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Mound Messaging

Reader James Poisso posted something in yesterday’s comments that I hadn’t been aware of. It involves a storyline that began with this St. Louis Post-Dispatch sports item from last Sunday, which included the following passage:

Several times this season the Cardinals starter has gone to the mound to find subtle symbols scratched on its backside, near the rubber spikes used to scrub off dirt. “They’ve been there every time for me,” ace Adam Wainwright said. To the left of the spikes is a Christian cross and just below it is a looped figure. It’s a “6” for Stan Musial, the Cardinals great who died in January. A member of the grounds crew puts the symbols on the mound for most home games.

That prompted a piece on Tuesday on the website of the St. Looey alt-weekly the Riverfront Times, which described the cross symbol as being inappropriate (and also suggested that the “6” might actually be an ichthys, or “Jesus fish,” although I don’t see it that way myself). That in turn inspired a column yesterday by Post-Dispatch columnist Bill McClellan, who said he’s “not very religious” himself but that the cross on the mound makes him feel “uneasy.”

A few thoughts on all of this:

• The Sunday Post-Dispatch item first says the cross and the “6” have been on the mound “several times” and then says a grounds crew member has put them there “for most home games.” That sounds a bit contradictory — like, is it an occasional thing or a default thing? So I went and checked the video for about half a dozen Cardinals home games randomly scattered throughout this season. The cross and the “6” were there on the mound for all of them. So unless I just randomly managed to pick the right half-dozen games (in which case I should probably go buy Powerball tickets), this appears to have been going on all season long and nobody noticed it or mentioned it until now. Here’s how it typically looks from the centerfield camera shot (click to enlarge):

• The Riverfront Times piece is pretty good, but I think McClellan’s Post-Dispatch column is fairly ridiculous on several different levels. Not a good piece of writing or a good argument for anything. I linked to it because it’s part of the developing storyline, but let’s not treat it as a definitive statement or analysis. We can all discuss this at a higher level than McClellan did.

• That said, a cross on a mound makes me uneasy too. Part of it is that I don’t think the mound should be used as a billboard, period. But if that’s how it’s going to be used, it should only be for team- or league-oriented messages or symbols (like, say, the “6” for Musial, which at least is a Cardinals-oriented thing). Putting a religious symbol there seems like a particularly bad idea, especially when it’s being done by a rogue groundskeeper. What if the groundskeeper were Jewish, Muslim, Hindu, Sikh, or pagan, and had inscribed one of those symbols on the mound? For that matter, what if he had inscribed a political symbol, like a Democratic donkey, a Republican elephant, or a Nazi swastika? All of these strike me as equally inappropriate. For one thing, endorsing a specific message or agenda sends the implicit signal that you’re excluding all co-existing messages and agendas. How is a non-Christian Cardinals fan supposed to feel when he or she sees that symbol on the mound? Also, the mound is where a couple of specific players work. Why should a non-Christian pitcher (whether he has a different faith or no faith at all) have to pitch on a mound with a Christian symbol?

It’s worth noting that there’s no shortage of religious symbolism in sports. Players routinely cross themselves, point heavenward to give thanks, wear religious pendants on their necklaces (or on other jewelry), and have religious-themed tattoos, all of which strikes me as fine.

Somewhat more problematically, Billy Martin wore a cross pin on his cap while managing, and so did his protégé Bucky Dent — not good, because you shouldn’t be adding symbols to your uniform. Same goes for that cross symbol on Troy Polamalo’s jersey. And don’t get me started on “God Bless America.”

I’m sure some of you will think I’m being anti-religion here. But this isn’t about being for or against religion; it’s about whether certain categories of messaging are appropriate on the field of play. I think the cross on the mound fails that test. Now that it’s been brought to light, I hope the Cards instruct the groundskeeper to stop doing it.

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Because you can’t spell “marketing genius” without a swoosh: An interesting story unfolded at Wimbledon yesterday. It began when tournament officials told Roger Federer not to wear the orange-soled Nike sneakers he had worn in his first-round match, because they ran afoul of the All-England Club’s notorious rules mandating all-white clothing. Seems ridiculous to invoke that rule over the soles, but whatever — he can just switch to another pair of sneakers, right?

Several people immediately wondered aloud if Nike had known all along that the sneakers wouldn’t pass muster with All-England officials and was actually trying to provoke the ban as a way to get some free publicity. That notion was reinforced yesterday afternoon, when Nike sent out this tweet:

Several readers pointed out this tweet to me, all with the general sentiment, “You’ve gotta hand it to Nike, they can turn anything into a marketing campaign.” USA Today took a similar stance, referring to the Nike tweet as “a brilliant promo.”

It didn’t look so brilliant a few hours later, when Federer was ousted from the tournament in the second round. One-match wonder, indeed. In his post-match press conference, Federer was asked if the change of sneakers had any effect on his performance, and he said no. To my knowledge, nobody asked him how he feels about his sponsor’s brilliant marketing department turning him into the punchline to a joke. But hey, it’s just business, right? Justifies everything, or so I hear.

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’Skins Watch: Here’s the latest regarding the ’Skins name and related issues:

• A school district board in Washington has voted to stop using “Redskins” and associated imagery for its teams.

(That’s it for today. Thanks to Jonathan Thrush for the submission.)

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Theoretically speaking: The 4th of July is a week from today, which means many of you will be firing up the grill. Just speaking hypothetically here, but wouldn’t it be cool if you had something meat-themed to wear for the occasion? Sure it would.

And if you prefer Uni Watch stylings, don’t forget this popular number.

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Uni Watch News Ticker: Looks like the Knicks will have an orange alternate uni next season. I can tell you they’re gonna have at least one additional alternate besides that, but I can’t say more, at least not yet. … Worst of both worlds: Mississippi State showcased a pink football jersey with G.I. Joe pants. Fortunately, it’s just a concept, not for on-field use (from Christopher Hall). ”¦ Matthew Walthert points out that the podium ceremony at last Sunday’s 24 Hours of Le Mans featured the German flag being flown upside-down. ”¦ “I went to the doctor and noticed the Bears/Packers scene at the bottom of this ‘Hip and Knee’ poster,” says Jake Kessler. “Says it was made in Skokie, Illinois, so it’s strange that it’s the Bears player who’s about to have his career ended.” … “Back in April, my daughter graduated from Pitt,” says Jeff Jacobs. “I passed by a concession stand and saw a pin that looked like an old-fashioned bobblehead doll. If you take a look at the back of the pin, you’ll see a small spring attaching the head to the body, allowing the head to move like a real bobblehead doll!” … Wanna get a ’Skins pin? All you have to do is work for the team for free (from Tommy Turner). … Also from Tommy: Bills fans are upset about no longer being able to bring seat cushions to games. … New gold alternate helmet for Southern Miss. Further info here. … The New Girl collects old pins, and the other night she proudly showed me her latest acquisition. “Hey,” I said, “Elmer Layden! He was the NFL commissioner who instituted the rule requiring players to wear high socks! And before that he was one of Notre Dame’s Four Horsemen, who posed on horseback! And…” The New Girl’s eyes were starting to glaze over by this point. Anyway, the pin was apparently part of a full “Safety Club Kit.” Cool. … The Mets now have a new Mrs. Met mascot, and she looks, well, kinda dowdy. … The logo for Euro 2016 has been revealed (from Bill Radocy). … Todd Radom has uncovered some new wrinkles in Seattle Pilots uniform history. … A trade group called the Headwear Association is giving away a bunch of wide-brimmed hats to highlight the benefits of sun protection (from Tom Mulgrew). … The city of Philadelphia is calling on local artists to redesign the city’s bike racks (from Scott Lederer). ”¦ Here’s a site that specializes in 1990s NBA jerseys. ”¦ “At cycling stage races, daily winners are given special jerseys with their team’s logos on them,” says Sean Clancy. “Here’s a video clip about the guy who printed those jerseys at this year’s Giro d’Italia.” ”¦ Gordon Donovan has been tracking all the All-Star apples around NYC. ”¦ New matte white helmets for Louisville (thanks, Phil). ”¦ Here’s a good slideshow on the evolution of the tennis racket (thanks, Brinke). … Further confirmation that the Broncos are ditching the neck roll (from Brandon Becar). ”¦ Tired of all the chatter about Christian symbols, Native American imagery, and all the rest? Forget all of that and feast your eyes on this magnificent photo from 1972. How sweet is that?! Okay, let that soak in and then go start your day (and give a big thanks to Phil for finding it).

