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Whole Lotta Nothin’

Odd sight at last night’s NBA All-Star Game, as three players wearing No. 0 — Jeff Teague (Hawks), Damian Lillard (Blazers), and Russell Westbrook (Thunder) — were all standing in close proximity. Zero was the only uni number that showed up three times on the two rosters. (The East also had two No. 7s and two No. 2s, but neither of those numbers was represented on the West roster.)

The NBA, like the NFL and NHL, didn’t used to allow multiple all-stars wearing the same number; now all three leagues allow it. I’m assuming at least part of the reason for the change is merchandising: It’s easier to sell an all-star jersey with the player’s usual number, and harder to sell one if it has an unfamiliar number. (MLB, of course, has always allowed it, because the players wear their regular team uniforms, which inevitably leads to number duplication.)

I’m fine with the duplicate numbers, but it leads to an interesting question: If it’s okay in an all-star game, would it be okay during the regular season? If there are two guys on a given team who both want wear No. 12, why not let them both wear it? After all, they’ll both be wearing NOBs (unless the team in question is the Yankees, or maybe the Red Sox or Giants at home), so it’s not like there’d be no way to tell them apart.

I can think of some counter-arguments to this idea, but it’s good food for thought. Discuss.

(Big thanks to Pat Costello for the screen shot.)

• • • • •

And you thought Pinktober was bad: We’re now in the thick of Play 4 Kay season, so tons of women’s college hoops teams have been breaking out the pink. This trend reached new depths of absurdity yesterday in Knoxville, as Tennessee and Kentucky went pink-vs.-pink — jeez.

Other women’s teams wearing pink yesterday included Vanderbilt, South Carolina, Nevada, New Mexico, Georgetown, Auburn, Hofstra, and Baylor.

• • • • •

How Presidents Day ruined my parents’ anniversary: Today is Presidents Day. Many of you presumably have the day off from work, and many schools are closed for winter break. But for my family, Presidents Day has always resonated a bit differently.

Here’s the deal: When my parents got engaged in 1947 and began thinking about a setting a wedding date, they had a clever idea. My father worked at a department store and had ideas about opening his own shop (which he eventually did), so they thought, “Let’s get married on Feb. 22 — Washington’s Birthday.” That way, they figured, their anniversary would always be a holiday and my father would always have the day off. (This was before every holiday became an excuse to run a big sale.) And so that’s when they got married — Feb. 22, 1948.

It all worked fine until 1971, when the Uniform Monday Holiday Act went into effect, redesignating Washington’s birthday as the third Monday in February. After that, their anniversary was never on the holiday (although it occasionally fell on a Sunday), so their little scheme was scuttled.

Of course, none of this matters anymore. My parents retired in 1987, and my father is now deceased. Still, I like the story — a little reminder that even when you think you’ve outsmarted the system, sometimes the system outsmarts you back.

• • • • •

Baseball News: The Yankees will retire Andy Pettitte’s No. 46 this August, which I believe will be MLB’s first number retirement for an admitted PED user. ”¦ While looking for something else, I came across this mid-1980s shot of Cardinals OF and low-cuffery pioneer George Hendrick with no logo on his batting helmet. ”¦ Check out the uniforms Albert Pujols and friends wore for his charity basketball game (from James Poisso). ”¦ Looks like the Dodgers repurposed a 1980 press pass for use in 1981. Judging by the date, maybe they hadn’t gotten the ’81 passes printed up yet (from Alan Yelent). … While researching something else, I came upon photos of Roy Campanella and Yogi Berra wearing the same catching gear that wasn’t color-appropriate for either of their teams. … Check out how thin the White Sox’s NOB lettering appears to have been in this shot of Moose Skowron. ”¦ Mono-orange uniforms yesterday for Oklahoma State (from Michael Guffy). ”¦ Interesting look for Alabama State: mono-gold, NNOB, and stirrups (from Cody Drury). ”¦ Nice throwbacks yesterday for TCU (from David Feigenbaum). ”¦ New cream unis yesterday for Georgia Southern. ”¦ New gold unis for Florida State. ”¦ State flag-based stirrups for Maryland. Too bad about the logo creep (from Matt Shevin). ”¦ Speaking of stirrups, check out the super-tasty striped design being worn yesterday by Miami (thanks for making my day, William Schaefer). ”¦ In February of 1986, players from the 1969 Cubs and Mets renewed their ’69 rivalry by playing an exhibition series, but they wore 1986 uniforms (from William Yurasko). ”¦ Last night’s episode of The Simpsons included a shot of Bart wearing a baseball uniform, including stirrups — or maybe just two-in-ones (screen shot by Ferdinand Cesarano).

