By Phil Hecken
Today we have another “Best of Uni Watch” installment. But unlike the last one, which reprised an entry from the blog, today we’ll be revisiting one of Paul’s ESPN columns.
Because it ran on ESPN, we can’t repost it on here, but we can link to it. That’s below. And now, to describe the column, I’ll let Paul explain:
I’ve written hundreds, maybe thousands of articles over the years. I was happy with most of them when they were published, and I think many of them still hold up as being interesting, or funny, or informative, or whatever they were supposed to be.
But I’ve only written two things that I think are important. One of them is a food article that broke some new ground in the annals of meat research (I’ve linked to it many times, but once more can’t hurt). The other one is an ESPN column that ran in the fall of 2006, about the batting glove Bill Buckner was wearing under his first baseman’s mitt when that fateful ball went through his legs.
Why was this column important? For one thing, it’s not often you can take a famous event — one that’s been viewed countless times by tens of millions of people over the course of 20 years — and discover something new about it. So this column added to the lore of an already storied moment in baseball history. I’m proud of that.
And I’m happy to say that the public responded to it. The Buckner column was the most-forwarded article on ESPN.com for something like a week solid after it ran, and by a healthy margin (I took that screen shot on 10/19/06). I think it was also the site’s most-read story of October 2006, or something like that. Now, sheer readership isn’t necessarily a barometer of quality or importance. But the Buckner column hinges on a very small visual detail, and I was really pleased to see — and to demonstrate to my editors — that even the smallest of details can appeal to a mass audience. I saw it as a pretty loud validation of Uni Watch’s overall premise.
In short, this was the story that put Uni Watch on the map as legitimate sports journalism instead of just a quirky little exercise in geekitude. Nearly four years later, I now think of it as Uni Watch’s finest moment — at least so far.
Thanks Paul — now, here’s that ESPN column. After you read it, come on back here and lets discuss. OK? OK!
MLB Home Uniform Poll 2
created by Uni Watch Pollster James Huening
Well — the results from last weeks “Best MLB Home Uniform” poll are in. You have spoken. And now, it’s time to take the 9 finalists and decide, for once and for all, who has the best home threads in the show. I’ll turn it over to Jimbo, and then you can vote in the new poll. We’ll keep this one open another week and be back with the final results shortly thereafter. Here’s JTH:
The starting lineup is in. Leading off with 8.21% of responses, the Detroit Tigers. Second, the St. Louis Cardinals, who collected 8.09%. In the 3-hole, the Los Angeles Dodgers with 7.73%. Batting cleanup, the New York Yankees, who collected 7.21%. OK, enough of the stupid batting order analogies. The other five: Boston Red Sox (6.61%), San Francisco Giants (6.33%), Atlanta Braves (6.09%), Chicago Cubs (5.79%), Oakland Athletics (4.31%).
Not a whole lot of surprises here. All are teams with pretty traditional looks that have, for the most part, remained pretty much unchanged for quite some time.
Now for the other side of the coin, the bottom 9: Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim (1.23%), Washington Nationals (1%), Milwaukee Brewers (0.89%), Colorado Rockies (0.74%), San Diego Padres (0.69%), Houston Astros (0.54%), Florida Marlins (0.5%), Toronto Blue Jays (0.48%), Arizona Diamondbacks (0.42%).
Full results can be viewed here.
And now…the final poll:
Throwing Back, Asian Style…
As you guys may be aware, they’re doing the throwback thing over in Japan. Our resident Pacific Rim Correspondent, Jeremy Brahm has already provided both ticker & comment material on it. But reader Eric Lord sent in a pretty neat write-up on the series, which he describes below. Enjoy.
Just thought I’d bring to your attention a recent development from the Land of the Rising Sun. For this week’s three-game sets from August 17-19, and again from August 24-26, the six teams in the Central League each wore a throwback uniform to celebrate the history of the Central League, one of NPB’s two leagues. Some good ones and some not-so-good ones – here’s some shots and info.