Comments (193)

    Wholeheartedly agree about the mound thing.

    And really hate playing of god bless america at games. Atheists love baseball too. :)

    Yep – I’m an Atheist and I love baseball. And I am really tired of reigion.
    “Religion poisons everything” – Christopher Hitchens

    I don’t know where or how his parents chose his name. My guess is he didn’t have much of a say in what he was named.
    My name is Matthew – but that doesn’t make me any more or less likely to believe in the bible, if in fact, that is where my parents chose my name.
    Thankfully, I have a fully functioning brain, at least I think I do, and I am able to make my own decisions and not believe in something just because I am TOLD to believe.

    I find radical athiests just as annoying and closed minded as radical religious types.

    I’m a Christian and I loathe GBA at ballgames. Heck, I loathe it everywhere. It’s neither patriotic nor a song. It’s a prayer, and it’s a bad, nearly God-denyingly blasphemous, prayer at that. (Hint: If you start your prayer by listing the blessings God has already given you, your prayer needs to end with “thanks” rather than “so bless me.”)

    And the cross doesn’t belong on the mound. There’s a rich history of Christian graffiti, but it’s an expression of identity in the face of persecution – that’s how it’s worked since at least the second century AD. If Christians were an oppressed or hidden minority in America, a cross or other symbol on the mound would be much less arguable. But this is America, where Christians are the large and governing majority. I’m all for evangelism, witness, and even overt proselytizing, but Jesus gave some pretty specific guidance about how to go about those things. It’s in the New Testament, which I find myself having much too often to urge self-identified Christians to try reading sometime. A graffiti cross on public property is both not on the long list of ways Jesus called his followers to spread th Good News and it risks creating a “tyranny of the majority” situation. If a, say, Jewish pitcher wished to remove the cross – let’s say because his grandparents were victims of the Holocaust, most of whose perpetrators were practicing Christians – he would know that he would face widespread disapproval, including likely from many of his own teammates, for scuffing out the cross with his cleats. And the person who put the cross on the mound knows this, and so is hiding behind the strength of majority opinion to protect his religious statement.

    When you hide behind majority opinion to express yourself at the expense of someone else, that’s not courage, and that’s not actually Christian witness. That’s just cowardice, plain and simple. Jesus doesn’t call his followers to be cowards who hide behind the mob or the state.

    Christians are the most oppressed minority in America. Fox News told me so.

    Personally, I think GBA is okay on special occasions (e.g. 4th of July/Memorial/Labor Day).

    I’m not a big fan of it on regular Sundays (a la the Mets) do it and to play it every game (e.g. the Yankees) is somewhat offensive.

    It’s become more about “we’re the Yankees, the most patriotic team & every other team is a bunch of commies because they don’t do this” than the song. Maybe its the Steinbrenner connection, maybe its because of the ridiculous means that the police/ushers used to enforce the rules around moving during the song, but playing it every game is just over the top.

    See, I especially object to GBA on patriotic holidays. Because it is not a patriotic song. A patriotic song either praises America, or asserts in some way that America is worthy of praise. We’re the land of the free and the home of the brave. Our alabaster cities gleam, we are heroes proved in liberating strife, ours is the land that the Pilgrims loved, our flag makes you free, this is the land we love the best, American is something I’m proud to be, and so forth.

    Nothing at all like that in GBA. So on the Fourth, how about we stick to singing actual patriotic songs and leave GBA to the Yankees’ ceaseless, maudlin 9/11 pandering? And if Americans no longer know the words to our many actual patriotic songs, then all the more reason to sing them at ballparks and get them back into circulation. I’m not saying we need to sing “Marching Through Georgia” every time the Braves come to town to play the Nats – though I am in fact saying that – but how about “America” or “America the Beautiful” or “The Battle Cry of Freedom” or “Hail Columbia” once in a while?

    Oh, man, how have we not seen #John316 scrawled on a field somewhere?

    Unfortunately, #YourSportsFandomIsProbablyIdolatryAndGodHasAnOpinionAboutThat probably won’t fit on the back of a pitcher’s mound.

    While i agree the mound isn’t a billboard, a cross is a very very common traditional grave marker. I don’t believe anyone was trying to make a religious statement here.

    …a very very common traditional Christian grave marker. And who’s buried there?

    So you see this as part of the Musial memorial. And would you therefore be OK if the team wore a cross as a memorial sleeve patch? Why or why not?

    A black ribbon or memorial patch would do just fine. Or since he loved the harmonica, why not put that on there? It’s always religion…

    Haven’t really noticed, but isn’t the mound used by teams to put their cap logo on these days? I’ve actually come to accept that somewhat, though it did take some time to adjust.

    I’ve come around to conclude that no symbols–including logos– should be allowed on the mound for both philosophical and aesthetic reasons. Keep it clean.

    Of course, the odd game of tic-tac-toe which 1st basemen engage in must also be banned and that’s too bad, but rules are rules.

    RE: the Cardinals. People in the center of the country aren’t as secular-progressive like people in California or the Northeast.

    That’s pretty much true. You can make a case that west of the Appalachian Mountains north of the Washington D.C. area, then everything south of D.C.’s influence, all the way to the Rockies and into Eastern Washington & Eastern Oregon are the so-called “Middle America”.

    What you have to love about this country is that the Founding Fathers originally intended “freedom of religion” as the different denominations of Christianity, as this was after the Protestant movement but before the Restoration movement. They didn’t intend it to be for different religions altogether, but as a Christian I’m happy that it turned out that way.

    The grounds crew should not be able to put any marking on any part of the field without approval from the team. If the pitcher chooses to do it, that does not bother me as much. I’ve always felt that the mound “belongs” to the pitcher during the game. On the other hand, if the opposing pitcher decides to scratch out whatever was put there, I’m fine with that, too. It would be fun to watch the back and forth during a game. Lastly, if the grounds crew is allowed to do it, then they need to do a much better job. If they can put Northwestern stripes in the outfield they can make a professional looking 6 in the dirt so we don’t have to guess if it is a Jesus fish.

    Yeah, I feel the “6” is a little lacking, considering that we have seen mounds with team logos, and actual block-numbering. For a half-assed “6” to be drawn in the dirt is suspect. Also, why would the Musial tribute be drawn where the cleat-scraper sits? Wouldn’t that mean that the pitcher will be stepping on the Musial memorial when he cleans his spikes?

    The groundscrew can’t just put anything back there. Unless the pitcher does it on his own–one comes to mind who would put the initials of his mother/grandmother–in the dirt behind the mound what you see there is on the order of the team.

    The 6 is not a 6, I’m willing to wager. It’s the Christian Fish. I’ll wager a lot, in fact.

    I am a self-described Catholic who believes that every sentence in the Nicene Creed is delusional, but you know, it’s my cultural home, and so I’m an Irish Catholic for tribal identity reasons the same way that some atheist Jews (50% of my family and 68% of my friends, btw) describe themselves as Jewish. I have studied the scriptures more extensively than most Christians and love love love the Jesus in the Gospel of St Matthew. I got no problems with crosses on churches, on parochial schools, in graveyards, or on chains around the neck. You know, like the crucifix necklace on that nice Catholic neighbor lady than Don Draper likes to visit.

    Given this position of authority, I will also bet money that it was a Protestant member of the grounds crew that started the cross and fish etchings on the Cardinals’ mound. Maybe the Catholic guys kept it up — maybe — but my experience is that only fundamentalist Protestants are that far gone. And that disrespectful.

    BECAUSE — sorry to shout — the United States of America is NOT A CHRISTIAN COUNTRY. Dammit. Christians should not impose their iconography on secular spaces. What if there were a crescent moon engraved on the damn mound, with a zipper message behind home plate reminding us that there is no God but God, and Muhammed is his prophet?

    Being from St. Louis and being a cardinals fan I can tell you that I didn’t even notice the cross until the article was written.

    McClellan’s an idiot. He portrays himself as writing a column from an “everyman” perspective, but he essentially takes a “woe is me/victim of persecution/devils advocate” argument.

    Sure, question everything….but he contorts his argument into such knots so that he can make his argument that it becomes hard to take him seriously.

    If someone ever says “So I was reading McClellan’s column, and….” it’s best to just walk away.

    This may have been covered before, but I find it odd that the Southern Miss helmet continues to have the name of the school in ALL CAPS, while the Conference USA website has the school’s word logo in lowercase letters. Anyone know why?

