Skip to content

New Hue Review

Screen shot 2011-05-25 at 8.03.04 PM.png

I recently got a note from a reader who’d prefer to remain anonymous. Here’s what he had to say:

I recently heard that each NFL team can only have one unique color. For instance, the Dolphins’ unique color is their aqua. Their navy and orange, therefore, have to be the same exact color as the Broncos’ navy and orange (unless one of those is designated as Denver’s unique color). This is done to save money at the league level — they can use the same navy for every team that uses it as a (non-unique) color.

I’d never heard that before, but I was looking closely at a couple and it seems to be right. I was surprised by this — we always talk so much about colors and logos being unique and emotionally tied in, and here we have the biggest league of them all meshing things together.

Intriguing. I could’ve pored over all my style guides and charted the assorted hues used by various teams over the years, but there’s no fucking way I’m gonna waste a day doing that it seemed more efficient to ask ColorWerx honcho Donovan Moore, who’s my go-to guy for color-related questions. He responded almost immediately:

That sounds right. The NBA is even more in that camp. For example, the Bulls, Clippers and Trail Blazers all use different reds as far as printing colors go, but they’re all the same when it comes to fabrics/textiles. Very few unique colors out there. Todd Radom, Tom O’Grady, and I refer to this as the “homogenizing” of the color palettes. It’s obvious that it’s a cost-saving measure.

The Seahawks, incidentally, have TWO unique colors: the “Seahawks Blue,” which is actually a custom Reebok color, not a Pantone color, and the “Bright Green.” No one else in the NFL uses either one of those colors (although the Charlotte Bobcats use that same blue in the NBA). However, the dark navy they use is also used by the Bears, Texans, and Bills — or at least that was the case through 2010.

There’s a bit more diversity in MLB, although I’m not sure why.

Since Donovan tracks this kind of stuff, I asked him if he could identify roughly when this homogenization effect kicked in. His response:

There seem to have been two specific seasons when there were wholesale changes in the NFL: 1997 and 2002. In 1997, for example, almost all of the teams who wore yellow/gold/athletic gold (there’s a whole issue right there) went from Pantone 116C to 1235C. The one exception was the Cardinals, who continued to use 116 for the beak in their logo. In 2002, the teams that wore navy went from 282C to 289C; most of the teams wearing orange went from 172C to 1665C; and so on.

More recently, Reebok has used more custom colors. The 49ers use a custom red, and the Buccaneers use a custom pewter. I suspect that this will change with Nike coming in. I would think that there would be some color changes.

All very interesting. But wait a minute — if teams were all changing from X to Y, that’s not really homogenization, is it? Like, if they were all wearing X to begin with, they were already homogenized no? I put those questions to Donovan, who responded thusly:

You are correct that a lot of them just shifted from one to another, but there were also examples of color shifts for a purpose. One example was when the Jets unveiled their new “throwback” color scheme in ’97, they went with a specific color (Pantone 626C). At the same time, the Packers moved from 553C to 626C. I assume it was to save on stocking two different shades of dark green. Both the Packers and Jets then moved to 5535C in 2002.

Another example is with the Colts and the Cowboys. The Colts had been using Reflex Blue C up until 2001, and the Cowboys had been using 281C. Both changed to 280C in 2002. Also in 2002, some teams using silver went from 877C to 8001C. And surprisingly, all NFL teams that used black in 2001 shifted from black 6C to Process Black C in 2002 — except for the Carolina Panthers, who still use Black 6 to this day. (You following me, camera guy?)

The NBA provides one set of colors as the official “spot” colors, and then another, sometimes different, set of Pantone colors for “production.” For example, the Pistons’ official Pantone colors are Royal Blue 293C, Red 199C, and Navy 282C — those are for logos. But their production colors are Royal Blue 661C, Red 186C and Navy 289C. And those colors match the textile/fabric colors that many other NBA teams use. The Bulls, for example, use Red 200C for logos, but in production colors it gets translated to 186C. And so on, and so on.

Faaascinating. Big thanks to Donovan for sharing his expertise with us.

And as long as we’re talking about color, what do you think Weekend in the Country, Dead Salmon, and Tornado Watch are? No, they’re not indie-rock bands — they’re paint colors. Jeez. That color article, incidentally, includes a link to an interesting site called ColourLovers, which has a section where people can create their own color palettes, many of which are intriguing. Imagine if a team went with these colors, for example. Good site.

+ + + + +

ESPN reminder: In case you missed it yesterday, my latest ESPN column, which includes my point-by-point assessment of the new Bills uniform set, is available here.

