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Masters of the Mash Up

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[Editor’s Note: The good news is that yesterday’s surgery went well. The bad news is that my wrist now hurts. Like, a lot. (Apparently that’s what happens when they screw screws into bone.) So as I settle into my post-operative painkiller phase, Uni Watch intern emeritus Vince Grzegorek is pinch-hitting for me today with a story relating to his hometown of Cleveland. Enjoy. ”” PL]

By Vince Grzegorek

Since the 2008-2009 season, the Cleveland Cavs have introduced a new, mash-up uni design each year. They call this the “CavFanatic” jersey, named for a Cavs-centric social site that went live around the same time. Results have been mixed — everyone seems to love orange and blue; no one seems to like when the wine and gold delved into a black period. They wear the Frankenstein get-ups two or so games a year, fans line up to buy some new gear, and we all get a quirky little alternate to gaze at.

With Paul on the shelf, I called up Cavs marketing VP Tracy Marek, who’s in charge of the uniform choices, to see how this all came about and see if Uni Watch could yell at her in the public interest for some of her poorer choices. Our brief conversation, which I promise only involves Dan Gilbert twice, one rejected submission by yours truly, and minimal corporatespeak, went as follows:

Uni Watch: Whose idea was this? And don’t give me “It was a team effort.”

Tracy Marek: We are constantly being challenged to try and think outside of the box. We had been wearing the Hardwood Classics uniforms, which were pretty popular with the team, so that was part of it. I know you don’t want the “team effort” thing, and it can be me, or it can be someone else who just has an idea. With this, I think where it started was Dan [Gilbert.] Not necessarily this idea specifically, but he asks questions like, “What would happen if?” and you just start going a little further down the line. So we just took what we did anyway, with the gold uniforms, and flipped the colors, just played with it and flipped it blue. We just had fun with it, but always try to pay sincere and deep respect to tradition, and it was never our intention to wear them very often. Why not?

UW: The designs got a little more bold over the years. Is that just a product of having a limited, albeit rich history to delve into?

TM: We did a dark navy, like the Larry Nance years, and flipped from blue to wine. We did one from the Austin Carr years, and the navy secondary road ones we launched back in 2005-2006, and instead of block lettering, made it a little thinner and flipped that to black. [The latter being the most regrettable version thus far. ”” VG]

UW: Any concepts that never made it past the drawing board? Too atrocious?

TM: No, no, no. Again, we started this as just a concept, so the ideas can come from anywhere. When it began, these uniforms were very clearly under the premise of flipping retro uniforms to more updated colors. We had been so aggressive in wearing the Hardwood Classics, and all of a sudden we stopped doing Hardwood Classics. The process doesn’t happen overnight. Getting them ready, getting them in the store, and remembering that it’s not just at Quicken Loans Arena, they’re international.

UW: Has Dan Gilbert ever shot down one of your proposals? Seems like a pretty hands-on guy with nary a worry about speaking his mind. Then again, he likes Comic Sans, so maybe he just likes anything.

TM: No, he and the league have been very supportive. We just say to ourselves, “What would the fans be interested in?” and give it a whirl. Ultimately, Dan’s organizations are very collaborative, and he provides a very good runway for his creative people to create. Basically it’s, “Why can’t we?” and “Why wouldn’t you?” All of the uniforms have done really well.

UW: The jerseys coincided with the launch of the CavFanatic social site for Cavs fans. You should let them vote on what they want to see.

TM: Right now, I think the next horizon in all of this is how to get the fans more involved. Maybe voting. Why not?

UW: Any chance I can request the 1994 road jerseys with the early 1980s metallic coloring?

TM: There’s a couple retros we haven’t worn. We don’t have the metallic gold/wine with the rib under the chestline, and we haven’t worn the ones from the Z era.

UW: You saying no one wants to see that, right? Besides me, of course.

TM: Ha.

UW: You want to let us in on what the CavFanatic design will be for this season?

TM: We’re actually not wearing them this year. We wanted to focus on the brand-new gold uniforms.