    Well, that ended up in the wrong place…. Anyway, Everton fans absolutely hate the new crest, and there have been strong suggestions that it will be only a one-year thing…

    More than “strong suggestions” – they’ve outright link.

    Everton have apologised to their fans after the overwhelmingly negative reaction to the club’s proposed new crest, and want supporters to help design another badge for the season after next.

    Due to time constraints with kit manufacturers Nike, the unpopular new design – which does not feature the club motto, Nil Satis Nisi Optimum, meaning ‘Nothing but the best’ – has to be used for the coming campaign.

    But in a turnaround from the board, the crest will be redesigned again in the next year with wider fan consultation involved in the design process.

    I’m a practicing Catholic, but I’ll take my mound with no religious symbols please. It’s like topping ice cream with beef gravy. No thanks. It seems mounds these days are cluttered enough with team logos and such.

    I always associated the mound with the Jewish faith anyway…to me the mound is the field’s yamaka.

    Also, though religious symbols on the sporting uni or field is a no-no, sport logos on religious garb is a-ok….link

    “unhappy triad”

    sugar-coated understatement of the day?

    Also, who taught that Packer to tackle?? WRAP HIM UP!!!

    I think the discussion of the cross on the mound today may be the most ridiculous discussion ever on Uniwatch. It’s certainly offensive. And the discussion being had isn’t a “higher” level one to be sure.

    First, the comparison of religious symbols to political symbols doesn’t stand up. To people of faith, the religious symbol is with regards to the message of a higher power. It isn’t the ideology of a man to them. While you may not believe it, they do. So trying to compare a symbol for judaism to the swastika or the Democratic donkey is an automatic fail.

    Second, you’re leaning on a common speculative opinion thats always targeted solely at Christians as an excuse for people own personal behavior. The argument that “what if this were a different religious symbol” doesn’t hold up either because its applying your own emotional opinion onto people you don’t agree with. It’s projection. Plenty of people of faith, even the Christian faith, can see symbols of faith every day without having a hissy fit about it.

    As a society we can either choose to be tolerant of others views and inclusive or we can fight as much as possible to shut down any “public” display of a message to stifle it. One guy does this. While its on the mound of the team, its still one guys action. Its in the dirt where anyone at any moment could intentionally or unintentionally wipe it away. As a christian I can affirm for you that I’m not giving a second thought if a grounds crew of a different faith does the same thing. I don’t need to create problems just to create problems which is what is being done here.

    It is religious intolerance.

    you’re leaning on a common speculative opinion thats always targeted solely at Christians as an excuse for people own personal behavior.

    I beg your pardon? What “personal behavior” of mine are you referring to?

    Plenty of people of faith, even the Christian faith, can see symbols of faith every day without having a hissy fit about it.

    I see. A “hissy fit”? And you think someone else here is the one being “intolerant”?

    Hey, as long as we’re talking about Christianity and sports, someone has done a series of paintings of Jesus wearing soccer jerseys:

    My question is whether Jesus would wear a Liverpool shirt. :)

    That said, as a Christian, I find it interesting that a cross and, assuming it’s a fish symbol, would find its way on to the mound. Is it appropriate? I have no problem with it. All kinds of symbols are out there every day, and not all people will be particularly fond of all symbols. But you tolerate them, chalk it to “That’s interesting,” and move on. I mean, considering there’s a growing movement to remove all religious symbolism from public view, the fact that a groundskeeper or whoever might draw a simple cross on the mound where, pardon the expression, God and everyone can see it, this is just fine.

    That said, thanks for pointing this out, because it was interesting.

    the fact that a groundskeeper or whoever might draw a simple cross on the mound where, pardon the expression, God and everyone can see it, this is just fine.

    Here’s where I disagree with you. The groundskeeper should not be using the mound as a canvas for his own personal expression. I don’t much care for the various ad slogans teams put there, but at least that’s a team message.

    Uniforms are not the place for personal messages, and neither are fields of play.

    I agree that the groundskeeper(s) shouldn’t be able to use the mound as a canvas for his/her personal views. I always put it on the other foot with religion to see if it passes muster – What if it was an Islamic, Buddhist, etc. symbol? Would this discussion be passed of nonchalantly as no big deal? It all depends on whose god is getting the praise.

    Here’s another way to look at this, as a friend of mine who says she’s a not a religious person: Do any of the Cardinals object to this? If they do, then we may have something. If they don’t, then what’s the problem?

    1. What makes a player’s opinion on it worth more than a spectator’s?

    2. Players are about the last people I’d listen to on this, given the combination of “kewl” factor and tunnel-vision-don’t-care-about-the-details.

    I don’t know that I would go as far to call it religious intolerance as much as it’s just not appropriate to do to being with. If a groundscrew member wants to put a symbol on the field why not put it on the warning track or somewhere inconspicuous in foul territory? This individual knows the type of exposure they are going for. I am a person that goes to church every Sunday morning and then spend time with my Phillies every Sunday afternoon (talk about a team needing a religious miracle right now). If I walked into church and saw my pastor wearing a clergy robe with red pinstripes and a stylized “P” it would strike me just as a bit inappropriate.

    Your Phillies analogy reminds me of the time a Catholic priest in the Netherlands was suspended for having a soccer themed mass before the World Cup final.



    We control what matters to us, what we listen to and what we ignore. Once we start trying to define and limit whats appropriate as far as religious expression goes we start down the path toward more censoring. Maybe its a mound, or a jersey lapel Tomorrow its the pin on a banker or an ad on a bus. Ten years from now its wearing any religious garb anywhere other than home or church.

    The good thing is that if you go to Church and the pastor decides to wear a Phillies hat one day you have the option of either being offended and picking a new church, being offended and giving up faith altogether, shrugging your sholders and ignoring it or enjoying it.

    If a cross from one man is that offensive to whoever chooses to be offended by it then fans can stay away and boycott Busch. Or people can learn to be tolerant of the expression of faith, just as they are tolerant of various cultures and types of players that play ball.

    Again, we get to empower the world around us.

    “Once we start trying to define and limit whats appropriate as far as religious expression goes we start down the path toward more censoring. Maybe its a mound, or a jersey lapel Tomorrow its the pin on a banker or an ad on a bus. Ten years from now its wearing any religious garb anywhere other than home or church.”

    How on Earth is objecting to a brand-new form of “religious expression” a slippery slope towards eliminating it altogether?

    That’s like saying our objecting to the introduction of uniform ads next year is a step towards communism.

    Paul, you know damn well what he means by “personal behavior”. Your people killed Jesus.

    The personal behavior I’m talking about is intolerance. If you don’t like something it has to be hidden and shushed away. And while of course there are Christians who would do the same it doesn’t apply to all of them. Plenty of Christians are tolerant and accepting of different faiths and opinions.

    And of course I use a term like hissy fit and you want to turn around an say I’m intolerant? I’m not the one hoping someone silences an opinion. I’m merely sharing my opinion of yours. I’m not trying to shut down your site or telling you to shut up on the topic.

    Again, you’re not having a higher level discussion on this. You’re stooping to weak arguments rather than having a serious discussion.

    Saying I believe something is inappropriate is not “intolerance.” If that were the case, then anyone disagreeing with anyone about anything would be “intolerance.”

    I’m neither anti-religion in general nor anti-Christian in particular. But I do think some forums for religious expression — including the pitcher’s mound — are less appropriate than others. If you think that qualifies as “intolerance,” well, that’s your prerogative. I’m fairly certain most people — even those who no problem with the cross being on the mound — would disagree with your characterization.

    Its not about the belief or the opinion. Its about the action you want taken. I could care less what your opinion is regarding this issue or about Christians in general. Whats bothersome is that without even getting 100% of the details in the story you hoped action would be taken to stop this from happening.

    At some point opinions and disagreements do cross the line from just that and into something else like racism or sexism or homophobia or general intolerance. You have to admit that that line exists otherwise defaulting to “we simply disagree” would be an excuse for anything.

    In this case I take the desire for action as crossing that line and in other cases a lot less is used as criteria for crossing that line.

    You’re not on the pitching staff and you’re not a Cardinals fan. Plus, as I’ve pointed out and has generally been ignored, this is a point to come together rather than to divide. Let the Christians do what they want to do. You’re not required to join in the faith. I’d rather err on the side of allowing a person to express their faith rather than repressing it.

    Now if the team starts changing its whole identity to crosses and they plant one in the outfield we can talk. But this is two lines in the dirt that can be wiped away in the blink of an eye. I think fighting (alright, not hissy fitting sorry) over this does more damage to both sides than anything else.