Uni Watch News Ticker: New football uniforms for Kentucky. I kinda like the contrasting checkboard sleeves on the road jersey. I fact, I like it so much that I wish they’d used contrasting white-based checkerboard sleeves on the home jersey. ”¦ Jamie Ramsey, who works in the Reds’ PR office, reported last night that this year’s MLB all-stars will wear “star patches” on their caps and jerseys for the week leading up to the game. I’m trying to find out of “star patches” simply means this year’s ASG patch or something else. Will advise. ”¦ Update: Here’s the full info on those all-star patches. … Here’s According to Interesting Japanese baseball situation explained by Jeremy Brahm: “The Chiba Lotte Marines and Yomiuri Giants made a trade this week. One of the players involved Saburoh Ohmura, whose NOB, written in katakana, was Saburo. But at the press conference announcing the trade, the NOB on his new jersey was Ohmura. This goes back to when Ichiro became a star, as teams started having their rookies change their names to katakana to make them look cool. Sadly, most didn’t make it. Ohmura did, so it is odd to see him change back. Maybe he respects the Giants or something.” ”¦ If you go back to that first photo of Saburoh Ohmura, it looks like the catcher is wearing, for lack of a better term, “slanty” eye-black patches, mimicking the look of Asian eyes. I asked Jeremy if this was common in Japan. His response: “I think that most Japanese players don’t wear eye black. Six pro teams play in domed stadiums, so they would not need it. Also, day games are only played on weekends or holidays, so there aren’t many pro games where eye black would be called for.” ”¦ Good piece on Nike’s marketing practices here (with thanks to Robin Griffiths). ”¦ New Rugby World Cup kit for Wales. “Holy cow, can the Under Armour logo get any bigger?” asks Scott Sidor, I presume rhetorically. ”¦ In more rugby news, the All Blacks will reveal a new jersey on July 30 (with thanks to Chris Bisbee). ”¦ Tour de France news from Jeff Mayer, who writes: “Garmin dropped their traditional argyle look in favor of Cervelo’s black design when the two teams merged at the beginning of this season. Thankfully, Garmin has kept up with Cervelo’s tradition of wearing a special white kit for the Tour de France, and they’re bringing back the argyle — beautiful!” ”¦ Did everyone notice that I actually praised Kentucky’s Nike-produced uniforms? Just checkin’. ”¦ Whoa, check out the uniforms that were worn the other day for the Double Duty Classic, a high school all-star game in Chicago. Lots more photos here and here (big thanks to Mike Braam and Eriq Jaffe). ”¦ The U.S. Army has banned toe shoes (with thanks to Chad Todd). ”¦ The AHL’s newest franchise may be called the St. John’s Ice Caps (thanks, Phil). ”¦ Chris Flinn notes that Tigers first case coach Tom Brookens wasn’t wearing a helmet yesterday. ”¦ Good spot by Tim Burke, who noticed that someone was a little sloppy with Marcos Mateo’s NOB. ”¦ The Rays and Cards will be playing a throwback game tomorrow. The Rays, as you know, will dress as the Smokers, and the Cards will dress as the early-’50s version of themselves. Cardinals Hall of Fame Museum manager Brian Finch sent along some photos showing Stan the Man’s 1952 gamer and the resulting throwback based on it. As you can see, no zipper, and Brian says players can wear their pants as long as they want. “I know that some purists won’t like that, but we have to keep the players’ comfort in mind,” he says. Then again, a lot of the Cards have been going high-cuffed lately anyway, so here’s hoping they do so tomorrow as well. ”¦ More throwback action on tap this Sunday in Anaheim, as the Angels take on the Dodgers. Details — including the Halos’ halo cap! — here (with thanks to Michael Smith). ”¦ New soccer kits for AC Milan, Fulham FC, and Portsmouth (all courtesy of Kenny Loo). ”¦ New away strip for Celtic, too (gold star to Anthony Bruno). ”¦ Ryan Dowgin has discovered that BU football had an unusual uni number system back in 1947. ”¦ Odd look yesterday for Rockies reliever Clayton Mortensen, who wore his black vest with a black compression undershirt and a black short-sleeve tee (as noted by Dan Perkey).

Holiday schedule: Phil will handle the weekend, as usual. I’ll check in on Monday, and the site will be open for comments that day. Everyone have a safe and happy holiday weekend.

Comments (161)

    Color names have gotten pretty weird. Recently had to look for a new car. There was one with the color of “Brilliant Black”. That vapid name knocked out an entire manufacturer from my consideration, although the “Smokestone” that I got sounds more like something from a head shop than the color of a car.

    I had a very similar experience last month. Wound up getting a fantastic deal on a still-in-dealer-inventory 2010 model in “Grabber Blue.” The dealer had two basically identical 2010 cars still in stock in that color, even though the 2012s of that model are already out. Apparently, customers hereabouts really didn’t like that color.

    But at least “Grabber Blue” has some history to it, and is actually named after something, unlike most marketing-department color names.

    I find it a little bit messed up that the Browns, Bengals, Broncos, Dolphins & Bears are all forced to use the same orange… yet no one has stepped in and forced the Cowboys to pick ONE blue and ONE silver.

    Actually this isn’t true. The Dolphins use coral, the Broncos use Broncos orange, and the Browns use a brighter/richer orange (which seems to look slightly different every season) that is just a little different from the Bears/Bengals. All of these unique shades constantly cause me a nightmare on Wiki. Pantone and ColorWerx have both done a great job of helping me out.

    According tot he guides, they all use the same sport color orange for print, and the Broncos and Dolphins use the same orange textile, while only the Browns use a different textile color for their orange.

