Skip to content

Question Time, Vol. 2

Screen shot 2012-09-05 at 8.28.47 PM.png

Here we go with another round of Question Time, in which I answer queries submitted by readers. Without further ado:

What is the significance of the 7 in the Uni Watch banner logo?
The 7 under the magnifying glass represents a closer look at uniforms. We used 7 because it’s one of my favorite numbers. (It’s also used on my membership card.)

What is the official NFL rule on how many pairs of pants a team can wear during a season, and was it amended as part of the new contract with Nike?
To my knowledge, there is no such rule.

If you could be any kind of tree, what kind of tree would it be?
A sugar maple, because my leaves would look especially beautiful each autumn.

What was the driving force behind the each of the Big Four pro sports leagues consolidating its uniforms under a single manufacturer?
Interesting question. For those who are too young to remember, it wasn’t all that long ago — the late ’90s — that MLB uniforms were made by two different companies (Majestic and Russell Athletic), NFL uniforms were made by three different companies (Puma, Adidas, and Nike), and so on. But then each league began bringing all its uniforms under one manufacturing umbrella, which is the situation we have today.

Some of this, I’m sure, is to ensure consistency of product for retailing, and a more efficient supply pipeline for same. It also reflects the consolidation of league operations on other fronts. At one point, for example, every MLB team had its own web site design; now they all use the same web template.

There may also be financial advantages to negotiating a uniform deal with one company, as opposed to splitting up the pie among several companies. But I don’t know enough about that to say one way or the other.

I’ve wondered about these embroidered wool squares (approx. 12″ x 12″) since I purchased them about 10 years ago at a Goodwill in St. Cloud, Minnesota, for a buck apiece. I am unsure of their origin. Do you know anything about them?
Wow, those are nice! Never seen those before, unfortunately, so I can’t speak to their origin or purpose.

Why is Wisconsin one of your favorite places?
Sometimes you’re in a place and it feels Just Right, and that’s how Wisconsin felt to me when I first visited it in 1996. Specifically, I like the landscape (lots of rolling hills and inland lakes), I like the three Bs (beer, bowling, and bratwurst), I like frozen custard, I like the state’s progressive heritage (Milwaukee had four socialist mayors in the 1900s, although Paul Ryan and Scott Walker are doing their best to undo that legacy), and I especially love the way small-town Wisconsin life revolves around the local tavern. Wisconsin taverns tend to be family places, with grandma kibitzing in the corner and kids often running around, along with dad nursing his fourth beer. Wholesome yet divey — I like that duality.

I realize it sounds a little funny to say, “I like this place because of its bars,” but Wisconsin’s tavern culture is a big part of the state’s identity, and I really enjoy that.

Also: I like the accent.

Did you read Julie Powell’s book that followed, Julie & Julia? Any thoughts on her “internship” at Fleisher’s?
This question refers to Julie Powell, whose early-2000s cooking blog, called the Julie/Julia project, was the basis for a book, which in turn became the basis for a movie. Powell’s second book, called Cleaving, is about, among other things, her butchery training at Fleisher’s, the upstate butcher shop where I’ve taken courses (and for which I briefly blogged last year).

I think the Julie/Julia concept was pretty fucking brilliant, and I respect the fact that Powell did the full-on butchery training (I only did a junior version of what she did), but I’m not a big fan of her writing style. I read a few online samples of Cleaving when it came out, which was more than enough for me to be able to tell that I didn’t want to read the whole thing.

If a football player legally changes his name to a corporate sponsor such as Pepsi, should he be allowed to wear that name on his jersey?
I think every player should be able to wear his legal name on his jersey, whether that name is Johnson, Ochocinco, or Pepsi. (The wisdom of changing one’s name to Pepsi is a completely different question.)

If you had the power to give any city a professional team in any sport, what city, sport, and why. Please expand on this as you see fit with a team name, logos, or colors.
I’d have every league add a team in Honolulu, just to see how much chaos it would cause with travel schedules and viewing habits. I’d leave the name, colors, etc. to others, however.

If you were given the opportunity to redesign one team’s uniform for each of the Big Four sports leagues, which teams would you do, and what would you do?
The teams most in need of redesigning are clearly the Padres, Bengals, Kings (NBA), and Stars. (Yes, I rated the Avs lower than the Stars in the Uni Watch Power Rankings, but the Avs just need some tweaks, not an overhaul.) But I’m not a designer, so I’m not proposing specific changes — sorry.

Why did some NFL teams like Washington and Cincinnati have jerseys with several different number fonts at the same time back in the 1980s?
Several NFL teams had inconsistent numbering protocols in the 1970s and ’80s. Quality control wasn’t as stringent then as it is now, and sometimes it had to do with some jerseys being numbered up at the factory and others being numbered by the team’s local sewing shop.

During women’s college lacrosse games, I sometimes see the refs stop play, take a stick from one player on each team, hold each of them up individually to his eye like he’s looking through the scope on a sniper rifle, and return them to the players. What is going on?
I have no idea.

If you could live anywhere else in the world, and do anything else as a profession, would you?
For the most part, I can live anywhere. There’s nothing keeping me in Brooklyn — as long as I have an internet connection, I can be a freelance writer from pretty much anyplace. I guess there are fancy, expensive places to live that would be beyond my reach, like the South of France, but I tend not to like fancy places anyway.

Like most New Yorkers, I have relocation fantasies (mine tend to revolve around upstate, Chicago, Wisconsin, and New Zealand), but I’ve never come close to acting on any of them, in part because I hate moving and in part because I genuinely like where I am.

As for my work, I’m extremely fortunate to make a living by writing about things that interest me. Doesn’t get any better than that, so I’m happy to say I don’t have any fantasies about getting a new profession.

How do you have the discipline to get your work done at home instead of watching TV all day? Also, don’t you get lonely working by yourself? Do you ever go work at a coffee shop or something like that?
Working at home isn’t for everyone, but I find it suits me. I like my apartment, I like having the cats around, I like being able to lie down for a quick nap, I like being able to run errands around my neighborhood, and so on. I occasionally miss the camaraderie and collaboration that come with a traditional workplace, but I sure don’t miss commuting, stupid meetings, lame-o small talk in the elevator, worthless memos, office politics, etc. After 16-plus years of working on my own, I think I’m now pretty unemployable in any conventional sense — can’t imagine going back to an office.

As for the need for discipline, people ask me about that all the time, but I really like my work, so it never feels like a chore and it doesn’t take any discipline to get it done. If anything, it sometimes takes some discipline to stop working.

Daytime TV has never interested me (well, unless the Mets are playing a weekday afternoon game). I used to listen to music for most of the day while working, and I still do sometimes, but in recent years I’ve found myself shifting more and more to the radio, because I’ve found that I prefer to hear a live voice. I guess it makes me feel a bit less isolated.

I never work at a coffee shop or any other off-site venue (unless I’m traveling or something like that). Frankly, it has never occurred to me to do so. Like I said, I like my apartment, so I’m not necessarily looking to escape from it during the day. (Working at home does make me a little itchier to go out at night, however, so I try to do that.)

For a while you were showing only the first part of each new entry on the home page and then we had to click “Continue Reading,” and then you stopped doing that. What’s the deal?
We tried that format for a while because some of our advertisers were getting pushed waaaay down the page, so we wanted to keep them a bit higher up. But the “Continue Reading” link proved to be very unpopular with readers, plus there were things I didn’t like about it myself, so we scrapped it and went back to the old format. But we may have to make up for it by making a different advertising-related adjustment soon — stay tuned.

How often do you go up to Bristol? Do you see the “famous” ESPN people when you’re there?
I find myself in Bristol about twice a year, usually for editorial meetings or planning sessions of some sort. It’s a little less than a three-hour drive, and I always stop at Blackie’s for a hot dog. Usually I’ll stay the night at a local hotel (ESPN picks up the tab for this), because I hate having to do a long-ish drive both ways in one day. Earlier this year I decided not to spend the night and tried to scoot home, but I ended up rushing and got a speeding ticket. Serves me right.

As a freelancer, you often don’t know the faces or even the voices of the people you work with, so I always enjoy getting to spend a little time with my editors and, especially, with the other writers. Also, it’s good to meet the copyeditors, photo editors, video editors, and other support staffers who help make our work look good. This makes me feel a bit more like I’m part of the family, so to speak. (Back in the 1990s, when I wrote for a bunch of different New York-based magazines, I always loved the annual holiday parties, because that was when I’d get to meet everyone. But then budgets got tighter and they stopped inviting freelancers to the parties, and then many magazines stopped having holiday parties altogether. So now I rarely get to know the staffs of the places I write for, which I find disappointing both personally and professionally.)