UW: So the rumors that the design would spell CAVS with each letter in a different typography from previous eras are not only wrong, they’re really wrong.

TM: We fiddled with that design once. There’s a local designer, Greg Vlosich from GV Art, who sells that shirt, and we absolutely brainstormed that one.

UW: So next season? The deadline to get everything through the league process has to be approaching. When do you need to have everything finalized and how many options are still on the table?

TM: Yeah, it’s coming up pretty soon. Right now we’re fiddling with artwork. When something sticks, it sticks.

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Collector’s Corner

By Brinke Guthrie

With PL on the DL, we’re back with a bonus edition of Collector’s Corner. Here we go:

• Let’s start off with this alleged NFL dress shirt, an Etsy item submitted in by reader Jess Helty. Is it me, or does it look like it was stitched together from some of those 1970s Sears NFL curtains?

• Mike “I never met an auction I didn’t like” Clary sent in this “Ken Stabler” action figure auction. “Wasn’t Stabler left handed?” asks Mike. Yup. But this action figure is actually Bob Griese (who was right-handed), not Stabler. Now. this action figure of Jim Zorn, they did mess up — Zorn was a southpaw.

• With the NHL locked out, this 1960s metal Stanley Cup hockey game might be as close as you get to the Winter Classic. Just haul this baby into your snowy back yard and you’re set. And if the NBA is more your speed, you can have at it.

• Whoa, make a look at these two separate auctions for 1960s NFL Technigraph helmet plaques! Hurry, these end tonight — check here and here. My birthday’s in one week, hint-hint.

• Is there anything not to like in this 1968 press photo of John Hadl? The stripes, the number, the decal, the single bar—throwback perfection.

• Here’s a nice 1970s Blue Jays scarf, sponsored by Sunkist.

• You can pick from either the Colts, Eagles. or Giants in this 1960s NFL bobblehead auction. Here’s a bigger auction featuring some of those same little guys.

• For some reason, these game-worn late 1970s/early 1980s NBA All-Star shorts remind me of Evel Knievel. Am I right?

• Absolutely sensational cover artwork on this 1968 NFL Autograph Yearbook.

•  And from reader Warren Junium, here’s a 1930 Notre Dame championship banner.

Seen something on eBay or Etsy that you think would make good Collector’s Corner fodder? Send your submissions here, and you can follow Brinke on Twitter and Facebook.

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ESPN reminder: In case you missed it yesterday, here’s my annual college hoops season-preview column.

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Sorry, no Ticker today. Thanks for understanding. See you next week.

Comments (99)


    Just taking advantage of the painkillers, fella.
    Hope your wrist feels better soon.

    Don’t know if it’s been mentioned nut quite a number of Premier League clubs will wear poppies sewn into their shirts again tomorrow for “Rememberance Day”.

    This for example os Wigan’s plan for the game tomorrow and pictures of the shirts:


    Alllll but the sewn part. Saw this on Sky Sports News the other night, where they were heat-pressing them on to Tottenham’s hideous third shirts.

    “And don’t give me “It was a team effort.””…I would have promptly hung up on you…

    You get what they want to give you…

    You get what they want to give you…

    An average interviewer gets what they’re given. A good interviewer takes what they want.

    …or something.

    Yeah, hanging up on a journalist after the first question is perfectly reasonable behavior for a marketing VP. It’s a terrific PR move.

    I’m guessing his Starbucks Tall Pike hadn’t kicked in during proofreading. But I get it.

    Since no doors are literally locked – why, the Washington Capitals office is fully open for business such that their entire PR department is busy pretending that the Hershey Bears are playing NHL hockey in Washington – I prefer to say that the NHL owners have Atlas shrugged, rather than call it a “lockout.”

    Huh? Where is it a strike mentioned? I see a reference to the lockout, but nothing about a strike.