    Hopefully you can understand that and you can understand the visceral response that can be provoked from telling people of faith they need to hide it. You have to respect that . . .

    Ryan, no offense, but you keep declaring victory at checkers while the rest of us are playing chess.

    Between your mischaracterization of other people’s views (including but not limited to mine), your penchant for inflammatory language, and your faulty analysis, you’re just embarrassing yourself. Please give it a rest. There are other people here who have no problem with the cross on the mound and who can express themselves without digging the type of hole you’re digging. Let’s move on. Thanks.

    I haven’t declared victory at anything. All I’ve tried to do is have a conversation, however terse it started. But you’ve avoided any discussion and now you’re condescending. It’s tiresome Paul the way you treat your readers.

    Ryan, not everyone agrees with what I wrote today. But do you know how many people besides yourself have (a) referred to today’s topic as “ridiculous”; (b) referred to today’s entry as “a hissy fit”; (c) referred to my position as being “intolerant”; and (d) referred to today’s content as being “offensive”?

    Answer: Zero.

    Now, maybe you’re the only one who can see through the veil of cultural prejudice I’ve so skillfully woven here.

    Or maybe — just maybe — you’re the extremist here, not me.

    I’m done for the day. Going out to see music. Have fun!

    Hopefully you can understand that and you can understand the visceral response that can be provoked from telling people of faith they need to hide it.

    No one is telling anyone they have to hide their faith. As others have pointed out today, a cross drawn anonymously on a pitcher’s mound isn’t much of a statement of faith in the first place since we can’t really tell who’s making it. This is not an example of someone being stifled in their attempts to “boldly proclaiming” their faith since there isn’t much boldness involved.

    Symbols of faith are not just meaningless. They represent a belief and stand for an thousands of years of atrocities. Creating problems is key for religion.
    Image a world without religion – no Crusades, no Holocaust, no 9/11, no Boston Marathon bombing…..I could go on and on. Sounds pretty nice, doesn’t it?

    No civil rights movement in the United States either.

    Sound pretty nice, doesn’t it? /irony

    Without the bible, and it’s propensity for slavery and inequality, the civil rights movement may have never been needed.
    Creating the problem, then acting as if you played a role in solving the problem, is not moral.

    People can be malicious regardless of religion. World War II’s Eastern Front was the most destructive series of battles in human history and it was fought between two atheist governments. Also during the war, Japan caused millions of Chinese deaths. The actions of several communist governments in the 20th century resulted in tens of millions of their own citizens dying. Unfortunately, cruelty has no bounds.


    Let’s please not turn this into a debate on the merits of religion.

    The question at hand is whether religious symbolism is appropriate on the field of play. Let’s try to stick to that. Thanks.

    No, because the atrocities are of mans doing. Men perverted faith to bad ends. And focusing on that means you have to willingly ignore the good done by people of faith, particularly when its been inspired by that faith.

    There are multiple sides to every story and you’ve elected to focus on just one side. Not a comprehensive view.

    I couldn’t disagree more with this.

    I am a Christian. I happen to be a Mormon. It’s fun being a Mormon these days: pretty much everyone hates us, or at least thinks we’re crazy, and many Christians argue that we’re not really Christians, which makes them hate us most of all.

    The use of the cross in this context — not as a personal symbol of devotion, not as a reminder of faith, not even as a witness or testimony, but as a means of imposing one’s personal values on people who only came to watch a ballgame — is deeply offensive. If the groundskeeper had been a Muslim, and he’d scratched a star and crescent into the mound, or if I’d gone out their and etched an Angel Moroni silhouette (it’s a representation of the Gospel of Christ going to all the world, a peculiarly Mormon symbol), would you be so sanguine?

    When missionaries were first taking Christianity to the masses, the cross was the perfect logo: it’s memorable, it’s incredibly easy to reproduce, and what it symbolizes — defeat not only of the punishing power of the Roman Empire, but defeat of death itself — is tremendously powerful.

    Two millennia on, and overuse and abuse has reduced it to the Nike swoosh of religion. Christ has pretty much been removed from the cross. It has been used to as the emblem of jingoism and genocide, racism and economic exploitation, and Madonna, in her “Lucky Star” period: pretty much everything Christ counseled against.

    There are millions for whom the cross is a sacred symbol of devotion, and that sentiment is well deserving of respect. Reducing that symbol to mound graffiti is an insult to them, and to what the cross is intended to represent.

    Just to be clear, because the thread is sort of tangled, I was disagreeing with the “disliking mound crosses is religious intolerance” comment.

    Also, I typed “there” and it autocorrected to “their”.

    I’m not ungrammatical. I have an English degree.

    Surely the “hate” of Mormons is vastly less today than it was even 30 years ago. I mean, we just had an ironic 47% of the country rooting for a Mormon to be president, and lots of sports fans are rooting for members of a crop of really talented young Mormon athletes. Myself included! Heck, the probably most famous sports quote of the decade so far, “That’s a clown question, bro,” was at least in part an expression of Mormon identity.

    Doesn’t seem like Mormons are nearly as likely to slap icons on stuff as other Christians. I mean, you don’t see Moroni or his horn on baseball mounds or car bumpers. If you scanned the parking lot of an LDS temple, would you see a lot of silver fish on the backs of the cars like you would at Our Lady of Perpetual Responsibility or your local Protestant megachurch on Sunday?

    In a 2006 Pew Research survey or religious tolerance in America, Mormons were the third “least trusted” group, behind Muslims and atheists. Mitt’s Mormonism was seen as a HUGE liability, and a cause for real concern among many evangelicals, so a lot of that 47% was less rooting for Mitt to win, than rooting for the other guy to lose.

    There have always been Mormon sports stars. Jack Dempsey (nonpracticing, but we claim him). Vernon Law. Danny Ainge (sort of a jerk, but we claim him). Steve Young. Mormons are like Canadians: we are acutely aware of our own.

    Mormons as a rule eschew the fish, the cross, and even the trumpeting angel as bumper icon. On the other hand, many of our tribe favor a gold letters on green shield logo, bearing the inscription “C-T-R”, which stands for “Choose the Right”. You see stuff like that a lot in places like Temple parking lots. And BYU stickers. Lots and lots of BYU stickers.

    Yeah, I guess I do sort of see BYU window clings and sweatshirts as a Mormon identity statement more than I “read” say, Notre Dame stuff as a Catholic identity statement, if only barely.

    But I think it is true that although there have been Mormon athletes in the past, today it’s much more, for want of a better word, normal. As in, Mormons may all know that Vernon Law was Mormon, but probably most fans don’t, and at the time may have thought a little less of him if they had known. Today, Bryce Harper for example is pretty forward about his faith, and in my experience every Harper fan both knows that he’s Mormon and doesn’t really care about it any more than they would if they learned he was Presbyterian.

    As to Romney, his Mormonism almost certainly hurt him in the Republican primaries. (Likely cost him the nomination in 2008 – though GOP rules were likely more decisive. If the GOP had the same proportional rules for allocating delegates that Democrats used that year, Romney probably would have beaten McCain, Mormon or no.) But nationally? I’ve seen no studies based on actual data that suggest it played a factor, nor does the hypothesis pass the smell test. First, potentially anti-Mormon voters are concentrated on the political right. Second, a very large percentage of those who regard Mormons as suspect or untrustworthy not only believe atheists and Muslims to be worse, but actually believe Romney’s opponent was in fact both atheist and Muslim. Third, it’s been a long time since religious bias showed up in significant, measurable levels in national elections. People may talk a good game on religious intolerance, but in November they vote party, structural (mainly economic) factors, and incumbency. Romney actually outperformed, slightly, what you’d expect if you simply ran the math on the basis of party, structural factors, and incumbency while assuming he was a Baptist. So either Mormonism helped him, or it wasn’t a factor at all and statistical randomness pushed up his vote, or his opponent faced some sort of bias that outweighed any voter bias against Mormons. In any event, religion, at least of the Moses/Jesus flavors, doesn’t seem to enter into the equation in a two-way national race.

    But anyway, back to sports, I’ve long felt that the Red Sox would do well to switch their navy for dark green to capture the national loyalty of Irish-Americans. Which would make them, I suppose, the BYU of Irish Catholics. Anyway, I can guarantee that a green-clad Red Sox would win the instant loyalty of my entire family on my mom’s side.

