By day I’m an art director, designer, and typography nerd. By night I’m a huge hockey fan ”” the San Jose Sharks are my team. But I have an issue with jersey customizations done by the team store: The captain’s “C” they’re using doesn’t match the one used on the team’s game jerseys.
As a designer, I find the wimpy-looking “C” stitched to my jersey hurts my brain. It’s especially upsetting because it costs close to $100 for these customizations. The Sharks Store said they can’t use the ones the team’s equipment manager uses and are contractually obligated to use another vendor. They added that the letters cut are up to NHL-defined specs.
I just don’t buy this. As a loyal fan, I’m looking for the best products available from my team. What gets me riled up is they’re pulling a fast one over all the fans here in the Bay Area. Most people don’t look at type the way I do, but that doesn’t mean they should be walking around with the wrong font weight.
The Sharks Store asked me to verify the measurement of the “C” on my jersey. They said the NHL guidelines recommend the letter be 3″ tall. That is indeed the measurement of my “C,” but I also measured some other jerseys I own. The Avalanche’s “C” is 4″, the Penguins’ is 4″; the old Nordiques’ is 4″; and the Blackhawks’ is 4.25″.
I’ve created some comparison graphics detailing the differences from the “C” on his recently purchased jersey to the ones used on the ice. (I realize Joe Thornton is no longer the captain, but he still is in my eyes.)
Here are Travis’s graphics — for each of them, you can click to enlarge:
Now, a certain wiseass might say the best way to avoid problems with an overpriced polyester shirt is to not buy one in the first place. That said, it is odd that the Sharks Store doesn’t use the proper “C.” Have any other Sharks fans noticed this problem on their overpriced polyester shirts? What about other teams?
Don’tcha Gimme No Lip(syte): Outgoing ESPN ombudsman Robert Lipsyte (shown at right) has reached the end of his 18-month tenure and posted his final blog entry on Wednesday evening. It included what might be considered a bit of a potshot at Uni Watch:
The prodigious work by the Fainaru brothers (Mark and Steve) on NFL concussions and the league’s presumed cover-up has created a standard for sports journalism. But ESPN’s subsequent coverage of the topic has been spotty. A news organization that can run a continuing feature on the changing fashions of athletic uniforms (UniWatch) on ESPN.com can at the least run a continuing feature on NFL and maybe even college concussions: who gets them, how long before they are cleared for return and follow-ups. Call it Conc-Watch.
Okay, so Lipsyte obviously Doesn’t Get Itâ„¢. He’s also apparently unaware that I’ve done some concussion-related journalism myself (examples here and here), but whatever. I’d be the first to agree that the Fainaru brothers’ recent work has been groundbreaking, award-caliber stuff, but I’d like to think their work and mine can co-exist without somebody praising one at the implied expense of the other. It’s disappointing to see Uni Watch — and, by extension, the uni-verse, which includes me and all of you — used as a punchline, as the lightweight example held up to contrast with a “serious” topic. Heh-heh, look, they cover “fashion” (a word I’ve done my best to distance Uni Watch from). Goes to show that while our corner of the sports world has come a long way in terms of gaining respect and credibility, we still have a long way to go.
I was thinking about all this when I saw that Lipsyte had done an interview yesterday with the Big Lead. It included this exchange:
Big Lead: You got your start as a sportswriter on a pretty unconventional path that could not especially be replicated today. What advice would you give a college student looking to break into sports media?
Lipsyte: Same old. Work your ass off until you’re noticed. Gather clips and credits. Be persistent (most people quit). Learn something ”“- a sport, a language, a technology ”“- that will make you useful.
Hmmm, that’s exactly what I did. And once I did it, Robert Lipsyte basically made fun of it. Whaddaya gonna do.
I grew up reading Lipsyte’s stuff in the Times. He’s a major talent, a genuinely Important Guy, and my career will never even sniff the levels that his has reached — which is precisely why I find his offhand comment about Uni Watch so disappointing. Also disappointing: I sent a tweet to him, asking him to email me back, but he didn’t respond. Maybe his successor will be more uni-friendly — or at least learn that “Uni Watch” is two words with a space in between.
