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Yesterday most of the uni-verse — and, it seemed, a good chunk of the sports world in general — was talking about the uniform you see above.
My original thought was to leave this news for the Ticker (a particularly tempting option given that one of my new interns was compiling today’s Ticker anyway — more on that later). Then I thought, “No, everyone’s talking about it, so I should say something about it.”
But the more I thought about what I’d say, the more I realized (a) it was mostly stuff I’d said before about other designs and (b) it made my head hurt.
I don’t like it when things make my head hurt, but I especially don’t like it when Uni Watch makes my head hurt. Unfortunately, it sometimes happens, and lately it’s been happening a lot. Yesterday it kinda kicked into overdrive.
I can’t take the stupid.
But the stupid keeps coming — in waves, in oceans. The fact that so much of it is utterly predictable doesn’t make it any less depressing (quite the opposite, actually). I can’t keep up with it; I don’t want to keep up with it.
Covering stuff like this isn’t why I created Uni Watch. Covering stuff like this isn’t why I became a writer.
So instead I’ve decided to talk about The Matrix.
I assume most of you have seen The Matrix. It means many things to many people: Some people see it as a religious allegory, others as philosophical commentary, others as just an action movie, and so on. For me, I’ve always found the story’s basic framework — i.e., that the reality we see is a combination of an illusion and a narcotic, all carefully orchestrated to keep us complacent and distract us from seeing the bastards who are pulling the strings — to be a pretty good metaphor for modern life. TV is the matrix; celebrity gossip is the matrix; technology is the matrix; the stock market is the matrix; religion is the matrix; advertising and consumer culture are the matrix; politics is the matrix; wealth is the matrix; sex (or at least the way sex is packaged and commodified) is the matrix; property is the matrix; academia is the matrix; fashion is the matrix; and so on.
And yes, the sports world is definitely the matrix too — all the more so as it’s gotten more tightly enmeshed with the media and entertainment industries.
As you may recall, early in the movie Laurence Fishbourne offers Keanu Reeves two pills: a blue pill, which will return him to the blissful narcotic of the matrix, and a red pill, which will lead him “down the rabbit hole” to reality as it actually exists. In the 14-plus years that I’ve been doing Uni Watch, I have tried as much as possible to have Uni Watch be the red pill, whether by showing nuances that might otherwise go overlooked, by telling backstories that might otherwise go untold, or by pushing back against fanciful illusions and mythmaking that I think are bullshit. Most of you have been happy to go down that rabbit hole with me, and many of you have explored and uncovered further aspects of that rabbit hole that I never would have found on my own.
But there’s still so much stupid. There are days when the stupid is so huge that I can almost literally feel my brain cells dying off as a result. Yesterday was one of those days. It’s not so much that the uniform everyone was talking about yesterday is so awful (although it certainly is) — it’s more that its awfulness is predicated on so many totally bogus notions that have become so firmly entrenched in the uni-verse and in America at large.
Or to put it another way, the uniform everyone was talking about yesterday is a perfect manifestation of the matrix.
And that’s all I want to say about it today. Thanks for listening.
On a happier note: Last night I received a remarkable email from longtime reader Clint Wrede, which speaks for itself:
Last June in a “Question Time” entry, you mentioned the influence Nicholson Baker’s novel The Mezzanine had on your own writing. I was familiar with Baker but had never read him, and your description of this book was definitely intriguing. Unfortunately, none of my local libraries — including the one where I’m a librarian myself — had a copy of this book (though they had many of Baker’s others). I picked up a cheap copy on Amazon and thoroughly enjoyed it. Like you, I identified with the narrator’s obsession with detail.
Anyway, having read it and feeling the need to keep my personal book collection to a minimum, I decided to donate it to my library, where I am the bibliographer for English language and literature. In the tiniest of gestures on my part in thanks for all you do in the field of athletics aesthetics and your other writing, I made the donation in your name, a designation semi-immortalized in the library’s catalog record for the book. Sorry for all the purple there, but what can you do about school colors?
For what it’s worth, and with my admiration,
Cedar Falls, Iowa
How amazing is that? Thanks so much, Clint — I’m humbled, seriously. And as for the purple-centric design, I’d say it’s more than counterbalanced by the school’s acronym.
By Brinke Guthrie
Here’s the rest of this week’s eBay haul:
• Check out this 1969 Rawlings NFL ad. You have to BE a pro, before you can BECOME one. Er, what?
• Ooo, an NFL gumball helmet kit in nearly perfect condition.