Football News: Hmmm, what if the Chargers had a powder blue helmet? … The NCAA is considering a rule change that would allow coach-to-helmet communication, just like in the NFL. Frankly, I’m amazed they haven’t been doing this all along.

Hockey News: I might drop my all-inclusive opposition to uniform ads if they could look like the ones on the shoulders of this Jokerit road sweater (from Alec Pappas). ”¦ “I was enjoying the SNL 40th-anniveersary reunion show with my roommates and we all noticed that the Blackhawks jersey Mike Myers was wearing didn’t have an NHL logo,” says Chris Frank.

Basketball News: Good article on how a Manhattan high school coach’s fixation on the number 33 ended up having a ripple effect through NBA uni-numerical history. ”¦ Check out Dr. J and the rest of the Sixers with their 35th-anniversary warm-ups (from Marc Viquez). … Black History Month sneakers yesterday for Texas A&M (from Michael Kors).

Soccer News: All of these are from Yusuke Toyoda. ”¦ U.S. women’s national team player Sydney Leroux announced her Valentine’s Day marriage to a fellow soccer player with a uni-centric photo. ”¦ West Ham United got a new sponsor following the collapse of its old one, and the new logo on the jersey looks like a patch job. ”¦ This is the second time West Ham has switched sponsors mid-season. The first time was in 2008. ”¦ Paris Saint-Germain striker Zlatan Ibrahimovic celebrated a goal by showing names of people suffering from hunger temporarily tattooed on his chest. He received a yellow card for removing his jersey and will be suspended for the next game:

Grab Bag: Negative review of this LG TV includes the following: “[S]ports fans may find their favorite team’s jerseys appear to have been put through the wash a few too many times.” ”¦ New logo for China’s national tennis team. ”¦ A bill currently under consideration would make California the first state to require all cyclists to wear helmets at all times and reflective clothing at night. ”¦ You’re familiar with the phrase “taking a dump”? Apparently the people who published these cookbooks aren’t. ”¦ New lacrosse helmet for Cornell.

Comments (68)

    “Check out how thing the White Sox’s NOB lettering appears to have been…”

    “Odd” might work where “thing” is, but I’m sure you had something in mind.

    As a college SID, I can certainly chime in and say any league would be screwing over a lot of stat stringers if they allowed multiple players to wear the same number. We deal with it in college football, where full rosters have over 100 players so they double up on some, and tracking participation becomes a complete hassle.

    Most stat software also doesn’t allow for multiple players to have the same number, as when you key in stats for the player, you simply key in their number quickly to pull them up. A lot of new software and systems would have to be changed for this. And for quicker sports like football and basketball with subs and all, you would need more eyes on the field/court tracking which specific players were out there, compared to now where any person can simply track participation by crossing numbers off of a list.

    How do you deal with in college football? And what happens if a player changes numbers mid-game to avoid duplication?

    I think players with duplicate numbers get assigned code numbers like “22A” and “22B,” or “22O” and “22D.” As for players forced to change numbers, the scorer probably continues to use the player’s original number.

    Because college football doesn’t allow the same number on the field at the same time. There are 85-100 players on a roster, so it’s reasonable that there would be number overlap. On a basketball team with ~15 players, there’s not only more probability (if not certainty) that the two players with the same number would be on the court at the same time, but no real pressing need to double up numbers. There are more than enough to go around.