    According to the guides, they all use the same spot color orange for print, and the Broncos and Dolphins use the same orange textile, while only the Browns use a different textile color for their orange.

    This how that should read.

    Since the whole point of “team colors” is the uniform, this raises a philosophical issue for me. A team’s colors are what they wear, not what they say in a style guide or designate for print reproduction. If two teams order their uniforms made of the same fabric, or have their helmets painted with the same dye, then they have the same team color. Period. I don’t care whether one calls it Seaswept Coral and the other calls it Dogpound Russet; if it’s the same fabric or paint on the unis or helmets, those teams have the same team colors.

    Thus the Twins and the Yankees, for example, share the same color of blue, regardless of what each team says about it in their style guides, since their caps are in fact the same color of fabric. And here’s where homogenization comes in: As recently as the late 1980s, the Twins wore a visibly different color of cap fabric from the Yankees. At some point prior to 1998, New Era compressed production such that all teams with navy caps darker than the Indians now use the same fabric as the Yankees. You used to be able to distinguish a couple of different hues of bright red, too, but now all MLB caps share a single bright red and a single brick red. And so forth. The style guide designations in many cases have not changed, but the actual uniforms on the field have, and thus the team’s colors have shifted and become more homogenized. At least in MLB.

    While that may be true for merchandise, their on-field uniforms seem to be this: Denver Broncos “Broncos” orange = RGB 255-102-18 and the Miami Dolphins coral = RGB 249-70-28.

    I find the whole thing odd. Why would the NFL use the same colors for every team that wears said color, in an effort to save on cost?

    It’s not like any of the NFL franchises are going to spend more if their shade of orange is slightly different. And, as for marketing, since NFL merchandise is not all generated from the same manufacturer, it’s not like each manufacturer gets a break on cost because they are using the same color orange ink to print a sweatshirt.

    Non of that adds up. Of course, the NFL does some odd things, so this is entirely plausible.

    Today’s lead entry should have spelled it “colour” in honor – er, honour – of Canada Day, no?

    Or for some of us, our southern neighbors. The Jays wearing flag desecration caps today?

    Excellent piece this morning. You had me at “Pantone.”

    Welsh rugger kit is a disappointment, and not just because of that Under Armor choker. National colors are red and green, and the omission of the green is regrettable if only because I like the red-green combo in general and would love to see more unis with it.

    Jeff Mayer, you missed the Sky Cycling Team going green during the Tour de France in the same article.


    I wonder if they did that to better standout from Garmin-Cervelo’s (pre-new kit)black kit?

    Here’s an entire sports editorial in the Louisville Courier-Journal this morning about sports uniforms:


    … okay, I’m confused by the “katakana” statements, because those NOBs are both in “romaji” (Roman letters). The only difference I see is his going from given-name-on-back to family-name-on-back (we’d say FNOB to LNOB, but in Japan, name order is normally reversed).

    link (kanji is the traditional way to write names in Japan; names written in katakana are more common for names of foreign origin).

    I fully admit to not knowing anything about any of this. I was just going with what Jeremy said, because he’s usually reliable on Japanese stuff.

    Kanji (the picture symbols) translate to Romanji differently than they do to Katakana. Katakana is more of purely phonetic thing.

    So Saburoh (sa-bu-roh) is a bit different than Saburo (sa-bu-ro).

    And yes, the name isn’t actually written in katakana (the phonetic symbols), it’s written in the English translation of the katakana.

    There’s some issue as to how to exactly romanize Japanese names, though, resulting in multiple spellings. Hardly unique to East Asia, either (just look at the myriad ways to spell in English the name of a certain Libyan dictator).

    In Japanese baseball, players register their name at the beginning of the season. This is how they will be called before batting, official statistics, uniforms, etc. Similar to Chad Johnson getting fined for Ochocinco before legally becoming Ochicinco.

    Normally most Japanese players just use their name in kanji. Foreign ball players are registered in katakana (for foreign words). Unless they are from Taiwan or South Korea and then it will also be in Kanji (with a Japanese reading).

    In the early 1990s, the Pacific League (like the AL with the DH, but the less popular league in Japan) was very desperate to advertise itself. The Orix Blue Wave were a decent team but had no big name players. Ichiro Suzuki used his kanji name his first two years, 1992-1993, before going to katakana.

    Ichiro just came out of no where in 1994, so in 1995, many of the Pacific League teams had their rookies do their names in katakana. Saburoh Ohmura was one of them.

    This was how his name was on the scoreboard, in the paper and on his uniform. The Yomiuri Giants are the Japanese version of the Yankees, complete with their holier than thou stance on baseball. They actually wanted to play baseball two weeks after the earthquake and also night games too. But I digress. The Giants never did the katakana name promotion and my guess is that they told him change it, because just like facial hair and the Yankees, it is gone.

    Japanese uniforms are always written with romanization. However, there are different ways of romanization.

    Normally from a western view, we do not say long vowels. However, in Japanese long vowels are very common, so Ichiro and Ichiroh are technically different. Sometimes you will see Ohhayashi, but this is correct because it is a long o to start, then hayashi.