The offices are on a different floor (and maybe in a different building) than the TV offices, so I almost never see any of the TV talent during my Bristol visits unless I’m attending a company-wide meeting. Occasionally we’ll have lunch at the company cafeteria and someone will point out one of the TV bigshots, or maybe an athlete will be visiting, but that’s about it. While I have plenty of respect for what the TV people do, I’m not particularly star-struck by them, so I don’t really care about seeing them. I’m more interested in seeing the people I work with.

Does ESPN ever limit how critical you can be of manufacturers, teams, or players in your articles on their site? Or can you say pretty much whatever you want?
ESPN, like any media outlet, has certain standards and rules. We’re never allowed to make a joke regarding an athlete’s injury, for example, and we can’t criticize other sports media outlets (so my Wayne Hagin rants couldn’t be published on ESPN). And of course there’s certain language I use here on my blog (“douchebaggery,” say) that won’t fly on ESPN.

Also, sometimes my editors and I will butt heads over certain content. One time, for example, I did a column on uniform misspellings, and I wanted to include the now-(in)famous photo of the Nigger Island baseball team, because the guy in the center of the back row has “Ilsand” instead of “Island,” which has always struck me as a perfect example of “Stupid is as stupid does.” But my editors felt the photo would be too inflammatory, so I wasn’t allowed to use it.

But I’ve never been told to tone down my critique of a uniform, a team, or a manufacturer. Never.

If the Vikings reversed their color scheme and swapped what is now purple with what is now yellow (ahem, “gold”), and vice-versa, would that make for a better uniform?
I don’t think so. Although we all know how I feel about purple, I don’t think color is at the root of the Vikings’ problems. The problem is the ridiculous pants piping, the ridiculous side panels on the jerseys, and the rounded number font. If they went back to their classic look, that’d be fine. I’d still be annoyed by the purple, but that’s who they are. At least then they’d look like a football team, not like a bunch of clowns.

I was wondering what your setup is like for all of your work. Do you bring a camera with you? (If so, what kind?) Are you taking notes by hand, working directly into a computer? What kind of computer are you working on? Do you use things like Evernote to catalog information? What program do you use to do the actual blogging?
I do my writing on a Mac desktop computer and a MacBook Pro laptop. I switch back and forth between them at my apartment depending on my mood, which room I feel like working in, etc. I sync my files with Dropbox.

I do all my writing in Microsoft Word. For this blog, I copy/paste the text into the site’s back end (which runs on WordPress); if I’m writing something for ESPN or some other venue, I just e-mail the Word file to my editor. Either way, I include all the HTML coding within the text.

For photos, I have a basic point/shoot model — a Canon PowerShot SD 850. For video, I used to use a Flip, but now I’m more inclined to use the video function on my PowerShot or on my iPhone.

I’ve always been terrible at taking notes while interviewing someone (I find that taking notes distracts me from the next question I wanted to ask, and asking questions distracts me from taking proper notes), so I usually just record the interview and transcribe it later. For this I use an Olympus digital recorder, which is about the size of a pack of gum. I hate transcribing the files — like, really hate it — but such is life.

I’ve never heard of Evernote, which I’m sure says much more about me than it does about Evernote. I imagine there are all sorts of useful software and hardware tools out there that I know nothing about, mainly because I work by myself at home. If I were in an office with lots of other journalists, I suspect I’d be exposed to lots of useful apps, techniques, and so on, just by osmosis. This is probably the worst aspect of working at home.

I loved Beer Frame. Any chance you’d ever do another issue?
For the uninitiated, Beer Frame: The Journal of Inconspicuous Consumption was a zine I published from 1993 through 2000. It was mostly about picky little details of consumer culture; if you’re curious, you can see a bit of the material from the project here.

I stopped publishing Beer Frame because I felt like I’d said most of what I had to say on that front — the project felt like it had run its course. Every now and then, though, I’ll come up with a very Beer Frame-ish idea that I want to pursue. This happened just a few weeks ago, in fact, and I’ll be telling you about it shortly — possibly as soon as tomorrow. I doubt I’ll ever do another issue of the zine, though.

Are Uni Watch members who find themselves in the NYC area permitted, allowed, encouraged, or restrained from stopping by the Uni Watch HQ to say “Hello” and “Thank you” in person?
My address is in the book, so I can’t stop someone from showing up and ringing my doorbell. Nobody’s ever done that, although several people have said, “I’m coming to town — maybe we could meet up for a drink?” Sometimes I say yes, sometimes no, depending on my mood, my schedule, etc. In general, I’d prefer that people check in with me first instead of showing up unannounced. But if you think you’re the kind of person who could turn a pop-in visit into a spontaneous little adventure, then give it a shot. Worst that can happen is that I’ll show up at the door with a harried look on my face and tell you, “Sorry, I’m busy.”

You said you go for a bike ride every day in Prospect Park. What kind of bike do use?
I ride a Trek 7.5 FX (mine is sort of a faint gold/nickel color, not black). I purchased it from former Uni Watch bench coach Bryan Redemske, who now manages a bike shop out in Omaha. He gave me a price break on the bike and shipped it to me, and then I had it assembled by a shop in my neighborhood.

How do teams decide/are allowed to wear the name of a city, state (Minnesota Twins) or region (Carolina Panthers)?
Good question. Sometimes there are legalities involved. When the Marlins got their new stadium built, for example, they had to agree to change their name to the Miami Marlins. But I have no idea why all the Twin Cities teams are called Minnesota, or how the Florida Panthers got their name. Perhaps some Uni Watch readers will fill us in.

If you had the opportunity to play any professional sport, at any level, for any team and any position, what would your choice be?
I’d pitch for the Mets, natch. And given the current state of their bullpen, I’d probably be an upgrade.

How much longer do you expect to continue on the uni beat?
A lot of that has to do with ESPN. My current contract with them runs through next March, but there’s a one-year option, which they have to exercise or decline by mid-December of this year. Assuming they exercise it — which I hope will be the case — I’ll be doing this at least through March of 2014. If they decline the option and cut me loose, I might have to find other things to do starting next spring (although I’d like to think I could hook on at a place like Yahoo Sports or

But for the sake of argument, let’s assume there’s some demand for my uni-centric services (whether from ESPN or from elsewhere). Like many people, I tend to think in terms of five-year plans. My current hope is that I will no longer be writing about uniforms five years from now. But a lot can happen in five years (or five days), and we all know about the best-laid plans of mice and journalists, so we shall see.

Do you think any colors, other than black and purple, are overdone in major pro sports uniforms? Are there any colors or color combos you’d like to see more of?
Red has clearly been overused in recent years, and gray is way out of control on the college level. If someone said too many teams wear blue, it’d be hard to argue with that, but blue is such a good color for uniforms — tough to blame people for using it.

I’ve argued for years that green is underused. That’s especially true in hockey and basketball. (I understand why it isn’t used as much in baseball and especially football, since it would blend in with the field, but I’d still like to see more of it.)

Why do you insist on using words like “shit” and “fuck”? Don’t you know profanity is for lazy writers?
Tell that to Stephen King, Bill Shakespeare, and just about every other great writer — they all used profanity. The whole thing about profanity being for lazy writers is a useful fiction for junior high English teachers to tell 12-year-olds, because you don’t want a bunch of junior high kids cursing all the time, but that’s all it is — a fiction. (You know what’s a much better example of laziness? Parroting clichés like “Profanity is for lazy writers” without thinking them through.)

The fact of the matter is that “shit” and “fuck” and the like are perfectly fine words that have their uses. I wouldn’t want to use them in every sentence (and I don’t), but they’re part of a writer’s toolkit. They can provide emphasis, humor, outrage, mockery, and so on. Employed judiciously, there’s nothing wrong with them.

Of course, your definition of “judiciously” may differ from mine, but that’s life. I often try to write in a way that mirrors the way I speak, and I sometimes use words like “shit” and “fuck” when I’m talking, so I also use them when I’m writing. Simple as that.