    Of course, though college basketball is limited to numerals between 0 and 5, so you only have 37 unique numbers (including 00), and you start retiring numbers and letting walk-ons suit up…

    Modern scoring systems are also keyed to both the TV graphics and text displays on the stadium scoreboards. That’s how on the ESPN bug after a play, you’ll get, say, both the receiver’s and the QB’s up-to-the-second stats as soon as the play ends.

    Not to be nitpicky but it is “the Dodgers repurposed…” It is spelled repuposed right now.

    Biggest issue with same numbers on a court or a field of play is getting infractions called on the correct player. In football, that may not matter as much. In baseball, might be able to slip a guy in out of order or something. In basketball just complicates calling the fouls.

    I’d like them to go back to the late 90’s version of players wearing their team jerseys, the 98 ASG was perfection

    Ohio State posted a photo of the Russell Westbrook last night in his All-Star jersey. The “0” Looks very very similar to Ohio State’s Block “O”

    I was about to ask about the proper punctuation for the day of the holiday, because I’ve seen President’s Day, Presidents Day, and Presidents’ Day, but then I came across this NYT piece from 2011: link

    Seems like the last one is correct, with apostrophe at the end, though I think it’s much better aesthetically without the apostrophe.

    Also, the email subject line from Living Social was “Up To $25 Off This Presidents Day: Save Lincoln, Hamilton & Jackson”. Uh, one is not like the others.

    Or maybe that’s the joke… since Hamilton wasn’t a president he doesn’t count, hence you only save $25.

    With those stirrups, Maryland might finally have reached the “too much of a good thing” level with the state flag. I wasn’t sure that was possible. I think I’d prefer if the whole stirrup was either red and white or yellow and black – or one of each.

    Like it’s been said above, the issue with multiples of the same number is with stat tracking and officiating, both of which are dependent on real-time accuracy throughout the game.

    I remember the 1992 NHL All-Star Game for its number changes (as well as its sharp throwback uniforms, of course). In particular, it was the only ASG where Steve Yzerman didn’t wear his usual 19, going with 18 instead out of deference to Larry Robinson. Also, both Owen Nolan (Nordiques) and Kirk Muller (Canadiens) were wearing 11 for their regular teams, but yielded to Mark Messier for the game. Muller wore 9, which he’d previously worn with the Devils, while Nolan went to 12.

    Think the stat tracking software is also the reason the NHL stopped allowing 0 & 00 for numbers.

    To make matters worse, the pink on pink game was played at UT. Pick on pick on Rocky Top Orange.

    I grew up with “dump cake” in the dessert rotation. Can of chopped pineapple, can of cherry pie filling, baked under a flaky, sweet crust. So good.

    Multiple guys on same team with same number reminds me of a mid-century mishap. Back when I was a sophomore in high school, I cracked open the Rocky Mountain News sports page to see my school’s football score. I was startled that a classmate of mine had two touchdowns and had run for about 100 yards as his prior experience on the team was as a backup db with darned little game experience. He wore 46 on defense. The stringer didn’t notice that last little qualifier. The principal’s son wore 46 on offense and should have received credit for the big game against the Sheridan Rams.

    To be sure, no one reads newspapers any more, there is no more Rocky Mountain News and high school highlights are on TV, but sloppy work persists and somewhere out there again Dale will end up getting credit for what Rick did.

    Just to be clear on the Ernie Banks video, the Cubs alumni were wearing the team’s then-current pullover unis, but the Mets alumni were wearing throwbacks – though incomplete ones, as they appear to lack sleeve patches and placket piping. The Mets’ 1986 road unis had racing stripes and the Mets script on the front.

    Can’t agree with PL on letting 2 players wear the same number in regular season games. All-Star Games are basically one-offs and most players in the game are big enough stars that that number is “their” number during the season. When 2 stars play on the same team for an ASG, they are equally good enough that unless you factor in seniority somehow, both are equally deserving of wearing “their” number. And statistics matter less in glorified exhibitions. But regular season games are different. Uniform numbers were meant to tell the players apart on the field/court/ice. These guys play together on the same team for entire seasons and it defeats the very purpose of having uniform numbers if the individual’s desire for a given number supercedes the concept of identifying players on the same team.