    I was pointing out that player’s never change in the middle of a season, it is just strange. Plus trades do happen, infrequently, and players changing their names on their uniforms just does not happen there during the season.

    It wouldn’t surprise me to find out the NHL teams are sharing colors like that.

    All leagues do it. Instead of stocking 6 different colors of navy blue t-shirts or fabric bolts, you only have to stock 1 or 2, and then you can use the same t-shirts or fabric across multiple teams, eliminating waste.

    Funky color names are cool; I like the depressing descriptions used by Urban Decay Cosmetics (Gash, Roach, Bruise). However, names *should* be evocative, not ambiguous. What kind of colors are Alphabet, Ejector Seat and Dipthong, anyway?

    Nike did Kentucky a solid; duly noted.

    I agree. I enjoy looking through the different shades of paint at a hardware store, mostly just to note the names. Some are cool, some… not so much. I think for me it goes all the way back to my kindergarten days. Who DIDN’T want the 64-count box of Crayola crayons over the lousy 8-pack? Variety is almost always a good thing.

    I wonder how this relates to the college level. I’ve noticed my favorite team’s main color has changed slightly over the years. My alma mater (a D2 team) has went through different shades, as well.

    Haha, holy crap. When I was in early elementary school, the 64 count box was like THE status symbol. It even came with a sharpener on the back of the box.

    Are we to assume then that the current, almost universal football numbering system was ultimately derived from the 1947 BU plan? Except for today’s QBs usually being numbered in the teens the BU scheme is identical to modern football. The NoFunLeague first adopted the system for 1952. Just goes to show that the pros were still then willing to learn something from the colleges.

    Terry: I know the BU system was used in other places as well. The first place I saw it was one of those Bronc Burnett juvenile football books and the author made a point to illustrate that particular numbering system. (And an indication that my numbers obsession started long, long ago.)

    It was used religiously for many years at Odessa Permian, the Friday Night Lights school with quarterbacks like Stoney Case wearing numerals in the 20s.

    Think about it.

    Isn’t it painfully obvious the standardization of colors also is hugely about the benefit to retail production?

    I mean, if you have to produce millions and millions of units (when you stir in jerseys and tees and hats and jackets and hoodies and pennants, et al) it’s a helluva lot more cost-efficient to be able to use the same royal blue or orange (or whatever) pretty much across the board for numerous teams. Buying in bulk is cheaper, remember?

    Yeah, we could have all those nifty custom colors for every team, but those $200 jerseys Paul talks about would very quickly become $300 jerseys.

    And New Era hats would climb to $50 or so.

    More simply…if you’re licensed to produce caps, it’s cost-efficient to know you use same navy blank for virtually every team that wears a navy hat. Interchangeable elements and textiles are essential to keeping costs (and, therefore, prices) down. And profit up.

    Too many colors and too much additional cost for suppliers might drive down licensing fees. It isn’t like TV rights, where sports can sometimes be a loss leader. No one ever said, “Well, we’ll lose money on the jerseys but we’ll make it up in caps.”

    It also helps to reduce the possibility of winding up with 10,000 wrong shaded caps/shirts, that will have to be dumped at a loss, into some third world shit-hole, because someone unloaded the wrong stock at the start of the week

    But like Paul said, the MLB doesn’t standardize as much (or at all?)… and MLB jerseys are priced in line with other leagues.

    One omission from your weekend throwback schedule… the Mariners and Padres re-create 1983 today at Safeco…


    Unless you already mentioned this somewhere and I missed it. :)

    YES!!! Padres in taco colors, the way God intended! Come to think of it, there’s a half-eaten bag of Doritos around here, requiring my full attention…

    in response to the new unis for celtic… it’s a beautiful jersey, really… but WTF? why is this element (“celtic” sticker on the top back) on an “authentic” jersey?!?! so a fan can pay over $100 for something that will be damaged after 4-5 washes?!?! way to think of us! the star on the front is embroidered, was it too much to ask “celtic” be embroidered too?!?! i was on board till i saw that. fail, thanks for trying…


    Ugh, you mean the devil on the back of my new Manchester United shirt is going to fall off in a few washes?

    And the much needed “RELENTLESS” printed on the inside of the shirt, where the club crest is.

    air dry it after a wash and it should be ok. also, i exaggerated the “4-5 wash” time. but still, that’s not a material that should be on an authentic jersey. think 5 years down the line when you’re sitting in a pub watching your team with “C__TIC” on the back of your jersey…

    The UFL’s Virginia Destroyers unveiled their unis and helmet logo yesterday. The latter is just awful: link

    It’s interesting to me that the UFL teams have shifted toward more understated uni designs in the last few years (as compared to the neon green and blue duds from the start of the league) yet all their helmets are some kind of awful.

    I have to say I’m kinda hoping that jersey is used in place of white, rather than as a “dark” color.

    I like how the numbers are Naval vessel style with the drop shadows. The helmet logo isnt that awful…a destroyer creating a V shaped wake? Could have been worse….like a cartoon angry boat.