I remember the post you wrote the day after President Obama was elected. You mentioned wearing your brother’s class ring [in the second graf]. What is the significance of this ring?
My brother Henry died of cancer when I was 23 (he was 35). I miss him a lot. One of the things I got after he died was his class ring from high school, which is the same high school I attended. When I want to feel close to him, I’ll take out the ring and wear it for a day, or a few hours, or whatever. I wore it when I attended Game Five of the 2000 World Series, for example, because I know Henry would have enjoyed seeing a Subway Series here in New York. And I wore it on Election Day in 2008, because Henry would have been amazed to see a black man on the cusp of being elected President.

When my father died in 2009, I got his class ring from college, and I sometimes wear that as well. Oddly enough, I don’t know what happened to my own high school ring (which had a green stone, natch) — I lost it somewhere along the way. And I never got a college class ring.

What are the five best food-related team names? I vote for the New Berlin (Illinois) Pretzels.
Any such list has to begin with the Montgomery Biscuits. After that, everyone is far, far behind.

As a Brooklyn resident, what’s your opinion on the Nets’ move to Brooklyn and their chance of taking a nick out of the Knicks’ fan base?
Although I’m strongly opposed to the new arena, I’m into the idea of Brooklyn having its own team. Should be interesting to see how the Knicks/Nets dynamic evolves. There are definitely enough fans in the city to support two teams, and I think the rivalry (if one develops) will be good for both franchises.

You’ve mentioned that your back-yard smoker is a Big Green Egg. I’ve been considering getting one, but they’re pricey. Are you happy with yours?
Let me tell you a little story about my Big Green Egg: Back in 2003ish, I was doing a story on outdoor cookery. In the course of my reporting, I asked several manufacturers if they could send me a “loaner” grill or smoker, so I could test them out. Many of them agreed to do so. So a truck would show up with a grill or smoker, some workers would set it up in my back yard, I’d use it a few times, and then I’d call up the company and they’d send a crew to pick up the grill and take it away. (Yes, the perks of food writing are often better than the perks of uniform writing.)

One of these products was a Big Green Egg. I used it, was impressed by it, gave it a positive review in the article I was working on, and then called the BGE PR guy, with whom I had the following conversation:

Me: Okay, I’m done with the Egg — you can send the truck around to pick it up.

PR Guy [sounding somewhat flustered]: Okay, uh, hmmm. I’m not sure where the truck guys are this week. Let me see what I can set up.

Me: No rush. Whenever it’s convenient.

PR Guy [still sounding oddly put out]: Yeah, uh, okay. We’re just really busy with a lot of stuff at the moment”¦

Me [sensing an opportunity]: You know, I, like, used it and stuff.

PR Guy [after long pause]: You know what? Just keep it. Keep it and enjoy it. And when you use it to make great food for your friends and family, just tell them what the product is called.

And that’s how I came to acquire my Big Green Egg — because its manufacturer was too lazy to come get it.

I love my Egg. I have the Large size, which was the biggest size they made back then (they’ve since added an X-Large size). Yes, they’re expensive — I believe the Large retails for about $900 — but it’s worth it. I realize that’s easy for me to say, since I didn’t pay for mine. But if lightning struck my Egg tonight and reduced it to rubble, I’d go out and buy a new one tomorrow. That’s how much I like this product.

One postscript: In the fall and winter of 2006 I was dating a business journalist. At one point, during a fun road trip to Atlantic City, I told her the story of how I acquired my Egg, and she gave me this long, finger-wagging lecture about how it wasn’t ethical of me to have accepted a freebie. I explained that I didn’t ask to keep the Egg — they just didn’t want to come pick it up! She insisted that it was still unethical and then started in with this passive-aggressive spiel about how she used to cover the Gap and Old Navy, and they’d send her all this free clothing but she’d give it all to Goodwill (i.e., she wasn’t just a more ethical journalist than me, she was also a Really Good Person), blah-blah-blah. This was turning into a serious buzzkill for our road trip, so I finally said, “Look, when I cook all sorts of delicious food in the Egg next summer, you don’t have to eat any of it, okay? Problem solved!” She gave me this sort of annoyed look, but at least that brought the subject to a close and we went on to have a fun weekend.

We broke up two months later, well before summer cookout season began. Just as well.

Where, or how did you hone your cooking/grilling skills? Was it trial and error, or did you learn from someone? Also, your grilled meats look exceptional. Are you getting them from Fleisher’s?
With occasional exceptions, my meat comes from Fleisher’s, yes.

I was lucky enough to grow up in a house with an excellent cook: my Mom. I learned a lot from her, at least regarding indoor cooking. For grilling and smoking, though, I’m mostly self-taught. Over the years I’ve read a lot about meat and how to cook it, so I’ve become pretty proficient. And I was a food writer for several years, so being handy with food was sort of part of my job. In general, I think food is fun, so I like to experiment with recipes, do impromptu blind taste tests, and so on. If you do enough of that, you eventually get reasonably competent. (Of course, I don’t usually post photos of my failed experiments or things that don’t turn out so well, so the photos I do post may paint a somewhat artificially rosy portrait of my skills.)

Why do you think the NFL’s uniforms suffer from what I’d call the biggest lack of creativity among the Big Four pro leagues? I understand the need for large numbers and names leaves little room for other elements, but you never see anyone go out on a limb and do something like a “tequila sunrise”-style jersey or even Oregon’s wings on the shoulders. I’m not saying those examples are necessarily good design, but the NFL always sticks to the basics.
The NFL’s business approach has generally been very, very conservative. And that makes sense, because NFL owners are, for the most part, very conservative businessmen (I mean this in the business sense, not the political sense) who come from old money. Interestingly, the closest thing the NFL has to an “outrageous” owner is Jerry Jones, but his team will never change its look. If it did, the whole state of Texas would secede from the NFL or something like that.

It’ll be interesting to see if the league’s affiliation with Nike eventually results in uniforms that break the mold a bit. I think it’ll probably happen with a few franchises, but so much of the NFL ethos is rooted in old-school verities, and so much NFL mythmaking reinforces those verities (the “Voice of God” from NFL Films, e.g.). Remember how I once said that some teams are like Coke and some are like Pepsi? If we extend this analogy to leagues, the NFL is definitely a Coke league, while the NBA would be a Pepsi league. I don’t see that changing anytime soon.

What was your favorite USFL uniform?
Honestly, I can’t even remember a single USFL uniform without looking them up. Which I guess means I don’t have a favorite.

I notice that you can dig up any pic, old or current, rather quickly. How in the world do you keep track and archive all your pictures?
I’m actually a terrible photo archivist. I keep running groupings of a few specific photo categories, like photos of Dave Parker’s masks. But I should have done much more of this over the years, and I regret not having done so. Fortunately, I’m a pretty sharp Googler, plus I’ve learned where to look for certain types of things. But believe me, there are plenty of instances when I’m looking to find a photo of a certain phenomenon and can’t find it. Very frustrating!

There are two types block “2” numerals. Do they have specific names?
Probably, although I don’t know what they are.

Sometimes somebody in the comments section will be debating with you about something, and you’ll say they’ve presented a “straw man argument.” What does that mean?
The short version is that I’m accusing the other person of having responded to an argument that I never made in the first place (which happens all the time in the comments, much to my frustration). For a somewhat more detailed explanation, look here.

I have a (probably idealistic, or maybe quaintly naïve) notion about intellectual debate being a logic-based enterprise that can help reveal higher truths. So I tend to get impatient with straw man arguments, apples/oranges comparisons, faulty premises, and similar missteps. If you look back on most of the comment debates in which I’ve participated over the years, you’ll find that I usually take issue with people’s logical reasoning, not with their specific positions on the given issue. That’s because I believe we can’t even get to the specific positions until we’re discussing the issue on logical grounds. This tends to annoy the fuck out of people, because most people would rather debate from a position based on emotion (plus nobody wants to get into a debate with Mr. Spock), but I don’t know any other way to debate things.

Did it drive you nuts that the kids on the 1980s Saturday morning TV show The Baseball Bunch wore jeans instead of uniform pants?
Never watched that show (I was older than the target audience), so I don’t know anything about that. But maybe they didn’t want to alienate kids from poor areas who didn’t have access to full Little League uniforms.

Is there a term for vertical wording on a football uniform’s outer thigh?
Not that I’m aware of. We should come up with one — the floor is open to nominations.

Do you find yourself being recognized in public by Uni Watch readers? If so, what are the best and worst experiences you’ve had with readers?
This tends to happen every two or three months (most recently when I went out with friends to see Redd Kross, and a reader approached me after the set to say how much he liked Uni Watch). Everyone has always been extremely polite and respectful about this, and I’ve always been flattered and even humbled by the whole experience.