    I’m imagining a future Kentucky squad with five starters all wearing the number 1. It’s not a comforting thought.

    I don’t know how long the current COTD has been up, but it’s great. Bonus point for Wayne Gretzky making a cameo in an Oilers jersey.

    In Mexico, Labor’s Day is celebrated on May 1st like most of the countries. I married on that day almost 5 years ago and we always have long weekends (except when it falls on Saturday or Sunday)

    No multiple numbers, especially in a regular game, but even in exhibitions like the All Star Game. What do people have against spotters and stats crews, anyway? I suppose when the NBA let the players wear their own jerseys just like MLB, that’s alright. Otherwise, NO.

    I would think an all-star jersey with the “wrong” number would be more of a collector’s item…kind of like how that upside down stamp became so valuable.

    I came across this mid-1980s shot of Cardinals OF and low-cuffery pioneer George Hendrick with no logo on his batting helmet

    /curls up in fetal position, rocking back and forth saying “Please, no Seahwaks jokes” repeatedly

    That San Diego Chargers concept helmet is absolutely stunning, and I’d go as far to suggest that powder blue look should replace the current helmet. It’s unique, but links to the classic jerseys of the past.

    In fact, I would take things even further, and jettison the dark blue from the uniform set. The frequent dark blue pants seem a little stale to me, and powder blue pants would be a good replacement.

    Not a fan of the helmet as is. LOVE the idea of the powder blue helmet, but that black outline just looks like a square peg in a round hole to me. What if the bolt were white with yellow outline or vice versa? Or just solid white?

    I realize that the presence of navy in the Chargers’ color scheme is largely just because Dean Spanos likes it, but I would be reluctant to advocate eliminating it from the team’s palette entirely.

    In a scheme that consists mainly of two rather light colors (in this case, a striking “powder” blue and a bright yellow-gold), it can be difficult to arrange those colors in a manner that produces sufficient contrast. For the Chargers, even simply having some navy blue outlines can remedy this.

    Now, I don’t necessarily believe that the manner in which the current uniforms attempt to *use* navy is ideal, but conceptually, having a dark trim color to balance out two light colors can produce nice results.

    Paul, how do you feel about uni numbers on Jackie Robinson Day? Every player is 42. I appreciate the tribute, but it really makes my head hurt to see it on the field. I would rather do away with it altogether, but I doubt baseball will ever completely do that. I much prefer each player to have a completely unique number.

    As I have said many times, I lovelovelove it. It is the one unqualified triumph of Bud Selig’s commissionership.

    Is it a little confusing? Yeah. But baseball existed for the better part of a century with *no* uniform numbers, and everyone got along fine. For one day, it’s no big deal, and it reminds us all of Jackie’s larger story and place in history.

    Love it.

    “baseball existed for the better part of a century with *no* uniform numbers”

    How ’bout they have everyone go numberless and cut a 42 into the outfield grass? Too subtle and classy for pro sports is my guess. That’d be like the NFL painting pink ribbons on either side of the midfield logo in October and leaving unis pink-free.

    I’m 100% with Paul on this one — at first I didn’t like the idea of any player wearing “42” … then I hated even more the concept of just a few players wearing it (as happened in maybe the third or fourth? year after the league-wide retirement). And I was genuinely concerned that EVERYONE wearing 42 on 4/15 was going to cheapen or confuse things. But I was wrong.

    It’s an awesome thing, and probably the best thing (of which there are glaringly few) to come out of the Selig-stewardship of MLB. It keeps Jackie’s legacy and accomplishments alive for countless generations and as a one-day only thing, it’s great.

    The only thing I don’t like is when teams have a scheduled off-day on 4/15 (everyone should play this day) or are victimized by a rain-out/snow-out. I’m not such a fan of seeing all the “42”s on 4/16 or later. The day is about Jackie, so all teams should play on this day every year. The scheduling gurus need to figure out a way to make that happen.

