black cap/jersey (worn a total of 18 times, for a record of 7-11). Sometimes they would wear the black jersey/cap combination for an entire road series, other times for portions of a series. One could assume the weather and/or laundry (need to pack two sets of jerseys) played a roll in the limited use of black on the road. More often than not, the Mets would wear their standard gray uniforms for an entire series or road trip.
At home, they most often wore the Snow Whites with blue cap/sleeve/socks, and they won the most games (and had their best record) wearing this combination (17-12 record, a total of 29 wearings), while the Snow Whites with black/blue cap, black socks/sleeves was the second most popular combination (worn a total of 23 times, with a record of 8-15). The black top with black was their third most popular combination (worn a total of 12 times, with a record of 8-4). Although the pinstripes with blue cap/sleeves/socks was designated their “official” uniform, it was only worn a grand total of 9 times (and the Mets sported a 3-6 record while wearing it). The pinstripes with black/blue cap, black sleeves and socks was only worn once (and they were victorious in it).
In their “special” uniforms, they went 1-0 in the “Jackie Robinsons”, 0-2 in the “Los Mets” unis, and 2-1 in the “Cream N Y Big Block” specials. When they wore the red caps, they won in their only home appearance (Memorial Day), while they went 0-4 when they wore the S&S caps on the road.
The following lists the Mets records and uniform combinations by month, including notes where applicable.
OK, that is quite enough about the (not so) Amazin’s. But a new season is here, which means there is a new hope, right? I mean, everyone starts the season off with a 0-0 record. Here’s hoping many of you will get on the uni track train for 2010. I’ll periodically feature your tracking throughout the season, and at the end of this season, all the full-season tracks will become a part of the archives (along with your writeups). Look for the 2009 writeups soon, and if you tracked your team last season, but didn’t send me the final tallies, please feel free to do so. Put in the subject line: “2009 Uniform Tracking (for “team”).”
On Target! After twenty-nine seasons inside the HHHomerdome, the Minnesota Twins opened brand new, beautiful Target Field yesterday, after rainy skies threatened to dampen the fans, but not their spirits.
Hey, that’s what happens when you play outdoors now. No matter, the fans showed up in droves, although some may have forgotten proper authentic gear. Of course, there were those who treated “opening” day (the ‘official’ home opener is still 9 days away) as an occasion to break out their formal attire (if only they wore pullovers, they wouldn’t have those placket issues).
Only hours before gametime, skies were dark and rain did fall, but as though on cue, the rain stopped, allowing fans to check out the bronze statue of Rod Carew. Once inside, fans eagerly awaited the moment for which they had been waiting for so many years: the Twins taking the field in an outdoor stadium.
Day quickly turned to night, and the Twins lost, but no matter. Scenes like this are surely a most welcome site in the Twin Cities. “Is this heaven,” an out-of-town fan was said to ask upon entering the new stadium. “No,” replied his friend from downtown, “This is Minnesota.” Indeed.
I’m sure there will be plenty of reviews on Target Field (and hopefully some from one or more of UW’s Minnesota denizens), so I’ll leave that to them. But, like all new parks, Target does have some quirks and interesting features that we’ll explore down the road.
For now, Denard Span will be the answer to several trivia questions, Anthony Slama (who isn’t on the 40 man roster and will begin the season at Triple-A Rochester) took the hill wearing stirrups, and Target Field guardians Minnie & Paul give the first Twins game a big thumbs up.
After a brief respite for spring training, the boys are back and better than ever. Oh boy, are they ever. Here’s Rick:
Excitement, anticipation, optimism…all good. Very, very good. Of course, things change with progress, too. And sometimes we don’t realize that right away.
And with that, enjoy your full color Saturday Benchies.
The Pittsburgh Pirates (1957-1970): For 14 years, beginning in 1957 and culminating halfway through the 1970 season, the last at Forbes Field, the Pirates wore a simple, plain, gorgeous home and away set featuring identical home and away (white and gray) vested uniforms, and black stirrups featuring three gold stripes. Worn by Hall of Famers like Bill Mazeroski, Willie Stargell, and Roberto Clemente, the classic stirrups were also worn during the 1960 World Series (as seen on Elroy Face), which the Pirates took from the heavily favored New York Yankees on one of the most famous home runs in baseball history.
For about half of the years of this ‘stirrup run,’ the Pirates kept their pants high (Bob Friend), even as the styles made the pants progressively tighter (Dick Groat). As the mid-sixties approached, however, the stirrups would get pulled higher and the pant legs would creep lower, and many players were “hiding” the top one or two stripes. But it was a beautiful thing while it lasted.
In June, 1970, the Pirates would play their last game at Forbes Field and move to Three Rivers Stadium, changing uniforms and stirrups, and ushering in the polyester double-knit era into the major leagues. We’ll take a look at those stirrups at another time.
Guess The Game From The Scoreboard: Hmmm…what would happen when there’s more runs scored than the scoreboard can handle? What would you do? Today’s guest scoreboard comes from Lance Smith, and that’s the question we have on our hands today. Ready? Guess The Game From The Scoreboard. Date, location and final score, please, and be sure to link to your answer. And, as always, if you enjoy the game, please send me some new scoreboards! Drop me a line. Thanks!
Back again with more Uniform Tweaks, Concepts and Revisions today. Lots to get to, and if you have a tweak, change or concept for any sport, send them my way.
We begin the show today with Will L. Wyss, who has some interesting logo & helmet changes for the Fighting Illini…er…the Illinois football program:
So, here is my uniform tweak, and its not so much Uniform tweak as a whole logo make over. I don’t know how you guys feel about college uniform tweaks, but…
Here is where this all stemmed from, the University of Illinois (for which I am a student) is considering bringing in a new logo. Now, while I am firmly against the idea, the graphic designer in me could not resist. The university believe an eagle would be an easy transition. So, I took our previous, and our current, and walla. The helmets are a blend of the the Philly and the wings of my design… Yeah, thank you…
Will L. Wyss
Next up is Jon Gates, who also has a college football tweak — the Nebraska Cornhuskers:
As a uniform enthusiast from Nebraska, Football is Life. Scarlet and Cream need to make a comeback.
There must have been something in the air, because today’s third tweak is ALSO college football, and this one comes from Patrick Lange, who brings us his vision for the Volunteers of Tennessee:
Something really bothers me about Tennessee using black in their uniforms, however I really love their checkerboard end zones so based on these two factors I decided to make a tweak of their football uniforms.
Completing the college week, we have Matthew Hager, who has a basketball tweak for the Dayton Flyers:
I know most of your tweaks are football-related, but since I’m depressed about my alma mater not making the NCAA Tournament, I figured I’d give my Dayton Flyers the makeover they so desperately need.
There you have it. Four colleges, four new concepts. Good stuff gentlemen.
As we approach the greatest day in sports (otherwise known as Opening Day), we get the NCAA Basketball Final Four today, and a few MLB preseason games to get the rust off. So, everyone have a great Saturday.
Shortstop to the third base line — that was my spot. I could take any pitch and go to that hole. — Rodney Cline Carew