Earlier this year I was walking down my block on my way back from the supermarket, and a Uni Watch reader recognized me and said hi. The unusual thing is that this reader (whose name I no longer recall, unfortunately) was just in town for the weekend, visiting a friend. In fact, he’d never been in Brooklyn before. And on his very first day in town, he bumped into me. Pretty funny.

You’ve mentioned that you don’t want kids. What’s up with that?
It’s hard to explain a lack of enthusiasm for something, but let’s just say that parenthood has never pushed my buttons. I have no issues with kids per se (although I freely admit that infants do absolutely nothing for me), but I’ve always known that I didn’t want any of my own, even back when I was a kid myself.

I’ve come to believe that this is sort of like being gay or straight: You’re born with it (or without it, as the case might be). In my case, I just don’t seem to have the gene for parenthood. And I’m fine with that — raising kids is one of the most important things a person can do, but it’s certainly not the only important thing, and I enjoy the freedom that a child-free life allows.

Most of my friends don’t have or want kids either. No surprise there — childless people tend to find each other socially, just as parents do.

What’s the strangest question you’ve been asked during Question Time, even if it was too strange to be answered?
Oooh, a meta-question. I think the one about the tree takes the cake.


That’s it for this time. We’ll do another round of Question Time soon.

+ + + + +

Screen shot 2012-09-12 at 6.01.15 PM.png

This macaroni delivery truck and the family that owned it are the focus of my latest feature-length Permanent Record article on Slate. This one is different from the other Slate articles — it starts with a report card but isn’t really about the student. I think you’ll like it. Here, take a look.

+ + + + +

Uni Watch News Ticker: Jon Jay of the Cardinals is still wearing those argyle socks. Here’s a short video clip of the Cards’ broadcasters talking about it (big thanks to Matt Larsen and Scott Bumb). ”¦ Here’s the second installment of that two-parter about the guy who designed the Knicks’ logo. … Interesting article about NYC businesses that still show the Twin Towers in their logos (from Matthew Weidner). … In a related item, I neglected to see what the Blue Jays did for Sept. 11. Turns out they wore the American flag on one side of their cap and the Canadian flag on the other (big thanks to Alec Jokubaitis for filling me in). … Hinchliffe Stadium in Paterson, New Jersey, which I wrote about two years ago, may now be designated as a National Historic Landmark (from Dave Rakowski). … The lengthy profile of President Obama in the current issue of Vanity Fair includes the following passage from the article’s author, Michael Lewis: “I’d asked to play in the president’s regular basketball game. … I hadn’t the slightest idea what kind of a game it was. The first hint came when a valet passed through bearing, as if they were sacred objects, a pair of slick red-white-and-blue Under Armour high-tops with the president’s number (44) on the side” (thanks, Kirsten). … “On Friday, when Mexico played Costa Rica in World Cup Qualifying in Costa Rica, they wore black,” says Ryan Burns. “On Tuesday night, the same teams played, this time in Mexico. While Costa Rica wore the same uniform, Mexico switched to green, white, and red. The announcers on the Univision broadcast mentioned the change in colors, noting that it was unusual as of late for Mexico to wear the green, that they’ve started to like the black, and that fans seem to prefer the black. They also said CONCACAF, the continental governing body, has the final say in the uniform teams wear. If true, I applaud them in this case.” … Humboldt State’s marching band is known as the Marching Lumberjacks, complete with a hatchet-wielding band leader (from Tom Mulgrew). … There are stripes, and then there are stripes. That’s the Stillwater (Minnesota) High School Ponies, from 1943 (big thanks to Scott Kneeskern). … The Celtics’ locker room nameplates pay homage to players who’d previously worn the player’s number. “Yes, even Chris Mihm,” says Jeff Israel. … Louisville football is adding two memorial helmet decals for university donors/boosters Owsley Brown Frazier and Bernard Trager (from Matt Dowell). … UConn is letting individuals — mostly alums — sponsor classrooms (note the apostrophe catastrophe). “For now, only individuals can do it,” says Gregory Koch. “But with many rooms currently without sponsors, it worries me that we’ll go down a slippery slope and I’ll have class in the Dunkin Donuts room 226 next year.” … Good photo and info regarding Illinois’s new merit decals (from Mike Harrell). … Matt Berning notes that a new Phoenix Suns logo (and maybe a new wordmark) is currently appearing on the team’s web site. … Yesterday I mentioned that Pitt was using merit decals shaped like little old-school Pitt helmets. Turns out they’re not merit decals after all — they’re to honor the team’s heritage. Here’s a much better view of them — pretty awesome (my thanks to Daniel Dingerson and Jon Gillis for setting me straight). … “The movie All the Right Moves, which was shot in Johnstown, Pennsylvania, is 30 years old this week,” says Doug Keklak. “To help celebrate, my alma mater, Greater Johnstown High School, is shelving their normal black and pale blue for the black and gold of fictional Ampipe High.” ”¦ Hawthorn, an Aussie football team, has inked a five-year deal with Adidas, thereby ending a relationship with Puma that had lasted three decades (from Leo Strawn Jr.). ”¦ Warren G. Harding High School — “one of Ohio’s longtime powers,” according to Larry Bodnovichhas some throwbacks on tap. ”¦ Tarleton State’s football team has some very odd uni numbers (from Craig Bettis). ”¦ Today’s entry in the reverse-engineered Gowanus All-Stars set list is the awesome “Girl on the Billboard” by Del Reeves:

Comments (139)

    I have this funny deja vú feling ive read this post before.


    Related to todays post, this popped into my head…

    Paul, how do you feel about those “sponsor a highway” sign that are sponsored by.companies, as well as individuals or civic groups? Do they fall under your umbrella of corporate intrusion of public space?

    A few years ago in St. Louis the KKK adopted a section of I-55 for cleanup duty. Lawyers tried to find any way they could to block it but couldn’t. So at the first sign of lack of cleanup activity (within 2 months)it was taken away from them. They immediately renamed that section the “Rosa Parks Highway”. Incidentally, the day after the KKK sign was installed, it was stolen. Thereafter, they couldn’t keep one up more than a couple of days without it being cut down.

    The referees periodically stop lacrosse games (they have to do it three times a half and it is almost always after a goal is scored) in order to conduct random stick checks. Primarily, they check the depth of the pocket and make sure that the ball comes out naturally when tilted.

    The men’s and women’s checks are slightly different, but both games have random checks.

    As someone who played college lacrosse & is just a fan in general of lacrosse, I can say the ref doesn’t have to 3 stick check per half with Women’s lacrosse. If a coach or the speaking captain wants a check, they can request one, or if the ref sees something they not sure of. A Women’s pocket is legal when the top of the ball and the top of the stick are equal. If the ball goes into the pocket below the top of the stick head, it is illegal & the player can either tighten the pocket & retest, or they have to get a new stick. I believe they can also receive a yellow card for an illegal pocket.

    In boys lacrosse, we refs are supposed to conduct four stick checks a game, usually after each team scores their first goal, and the interim between q1-q2 and q3-q4.

    In girls lacrosse, we conduct a team-wide stick check before the game and upon requests!

    I accidentally published it early last week (clicked the wrong button) but then took it down after about 15 minutes once I realized my mistake.

    Tarleton St. uni numbers are the old Miami Pro Combat template, but obviously it’s silver (gray?), black and white.

    Don’t know if this has already been mentioned but Iowa’s Pro Combat pictures have been posted. They’ll be wearing them against Purdue on November 10. They’ll feature silver helmets and the player gets to pick which branch of Armed Forces they want to have as the NOB.



    Of course they have a silver helmet, since the school colors are black and gold.

    … the player gets to pick which branch of Armed Forces they want to have as the NOB.

    This is easy: Each player can wear the branch of the Armed Forces he has committed to serve in after graduation as his NOB.

    Wow. That’s really, really stupid.

    For (insert deity of choice here)’s sake, if a player wanted to be in military, they could join the military. There’s absolutely no reason for an Iowa uniform to ever have military NOBs.

    The amount of pointless military worship in this country is fucking ridiculous.

    Seconded. Unfortunately, questioning the military tends to stir up strawman-type arguments (see what I did there?:)), especially if you have to interact with Bull Meacham and his ilk every day.

    Hello sportsfans, lets run them damn turtles over!

    Six degreees of separation…the actor who played Ben Meechum, Michael O’Keefe, also played Danny Noonan in Caddyshack!