    You make a good point. NPR interviewed an Ole Miss Poli Sci professor during the primaries. He sounded like the old guy in “The Waterboy”, lecturing on the alligator’s medulla oblongata. Anyway, he said that in Miss’sippi, those Baptist folks had been taught from the day they were born not to trust a Mormon, so Romney would no do well in the Mississippi primary. The reporter asked what would happen if Romney got the GOP nomination. The guy didn’t hesitate. “Well, for these folks, the only thing worse than votin’ for a Mormon, is votin’ for a Black fella they think is Muslim.”

    Bryce Harper is fascinating, because a main focus of Mormon leaders for the last 20 or 30 years is encouraging people to step out of the culture (Mormons tend to be insular; some people call the Intermountain West the “Zion Curtain” states), and represent themselves to the wider world. Harper is the product of that training.

    I’ve always thought of the Bruins as the Irish club in Boston, not the Sox (or for some reason, the Celtics). Dark green and red would look terrific, it just wouldn’t feel right.

    Ooh, Cort, good point.

    In The Friends of Eddie Coyle, that most wonderful of Boston novels, the Irish cops and/or robbers keep talking about “the Broons” this and “the Broons” that. The Boston Garden mobs always included a fair number of Italians and French-Canadians, though, and the fanbase has continued to diversify since the heyday of George Higgins.

    Preposterous, however, to suggest that the Boston Irish would ever want the Sawx to switch to green. The Irish love tradition much much more than they love green, fer kreissake, and that goes for enemy tradition, too. Red Sox fans would hate it if the Yankees ever changed their pinstripes. Besides, Boston College is maroon-and-gold and Holy Cross is purple-and-white and you’ll find no colleges more Irish Catholic anywhere.

    I’d have zero problem with any other displays of faith by players or team employees, just as I have no issue with any other cultural displays by players. This idea that “what if x happened” is a faulty leap of logic. First, if applied directly to me its an assumption when you don’t know me. Second, its an application to so many more people than would actually behave that way. Third, its an attempt to use bad behavior to justify bad behavior. Just because some racist would freak out if a ballplayer towed a muslim emblem into the dirt doesn’t make it right.

    I also think you jump to a huge assumption that this act is trying to “impose” anything on anyone. Simply seeing a cross displayed by someone doesn’t mean that individual is trying to force their beliefs on you. You have no idea who the crew member is as a person and if he’s trying to simply show his faith or not. So again, another assumption jumped to.

    And that, I think, is my main point here. There is a lot of rush to opinion and judgment based on assumptions or personal animosity here. Thats why I’m calling intolerance on the whole thing. I think a segment of culture is so bent up over faith these days that rather out of dislike, being apologetic or just because people jump on the band wagon on the issue rather than standing back and trying to be unbiased or tolerant.

    As someone who can be described as an evangelical Christian, I’m not a particularly big fan of the cross on the pitching mound. It is problematic under a number of different scenarios.

    If it’s being done by a “rogue” groundskeeper without explicit permission from the team, then he is expressing his views on a platform that is not his to use. It presumes to propogate a message that his employer may or may not want. And it does so in a forum in which most would attribute that message to the employer. That is presumptuous and disrespectful to they employer.

    If the cross is being put there at the direction of the team, that’s certainly their prerogative. But it resonates with ham-handed authoritarianism toward those players who may not wish to convey that message.

    Regardless of who’s behind the cross emblem on the mound, I wonder what purpose it’s supposed to serve. Is someone trying to “reach the lost”? Symbols like the cross aren’t effective tools to reach people who believe differently than you. They’re really for the like-minded to let them know that you, too, are “in.” And, more often than not, it makes those who are not “in” feel excluded and less receptive to the message you want to convey.

    The problem here is that some people need this to be an issue. If the team allows it, it doesn’t mean that they’ve made a decision that only Christianity is worthwhile. It can easily mean that they are simply accepting of an employees faith and permissive of his want to display it.

    Further, people who are not of a faith aren’t required by law to be offended by the expression of another faith. In fact, thats something we should be fighting against. Religious intolerance has lead too many people down the wrong path and too much death to occur. And while we may have fewer battles over faith physically today, the attempt to silence or stifle religious expression still keeps those divides alive and burning.

    And thats my suggestion, is that rather than create an issue out of this we should celebrate it. Maybe players of different faiths on different teams could make their own marks on mounds and we can celebrate humans being who they are rather than recoiling and fighting and covering up.

    We don’t need to view permissiveness as “authoritarian”.

    The purpose of the cross is whatever the grounds crews purpose is. Maybe he’s just a person of faith expressing it. Maybe Stan Musial was a Christian so its a tribute that goes along with the 6. maybe its just putting another Christian symbol out there to get in peoples eyes and minds.

    I know this much, there are so many unanswered questions about it that it may serve better to get some FULL reporting on it before judgments are made and before hissy fits are thrown to get it tossed to the side.

    At the end of the day I think the choice is up to the crew man, the Cardinals pitching staff and the ownership. If they want to be culturally inclusive more power to them.

    One more use of the the term “hissy fit” and you’ll be blocked from commenting. (Yes, in this case I’m truly being “intolerant.”) Please stop using it. Thanks.

    RCJ, you’re rushing to judgment. I don’t think any of us need this to be an issue. And I don’t think anyone here is particularly intolerant. And the tenor of the discussion has been respectful, thoughtful and intelligent, despite your earlier assertions to the contrary.

    You’ve missed the point. You don’t achieve “cultural inclusion” at a baseball game by scratching symbols scratched onto the pitcher’s mound. You do it by playing baseball, and cheering for your team.

    The second you do something on the field of play that is extraneous to the game, you destroy the notion of unity in diversity that underpins our public life, whether it’s drawing or cross or praying in the end zone or waving a sign thanking the Supreme Court for striking down DOMA. You may be passionate about your faith, or your ethics, or your political positions. They don’t belong in the ballpark. The ballpark is where America goes to set aside the systems that divide us, so we can enjoy something together, whatever our faith, whatever our standards.

    Dismissing this as a mere tribute to Stan Musial is laughable. Stan the Man attended morning Mass pretty much every day of his life. He was a faithful, believing Catholic. But when he was on the field, he was a St. Louis Cardinal. I’m pretty sure he never scrawled a cross into the dirt around first base.

    Does the St. Louis Cardinals organization have the right to display the cross on the mound? Absolutely! Whatever their reason for displaying it, or allowing someone to display it, I would hope that we as a society can be respectful enough of others’ beliefs to allow sincere expressions of faith, remembrance, etc. I would feel the same if the symbol in question was a Star of David, a crescent moon, or a yin-yang symbol.

    Nevertheless, from a Christian perspective, I wonder if drawing a cross on a pitching mound is really that effective of a method for reaching people for God. RCJ, I enocourage you to check out link link by online bible study author Jeffrey A. Wilcox. They express sentiments about the cross that are similar to my own. The cross can be an inspiring symbol of faith, but it can also become an idol if we care more about it than we do about reaching people with God’s grace and compassion.

    (Note: These articles are directed to a Christian audience, so they presuppose the reader’s adherence to a worldview similar to the author’s.)


    I disagree wholeheartedly. I think the notion of inclusion isn’t about coming together and hiding who we are as a people. Its about coming together as who we are as a people to support a common effort. Each player is a unique individual and while they fit together in the team it doesn’t mean they should have to subvert who they are. We should respect these differences. Instead of complaining as a fan if a Jewish player takes a Holliday off for whatever it may cost the team on the field we should respect and support them.

    And this applies beyond just faith and into any other cultural discussion for players. If someone wants to pray on the field so be it. If someone wants to play ethnic music as a walk up so be it.

    Again, I’d rather err on the side of accepting the person for who they are rather than trying to stifle it. I really think its more likely we embrace diversity by confronting and accepting it rather than hiding and ignoring it.

    Granted, there are degrees and I respect that and I’ve pointed that out. But this is so small. And it has created some hostility. There are clearly some who have disagreed with the opinion – with some of the words spoken and its annoyed or offended them. Their opinions matter just as much as the people who concur. And I think Paul hasn’t done a fair job with responding to differing opinions.

    What about gang symbols? Is it OK for a player to represent his affiliation with the Southwest Cholos after hitting a home run? What if the groundskeeper were a Satanist, and the cross was inverted? What if he wanted his walk up music to be The Internationale? Would any of that still count as “accepting a person for who they are”?

    This isn’t small. Small would be quietly wearing a cross on chain around his neck. He’s making a symbol that’s plainly visible to tens of thousands of people, and tens of thousands more viewing on television. He’s making a statement.