Series 1 — Yomiuri Giants at Chunichi Dragons:
Dragons: Uniforms from 1952, the first year the Dragons won the Japan series. Not bad — interesting to see the wishbone “C” that we associate with the reds on a blue cap. That’s actually a logo used all over the place in Japanese baseball — the Hiroshima Carp use it as their hat primary, and many high school teams have also borrowed it. The sleeve logo features the Japanese character ä¸ (“chuu” from Chunichi) on a stylized background.
Giants: This throwback is the Giants’ home whites from 1950, the first season of the Central League’s existance. Old-school for sure — bears a strong resemblance to Japanese high school uniforms, with the all-white look and striped socks.
Interestingly, the Giants were playing at the Nagoya Dome against the Dragons for this series, making them the away team, giving the games a pretty surreal white-versus-white look.
Series 2 — Yakult Swallows at Hiroshima Carp:
Yakult: The Swallows are the only team to go with a home kit and an away kit for the two series, and they went with uniforms from the 1990’s, when the team won three Japan Series. The picture quality isn’t great, but that barbershop pinstripe is pretty wild. This series, though, they were the away team, and so wore their classy powder blue kit. The striping is actually really subtle, and gives the uniform some pop — not sure about that red belt though! Also the cap logo is an absolute travesty.
Hiroshima: Uniforms from 1989, when current manager and former player Kenjiro Nomura joined the team. Nice, but a bit too similar to their standard home kit to really feel like a throwback.
Highlights from the first game, which was actually a heck of a show.
Series 3 — Hanshin Tigers at Yokohama Baystars:
Yokohama: Yokohama used these uniforms from 1978-1992, when the franchise was known as the Taiyo Whales. The pullover V-neck really gives the kit an ’80’s feel to me, and that big W on the hat is pretty solid. Nice work all around.
Hanshin: Saved the best for last. As a Tigers fan, I’m probably biased, but the Japanese media has been absolutely freaking out over these kits, and with good reason. The uniforms are the road kits from 1948-1949, when the team was called the Osaka Tigers and featured a series of hitters that came to be known as the “Dynamite-dasen” or Dynamite Lineup. The all-black look is great – and looks even better in action, as you’ll see — and those striped tube socks speak for themselves.
Hightlights from a wild Game 1, which featured the kid in the interview, Shunsuke Fujikawa hitting his first pro HR on his birthday (skip to 4:20 for highlights). This game was actually played at Nagano Olympic Stadium, a neutral site — every year, each team plays a few games in rural stadiums around the country, to increase exposure in the countryside. The Tigers are technically the road team here, but as one of the two most popular teams in Japan (along with the Giants), they usually fill up these neutral sites with yellow and black.
Fun fact – for the second series, the Tigers will be the acting home team against the Carp, but since the Tigers usual home stadium, Koshien, is used every year to host the National High School Baseball Championships, the series will be played at the Kyocera Dome in Osaka, home of the Orix Buffaloes of the Pacific League. This series will be played in the throwback kits, so you’ll have a home team wearing all blacks against a road team wearing all whites. When’s the last time that happened outside the NHL?
Will you still need me…
…will you still feed me
A day early, but a big fat Happy Birthday to Rick Pearson, who will have more candles than he can count on his cake Saturday.
In your honor, Ricko, here’s a very special Birthday “Bunchies”, just for you!
Cheers, buddy — have a great one.