    It’s not “military worship” I object to. It’s empty symbolism. If you’re a well educated, physically fit young man, and you want to dress up like a soldier, or show how much you support the military, great! Google “Armed Forces Career Center” and answer your country’s call. College football players are exactly the kind of young men the military needs right now as it rebuilds from a decade of constant combat deployments.

    Also, Iowa has Army and Air Force ROTC programs on campus. At the very least, doing something that recognizes those programs (and the players’ “fellow students” in ROTC) would have some meaning.

    11/10 is the day before Veterans Day BTW.

    It may be true that not every individual player wants to “dress up like a soldier” (which Iowa is not doing with these uni’s IMO)or show support(just because you don’t ‘advertise’ your support does not mean you don’t have it, and vise versa?). Some may be strong supporters of the military, others may completely be opposed; in either case, the uniform supplied is what they must wear if they want to play against Purdue regardless of their personal feelings about the armed services/military operations/etc.

    I agree that having ROTCOB may be more ‘meaningful’/inclusive (what if no player chooses USMCOB? Will someone step in and make sure that branch is represented, whether the player likes it or not?), and I hope that the US flag patch remains a uniform element once the nameplates are attached.

    I’m sure someone will pick a USMCOB. I’d be more concerned about a lack of CGOB.

    If it’s really about Veterans Day, then why not do something that honors veterans? Service Name On Back honors the active forces. Which is fine as far as it goes, but that’s not what Veterans Day is for. We have another actual holiday, Armed Forces Day, to honor the active forces. Just as we also have an actual holiday to honor our war dead, which we call Memorial Day. Veterans Day =/= Armed Forces Day =/= Memorial Day =/= Veterans Day.

    I do not get this Iowa military uniform. I did get the throwbacks they wore vs Iowa State.


    Best question this round goes to Straw Man. Every time I saw that used here I would go to myself, “I think I know what that phrase means but should probably look it up so I can use it without looking ridiculous.” Then by the time I was done reading and leaving the page I would always forget that I wanted to look it up. Sometimes my attention span…….oh look a birdie!!!

    “What’s the strangest question you’ve been asked during Question Time, even if it was too strange to be answered?
    Oooh, a meta-question. I think the one about the tree takes the cake.”

    You realize, of course, that question was (allegedly) asked of Katherine Hepburn by Barbara Walters, and is simply a question asked rhetorically these days for idiocy’s sake.

    I used this question during interviews with high school/young applicants during a previous career. I didn’t necessarily want to know what type of tree they wanted to be, I wanted to see how they reacted on their feet to an absurd question!

    “But I have no idea why all the Twin Cities teams are called Minnesota, or how the Florida Panthers got their name.”

    While I can’t answer the first half, (but it probably has to do with appealing to residents of both Minneapolis and St. Paul) there’s an easy answer to the second half: there is a species of panther native to south Florida named, well, the Florida Panther. This also explains why the panther in the NHL team’s logo is gold/brown, and the NFL’s is black: Florida Panthers have goldish brown fur, while panthers (aka cougars or mountain lions) can be (but aren’t always) black.

    The Florida Panther also happens to be the state animal of Florida. So, yeah, “Miami Panthers” wouldn’t really have the same effect.

    The use of “Minnesota” in Twin Cities sports nicknames goes back to the 1950s, when the Minneapolis Lakers would get bumped from the Minneapolis Auditorium (their arena) every spring for a convention. There being a strong community rivalry between Minneapolis and St. Paul, St. Paul refused to find room for the Minneapolis team to play in the St. Paul Auditorium (now the Roy Wilkins Auditorium), forcing the Lakers to the Minneapolis Armory.

    When the Senators moved from Washington to the Twin Cities, Calvin Griffith took note of that problem and decided to call the team the “Minnesota Twins” so as to avoid any future issues like that– but, of course, that was after they had shown off their new jerseys with the interlocking TC hats indicating the Twin Cities, possibly to allow the team, if ever bumped from Bloomington (where the Met Stadium was– again, to lessen controversy between Minneapolis and St. Paul) and forced to play in, say, Duluth, wouldn’t have the same problem.

    The Vikings and North Stars followed suit, setting the precedent.

    Interestingly, the rivalry still exists today, though greatly diminished. You’ll find a lot of Minneapolis residents have no idea how to get around in St. Paul once off the freeways, and vice versa.

    Also, don’t forget that the Washington Senators were displacing two American Association teams with 50-year histories – the Minneapolis Millers and St. Paul Saints.

    By taking the state name, the Twins avoided alienating either half of the fanbase they were looking to build.

    And we’ve talked about this before, but the Milwaukee Journal insisted on link for the first several years after the move. I can’t decide if I like that (for its whimsy) or not (for its dickishness).

    I’ve heard conflicting info about where the TC hats came from. I’ve heard they were going to be the Twin Cities Twins, had the uniforms made up, then at the last minute changed it to Minnesota Twins and never bothered to update the hats. I’ve also heard (and maybe this is why the hats were never updated) that the Twins didn’t want to put an M on the hats for fear people would think it meant Minneapolis, thus igniting the two city’s rivalry. Apparently by 1987 the felt the name was established enough to finally put an M on the hats.

    And yes, Minneapolis and St Paul don’t like each other much. I’m from St Paul, so I can verify this. It was a much stronger hatred back in the day (who’s baseball team was better, who built the larger hotel or courthouse, even Horace Cleveland the Landscape Architect pitted the two towns against each other to see who could save more park space, thus creating the awesome system of parks and parkways we have today). The two cities are literally across the street from each other for a while, and only have the Mississippi between them everywhere else. So yes, to call them the Minneapolis Twins would never have flown. I’ll stop my Twin Cities history lesson now…

    Yup the Florida Panthers is one of the most fitting team names in all of sports. Not only is it the actual animal, but the now-BB&T Center is located right across the highway from the Florida Everglades where, if you are incredibly lucky(or unlucky depending on the situation haha), you might see a real Florida Panther.

    The Marlins went with “Florida”, instead of adopting the Miami Marlins name used by previous minor league teams, originally because Huizenga wanted to be inclusive of the entire South Florida area, and they were the first Major League team in the state(and Wayne had a hand in vetoing the move of the Giants or White Sox, can’t remember which, to TB so he thought there may never be a second).

    Paul is right in that the City of Miami/Miami-Dade County demanded they change names in exchange for footing most of the bill for the new ballpark. That completely unnecessary change of course gave ol’ Jeff Loria an excuse to dream up the worst identity in baseball. Love the fact that if you take the “D” out of “Florida” you get “F Loria”.

    Tampa Bay’s teams are all “Tampa Bay” to be inclusive of the region, like “Florida” was/is for the Marlins/Panthers. The first team to use TB was the Tampa Bay Rowdies in 1975 I think.

    I know the Rowdies were the first to use the name in competition in 75, followed by the Bucs in 76, but I’m not sure really who started using the name first as far as when the franchises were awarded.

    If you look back in Google News to 1976 and 1977 articles in the St. Petersburg Times and the Evening Independent about the Bucs, they referred to them as the “Bay Bucs” — as in since the city name of the team was “Tampa” the team nickname must be “Bay Bucs” I’m sure the identity of the area as being one “Tampa Bay area” had to do with the Bucs (and Rowdies) names, versus the us-versus-them mentality of the people of Pinellas and Hillsborough counties.

    I always thought it was a Wayne Huizenga thing. His base was in Fort Lauderdale (home, businesses) and he made the final decision to not include Miami for either the Marlins or Panthers. I always liked Florida Panthers, couldn’t stand Florida Marlins; especially with the Miami Marlins minor league heritage of the city. Glad they are finally called the Miami Marlins.

    Definitely a Huizenga thing. He named the Marlins “Florida” to in his mind try to pre-empt TB from getting an expansion team. Pretty sure the Panthers were named “Florida” to make things consistent. Also relevant in the “Florida” part of the Panthers name is, as stated above, they literally play in the middle of nowhere on the edge of the Everglades. Their building is the first civilization you see when driving east on Alligator Alley.

    RE: Humboldt State marching band…..

    I find there are 4 types of Marching Bands:

    Corps Style
    Pony Steppers
    Boogie Bands
    Schlop Bands

    Guess which one I feel HSU fits into.

    What was the driving force behind the each of the Big Four pro sports leagues consolidating its uniforms under a single manufacturer?

    Money. When a licensee throws an ungodly amount of money to a League to provide their uniforms, the League takes it. Show me the money!