    And you are discounting the possibility that this is cynical pandering. Crosses play in Missouri: would this have happened in Boston?

    Please don’t equate courageous acts like Sandy Koufax not playing on Yom Kippur (or Hank Greenberg, for that matter), or the BYU women’s rugby team forfeiting the National Championship game, because it was scheduled on a Sunday, with some dude furtively imposing his religion on the denizens of New Busch Stadium. Apples and oranges, friend.

    Finally, consider baseball’s history. It was the place where people from cultures who hated one another, absolutely hated one another, could coexist and thrive. The game was the great equalizer. You stayed Polish or German or Mormon or Jewish or Baptist or(eventually) Black, but you were a teammate. Whatever we do to undermine that, even if there is a dull-eyed, ham-handed good will behind it, destroys something precious.

    “Render unto Caesar” sometimes means shutting up and playing ball.

    Cort – A few things.

    First, I acknowledged there were lines. Hateful, violent, oppressive messages don’t equate with positive ones. I think one of the things at issue in this discussion is the attempt to line if not compare what should be positive religious iconography with hateful iconography like gang signs and the swastika. Like you said, apples and oranges.

    Second, I don’t discount cynical pandering. Its always an option for any situation in life. It could be its own discussion. But I don’t think its fair to assume or charge pandering until one can at least make an argument. As has been noted by a number of STL fans, me included, few have noticed this until it came up this week. I watch a lot of Cardinals games too. If it was cynical pandering I think you could apply a cynical attempt to get press much earlier and in a much more positive light from the team. This wouldn’t have been broke by the RFT. Sure it could be cynical, but I think a better argument against it exists so far.

    Why do you get to define what religious expressions should mean something and should be acknowledged in a positive way? That seems exclusive, and it dismisses the opinions of people who disagree. I think the act itself, unnoticed wouldn’t be courageous. But in the face of people directly saying that it should stop it could be viewed that way. And we have a much different opinion on what imposing means. If this were an imposition it would have been caught and discussed much earlier on.

    While you talk nice about the team dynamic you leave one thing out. The Cardinals clubhouse should be able to decide its own team dynamic, exclusive of my opinion or yours or Pauls. If the players, the pitchers in general, have no issue or are even positive in opinion regarding the crew member then nothing precious is being destroyed. And as far as the first half of the season goes it seems like the Cardinal clubhouse is just fine.

    If the team wants this stopped or players want this stopped then I’m agreeable with your render unto Caesar take. But if everyone there is fine then I don’t think Caesar applies.

    OK, so the Pirates just completed their nine-game road trip yesterday afternoon. Out of nine of those games, seven of them they wore their black alternate jerseys, going 5-2. The two games they wore their standard road grays were both in Cincinnati. While they split the series in Cincy, the two games they won they wore the grays, while they lost in black. They swept the Angels and Mariners to complete a 7-2 record on their road trip, so it couldn’t have been superstition. In any case, they have worn their black jerseys for five straight games now, and stand to wear them tomorrow night against Milwaukee, since they usually wear them on home Friday games (or T-Shirt Friday, as fans know them around here), since they are off today. Not sure if they will wear them Saturday or not since they normally wear their regular home whites on Saturday home games, but on Sunday they will be wearing their 1971 throwbacks that they have been wearing all season for Sunday home games.

    My question is, what is the MLB record for wearing the same softball top for x-number of consecutive games? I think I remember seeing the Rockies wear their black vested jerseys with the black sleeves in almost every game during their hot streak in 2007 that led them to the World Series. IDK, all I know is for the Buccos, they wear the black jerseys for at least Friday home games and the 1971 throwbacks for Sunday home games, while every other home game is usually a crap shoot between the black jerseys and standard home white. The road they don’t have a set schedule of what to wear but besides the Rockies and Marlins, they really don’t have any road games the rest of the season where the black jerseys would clash with anything the home team is wearing. Thoughts?

    Surely the brick-era Astros are contenders for the record. Seemed like they went seasons without wearing the gray road jersey, except maybe for getaway games.

    Well this wouldn’t be referring to teams that didn’t have a gray jersey, mostly in the 1970’s and 1980’s. (The Bumblebee-era Pirates, the Finley-era A’s, the plethora of teams wearing powder blue on the road instead of gray, etc…)

    In the mid 80’s, the Cubs wore that blue top all the time. I can’t remember if they had a grey road uniform during that time, but I think they did.

    RE: Iman Shupert’s photo – will the Adidas logo be on jerseys next year? Or is it just an ‘authentic replica’?

    Naw, that’s pretty standard for photoshoots. I can say with 99.99% certainty that the actual unis won’t have the Adidas logo.

    I like how Mrs. Met wears the same Metropolitan Hospitality badge as other Citi Field greeters/staffers.

    Those 90’s basketball jerseys are ridiculously priced. Watch eBay in the summer if you want any of those jerseys for a much better price.

    They’re cheap-ass Champion replicas anyway. I wouldn’t pay $10 for one of those. No side panel stripes, no pin stripes, incorrect trim, cheap-looking screen-printing…

    But that was pretty much all you could get in a department store or a Foot Locker, and that was before the NBA Store. Yeah, they’re cheap relicas, but there’s some kitsch value to the pinestripe-less Hornets jerseys and the Pacers jerseys without the Flo-Jo side panels.

    Agreed. It’s more about the nostalgia and novelty. Plus, it’s supply-and-demand. As they regain popularity, like the currently are, the prices are going up. I spent some time looking for a cheap one on eBay just before summer and the prices got out of hand on a lot of auctions before I finally snagged one. Whereas, a year or two ago, it would’ve been easy to pick up any one of these, maybe Jordan aside, for a low price.

    I always hated the American Champion jerseys, especially compared to the Euro versions we had in England. Ours had sublimated graphics that were usually 100% accurate and were made of a heavier mesh. Compare the Hornets jerseys in this pic – American on the left, Euro on the right. The American jersey looks like a knock-off in comparison…


    @Travis – yeah, there’s been a 90s revival in the last few years, and along with snapback baseball caps, those cheap-ish Champion replicas have been a thing with the young folks:


    Pro tennis died with the introduction of the oversized racquet.

    No touch.
    No finesse.
    Just stand there and wail on the ball.

    Men’s tennis, for sure. I find women’s tennis (with much longer rallies instead of hundreds of aces) still quite watchable.

    But I’d definitely pay good money to see Federer play Nadal with wooden rackets.

    I’d hazard to say there were more aces and shorter points in the heyday of Roscoe Tanner, etc. than there is now. Certainly there was a proliferation of serve & volley players that are virtually extinct these days.

    Not to mention the fast courts were apparently much faster back then.

    Fascinating stuff from Todd Radom about the Seattle Pilots!

    And LOVE LOVE LOVE that Astros bullpen cart pic! Man, that’s just how I want to remember those ‘Stros unis. Okay, maybe a bit earlier with the button-down shirt, but THAT is how the Houston Astros should look!!!


    I’m catholic and a traditionalist (as it relates to baseball) so I personally like a clean mound. No symbols etched into the dirt be it religious OR of the home team’s logo.

    I do, however, find it ironic (and funny) that the religious symbol was placed on the mound of the team that plays in SAINT Louis.

    I do, however, find it ironic (and funny) that the religious symbol was placed on the mound of the team that plays in SAINT Louis.

    And the team is the Cardinals!

    If Chris Carpenter were pitching, it would’ve completed the accidental religious reference trifecta.

    the cross is comparable to the swastika? really? i have loved this blog for many years, but this is getting out of hand.

    i’m of swedish descent and am terribly offended by the minnesota vikings and those capitol one commercials. my forefathers were polite, quiet individuals…yet are depicted as nothing but savages. oops, just realized i probably can’t say savages…as someone will probably call me racist since that term has been used to describe native americans. please…cant we all agree that there is no right, constitutional or otherwise, to not be offended.

    People who disagree with Paul (and with “PC run amok” in general) keep saying “offended”. Reducing the argument against ethnic caricatures to “offended” misses the point. I’d think one can make a distinction between pride in one’s own heritage and appropriating someone else’s identity, but clearly, it’s more comforting to knock down straw men.

    Also, persecution complex is not a good look for you.

    I don’t know if my Poe’s Law Analyzer is acting up, but you seem to be passively-aggressively persecution complexed.

    the cross is comparable to the swastika?

    That’s not what I said.

    What I said is that both of them — along with lots of other symbols — are inappropriate on the mound.

    Re: Seattle Pilots, that’s a great find, Todd!