(Big thanks to Todd Radom for bringing Lipsyte’s mention of Uni Watch to my attention.)
Good things come in pairs: Big congrats to longtime Uni Watch contributor/pal Joe Hilseberg and his wfe, who are expecting their first children — a two-bagger! As you can see above, Joe’s already making room in his jersey closet for the new arrivals. I like the Orioles theme (Joe is from Baltimore), but promise me you won’t dress the kids in Ravens purple, Joe!
Today’s Uni Watch Birthday
By Douglas Ford
[Each day this month, Douglas Ford is selecting an athlete who’s celebrating his or her birthday and presenting some uni-notable photos of that athlete. Here’s today’s installment.]
Today’s birthday honoree was, according to Wikipedia, “known for his capable handling of pitching staffs and for his on-field leadership abilities.” He was a member of five National League pennant-winning teams and was the catcher for five pitchers who were eventually inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame. More importantly, look how sweet he looked in a 1934 Giants uniform (complete with a black armband for former Giants skipper John McGraw) — happy birthday, Gus Mancuso!
Mike’s Question of the Week
By Mike Chamernik
Uni Watch (or at least its founder) stands by many principles: Purple uniforms are bad, stirrups are good, most new jerseys are created for merchandising, meat is delicious, and advertising on uniforms is wrong, and so on.
Maybe you agree with all of those tenets — but maybe you don’t. Is there anything uni-related that you enjoy or that you’ve done, but that you aren’t proud of? Or maybe there’s something uni-related that you’re fine with, but you think it would be an unpopular sentiment on this site?
For me, I bought an “El Heat” Noche Latina LeBron shirt-jersey this summer, and I wore long pants when I played baseball in high school.
Leave your Uni Watch confessions in the comments.
Uni Watch News Ticker
By Mike Chamernik
Baseball News: New alternate logo and cap for the Rome Braves. … After changing Major League affiliates, the Daytona Cubs will become the Tortugas. … The South Bend Cubs have a cool new Studebaker-inspired logo. … The White Sox are selling dirt from Paul Konerko’s last game for $20 a jar. … The University of North Carolina will have new black gloves with blue lacing next year. Always liked the black-baby blue color scheme. … Here’s a look at Reds jerseys with the 2015 All-Star Game patch on them (from Anthony Burch). … Phil Vermette bought a cool hat of the Quebec Carnavals, the Expos’ Double-A team from 1971-1975. “It has Bonhomme Carnaval on it,” he says. “He has been the mascot of the Carnaval in Quebec City since 1955.” … Mets P Matt Harvey has a personalized Batman logo, based on that Sports Illustrated cover line from last year (from Patrick Sesty). … New Mariners OF/DH Nelson Cruz will keep his No. 23; manager Lloyd McClendon says he gave up the number for a few cigars. Love this quote from McClendon, on whether he’s picked a new number: “I don’t give a (flip) I’ll figure out something” (thanks, Tim Dunn).
NFL News: Cowboys RB Demarco Murray had some logo and stripe issues during last night’s game against the Bears — although that was probably the least of his worries (screen shots by Bryson Bunger and Chris Perrenot). ”¦ Two guys on the Bears sideline last night had yellow hats with the NFL logo. Anyone know the significance of that? (From Andrew Horne.) Here’s a compilation of some very sad ’Skins jerseys (from Cary O’Reilly). … Speaking of the ’Skins, Hall of Famer Art Monk would remove the NFL shield from his jersey collar. It was because he felt he represented the team, not the league. “It’s on Facebook, so take it with a grain of salt, but I did a little image search and it seems somewhat accurate,” says John Mahaffey. … Fitting that a new line of pierogies come in Steelers’ black and gold (from Dane Drutis).