    I loved the question about the two block numeral 2’s. That’s bugged me for years. The one that looks like a “Z” is looks like it came from a sporting goods store, looks cheap, but there you have Namath, Michael Jordan all wearing that same style of “2”. I hope someone has an answer. Years of inner turmoil will be settled!

    I know in Bill Henderson’s guide he does a pretty complete breakdown of fonts and talks about typesetting etc., might be a good place to start.

    Namath wore MacGregor-style fb numerals his first year with the Jets. Then they switched to Gerry Cosby as their uniform supplier from 1966-71. Cosby used his own special style of the “Z-2.” Champion didn’t begin making the Jets jerseys until around 1972. The style of the 2 is similar but not the same. Cosby has a serif, Champion doesn’t.

    Yes. Gerry Cosby was a player for the 1933 World Championship United States Hockey team in Prague. He later played for the EHL Rovers and was practice goalie for the Rangers. In 1938 he and his brother opened the store. The company has outfitted the Rangers, Knicks, Jets, FB Giants and countless other hockey teams like the original WHA Whalers, the 1960 Gold Medal-winning USA Hockey team (wore clones of the Rangers’ uniform-still the all-time best USA set) and many A.H.L. and E.H.L teams. I heard they were forced to relocate by Gardens management because of the building renovations.

    Gentlemen, there is no official name for those “2” digits that I’ve heard in my 45-years in the business. We usually referred to the “horizontal” 2 as “Full Block” since that’s what the majority of manufacturers called it. Russell, Powers, Sand-Knit and Wilson’s 2s all looked similar and all had the serif on the lower right corner.

    Stahls is the leading producer of the “Z-type 2” and they refer to it as “Varsity” with the serif and the sans serif as “Pro Block.”

    Other companies such as Liebes have their own names for the styles. Check out Liebes website at link to see their different terms for each style of numeral font.

    As to the “Z-style” “looking like it came from a sporting goods store” well, you’re correct-to a point. Most stores purchase their numbers from Stahl and they’re used all over the country on all levels. But I have never cared for Stahls numbers because they look “cheap” to me. Most of the above-named makers stock fonts far outclassed Stahls and I always preferred to use those. Special pro-style replicas were always purchased from Liebes and either sent to the maker for sewing or done by our own seamstress.

    After all my years in the game I can tell a company’s font at first glance and have a name for it in my mind. Bottom line is that naming those numeral styles is a question for the ages.

    I knew you’d come up with an answer to that question. Thanks for the input.

    While checking Liebe, I had no idea there were so many varieties of “full block” as well. The 2 looks largely similar in all of those but I noticed the “4” varies a lot; It’s that little angle to the left of the 4 and the size of the triangular opening inside. (Sorry, I don’t know what the proper terms for those are)

    There is no name for any “4” either. Only the name of the font it came from. Athletic Knit, who’s a Toronto-based maker of uniforms uses a full-block “5” that looks like and upside down “2” as it has the serif on the upper-right bar. Takes a while to get used to. And Korwel Athletic Lettering of Chicago’s 2s look like upside down 5s.

    Every manufacturer of stock, o-t-c number and letter fonts has some little quirk to their own styles. Ones that we’ve used over the years are Stahls, Liebes, Korwel, Dalco Athletic and Midwest Athletic. We get our transfer numbers from Transfer Express (a stand-alone division of Stahls) and Universal Transfers from Philadelphia. Check out their styles by doing a google search for their web sites.

    Terry, many thanks. I read your reply while listening to the Gowanas All-Stars “Girl on the Billboard”, and I forgot all about the crap in the news today.

    Do you sell retail in your business? I’m trying to recreate a Mark Fidrych 1976 road (I have the Wilson blank jersey, the ’76 Detroit Centennial patch)but I’m scared to order the numbers because they’re smaller than 8″ AND…the ‘2’ is essential to match.

    Dear Boxcar,

    I do have an acquaintance who does custom lettering. His shop is closed but I believe he still has his equipment and could probably do it for you. Plus he’s originally from Detroit and is a Tiger fan. He did a couple of 1980s Rochester Red Wings shirts for us and the Wings used Wilson at that time so I’m sure he has the pattern. His work is amazing. My friend took his Steve Finley Red Wings replica to the ballI’ll contact him by e-mail and see what he can do for you. He’s very busy at his new job so please be patient but I’ll write him now to fill him in.

    Sorry, I accidentally clicked on send. As I was saying he took the Finley shirt the night Steve was inducted to the Red Wings Hall of Fame and went through the line for Steve to autograph it. Upon seeing the shirt Steve got a bit emotional at its sight. I think he would have liked to keep it that’s how nice it turned out.

    Terry, Thanks so much. My email is boxcarvibe (at)mindspring dot com.

    Great story about the Steve Finley jersey too.

    I’m pretty sure the Florida Panthers chose “Florida” to extend the fanbase to the entire state and not just Miami. Pretty sure the Marlins did the same as they were both the first teams located in Florida for each league.

    Yeah, but then why not have the Georgia Braves or the Oregon Trailblazers (which actually makes more sense, because of the Oregon Trail connection)? It leads us back to the question of why certain teams chose the state name but others didn’t.

    Our local Atlanta Braves affiliate, the “Gwinnett” Braves, chose the name of the county to represent all us taxpayers fleeced by the secret stadium deal county residents. There is no city or town named Gwinnett, so unless you’re from here, you must say “Where the hell is Gwinnett?”

    That’s very akin to the alibi for MLB’s Colorado Rockies as Denver and inner-ring suburbs got to pay for Coors Field. Elbert County and such places didn’t pay yet still get to claim the team.

    If they want to be regional, then, as the only MLB team in the Rocky Moutain region and in tribute to the fanbase in Wyo, SoDak, New Mexico, etc., they should drop “Colorado” and just be the Rockies Baseball Club.

    If they want to be regional, then, as the only MLB team in the Rocky Moutain region and in tribute to the fanbase in Wyo, SoDak, New Mexico, etc., they should drop “Colorado” and just be the Rockies Baseball Club.

    That would be an interesting precedent. But is it really necessary? Understand, I’m not saying it’s a bad idea at all, I just wonder if it would do anything to gain additional fans. Going back to the Braves, when I grew up in northwest Alabama we had no problem identifying with an Atlanta team. They were closest to us, they were on TV every day… I’m just not sure if naming them the “Braves Baseball Club” or “Southeast Braves” would have caused some of the old-school Cardinal fans to drop their team and say “hey, the Braves are playing for me now!”. (The Cardinals were the most “southern” team before the Braves, keep in mind. I knew several Card fans.)

    My local minor-league affiliate, the Potomac Nationals, has a similar thing going on with the G-Braves. There is no “Potomac” in Northern Virginia. There is a well-known Potomac in Maryland, and I’m told the team occasionally gets complaints from would-be visitors who show up at game time in the wrong state looking for the baseball game.

    The history is that the team was the Alexandria Dukes and were lured from their little-league-quality ballpark in the city of Alexandria, VA down to the high-school-quality ballpark in Prince William County to the south. Since there’s a profusion of local place names, none of which are actual jurisdictions, within Prince William County, the team eventually became the Prince William Cannons. In the late 1980s and 1990s, there was a movement by Chamber of Commerce types to try to give eastern Prince William County a bit of a rebrand, as it had developed a reputation for crime and seediness. (The main local place name, Woodbridge, had earned the nickname “Hoodbridge.”) So businesses and some government agencies began using “Potomac” as a place name instead of the more established names of Woodbridge, Dale City, Lake Ridge, and a few others. Presumably because Potomac, MD, is kind of a tony area.

    So we have a bunch of stuff named things like Potomac Mills, Potomac Town Center, and the Potomac Nationals, but no actual place called Potomac.

    Word is that the Potomac Nationals are likely to adopt a new place name, possibly Woodbridge, when they move to a new ballpark in Woodbridge in 2014.

    Matt D. above gave the definitive answer to the “Florida Panthers” issue. But ordinarily, the choice of state names instead of city names is a puzzler.

    For example, I always thought that “Denver Rockies” had a nicer ring to it and was easier to say. And the AAA Phoenix Firebirds already had what seemed like the perfect name for a team based in that city–I have no idea why the MLB team went with the awkward nickname “Diamondbacks,” or why they found it necessary to choose “Arizona” over “Phoenix.”