    I hope you don’t mind me re-posting a comment I left on your blog, but I think it’s terriblt appropriate that the Pilots should have had six uniforms in their one year of existence.

    When the team moved to Milwaukee on the eve of the 1970 season, the newly-christened Brewers had two link prototypes link before finally just re-using the Pilots’ jerseys, link.

    So the count is two years, two cities, ten different uniforms. Maybe that’s where the Brewers get their taste for variety.

    Well the M on the hat, colors aside, matches that of the Braves’ hat while the team was in Milwaukee.

    Thanks Chance-great work on your part too, terrific stuff on your site. A repost of my reply- the Pilots’ hasty move to Milwaukee created all kinds of link in the spring of 1970.

    The poor Pilots…doomed to fail.

    Look at that picture of Gene Mauch and Peanuts Lowery: the Royals, Padres and Expos are all set to enter the League with top notch identities. Everything is in order.

    And then there’s the Pilots, still scrambling (thus, the eggs?…sorry), confused, indecisive, adding and subtracting, parading out this look and that, nobody taking charge. Lovable losers.

    And look at that italicized crooked S thing on Joe Schultz’s cap. It is the saddest looking thing in the world.

    Completely agree re: the sad sack Pilots (though I love their eventual look — such as it was).

    And I swear they made that “S” for Schultz’s cap out of tape.

    You could make a case that the Class of 1969 was set up to fail, all because the one Senator from Missouri was insisting that the Royals start play in 1969 instead of 1971. Of the four expansion teams, they have won one World Series (the ’85 Royals, and only because of a certain blown call in Game 6), out of five appearances (’80 Royals, ’82 Brewers, ’84 Padres, ’85 Royals, ’98 Padres), and all of them have either relocated (Pilots/Brewers, Expos/Nationals) or have threatened to be relocated. At least Stuart Symington got to live long enough to see the Royals win it all in ’85.

    walter — true, but c’mon, look at the thing. I’d go as far as pasted-on flannel (including the stripe), but it’s definitely bush.

    It’s a photo of Pilots pitcher Dave Baldwin and Indians shortstop Eddie Leon-no context otherwise. The new Brewers played an exhibition game against the Indians on April 1, 1970, the day the move was approved-I’ll bet that this was taken then.

    southern miss is still in cusa? they were one of the better athletic programs in cusa. should be in the american

    i dont like the gold helmets

    Crosses on the mound are as appropriate as graffiti on a subway car. Unless the mound belongs to the Padres.

    The Jesus soccer paintings are nicely executed but it’s the sponsor logos that scream. Maybe Pepsi is the new holy water.

    My goodness, those Astros uniforms are wonderful. I’m sure there’s a very good reason they didn’t bring back the shooting star.

    There’s a lot of stuff going on in that picture. The uni of course…orange undershirts, bullpen buggy,’rups, sansabelt, muttonchops(!), those cool old black baseball shoes with the flap over the laces, Astroturf (I didn’t say everything was GOOD), one batting glove…OK I think I’m done.

    Imagine if Jesus had been electrocuted – we’d get to see little electric chair symbols everywhere!

    My bad, I didn’t know it originated with Lenny – I just saw it on a facebook meme the other day. Anyway, all hail the FSM.

    The last photo of Houston Astros are all ex-Cincinnati Reds. Tommy Helms, Jim Stewart, and Johnny Edwards.

    Thanks to six hours of flight delays yesterday – hey, Chicago, you know how nobody in the rest of America thanks you for existing? Yeah, that’s because we’ve all flown through O’Hare – I finished “The Art of Fielding.” Two final notes on the Westish Harpooners baseball uniforms:

    1. The Harpooners definitely have only the one uniform, ecru (tan) with navy pinstripes. No alts, no road grays. Pants match the jerseys.

    2. The jerseys have an insignia of a whaler in the prow of a boat with his harpoon ready to strike. No script or letter, just the Harpooners insignia on the left chest.

    And special bonus 3. The Harpooners are NNOB.

    Seriously? Have you ever flown through brutal summer storms? Not a good idea. Better to sit in an airport and wait for them to pass than to wind up 6 feet under.

    “Seriously?” No, of course not seriously! Apologies if that wasn’t clear.

    On the other hand, they fly in and out of Denver all the time, every day, and that mountain turbulence on a good day is worse than the worst thunderstorm I’ve ever landed in.

    And don’t get me started on “God Bless America.”

    I imagined you saying this the way Claire Huxtable would have said something like this… with that little swaying of her head back and forth she used to do. It made me laugh.

    It’s my opinion, and I think it’s one that’s hard to disagree with, that freedom means that sometimes you have to put up with someone else’s bullshit, and that true freedom doesn’t involve limiting the freedoms of others. It’s kind of like some of the opinions you express here on Uni Watch, Paul, and that the rest of us express in the comments. I love the site, so I continue to come and read and very much enjoy the vast majority of it. I’m pleased to be a part of this community, and I enjoy your product. At times you make statements with which I won’t agree, and sometimes I’m very frustrated at the end of a post, but most of the time I’m thoroughly satisfied and I’ve learned things I would not have otherwise had a chance to learn. I like your writing style, your point of view, and the material you publish. And when you start down one of these paths – frequently, as you do – I smile and recognize that it’s a package deal. I don’t have to come here, and I am free to choose not to come here, but I come here nonetheless. The parts I do like make it worth my while to just accept the parts I don’t.

    For atheists, there is no travesty of justice in the playing of “God Bless America,” and the team’s owner should be free to play it if he or she chooses. If it bothers an atheist so much that staying in the seating area is difficult, there are plenty of things they can do outside the seating area for the 90 seconds required to complete the song. Grab a beer, take a whiz, or step outside and have a chat with your buddy. It’ll be over quickly. Enjoy the ballgame!

    For atheists, there is no travesty of justice in the playing of “God Bless America,” and the team’s owner should be free to play it if he or she chooses. If it bothers an atheist so much that staying in the seating area is difficult, there are plenty of things they can do outside the seating area for the 90 seconds required to complete the song. Grab a beer, take a whiz, or step outside and have a chat with your buddy. It’ll be over quickly. Enjoy the ballgame!

    Straw man argument. I’ve never referred to “GBA” as a “travesty of justice.” And my feelings about it are not rooted in atheism — they’re rooted in feelings that the use of “GBA” in the 7th-inning stretch is a lazy attempt to create ginned-up faux-patriotism bordering on jingoism. We already play the national anthem prior to the ballgame — that should be enough.

    R. Scott Rogers has more thoughts on “GBA,” which you can see by scrolling up to today’s first comment thread.

    I’ll give you another reason why GBA shouldn’t be in the 7th Inning Stretch – it pads out what should be a nice quick pause in the game.

    We start by singing “Take Me Out to the Ball Game”, and then other teams have their own traditional anthems to follow. Some of my fondest baseball memories are of belting out “Roll Out the Barrel” at County Stadium well before I was old enough to actually drink the product (some of my least fond baseball memories involve that stupid “Cotton Eyed Joe” video during the Stretch at Yankee Stadium). Then we’re going to add a third song? Overkill.

    I didn’t say that you had referred to it as such, Paul. Those were my own thoughts. Thanks.

    This may have been covered before, but I find it odd that the Southern Miss helmet continues to have the name of the school in ALL CAPS, while the Conference USA website has the school’s word logo in lowercase letters. Anyone know why?

    Now THIS is a team name.


    Someone tell Dan Snyder we’ve got a winning replacement for the Indigenous Persons.

    Not to be a party pooper, but Chris Kluwe might have a trademark case against that. Alternatively, such a name would NOT be Beautifully Unique.

    Sparkle Unicorns 4evah!

    I’m surprised more teams aren’t named the unicorns. It beats names like Sky, Dream, Fever, Sky Blue or Real Salt Lake.

    North Carolina School of Science and Mathematics, a high school, tweaked the Broncos logo for their athletic teams.


    First thing I noticed about Mrs Met – they gave her the “Peggy Olsen” hairdo (from Mad Men for the uninitiated) from the 60s.



    i’m catholic. i’m NOT outwardly religious at all, but i am a believer, and i always give thanks. i mean, you HAVE to thank somebody, or something right? but i’m also a believer in A) NOT bugging other people with you religious beliefs, B) NOT giving a shit about their religious beliefs, and C) a clean, fresh pitchers mound.

    and in the name of the pitcher, catcher, and the middle infield, amen!

    It looks like the Denver Broncos’ newly tweaked jersey is receiving the Houston Texans-style “wide collar” treatment. As much as I dislike the “neck roll,” the wide collar is even worse!