    Ricko said:

    “Isn’t it painfully obvious the standardization of colors also is hugely about the benefit to retail production?”


    all too true

    and THAT is what is sad…having four orange teams basically having to wear the same color orange BECAUSE OF THE RETAIL SALE is bullshit

    yes. i understand that retail sales drive uniform standardization…

    and yes. i know it will never be the other way around

    but it should

    yeah, but how many mistakes would nike make next season if it had to keep track of 3-4 different shades of orange or navy or yellow? i think they’re better off sharing the colors on the jerseys. IMO, the bears, fins, and bungals should share an orange, and the brownies should make it their unique color

    “how many mistakes would nike make next season if it had to keep track of 3-4 different shades of orange or navy or yellow?”


    i’d venture to say…”NONE”

    now…if you were talking about majestic and baseball unis? then i’d say “lots and lots of em”

    I dunno, merchandising is a MONSTROUS revenue stream for teams.

    It would be insanely bad business to employ color schems that made your gear unaffordable, and drove licensing fees down because production costs were so high.

    Beyond that, from a simple PR point of view…sure, I’d like fans to buy offical gear. But at the same time, if a fan can find a hoody at Wal-Mart than matches my generic royal and help make my stadium a sea of royal while showing his support, I’d want that, too.

    I’d want fans to buy my team’s stuff because they like us, not alienate them because the only way they can wear something in a unique custom team color is to pony up big time.

    Ricko, I’m positive you’re right from a descriptive point of view. That’s absolutely what’s happened – I have no doubt that’s exactly why the Twins now wear darker Yankees-hue ballcaps. New Era probably didn’t even tell any of the teams it was doing that to beforehand. But prescriptively, I’m not persuaded that it’s defensible. For one thing, we’re talking about marginal costs here. It’s not like the Twins insisting on wearing their own non-Yankees, non-Indians shade of navy would double the cost of the cap. We’re talking a few cents per unit, max, of marginal costs. Second, since most merchandising contracts are done at the league level these days, that marginal cost wouldn’t drive up the price of Twins merch by a few pennies per unit versus the rest of the league; it would drive up the cost of the entire league’s merchandise by a few pennies divided by 30 – which is to say, the price at retail would increase by zero for everybody, instead of by a couple of pennies only for the Twins. If I’m the Twins, and a decision to stand firm on team colors costs me zero dollars, with any marginal costs being shared equally by the 29 other teams, how is that even a decision?

    And the day that New Era tells MLB, or any individual team, that it really needs them to stop wearing their own actual uniforms and instead just have their logos stitched onto Yankees blanks to save New Era a few pennies in marginal production costs, that should be the day someone points out to New Era the clause in every commercial contract I’ve ever seen that names failure to deliver to customer specifications as a default releasing customer from the contract. Which is to say, if New Era won’t deliver caps in the right color, American Needle or Zephyr or Reebok probably will.

    A few pennies? You do realize that gets doubled for ever vendor along the way, right? Markup is where the profit comes from. No profit, no reason to be in business.

    That generally means charging twice (or so) what you paid to produce it. To the retailer. Who then doubles it again for the consumer. “Passing the cost along to the consumer” is, in effect, doubling every markup that’s come before it.

    (Unless you’re Wal-Mart; then you can negotiate a price so low you actually drive your supplier out of business).

    I’ll say it again. Complicate production—make it more costly—and you will ultimately drive down licensing fees…and almost certainly also drive up retail prices.

    The world should be a lot of things.
    But this is retailing and, as I’ve said, there is far too much money in it for the major sports to screw around and be picky.

    That’s why I get the NFL’s policy. If I’m licensee, I need to know that for every precise Aqua for one team, I can use the same Orange for every other team that wears Orange.

    “the day that New Era tells MLB, or any individual team, that it really needs them to stop wearing their own actual uniforms and instead just have their logos stitched onto Yankees blanks to save New Era a few pennies…”


    +1 to scotty

    totally agree

    and not to argue with ricko (who is right about the business model)…but this is THE ENTIRE REASON WE HAVE SO MANY ARGUMENTS on here

    the suppliers (nike, majestic, reebox, 3 stripes) are dictating TO THE TEAMS what their uniforms will look like so they can sell $200 instead of $300 polyester shirts to people who apparently have that kind of disposable income

    and i’m sorry, but that is just wrong

    there is NO WAY IN HELL the uni makers should be dictating ANY TERMS to the teams

    “this is minnesota navy … produce it”

    “um, no, you see, we make far more yankee fan caps, so you’ll just have to use their midnight blue”

    “oh, i see…well, carry on then”

    enjoy your yankee retreads twins fans

    that seems right

    Hasn’t it always been that way, to a point?

    I mean, we’ve had old uniform catalogs posted before… your pick from the following colors, etc.

    Essentially the team says “we want green jerseys” and the uniform maker says “ok, lime, aqua, kelly or forest?”. Not that Nike shouldn’t be able to produce any color under the sun at this point, but limited color choices hardly seems like a new problem.