    The Cavs are a favorite of mine precisely because they play so fast-n-loose with their iconography and uniforms. It has become their tradition, in a kind-of University of Oregon way. But I would have spelled out “Cavaliers” if I were Greg Vlosich, to take advantage of all the identities they’ve had.

    not sure who the “Ken Stabler” action figure is supposed to be, but he ain’t Greise either…he’s wearing an Oilers helmet.

    I’m thinking “generic football player”, especially if the 1977 year listed in the description is accurate. Stabler didn’t end up in Houston until 1980.

    My brother and I got a ton of those things for Christmas in 1980…Steelers and Browns as gifts, then Chargers, Giants, Oilers, Falcons, Raiders and Eagles with money from grandma thru the Sears catalog. The numbers didn’t stick for long, and the feet tended to break off, but man were they fun to play with. No wonder I’m obsessed with uniforms.

    The worst part is still the atrocious throwing grip they have on the ball. It’s more of a “toss the ball the the ref” grip.

    I guess it’s really a running back’s grip (sort of).

    Yeah, a little index card-sized sheet of numbers, for both front and shoulders. They did a good job giving teams with two-color numbers the correct combo, too.

    The footballs all had little pegs on ’em, which you could slip into a hoe in the players’ hands. After awhile they wouldn’t stick anymore, as I recall.

    Honestly, what the Cavs are doing with “CavFanatic” looks tacky & a cheap cash grab. It looks very bush-league to keep trotting out mish-mash fashion jerseys from a team obviously in an identity crisis. In other words, “What the hell are you doing?”

    I really like the current Cavs unis (including the gold alternate) & wish they would stick with them for a long time. It’s a great color scheme, a very clean look overall but I’m not wild about the primary logo because it looks like a modern version of the Los Angeles Clippers logo.

    The only team that should be wearing gold at home is the Lakers.

    Fuck that.

    Why do the Lakers get to be special? The Warriors and Cavs and any other team with yellow/gold as a team color should have the same option.

    Because like it or not, the Lakers are a special franchise in the NBA, and gold at home is their thing. When you start letting every team with gold as a team color have that option, it diminishes L.A.’s unique trait that has been honed for decades.

    No. When the Lakers started wearing white alternates, they gave up any claim to yellow/gold at home. The floodgates have opened. Not only are teams like the Cavs, Warriors & Nuggets allowed to wear yellow, but the NBA has even started allowing other colors for home uniforms – see the Warriors/Kings blue vs black or the various forced red vs green games on December 25. The days of “everyone wears white at home except the Lakers” are over.

    Because like it or not, the Lakers are a special franchise in the NBA, and gold at home is their thing

    Eh, they’ve only been wearing gold since what, 1967-68 season? Yeah the Yankees are a “special” franchise too, but should they be the only ones to wear pinstripes or [midnight] navy? Of course not.

    The NBA has only been around since 1947, not 1894 or whatever like MLB. 45 years of the Lakers in gold is about as traditional as you’re gonna get in the NBA.

    With 30 teams, the last thing you need to be doing is restricting color options. Nobody is going to copy the Lakers Royal Purple & Gold and I’m pretty link the San Francisco Warriors wore a gold home uni before the Lakers did. Just because the Lakers have done blah blah blah doesn’t mean they deserve special treatment. Celtics, Bulls, Knicks/76ers/Pistons (aside from isolated periods) had their colors schemes longer. When it comes to sports unis & colors, nobody “owns” anything.

    As for MLB, yes we do need a purple team, an aqua or teal team (ugh), a brown team, a crimson team, an orange team, etc etc. Hell even the old Pirates mustard brown was nice.

    If the Lakers had always been the only NBA team to wear gold at home, I could get on board with this, but that’s not the case. I don’t know how many teams did it in ye olde days of the NBA, but the Warriors did for sure.

    I will say that I think the Lakers should be wearing the gold unis as often as possible — home and road. Keep the whites as home alts and the purples as road alts.

    Eh, I like the Warriors gold unis & the Denver Nuggets should have a gold uni given their name. It’s also in the Cavs roots as well.