    Guess if you are so against the use of religion and God, then you shouldn’t be spending American money. After all, it does say “In God We Trust” on it.

    Many people are opposed to the presence of that motto being on our coinage and currency. The motto’s presence on our money was challenged in a 1970 Supreme Court case as being a violation of the separation of church and state, but the Court ruled that the motto is OK:

    Despite this, many people remain opposed to the motto being our our money. Just because those people are forced by circumstance to use money doesn’t mean they approve of the motto being there, nor does it mean they’re hypocrites. It simply means it’s impossible to live without using money.

    “We” is a very broad term. But maybe since you are so for religion/god you should forsake money also? Good luck…

    You Cannot Serve God and Riches

    24 “No one can serve two masters; for either he will hate the one and love the other, or else he will be loyal to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and mammon.

    Do Not Worry

    25 “Therefore I say to you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink; nor about your body, what you will put on. Is not life more than food and the body more than clothing? 26 Look at the birds of the air, for they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns; yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they? 27 Which of you by worrying can add one cubit to his stature?

    28 “So why do you worry about clothing? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow: they neither toil nor spin; 29 and yet I say to you that even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these. 30 Now if God so clothes the grass of the field, which today is, and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, will He not much more clothe you, O you of little faith?

    31 “Therefore do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ 32 For after all these things the Gentiles seek. For your heavenly Father knows that you need all these things. 33 But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you. 34 Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about its own things. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble.

    I don’t have a problem with someone scratching a cross on the mound. It’s not something anyone even noticed before. I imagine now that it has been made public the front office will ask the groundskeeper to stop it. St Louis never uses a stencil to do a team logo on the back of the mound like some teams do, by the way.
    McClellan is a well-known Cubs fan who is always searching for some reason to criticize the Cardinals in his columns. So he was just trying to stir up controversy.
    I can definitely do without God Bless America. At least on the days it is mandated by MLB, St Louis gets it over with right before the Anthem, so the 7th inning stretch is just Take Me Out to the ballgame, as it should be. I’m glad college and minor league baseball never adopted GBA.

    I can definitely do without God Bless America. At least on the days it is mandated by MLB, St Louis gets it over with right before the Anthem…

    You mean they play two songs in a row prior to the game starting?

    We do. They bring in local groups and start with GBA and finish with the Anthem. At the stretch its just take me out to the ball game.

    We also have like 50 first pitches, but I doubt thats unique.

    Since it’s “Drawing Stuff in the dirt” day here at UniWatch, this seemed a good a time as any to point out how the grounds crew at LSU honors Wally Pontiff, who died over a decade ago right after getting drafted.


    Larger question: Do team logos belong on the mound? I posit not, as a matter of excellence in design. Stuff on the back of the mound only shows up in deeply foreshortened outfield shots that include both the pitcher and the batter. Which means the home and road uniforms are always visible alongside the mound logo. Regardless of whether it’s the top or the bottom of the inning, if the viewer does not instantly know the name of the home team, then the home team has badly designed uniforms. And not by “oh they aren’t pretty enough” subjective standards, but by objective standards of design quality. A home uniform that is not instantly recognizable has failed to achieve a primary function.

    So. Either the logo on the mound is necessary to tell the viewer who is the home team, in which case the solution is not graffiti on the dirt but a redesign of the home uniform; or the logo on the mound is a redundant distraction that doesn’t belong. Either way, it’s a sign of bad design. Either bad design of the uniform, or bad design of the TV viewer’s primary view of the game.

    Do team logos belong on the mound?

    No way. A classic “because we can” move.

    If you’re at the game, you’ll note that the logo is usually off-center on the mound (because most CF cameras are off-center), so it doesn’t even look right from the standpoint of being properly centered. It’s just a bogus advertising move to take advantage of TV exposure — a product placement. But, as Scott points out, an absurdly unnecessary one.

    An early example of unecessary, redundant product placement which always bugged me….


    It wasn’t *quite* on the field of play, proper, but certainly visible.

    A number of hispanic and/or catholic players cross themselves before stepping into the batter’s box. Is that offending anybody?

    Two things:

    1) Neither I nor anyone else has said that the cross on the mound is “offending anybody.” Please stop casting the debate in those terms.

    2) If you go back and read what I wrote, you’ll see that I specifically mentioned players crossing themselves, along with other forms of athletes expressing themselves religiously, and I said I had no problem with any of it.

    Paul – I wasn’t accusing you of being offended, I read what you wrote in the lede and I agree 100% with your position. My question was directed to others who were clearly put out by the cross scratched into the Cardinals’ mound. For the record I see no need to for any institutional supported display, if that is what it actually is, of any creed. I would have no problem however if an individual pitcher scratched the symbol.

    It’s not about “offending” anybody. I strongly believe that the cross doesn’t belong on the pitcher’s mound – this doesn’t mean the cross “offends” me. It’s just not appropriate there. Many things that are not offensive are nonetheless wrong to do, just as some things that are right to do will offend some people.

    If anyone is “offended” by a player crossing himself, tough. You don’t have a right not to be offended. But anonymous grounds crew members have no business drawing personal messages on the field. And I mean “have no business” literally, not as a metaphor. The grounds crew is there to do a job – they are conducting business. Their job – their business – does not include leaving personal graffiti on the field. As such, the cross is inappropriate. It doesn’t belong.

    As a business owner, I would fire the person who did that again after being once warned. And as a Christian, I would argue the value of “witness” done in the form of anonymous vandalism. There is, after all, a time and a season for everything, as I seem to recall reading in a book once.

    Tweeted from Jay Bilas.
    NBA Draft Green Room invitees told NOT to drink the Gatorade. It’s glued to the table. That will soon be done at NCAA Tourney pressers.

    Nothing like racism, politics and/or religion to drive up the post count!


    Nothing like racism, politics and/or religion to drive up the post count!

    That’s because the topics we’re not supposed to talk about are always the most fun to talk about. :^)

    Upon reading a quote from the cardinals manager Mike Matheny, has been vocal about why the team goes above and beyond to showcase their faith. “I am not going to shove my faith down your throat, but when the opportunity presents itself, don’t expect me to walk away, “Matheny told Rains in the team’s first meeting last spring. “This is who I am, and Jesus Christ is at the center of my life. It’s all that I am, every day, every decision that I make. I’m going to stand up and tell you what I believe is true.” Also “Christian Day is a wonderful day of faith and baseball that we look forward to every summer. This year we are excited to have national celebrity Willie Robertson joining us at Busch Stadium,” said Joe Strohm, Vice President of Ticket Sales on the Cardinals’ website.
    So if the Cardinaks are supporting this then they have a right to showcase what they believe as much as we do not feel its appropriate to show the symbol on the mound. If players objected to it or got offended then it would’ve been taken down already. But it doesn’t seem they are upset. I understand certain things should have their time and place to be showcased but I think this should be allowed and if this was a Muslim symbol or a Jewish Star of David symbol I would be tolerant as well. A debate that can be concluded with we agree to disagree. With respect.

    Nobody said the Cardinals don’t have “a right to showcase what they believe.” Of course they can put whatever they want on the mound. But just because you have the “right” to do something doesn’t mean it’s the proper or appropriate thing to do, nor does it mean that you’re immune from critiques.

    In any case, it appears that the Cardinals, as an organization, have had little or nothing to do with this. It’s simply the work of one rogue groundskeeper.

    The owners of the team and/or the mound aren’t sanctioning it (unless I missed something). It should go.

    Of course atheists love baseball, some (like all other faiths) also love being puritans.

    The Cardinals are aware and it is there right to display what they want and yes right or wrong we have that freedom and choice to accept it or just ignore it or complain about it. Just as you have the right to not like what the groundskeeper did and report on it but that doesn’t mean you are correct or I’m correct either that it doesn’t have a place in sports. The point being it is a religious symbol and when religion comes up everyone has their educated opinion and some lose their mind in voicing on what they believe. People just need to voice it and move on. The cardinals aren’t losing sleep over this and people shouldn’t be getting bent out of shape over this either. After all atheists or religious people have a right to feel what they feel and stand behind what they believe in and in this case some groundskeeper felt the need to express their belief. Now people are going to complain that it has no place in sports, well what’s next? A man of faith cannot voice his prayer in an interview? Or a Muslim can’t pray? Or an atheist standing up for his rights not to believe? I think it has a place because its what makes this country great that we have that previliged right…..

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