• Charlie Brown bobbles in SF Giants colors go for a fortune. This Chuck in Yankees pinstripes is a little more affordable, at least for the time being.
• Nice classic look to this 1970s California Angels satin dugout jacket — made by Shain as opposed to Starter. [Kinda looks like a big space between the “g” and the “e,” no? ”” PL]
• Coupla Reds items of note: I had this Big Red Machine print by Willard Mullin. And check this photo of Gene Tenace and Pete Rose. That has to be from the 1972 World Series (which I attended!). And speaking of Rose, that’s a nice “The Battler” shirt there, Pete.
Seen something on eBay or Etsy that you think would make good Collector’s Corner fodder? Send your submissions here.
Another new addition to the Uni Watch family: Last week I introduced you to one of my two new Ticker interns, Mike Chamernik. Today I’m happy to introduce the second one, Garrett McGrath, who’s shown above. I’m extremely happy to have him on board.
Garrett is 25, lives in Westchester (so he was able to come down for last Saturday’s Uni Watch party here in Brooklyn), and works in book publishing. He roots for the Yankees and Islanders, but I like him anyway. He’s written a few stories for the long-form journalism/essay site Narratively, and he’s also been the singer in a few punk bands. He’s probably the first applicant for any vaguely professional work gig to reference GG Allin in his cover note (and I’m probably the first prospective boss to respond positively to such a reference).
My plan is to have Garrett handle Tuesday Tickers (including the one you’re about to read), while Mike will handle Thursday Tickers (including the one that will run two days from now), and I’ll continue to handle Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays, although those arrangements are flexible and subject to change. I also hope Garrett and Mike will both assume larger roles on the site as time goes on.
But let’s not get ahead of ourselves. For now, please welcome Garrett to the Uni Watch family and enjoy his first Ticker.
Baseball News: Oliver Kodner shared his Cardinals rally towel that he got at Busch Stadium during the World Series and noticed how the lettering doesn’t exactly match the cap logo. … Brad Eckensberger attended the Black Lips concert last night where the band showed their Braves devotion.
NFL News: The Grater Heads were happy with the Bears’ victory last night. … The Chicago Tribune reported yesterday that the Bears wouldn’t be wearing their orange jersey on MNF (from Robert Kleisch). … ’Skins owner Dan Snyder has a customized ’Skins basketball court at his house. … The Indianapolis Colts kept Reggie Wayne’s seat on the team plane to Houston open by putting his jersey over it (from Brinke Guthrie).
College Football News: The Minnesota Gophers will be wearing a stars and stripes helmet decal this weekend. Seems pretty tame compared to what Northwestern has going on. … The Wyoming Cowboys are wearing all white for their game on Saturday. … ASU will go maroon/white/white vs. Utah. … Jake Wallace pointed out that the Georgia Southern Eagles are wearing seriously old-school throwbacks this weekend. … Stanford will retire John Elway’s number on Thursday. … Student Ryan Rittenhouse will receive a reward from Purdue for his black helmet design that was used this past Saturday.
Hockey News: Leo Strawn sent us a first Uni Watch look at the 2015 NHL All-Star Game logo. … POTUS Obama hosted the Blackhawks at the White House yesterday and got an outdated jersey with the Reebok logo instead of the wordmark. … The WMU hockey team will go camo this weekend.
Soccer News: Patrick Fleming pointed out that neither team wore a home kit in the Football Association of Ireland Challenge Cup championship game on Sunday. Winners Sligo wore their white away kit and Drogheda debuted a new design. After the match, Drogheda’s Philip Hand tweeted a picture of his runner-up medal that had Sligo spelled incorrectly as Silgo. … In the 2013 Japanese League Yamazaki Nabisco Cup Final against Kashiwa Reysol, the Urawa Red Diamonds put the game details on the front of their red shirt (from Thomas Fiers).
Basketball News: Paulie Sumner found that Duke players will be wearing custom LeBron 11 and KD VI shoes this season. … Michigan State will introduce two new uniforms for this season. … Both David Petroff and Mike Eidelbes sent in pictures of the Sanford Sports Pentagon in Sioux Falls, South Dakota. Wisconsin and St. John’s open the Division 1 season at the retro arena on Friday.
Grab Bag: My fellow Americans, have you ever wondered what the most popular brand from your state is? … Interesting article about how Carhartt became fashionable (from Tommy Turner). … Adam Herbst sent in this NPR piece about Sportvision, the company who adds those colorful, on-screen graphics to live sports events. I wonder if the company will ever bring FoxTrax back.