    I suppose it makes sense if the team’s home base is a multi-city metropolitan area (Minnesota, Texas), or isn’t ordinarily considered one of the really major American cities (California Angels). In addition, some city names can be mouthfuls when combined with a team nickname, and using a shorter state name helps it roll off the tongue easier–the “Indiana Colts” and “Oklahoma Thunder” would probably be preferable to their current designations.

    There’s a possibility Pontiac (remember them?) might have had some input on Arizona Major League Baseball taking the “Firebirds” name. Just a thought.

    I attribute it to owners over-thinking the marketing impact. I don’t think the Oregon Trailblazers would gain any more in-state fan interest than the Portland Trailblazers. But some owners believe it would.

    For the most part, it annoys me. But when a team represents multiple cities that are close to each other (e.g. Minneapolis-St. Paul), I think it’s ok.

    I’m really surprised no team has ever tried to call themselves the “American ______”. I guess the Patriots have come the closest, by using a region name.

    People might remember that when the Boston Patriots first decided to change their name upon moving out of Boston proper into the suburbs, they announced they woud be called the “Bay State P{atriots”, and that after about six weeks of pure criticism of the new name, ownership then again changed the name to the “New England Patriots” ….

    I’m thinking it’s like 75% fan appeal and 25% “it just sounded better”. Charlotte Panthers vs Carolina Panthers sorta goes either way, but the Minneapolis-St. Paul Twins would just be silly.

    I’ve always contended that the football team should simply be “Phoenix”. Team AND locality name in one. They could be the Cher/Madonna/Rosanne of sports … oh … now I see why they didn’t do it … The Adele/Fergie of sports, perhaps?

    The Panthers were very vocal in wanting to appeal to fans from both NC and SC, hence the “Carolina” moniker and the logo that makes a panther head (well, sort of) out of the combined maps of NC and SC.

    I’m thinking it’s like 75% fan appeal and 25% “it just sounded better”.

    The ironic part is that living in Charlotte, the name Carolina Panthers really annoys me and decreases my fan appeal. And to be technical, if you are going to represent the 2 states, they should be called the Carolinas Panthers.

    I would love a switch to the Charlotte Panthers. But I think this is one of those cases where tax dollars led to the name.

    Actually the Tampa Bay Lightning were the first NHL team in Florida. And as stated above the Panthers chose “Florida” to match the animal.

    Carolina chose not to use Charlotte because the city is very close to the NC/SC border and they wanted to rep both states instead of just the city.

    In addition, I believe part of it was the cooperation between both states, most notably the use of facilities in South Carolina before the ones in Charlotte were complete.

    From the website sited,

    “When the NFL awarded Richardson the league’s 29th franchise in 1993, the state of South Carolina was in the loop from the beginning. The team’s practice facilities in 1995 were at Winthrop University in Rock Hill, S.C.; that inaugural team called Memorial Stadium in Clemson, S.C., home while a stadium was being built in uptown Charlotte; and every training camp since the team’s inception has been at Wofford.”

    If you had the “Charlotte Panthers” then all the Atlanta Falcons fans in Greenville/Spartanburg would keep their red/black dirty bird stuff. But with the name Carolina Panthers, those fans now make the drive north on I-85 to Charlotte and buy Panthers stuff.

    I’m thinking that the Indiana Pacers were “Indiana” and not “Indianapolis” because of their ABA roots, much in the same manner as the Kentucky Colonels and Virginia Squires in that they played games at multiple venues all over the state.

    The Texas Rangers I would assume was partially because of the choice of Rangers, and partially because they didn’t want to alienate either Dallas or Fort Worth.

    Part of me always wondered why the Indianapolis Colts weren’t the Indiana Colts.

    The Colts naming has always puzzled me, too…

    There are no other major cities in Indiana, and Indianapolis literally means Indiana City. Plus Indiana Colts just flows SO much better.

    uniwatch identity crisis:

    “Hawthorn, an Aussie football team, has inked a five-year deal with Adidas, thereby ending a relationship with Puma that had lasted three decades (from Leo Thornton).”

    should be the other leo…leo strawn jr…


    Re: Team name on thigh. My vote is for Boise Tape. It makes sense because Boise started the trend, so why not give credit where it’s due?

    What say you Paul?

    Yes, there are some disturbing images… but we’re not all like that.

    Just think about the “Trekkies”. You’ve got people that just like the show, and then you’ve got people that wear DIY’d Starfleet uniforms on a regular basis.

    Regarding regional names for teams–

    In early ’70s the former Boston Patriots were looking for a name that broadened their geographic base, as they had a new, cheap ($6Mn) stadium in Foxborough MA
    after a couple of years of being nomads and playing at different Boston areas locations (BC, Fenway Park, Harvard Stadium).

    They first came up with the name “Bay State Patriots” (don’t know if that preceded ‘Golden State Warriors, or not), but a sports writer pointing that
    the Pats were then a chronically lousy team, noted that (1) fans would naturally revert to initials and (2) “BS Patriots” was perhaps not the name a
    struggling team might relish.

    “New England Patriots”– new name– born!

    PS– A subset of regionally named teams are geographic NICKNAME- named teams– BS Patriots, Golden State Warriors, Twin City, Tri-Cities etc.

    Well, when the Warriors moved from SF to Oakland in ’71, the original plan was for them to play selected home games in San Francisco, San Jose and even as far as San Diego (as the Rockets had just moved to Houston), hence opting for a regional nickname over a city-specific name.

    There was actually a plan in the mid-90s to change the team name to the Oakland Warriors – that was around the time the Oracle arena was being refurbished & the Warriors played a year in San Jose. Obviously, that didn’t go anywhere…

    Question I have is if their move back to SF is successful, will they go back to being the San Francisco Warriors?

    That might be right also, Rob. The “Bay State Patriots” name lasted for no less than two weeks. All I recall was that everyone reading the Boston papers at the time announcing the new name immediately thought “BS Pats” with riotous laughter, milk through nose, etc. after that. The owner of the Pats then, Billy Sullivan, prided himself on his PR savvy. He must have gone bonkers.

    I haven’t lived in MN for over thirty years but whenever Stillwater is referenced I think of State Prison….


    It is probably just a delusional reach, but I wonder if those stripes on the high schoolers’ jerseys are a nod to……nah.


    I find it ironic that the most attractive court in sports in not in either an NBA nor NCAA vennue but in fact at the Naismith Basketballl Hall of Fame.

    Footnote: this court led to many copycat imitations but no team has nailed like Springfiled, which is probably the right thin.

    “Looo-eee, chew got some splainin to dooo!”?

    I always thought The Palestra’s court was great when I was a kid. Today it’s just more of the same.

    Regarding Illinois’s new merit decals:

    “The white sticker on their helmet is for rewarding for doing what they’re supposed to do…not being late to class or late for the training room or whatever”.

    Good grief.

    Vertical lettering: Reminds me of cattle branding, so “Brand”.
    Such as Team Brand on Haunch, Nick Brand on Calf, etc.

    Spitballing here.

    Ok, maybe Oregon started it, but, Boise State uses it. If you want a more region appropriate name, we could go with Northwest Stamping, but I still think Boise Tape is catchier.

    Greater Johnstown High School’s opposition is also playing along with the “All The Right Moves” tribute:


    I’d be shocked if both teams used movie-accurate helmets for a HS game.

    Those Bulldog jerseys are more stylized and not as awesome as the originals though:


    “You’re not God, Nickerson. You’re just a typing teacher.”

    I actually was able to get one of those Ampipe jerseys from Ebay. Awesome 1970s-1980s striping. Plus, not enough teams wear Athletic Gold jerseys ….

    – Why didn’t Nickerson just have the QB take a safety?

    Also loved Walnut Heights’ White helmet/White jersey/Gray pants look.

    – Somebody please tackle Alexander … !!!

    SD Chargers – are you listening?
    (ditch the Navy Blue road pants for Yellow Gold)

    When Calvin Griffith moved the Washington Senators to Minnesota he wanted to name the team the “Twin Cities Twins” as to not alienate either Minneapolis or St. Paul but MLB rejected the name, so he chose “Minnesota Twins” instead, but kept the “TC” logo.

    I believe that Tennessee Titans are named so because they had to get taxpayer from the entire state to build the stadium and bring them from Houston. (I still call it Adelphia)

    Really don’t mind Mexico in black (I actually have a Chicharito BFBS jersey since I couldn’t find a Man Utd one at the time), but DAMN, Costa Rica have some ugly kits. Did they take design cues from those weird Notre Dame helmets?

    The Times has an article this morning on the expanded wild-card picture, accompanied by link.