    I don’t get the Lakers having a white uni. It just doesn’t make sense.

    I was just thinking what a link uni this link. Dated looking but what a great color scheme & a nice shot of color. Not link but I still think it looks link.

    They will be soon enough. Seattle is a great basketball market. SuperSonics II could be the Kings. I know the Grizzlies, Hornets & Bucks are committed to their towns via lease. Bobcats have to pay $150 million if they break, Atlanta Hawks (a year ago): $123.5M + $75M if before 2018-19, so who else is left? Indiana Pacers link after (I think) the 2012-13 season with lower penalties than previously agreed to.

    I saw the Cowboys throwback helmet behind Tony Romo on NFL AM this morning. It would be weird of them rolling into Philly in throwbacks…

    Yeah, now I see it! It DOES have an Oilers derrick on one side. Well, that daggone thing looked turquoise and orange to me!

    What? A major NCAA football program making a tasteful, classy, team-colored uniform alteration? Must be the Mayans.

    Agreed, great job. Though it would also have been nice to see it above the horns – much like where the number was placed when he was coaching: link

    Texas will also run their first play out of the wishbone tomorrow to honor DKR. Pretty damn cool if you ask me.

    Yeah JTH, I’m aware… the link I posted, which also didn’t work, was an image of Teal’c from Stargate SG-1 saying “indeed”.


    Your link and my link appear to go to the exact same address, but yours works and mine gives me an error. Apparently I’m not as good at internet as I think I is.


    with the amount of shit THE posts on here, you think he could spend 10 seconds to learn basic HTML

    hey brinke…

    on etsy, the only things that are allowed are vintage and original work…therefore, you can’t sell a recent t-shirt with a bengals logo, but you can cut that shirt up and sew the bengals design onto a tote bag…

    therefore, yes, that shirt you asked about was probably made from one of those old bedsheet/curtain sets that we all had back in the day…


    Not sure if it was mentioned but next Wednesday the Scranton/Wilkes barre Yankees will finally be announcing their new name, logos, and uniforms.


    And for those that forgot the 6 fantastic finalists we got to pick from were: Blast, Black Diamond Bears, Fireflies (should be Lightning Bugs), RailRiders, Porcupines, and Trolley Frogs. If done right Fireflies (should be Lightning bugs), Porcupines, and Trolley Frogs could be interesting. I’m hoping one of those 3 will win. But my guess is Black Diamond Bears, Blast, or RailRiders because they’re the worst of the 6 choices and Black Diamond Bears will look cute on a kids t-shirt and make them want to buy one. But at least they’ll have “black” right in the name so can’t say it’ll be BFBS.

    When they were accepting nominations for the names I submitted Barnstormers. This area seems to be trying to hide it’s coal mining roots so I figured nothing mining related would have a chance, unless you count Blast. But we also have a long railroad history (Steamtown):


    I figured a Barnstormers name could honor that with a logo using one of the Steamtown locomotives (something like the Purdue train logo) and at the same time honor the early era of baseball when players “Barnstormed” from town to town playing exhibition games, by train a lot of times so it tied in. Players such as a certain Yankee some people have heard of named Ruth would “barnstorm” NEPa in the past. Ruth even hit the longest home run of his career here in Wilkes Barre on a field Wilkes University still uses as their home field.


    I guess RailRiders was the “better” choice or something. It must look better on a kids t-shirt. But if it’s RailRiders that wins maybe we can have a hobo as our secondary logo.

    Is the independent team in Lancaster, just a couple hours away, still called the Barnstormers?

    White Out for a cause (COFAC?? Color Out For a Cause)this weekend in D-III women’s hockey in Minnesota.

    Just saw this for the first time today: a Hockey Night in Canada “blue blazer” t-shirt.


    I’m shocked, though, that there isn’t a retro orange version.

    Those metal hockey games, to the best of my knowledge (someone will probably prove me wrong) always featured color on color?

    I received one for Christmas in 1967 that featured the Canadiens and Maple Leafs, color on color (or is it colour on colour?).