    Ricko, your argument about the multiplying effect of the marginal production cost would be true if we were talking about a commoditized product with a low marginal profit. But we’re not. The commoditized market price of a fitted ballcap is probably about $12, since that’s about the lowest you’ll ever see a blank or generic-logo fitted cap sell for. So there’s about $22 in brand-value profit per unit above whatever marginal profit is available to the maker at the commodity price. So, and let’s be wildly liberal in our estimates here, if delivering actual team colors rather than homogenized colors adds $1 to the marginal costs of producing each unit, that doesn’t shift the retail price of a commoditized product up by $3-$5, it subtracts $1 from the total available profit on each unit. And since the costs of the merchandising deal are born at the level of the league contract, rather than per team, that $1 in lost potential profit has to be divided across the entire range of MLB caps. So rather than multiplying into a $3 price increase, that $1 in marginal production cost divides into 3¢ of lost profit per cap.

    If all 30 teams insisted on distinct colors, then the division no longer works, and we’re just talking about bumping the price of every cap up by $1. But since we’re really only dealing with 4 to 6 distinct new hues, we’re talking about a potential loss of profit (or increase in retail price) of about 15¢ per unit per $1 in increased marginal production cost. That’s not nothing, but it’s orders of magnitudes less than the nightmare tripling-of-retail-price scenario you describe.

    Now, for t-shirts and other items that aren’t sold as “authentic” or on-field replicas, we probably are dealing with much closer to commodity pricing, so your argument probably holds for those products. But nobody is complaining that the color of a Twins t-shirt isn’t exactly the same as the color of an on-field Twins cap.

    Okay, bottom line.

    It’s to the teams’ advantage to make production as reasonably easy as possible, to streamline it, not to complicate it with picky little demands.

    You want potential licensees falling all over themselves offering big money because they can make even MORE money…and YOU can, too.

    Teams getting individually fussy is, overall, a lose-lose. In general, combinations inside a somewhat limited color palette is a better template for everyone.


    Objectively speaking, not subjectively.

    Objectively speaking, not subjectively.

    But if we apply that line of reasoning consistently, then we must also conclude – objectively now, not subjectively – that it would also be advantageous for the Twins to dispense with a TC logo and just wear Yankees caps entirely. No need to get individually fussy, right? (Obviously not: This is an absurd conclusion. Although the Yankees are the best-selling cap out there, MLB will sell more caps total by offering 30 different designs than it will sell by simply offering the one most popular design. Because offering customer choice expands the market, the marginal cost of producing a TC cap in addition to an NY cap is negative. Why then, speaking objectively of course, would this fundamental market force, which of course is the mechanism on which all branding works, not apply equally to color choice?)

    Anyway, how is insisting on a consistent application of one’s individual brand identity lose-lose? I don’t ask rhetorically: Literally, what would the Twins lose by insisting on using their own actual hue of navy rather than the Yankees’ darker hue? I have not seen a credible case made that the Twins would stand to lose a single penny in actual revenue – the league-wide licensing agreement would seem not to work that way. Maybe, back in the day, when teams cut their own uniform-supply and merchandising deals, sure, but that’s not how it works now.

    Of COURSE each team having no more than one special color isn’t a problem. That’s the whole point for NFL discussion at the top.

    I didn’t say it would be. Said it would a problem if there were no standardizations of colors whatoever, if everything was custom.

    What would be a problem for licensees would be nine shades of navy, six shades of red, four different oranges and three teals, etc. THAT’s the point I was trying to make. Multiple use, as much a possible, is good for everyone, especially on secondary colors. But, also, a little uniqueness is good for marketing.

    Sweet Satchel Paige, those link are beautiful.

    Absolutely love the thick shoulder stripes on the link, they’re a very strong uni element that has been under utilized in MLB for years. Last team I can remember using shoulder stripes was the Tigers on their 1994 away grays.

    It’s funny to me that the Tigers would adopt those “racing stripes” after everybody else that still had them dumped them following the ’93 season. It was one of those “What were they thinking?” moments for sure…

    Quick look through Dressed to the Nines, confirms 1994 Tigers were the last MLB team to use shoulder stripes. Time to revive the stripe.

    Time to revive the stripe.

    Agreed. My candidates would be, roughly in order, Cardinals, Nationals (as a Grays homage), Tigers, Rays.

    I’d also like to see Mets/Expos/Phillies-style racing stripes (thicker, no headspoon) come back. And pillbox caps. As long as we’re compressing all baseball teams into the very limited color palette of three shades of blue and two shades of red, we need much more variety in form to compensate for the homogeneity of hue.

    I’m still upset they decided to go with Nationals instead of Grays in the first place. Sure it’s not the most colorful name [pun intended], but the 10 seconds spent explaining the moniker would’ve been priceless.

    Me, too.

    I love that the majors have traditional team names from the International League, Pacific League and American Association.

    The Negro Leagues should be represented as well.

    If these NFL teams gave a shit, they’d do something about it. You’d never see the University of Texas change from burnt orange just so Nike could run off some shirts the same day they did Syracuse and Illinois. No, I’m sure they figure, “Our colors are x and y, and as long as reasonable fans and casual observers can identify these colors (even these standardized ones) with our team, while keeping costs down, then what’s the big fucking deal?” And I don’t think there’s anything wrong with that.