    That Cardinals logo was retired about 15 years ago, but I’m always glad to see the Brewers represented by the Ball-and-Glove.

    Shouldn’t all the team cards have been either clubs or diamonds?

    But I definitely dig how the Phillies card also uses the Schmidt-era P logo. Man, the Phils need to go back to that look and logo, pronto.

    They really do!

    The Phils are a the rare mlb example of a team whose 70’s makeover was actually when they finally got it right! The stylized P is still beautiful, and maroon is both unique AND awesome (and criminally underused).

    I’m secretly glad the Phillies don’t abandon their current pink-haze unis for a return to burgundy. I have a lot of emotional investment in hating the Phillies ever since the Nats came to town, and I honestly don’t think I could hate on the Phils if they looked as good as they did with the burgundy and powder blue. Plus, Mike Schmidt is my favorite player of all time, and I’d have a hard time sustaining the sports-hate for any team whose unis remind me of Michael Jack.

    So it looks like Matt D is a popular name, so I had to modify…

    Paul, I was interested in your response on the strawman question because while I agree with your annoyance with arguments that veer off course and appreciate your self-awareness regarding your privileging of logic, I think there’s a more simple answer. Arguments veer off course because people are either lazy or selfish.

    Take the recent discussion of forced fan uniforms (which I participated in as Matt D) as an example. The conversation veered quickly from wearing of certain clothing as a result of edict to the wearing of team colors in general. You are right to say that people were misreading and misusing your argument, and much of these issues resulted from (or created) issues of logic. I’m not sure, though, what pointing out other people’s logical errors adds to the conversation especially in cases, such as that one, where people weren’t seemingly “fighting fair” from the start.

    Pointing out logical fallacies is great when the “other” is actually attempting to engage in respectful discussion. When I unknowingly rely on a red herring argument, I want that to be pointed out to me. But, I want that to be pointed out to me because I’m actually trying to “fight fair.” When people willingly move the goalposts, create slippery slopes, or construct straw men, I just try to ignore them.

    As someone who usually doesn’t comment, I think I’ll let you use the moniker “Matt D.” and I’ll come up with something else for next time, heh.

    Paul, nothing to do with anything, but you and I have the same Trek bicycle. (I have the black model in the photo.)

    I bought mine a month ago to replace an aging Riteway Shepherd and couldn’t decide between this and the Bianchi Roma. I went with the Trek, and it’s a little too heavy and slow-moving for my taste. But I like the thick 32-mm tires; no flats so far with them!

    I have this model/color of the Trek FX 7.3:


    And, as a consequence, total bike envy for Paul (and Mark) now. Trek’s FX line is fantastic, and upgrades nicely up the chain. But I also feel fewer qualms about modding my 7.3 than I would if I had the pricier, better, I’d-take-it-more-seriously 7.5!

    Paul, thanks for the Q&A today. Nice to read some personal stuff about you as well. I find your blog to be very conversational and fun, much like a conversation with a buddy might be. Reading more about you makes this more so (at least for me). I must say, I’m surprised you posted and answered the “why don’t you want kids?” question. I have to admit I wondered the same thing when I saw your comment about it in a prior post, but it’s none of my business, so I didn’t really think about it again. Pretty “open book” of you!

    Thanks, Tim. Yes, it’s pretty personal question, and I thought a little bit before deciding whether to answer it. But I’m sometimes frustrated by the fact that those of us who choose to be child-free are rarely represented in the media world or the public dialogue, so I ultimately decided it would be a worthwhile topic to address, just to make people more conscious of the fact that having kids isn’t the default option for everyone.

    Paul, I applaud you for knowing what you (don’t) want and being comfortable with it. There are too many people in the world who have kids “just because”, and turn out to be crappy parents. Not to say you would be a bad parent – but if your heart ain’t in it, yours is the stand that a lot more people should make.

    I’m about to get married, and my fiancee and I have already talked about children. For the first time in my life I’m in a position where I could have a child if I want to. I’ve thought all my life that I would want kids. Now that I’m in that position, all of a sudden I’m not sure. I don’t see how some people rush into it without even much thought. It’s definitely one of the most complicated issues I’ve ever dealt with.

    I, too, appreciate the answer about not having kids and for bringing the whole thing to a discussion. I’m a 31 year old female who isn’t having children and I can’t tell you the number of insulting and just plain unusual things that have been said to me about that life choice.

    Weirdly, child-having folks seem to take it as some sort of insult, which frankly takes me aback. I’m not judging your choice to have them, I’ve just made the decision to not do the same and I have no idea how that has anything to do with other people.

    Most folks don’t have kids without a lot of forethought and planning, so you can assume that those of us who have decided not to have put at least as much thought into our own decision.

    I don’t mind talking about it, either. I just never really had that desire to be a mom. I like kids. I’ve been a nanny. But I like that they go home with other people. What little mothering instinct I have is covered in my dogs. I’m just now getting settled in a career and buying a house. We’re not yet married (though are heading into year 8 together). I lost my father in my 20s and am pretty adamant about not having children in my late 30s so that I’m not 50+ when they’re just graduating high school, which is where my life has led me in terms of being in a position to raise a child.
    Maybe had my life gone in a different direction, things would be different. But here I am and I’m totally content with the decision to not have them. We adore traveling and knowing that we can pick up and go anywhere, any time with just a call to the dog-sitter holds huge appeal for me. Occasionally I get annoyed when I have to be home after 9 hours to let me dogs out – that’s a pretty good sign that I shouldn’t have a kid.
    Didn’t mean to go on a tangent, but wanted to share that Paul’s not alone in his decision – and it’s not just folks who are single or men or older folks that feel that way.

    Paul, this seems like as good a time to say this as any: first, thanks for the blog. I always enjoy it even when I sometimes disagree. You seem like a pretty interesting guy, so, if you ever find yourself in Nova Scotia, specifically Halifax or Dartmouth, feel free to look me up. Just don’t do the pop-in, OK?

    PS: I agree about Wisconsin. I spent a week there and toured around a bit and it is a very pretty place. All the sausage and cheese played hell with my cholesterol though.

    Totally dig some of what you’ve revealed today Paul. A distant friend of mine has the same green egg as you. I had never seen one until visiting them a few years ago. He smoked a pork butt. Tasted awesome. The other wild part was when he opened the thing up after hours and hours and hours, and there at the bottom was most of the paper napkin that he used to light the thing. I was shocked that it never got hot enough to combust the napkin. But it obviously cooked that yummy butt. It spun my head around for sure. Any similar egg experiences or was I on glue?

    Forgot to mention something about your Wisconsin observations. My neighbor here in Seattle goes there every summer to his in-laws. They own a tavern on Washington Island. And the stories I’ve heard from him over the years are exactly as you’ve described. Little kids and 3 generations in the bar, is an everyday thing, for them at least. He gets to go back in the kitchen and make his own stuff on their old flat top. I’ve always wanted to try that.

    I just realized that the top of the suns logo was a phoenix. and the new redesign enhances that…Very Clever

    Loving the closer look at the helmet history for the Panthers. Now if they could just put the Panther head back on the helmet, put the “Pittsburgh” and the names back on the jersey, and burn those white pants they’d look perfect again.

    Stumbled upon these while looking for a Team Israel hat.
    link I know two guys that are trying to help Team Israel qualify for the WBC. Those are sure to be a hit in the Jewish community, no?

    I actually own a cap similar to this, mine doesn’t have the old English D on the back though. Last year I wore it to a Jewish cemetery that’s only open 2 days a year. Some guy asked me if I was MOT and I just smiled. Also got the same reaction when I was on a train going to a Tigers game a few years back. I really love this cap!


    I think the BAY CITY WARRIORS would be a much better name than GOLDEN STATE which covers all of California. And of course the NBA has three other NBA teams in Cal including Lakers, Clippers and Kings (although Kings are certainly headed elsewhere with the mess the Malgoofs have created)…

    Sorry, the link I posted only takes you to Hatland. Search WBC in their search box, and you get to see all of them. Cool they have country’s flag on each side panel.

    Paul, I don’t agree with your politics but I definitely like reading your work. You can crank out some serious words in a days time. Thanks for keeping this up. I know it won’t last forever, but I’ll keep on enjoying it while it does.

    Isn’t the reason leagues have gone to a single uniform manufacturer money? Nike, etc. are paying to have exclusive rights, right?


    Looks like Gonzaga basketball uniforms are returning NOB this season. Pictures were taken at team picture day today.

Comments are closed.