    The Cavaliers’ wine and gold uniforms have really grown on me. They have a simple, yet classic look to them. The only thing that really distinguishes them are the colors. It’s very similar to what the Celtics do. No exaggerated side panels or effete necklines. I wish teams would concentrate more on attractive color schemes and less on gimmicks.

    Yup. I couldn’t believe the Cavs got a 101/122 & 23/30 on the Uni Watch rankings. Unique color scheme in the NBA, no more Vegas Gold or navy, classic scoop-neck collar, multiple stripes on the trim & waistband, clean 1-color vertically arched wordmark, # & NOB; back-to-basics no non-sense bullshit. It’s definitely an exercise in restraint & refreshing.

    Forgot before…

    Get well Paul! My dad fell a few years ago trying to keep a runaway dog from running onto a busy road and getting hit. He ended up having screws put in his arm as well. It was terrible for him to go through so I know what you’re dealing with. Hope you have a quick recovery!

    Not sure if it has been mentioned yet, but here are the helmets Texas will be wearing on Saturday to honor Coach Royal.


    Wow this Michigan State-Uconn game is brutal to watch. Those uniforms are the suck. I guess I can be thankful it’s not gray cammo vs pink cammo at least.


    I know this isn’t uni-related, but does anybody know what the specific animation style/theme used for Batman: The Animated Series and My Life as a Teenage Robot is called? I want to say that they have sort of a 1940’s theme, but if there is a specific name for that style, I would really like to know. Also, the style for B:TAS is more focused on the background than the characters, whereas the style in MLaaTR is focused on both the characters and the background, if that makes any sense. Any help is appreciated. Please and thank you in advance.

    The term that was frequently bandied about for the Batman animated series if the 90s was “Dark Deco.”

    Should have said “series OF the 90s.” Damn iPhone touchscreen.

    Anyway, the production was unique. Normally, white paper was used as the starting point for animation; Batman started with black paper. Made certain colors pop (red and yellow) and others muted. Try it yourself; draw something on black paper (using colored pencils), and see the effect.

    Now that we’re a few games into the season, I gotta say that the Knicks new unis look way better in action than I expected. Clean and simple.

    Vince Carter is also wearing some star-spangled headband in the Knicks-Mavs game. There’s gotta be a reason..

    If college basketball players can wear camo during games, then our military should be able to wear a tank top and shorts during combat!

    It could be the fact that it’s a relative close-up, or just my imagination, but Charles Tillman’s sock stripes look abnormally thick here. Almost as if the orange stripes make a field for navy stripes, instead of being orange stripes on a navy background.

    Actually that does look correct despite being really stretched out. It seems they never updated the socks stripes to match the narrower sleeve stripes that changed about 1992. Unrelated they changed the wishbone-C helmet logo in 1997.

    Oh, the socks were definitely updated. But it seems that Nike has made the sock stripes much thicker than they had been in past years. The Reebok-era sock stripes pretty closely matched the sleeves.



    That’s strange that they reverted back to the 1980s/1990s version. I did notice the 2012 socks during games & thought it looked incorrect.

    Ah, there’s my hockey fix: AHL Chicago Wolves (booo) at Milwaukee Admirals – and Admirals wearing white at home – as it should be.

    ND women took on Ohio State in the Carrier Classic (the one game that was able to be completed)

    Instead of full on camo, the Irish wore gold unis with camo side panels. They went with CNOB? USA in red,white and blue in place of NOB, and as a tribute to a former player, a purple heart with the #12 on the front.

    The player was Danielle Green, she played for the Irish 97-00 (I believe) upon graduating from ND she joined the Army. Due to a bombing, she lost part of her arm and is a member of the Wounded Warrior Project. I’m told the players and coaches worked together on this uniform, they took great pride in honoring Danielle.

    Other notes, the sun was still setting so one player was wearing eye black for the game, and Skylar Diggins wore her headband as per usual, this time in camo.


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