    Is it confusing? Yes, in a way. But baseball, unlike other sports, isn’t driven by having to know the number on the back to properly score it — which is what is important. I wouldn’t want to return to a time when there were no uniform numbers, but for one day, people can suck it up and take a little extra effort to figure out which player is which by paying closer attention.

    The only thing I don’t like is when teams have a scheduled off-day on 4/15 (everyone should play this day) or are victimized by a rain-out/snow-out. I’m not such a fan of seeing all the “42”s on 4/16 or later.

    Completely agree (and actually meant to include that in my comment). If you’re not playing on 4/15, too bad — you’ll get to wear 42 next year. And if you’re on the road on 4/15, too bad — you can have a home game on that date next year. Don’t cheapen the occasion by spreading out the promotion over multiple dates.

    But baseball existed for the better part of a century with *no* uniform numbers, and everyone got along fine

    Yeah, during that time frame we had “The War To End All Wars.” Coincidence? Pffft. Gavrilo Princip was probably an irate statskeeper who took his frustrations out on the Archduke Ferdinand.

    Isn’t like that, Mike Princip’s grandfather or great-grandpappy or something?

    Why do you hate freedom so?

    Jokerit, a KHL team based in Finland, has a sponsorship deal with on-line gambling site NordicBet, and they had their logos only on their road jerseys since promotion of gambling (among many, many other things) is illegal in Finland (except for state lottery company Veikkaus, of course).

    Jokerit covered ‘NordicBet’ logos with ‘No Logo’ patches in October. That wasn’t enough for Finnish authorities, and Jokerit recently got a suspended €100,000 fine for illegal promotion of gambling.

    Unless I’m mistaken, the original intended function of uniform numbers was to allow players to be identified from a distance, viz., by fans in the stands and by radio broadcasters. Faces and NOBs are harder to make out from far away.

    In the age of television, of course, they can be; the camera can zoom in on what the unaided human eye can’t. Which is what makes the annual “42”-fest in MLB do-able.

    In the aggregate, though, I think fans in the stands want to be able to spot their favorite players and know who’s on the field even from the Bob Uecker section. And radio broadcasters would rather not have to look at the TV monitor to know who’s warming up in the bullpen.

    So, let’s not have duplicate numbers.

    It’s not quite the NHL, but two players (Robbie Ftorek and Claude Larose) of the WHA Cincinnati Stingers wore #8 during the 1977-78 season. They got special permission from the league to do so. link

    “Check out Dr. J and the rest of the Sixers with their 35th-anniversary warm-ups”

    That’s actually the NBA 35th anniversary patch that all teams wore on their warm-ups and shorts, not team-specific…

    Looking at that prototype Chargers helmet, would be sweeter yet if the chinstrap color matched the shell. That lid, the powder blues as the default dark jersey and either yellow pants all the time or powder blue with the white jersey and white with the powder blue, they’d look great.

    I don’t know what’s going to happen first in my lifetime. The Mets getting to .500 all-time won/loss or the Yankees running out of numbers.

    In February of 1986, players from the 1969 Cubs and Mets renewed their ’69 rivalry by playing an exhibition series, but they wore 1986 uniforms

    Fascinating find…I don’t recall ever seeing this. The Cubs are wearing 1986 uniforms, but added NOBs. The Mets are wearing something similar to their 1969 road uniform, with the correct NEW YORK in a Tuscan font. However, they used their home number fonts, ditched the headspoon from 1969 and added NOBs that were not worn back then.

    As to the question pertaining to duplicate uniform numbers: it seems that the next logical step from allowing duplicate numbers would be the abolition of uni numbers in general. Because, if the purpose of the number is for officials and fans to quickly distinguish between players, compromising its intent makes it pretty pointless. Why not just put the player’s initials on there, instead? Or their Twitter handle? Or advertising?

    Just kidding about that last suggestion, but, while I don’t mind it for All-Star games (it was weird as a kid seeing your favorite players wearing unusual numbers), adopting the practice full-time makes the number no different than putting a player’s favorite color, shape, or cut of beef on the uni instead.

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