College Football News: For last Friday’s Missouri/Arkansas game, Mizzou was projected to wear a black helmet with a chrome facemask and decals. But, the Tigers instead wore black decals with a black facemask. “I am pretty sure the videos for the uniform announcements were made before the season,” says Bob Nolte. … North Dakota State will wear green jerseys this weekend, for the first time since 2011. ”¦ Nebraska’s new coach, Mike Riley, showed up in Lincoln carrying a Nike bag. Someone better tell him Nebraska’s an Adidas school.
Hockey News: The Kings will unveil their Stadium Series uniforms on Dec. 16. … The Hamilton Bulldogs will wear jerseys with military insignia on Friday to honor a slain soldier. … “My favorite uni angle is when a number actually means something to a player,” says Mike Engle. “Cool story here about No. 53, Bo Horvat, who took his number for the London Knights of the OHL and has kept it ever since.” … Here’s a look at University of Ohio goalie Ryan Heltion’s mask (from Jon Dies).
NBA News: Yesterday I went to see my grandma out in the Chicago suburbs. She’s a big Bulls fan, so one of her friends made her a cool Bulls teddy bear! She also has a very similar Cubs one that I forgot to snap a photo of. … Here are the best 404 error pages on NBA team websites (from Jeff Ash). … The Hawks’ updated Pac-Man logo this year has resulted in increased merchandise sales (from Britton Thomas). … Sneakerheads obsess over the entire aesthetic experience with basketball shoes. ”¦ Cavs F Mike Miller continues to roll up his waistband.
College Hoops News: Utah wore gray unis with a script “Utah” and side striping Wednesday night. … UNC coach Roy Williams changed from a green tie to a blue tie at halftime of Wednesday’s game. The green ties were to promote recycling. Key quote, from Williams: “I don’t like to get involved in all these things, uniforms and shoes,” he said. “But it’s the world we live in. College athletics, every day you’ve got to do something to make 13 cents. And I despise it from the bottom of my soul.”
Grab Bag: Real Madrid’s three new kit tops for 2015-16 have been leaked. … NASCAR’s Kyle Busch will have a new paint scheme next year (from John Ekdahl). … Here’s a look at the UFC-Reebok uniform deal.
What Paul did last night: I was all stoked to go out last night, because the awesome 1970s art-punk band X__X was playing at the Cake Shop. So I hopped in my car and headed toward Manhattan.
Dumb move on my part. As you may have heard, protestors have been out in force here in NYC (among other places) since the Eric Garner decision came down, and last night they shut down the Manhattan Bridge (among other places) right around the time I was looking to cross it. So I was stuck in dead-standstill traffic for the better part of an hour, until I finally managed to turn around and go home, by which time it was too late for me to catch a subway because I wouldn’t have made it in time for X__X’s set.
I knew the protests were happening. But living in my work-at-home bubble, it hadn’t occurred to me that the unrest could, you know, affect me. Which was really stupid and naÃ¯ve of me. I should’ve been street-smart enough to have taken the train.
It’s been more than 20 years since I last participated in a protest or rally. Part of it is that I find the groupthink sloganeering to be tedious and sometimes embarrassing, but the bigger part, frankly, is that I’m lazy. I try to rationalize it by telling myself I make a difference on issues I care about via my work, by donating money, by voting, and so on, but deep down I know that’s bullshit. Lazy is lazy. So maybe it served me right to get caught up in the protests last night. Maybe it was my laziness catching up with me.
Was it frustrating to be stuck in traffic and to miss the show? Definitely (although at least I had a very good radio show to keep me company). But that’s part of the point of protests, rallies, strikes, sit-ins, and civil disobedience — to spread the frustration around, to remind everyone that we’re all in this together. Yeah, I was inconvenienced, but my convenience is not as important as a person dying, or the dysfunctional state of police/community relations in much of my city, or a criminal justice system that seems similarly dysfunctional (or at least questionable).
So, all things considered, it was an interesting and instructive night. Just not in the way I had expected.