Uni Watch News Ticker: Starting off today is Johnny Okray who reports that Looks like Wisconsin might be getting a bigger, better, and longer deal with Adidas. He notes, “Seems like if this goes through you will ONLY see Adidas UW merchandise.” Funny, I didn’t think there was any adidas UW merch. … Douggie Keklak found some really good Pitt logo history. … Jason Chai sends a picture of “the new sox’s for our triple A affiliate here in Fresno, CA.” It seems most of the players are still going with the pajama look, but this pitcher wore his beautifully. … More new Nike Combat news: Jeff Stark reports it’s official for Florida. … Mark your calendars now, folks, because the Ducks are announcing their new third jersey on November 26th (thanks to Paul Lukas for that). … Great old-tyme baseball photo comes from Alex Higley, whose “friend’s great grandfather” played on that team. Says Alex, “I love how the captain (M. Loup) is wearing a sweater while the rest of the team wears the standard Kaufman -Richards Indoor Baseball team uniform we are traditionally more familiar with.” … John Shabe sends us news about a kid with really big shoes to fill — his own. … New helmet design for Big Red: Tris Wykes notes the black outline on C disappears, new white stripe down the middle, and gray masks instead of red. … Les Holmlund reports “the Regina Pats, the longest-running junior hockey franchise in the world, unveiled a new third jersey based on the uniforms worn by the 1925 Pats, winners of that year’s Memorial Cup. The Pats are based in Regina, Saskatchewan, Canada, and will be participating in the first outdoor junior game in Canada on February 21, 2011, against the Calgary Hitmen The game is part of the NHL’s Heritage Classic featuring an outdoor NHL game between the Calgary Flames and the Montreal Canadiens.” … Not actually socks: Ryan Connelly says “check out the pic of the Moss game worn uni.” … “I noticed in the coverage of the recent passing of Bobby Thompson that both the Giants and Dodgers were wearing diamond shaped sleeve patches with just a ball and glove during the big game,” says Adam Wagner. “Do you know what that patch was for?” You can see the patch in this photo of Ralph Branca sitting on the clubhouse steps after loss. … Nolan Reagan took this picture of the college football Top 25 in the South Bend Regional Airport. Of course SB is the home of ND & College Football HOF (for now anyways). Says Nolan, “Its a pretty cool display. They have the mini-helmets in order of the TOP 25. I’ve never seen a display like this in any other airport!” … The “other” Mike Hersh informs us the Navy has launched a website for their new uniforms that includes development history and a gallery. … UW mystery: Matt Morice mentions that during the 8/14 game between the Cardinals and Cubs, Kosuke Fukudome started the game wearing a batting helmet with no logo on it. He has searched for a photo or screen grab, but no luck. Anyone? … TJ says: Logo
creep cleat? … Daniel Carroll advises the Mariners are giving away Franklin Gutierrez kids jerseys next weekend, and the photo they’re using of it shows that the jersey has Vertically Arched NOB, though another photo with kids wearing the jersey has Radially Arched NOB. For those who don’t know, the M’s use RANOB. … There’s a new Arena league team, Paul McCluskey declares, the River Wizards. Sweet (also sent in by, of course, Kek as well as Rick Porter). … Caleb Borchers notes a little BFBS is sneaking into New Zealand Rugby. Two teams, North Harbour and Tarnaki, have gone from older jerseys where black was only an element, to these and these. “Even in a country that loves black so much, it strikes me as unimaginative,” remarks Caleb. … For those of us who are bi-lingual, Mike Edgerley has a treat for us: “The goalkeeper Pablo Aurrecochea for Paraguayan soccer club GuaranÃ ditched his club’s shirt sponsor for the Batman logo in Thursday’s Copa Sudamericana tie against River Plate (Uruguay). More details here (in Portuguese). Obrigado, Mike. … Reprinted from last night’s comments: The Padres are dropping the sand from next year’s road uniforms(!) — scroll down to 12:36/12:37. … In a followup, Ricko pointed out that the Padres are doing well this season, so maybe a uni change shouldn’t be considered. “When I was working with Theismann on that Redskins newspaper during the ’83 season, he told me the ”˜Skins were planning on changing to white helmets in ’83, but that idea was scrapped after they beat the Dolphins in the Super Bowl.” … Shaun Tunick sent this pic of David Ross and his matte finish mask. “I have been trying to find a good pic of it for weeks now to send on to you, because i’ve never seen a matte finish on a helmet of any sort in MLB, and i think its really pretty neat looking,” says Shaun. … And finally, Wade Harder has two bits of information about Alabama’s Pro Combat Uniforms by Nike.
OK…another week in the books. Everyone have a great weekend, and don’t forget to wish the old man a happy birthday tomorrow. Ek will take you through the weekend, and next week, I will have all the baseball jersey contest participants submissions for you. See ya Monday.
There’s a little roller up along first, behind the bag… — Vin Scully