    And, if Texas were under the NFL edict, the Burnt Orange would be their unique color.

    So the example doesn’t quite work.

    And of course I know you know we aren’t talking about the licensees who “run off a few shirts.” This is about retailing at 40,000 feet, not at crop dusting level.

    Although, if Nike also holds the rights to produce tees shirts, jackets, hoodies, etc., I wouldn’t put it past them to be dreaming a day when all NFL teams have unique colors that can only be purchased by buying offical Nike gear. None of this “get a navy hoody at Wal-Mart”, nossiree. Buy from us or get shut out.

    My point, Ricko, was that the NFL teams that have gone to these standardized colors don’t consider them to be unique, or unique enough to bitch about. It’s not “Halas Orange”, it’s orange. Not a big deal.

    And yes, I’m aware that we’re talking about macro-level retailing. I was trying to get at the idea that Nike might try to get them to change their colors to simplify their (Nike’s) manufacturing process. I apologize if that wasn’t clear to you.

    Yeah, had a feeling we were on the same page so opted for a nicely vague comment about the industry in general. :)

    I doubt most fans/consumers can even differentiate between subtle hue differences – assuming they get produced correctly in the first place.

    Also, remember that the knife cuts both ways – the same guy adding snot green to the Seahawks palette to stand out in the marketplace is probably asking the manufacturer if he can get a better price by using standard colors.

    I remember a couple decades ago when Washington State seemed odd by wearing multiple game helmets. Seems like that’s more or less become standard now.

    I went to the link, but they have a curious listing of sizes – they start with 8 1/4 and 8 1/8, then list 6 3/4 through 7 1/2. Odd.

    And New Era’s site doesn’t list this with the other Angels caps currently.

    This discussion brings me back to my idea of what might be the softest job on the planet:

    Naming paint colors (or, say, colors for running shoes).

    For one thing, you’re never really wrong, even if they don’t use one of your ideas.

    Only thing as soft might be standing at Target and saying, “There’s no waiting on Aisle 12”. Takes less talent than naming paint colors, yes, but you do have to do it standing, so it still finishes second.

    Aisle 12 at Target? Even if the store has 12 checkouts, I’ve never seen a Target that has more than 2 or 3 of them open – and never an express checkout. I’m usually the guy with two items standing behind a lady with a jam-packed cart of crap. I swear, I didn’t think any store could do checkouts worse than Walmart, but I think Target has them beat. And I like Target, but… sheesh.

    “Put myself through college working retail”


    so not going there ;)

    I mean, I don’t think being the “vacant counter crier” is that person’s only job.

    Please, Lord, let the Cardinals adopt those throwbacks full time! Something about the unrelieved red in their home duds has always offended mine eye.

    So the stars will be on the rear of a player’s regular uniform? Will those same home white/ road gray uniforms then be brought with the player to Phoenix?

    The Garmin-Cervelo kit is fantastic. Are there any plans for a team-by-team uni breakdown for the TdF, Paul?

    (if not, I may be able to whip up something over the weekend)

    Will do, Phil. I can probably throw together an outline or something before I leave work today.

    Otherwise, I may come up empty handed, just got roped into helping a friend move this weekend.

    ok cool…either way, i have an article for tomorrow, but it’d be great to have a t-b-t breakdown


    No probs, amigo. It’s a little slow around the office anyway.

    I’ll get it off to you before I leave at 2.

    I wish the MLB with go with a standard blue because the royals and the dodgers have nice hats that match their unis. My cubbies on the otherhand have “purplish” caps that don’t match the rest of their uniform.

    MLB does go with standard colors. The Cubs and Dodgers use the same dark royal.

    Pretty sure the Royals use the lighter version also worn by the Brewers.

    Perhaps it’s the touch of red that makes the Cubs’ caps look purple?

    Taiwanese baseball is awesome. From Fangraphs, link.

    Stats include such highlights as “I Hit the Face,” “No Four Dead,” and “Pirates of the Base Resistance Kill.” Why doesn’t American baseball have those?

    (Obviously just broken auto-translation, which raises the question of why episodes of Star Trek never showed Kirk silently mouthing, “What?” and Uhura shrugging in response as the universal translator rendered the alien captain on the screen saying “complete vote” over and over.)

    Japanese, South Korean and Taiwanese leagues spent little money advertising their leagues in English. Hence if someone asks for a uniform from those markets, it is nearly impossible to get unless you are physically in that country.

    Hit by pitch is a dead ball in pictographs in Japanese.

    Yeah. But at least it’s a fairly subtle, small addition — could be worse. I’d like to see how it looks on an actual jersey or cap, but my initial reaction is that it’s OK.

    If Reyes gets voted in, you will likely not see it on his jersey at all

    Re: Kentucky’s new unis.

    With the checkerboard pattern on the sleeves, are they subtlety trying to channel Secretariat’s old racing silks pattern? Just wondering.


    I don’t understand why Kentucky would incorporate a design motif associated with one of its link into its uniforms.

    My mind was blown thinking about the Packers and Jets have the same green. I feel this is blasphemy that the Pack has to share their green.

    Lexington tends to refer to the checkerboard pattern on Kentucky unis as Secretariat silks.

    The all-star stars’ should either be a single star above the cap logo or two on the side of the logo.

    My uncle who is in the Navy is serving in Kuwait right now with the Army. I wonder if the banned his toe shoes he wears over there?

    “Good piece on Nike’s marketing practices here”

    Not sticking up for Nike’s practices at all, but I am bemoaning how the state of journalism is in the terlet, based on the opening lines of that article:

    “In a month or so, I’ll be driving through Oregon, and I’m already reminding myself to resist the temptation to make a particular detour. Otherwise, I know I shall find myself hovering near the perimeter wire of Nike World, overcome by the bathos of it all, and sighing: ‘I sort of expected it to look eviller.’
    Nike World, as you know, is the headquarters of Nike, and such places are always best enjoyed in the imagination. In my head, Nike World takes the form of one of the Bond villain hideouts…”

    So given the opportunity, wouldn’t one want to see things as they really are? Isn’t that what journalism is supposed to be? At least Paul realizes the folks at Nike are human beings. I believe he’s even casually chummy with some of them (and yes, Paul, I noticed that you praised their Kentucky uniform). This writer? Sounds as if she wouldn’t bother to meet anyone there, but would prefer to see them in her own distorted view.

    The Stuff of Nighmares…

    Paul, strappd to a table at NikeWorld, laser beam approaching.

    Phil Knight chortles, “Nooo, Mr. Lukas, I expect you to DIE.”

    (I’d say this is where Pussy Galore rescues him, but that’s more an Enron scenario, isn’t it.)

    Wow, the Blue Jays “Canada Day” game may be tough to watch. What a combo:
    Cap link
    Jersey link

    I wonder what the Phillies will be wearing?

    No, sir. I don’t like it at all.

    Uniforms aren’t the place for personal or political statements. Don’t like the Stars & Stripes silliness, don’t like this.

    The ‘Jays should have gone the next step, and at least worn red batting helmets.


    the writer can get something so right and so wrong in the space of one graf…

    “They never, ever should wear their dark blue tops. They’re batting practice jerseys. The best thing they put on now are the Sunday-go-to-meeting Marine camouflage jerseys and caps, which not only are distinctive and appropriate in this town, but if the lighting’s right, you can’t see them swing and miss with runners in scoring position.”

    no dude…the camo’s may be appropriate for armed forces day…as a one-off

    /sorry, walt

    Talk about logo creep. That keeper uniform in the new Fulham uni set features at least 20 Kappa logos. Is there a record for most logos on one uniform?

    Not counting auto racing?

    Manchester United’s home shirt from 98-2000 had a single Umbro logo on the chest, and then stripes filled with their diamond logo going down the sleeve from the shoulder. I’d imagine the long-sleeved variations had a TON.

    Kappa’s been doing that for a long time. Remember US track and field at the ’84 Olympics?


    Looking at the side by sides of the Cards’ actual old uni and the throwbacks isn’t fair. You have the warmth and character of wool versus the sterile cold grey poly-whatever. I was really hoping Under Armor’s faux flannel technology would have caught on by now. EVERYONE is doing throwbacks. There is a market for it. I’m sure more than one team would jump to make that their standard road grey. Come ON Majestic!

    It’s a misleading graphic. The Yankees have always had a short porch in right and have always loaded their roster with lefty hitters to take advantage of it (the original stadium wasn’t just the House That Ruth Built — it was the House Built for Ruth).

    So while the Mets do indeed play in a spacious ballpark, many of the homers to right field at Yankee Stadium would just be fly balls at MANY stadia, not just at Shea.

    Mets fan for near four decades, and I like the Great Wall of Flushing

    “Indirectly I played a pivotal role in [Seastrunk signing with Oregon],” Lyles said.

    Indirectly, he played a pivotal role. Ain’t that a peach?

    The FA unveiled a new away jersey for England soccer with a video featuring boxer David Haye/


    Interesting article. Though I wish teams didn’t have to share the same colors. For some reason that doesn’t seem right, even though it probably doesn’t matter in the big scheme of things.

    By the way, if anyone is in need of sports equipment, I have a website where I sell all kinds. I’ve got everything from baseball batting cages to golfballs, so take a look and go ahead and make a purchase. It’s

    It’s amazing with what they can do with those soccer kits year after year with new ones all the time. I suppose it’s all $$$$.

    They even have a boxer, David Haye, launching the new England one…which looks like a polo shirti IMHO.

    Oh, what a disaster in Orlando for Military Appreciation Night.

    Preds wearing camo shoulders and numbers.

    Angels wearing their LA caps with the halos tonight! The batting helmets do not have the halos though. If my memory is correct when they had CA on the caps, the batting helmets had the halos. Anyone know if the LA batting helmets had the halos? Little help?

    I’m sure they are not 100% historically accurate, but as a big time Tony Gwynn fan (check my Uniwatch membership card), I love the 80s Throwbacks on the Pads and Mariners tonight.


Comments are closed.