I’ve been trying to mix things up a bit with my weekly Friday Flashback columns on ESPN. Last week, for example, I looked at boxing — a sport I rarely write about — by examining Muhammad Ali’s ring apparel.
This week I’m looking at another sport that rarely gets the Uni Watch treatment: golf. With the U.S. Open now underway, I interviewed the USGA’s official historian. We discussed various aspects of golf apparel history, including early Scottish knickers and waistcoats; the evolution of golf headwear; the rise of advertising and endorsements; and the crazy styles of the 1960s and ’70s (nicely exemplified by Doug Sanders, at left in the photo shown above, who was known as “the Peacock of the Fairways”). Check it out here.
T-Shirt Club reminder: In case you missed it earlier this week, the Uni Watch T-Shirt Club’s third limited-edition design of 2016 is now available for your consideration.
As you’ll recall, we’re going one sport at a time this year, and we already covered baseball and hockey. Our latest shirt takes us to the hardcourt, as we’re launching two different basketball designs — one showing a home uniform and one showing a road uniform (click to enlarge):
Pretty cool, right? I really love seeing that racing stripe uniform concept done up in Uni Watch colors, and ditto for the ABA-style ball.
Important: Although green and grey mock-ups are shown above, we’re offering both of these designs in four different shirt colors (green, grey, black, and white), and also in two different styles (short-sleeved and long-sleeved). As usual, they’re available for one week.
Here’s where you can order the home and road designs. You only need to purchase one of them — the home or the road — in order to maintain your 2016 “Collect ’Em All” eligibility (although you’re welcome to purchase both, obviously).
As always, big, big thanks to my Teespring partner, Bryan Molloy, for his great work on these. I’m very happy with the way they turned out.
Also! After I posted about the T-shirts on Twitter earlier this week, reader DW Jones posted a good question: “Does the basketball player have a name?” I hadn’t thought of that, but it’s a fun question. So here’s what we’ll do: I’ll give a free shirt to whoever comes up with the best name for the player. Post your suggestions in today’s comments.
Click to enlarge
[Editor’s Note: Next we have a guest piece from Alex Sinclair, who’s going to tell us about the liveries at this year’s 24 Hours of Le Mans, which kicks off tomorrow. Enjoy. ”” PL]
The 2016 24 Hours of Le Mans
By Alex Sinclair
The 24 Hours of Le Mans is a race unlike any other. It is the longest-running endurance race, dating back to 1923, and makes up one-third of the Triple Crown of Motorsport, along with the Indy 500 and the Monaco Grand Prix. It is held annually on the 8.5-mile Circuit de la Sarthe in western France each June. Every car in the race aims to run for the full 24 hours, stopping only for pitstops and driver shifts. The challenge of finishing it as a competitor is mirrored by the challenge of watching it in its entirety as a fan.
Here’s a look at some of the curious livery elements on display this weekend:
1. All of the top class cars are running the same colors. All six LMP1 Hybrids — Porsche, Audi, and Toyota all have two cars each ”“- are all using black-white-red liveries for the entire World Endurance Championship. This is somewhat disappointing for anyone who follows sports and understands the importance of contrast.
2. For any first-timers out there who are wondering what it says on the Porsches, you need to look at their promotional graphics in order to understand it. They have, arguably, the most beautiful car in the class, and they ruin it with what looks like half a redacted magazine ad.
3. Toyota gets some slack for their black-white-red livery for one reason: They’ve designed a paint scheme that makes the car look fast. The sharp angles and contrasting color blocks work well on a car that’s the curviest of its type. However, they had a blue base last year, and while this is a nicer livery in a vacuum, it would have been really great to see something other than black-white-red.
4. The two Rebellion R-One AERs contain a lot of detail that may not show up on TV or at speed, so get a look at a still image if possible. On the flip side, they get docked some points for running two identical paint jobs after running individual red and white cars for all of last year.
5. RGR Sport’s Nissan-Ligier is by far the most interesting car on the grid. Every time you look at the car, you notice something extra. The team’s name comes from founder/driver Ricardo Gonzalez, whose Mexican heritage is the primary theme of this car’s look. Its uses Mexican national colors — a deep red base enhanced with green-and-white accents. Its primary sponsor is also notable, because it’s a car promoting a race that said car will be competing in later this year (6 hours of Mexico City, which will take place in September), plus there’s a big Arkansas State University logo on the engine cover (the college is opening a campus in Santiago de QuerÃ©taro). Then, hidden right beneath the nose is a small Speedy Gonzalez illustration. It sounds like a mixed bag, but it really works.
6. The Panis Barthez Nissan-Ligier is No. 23 for this race, which is fine, but it should belong to the No. 25 Algarve Pro Nissan-Ligier instead. The reasoning for this is simple: Algarve Pro are a semi-works Nissan team and carry a fully Nissan-branded car, while the Panis Barthez car is run by former professional soccer goalkeeper Fabien Barthez. The No. 23 is often requested by Nissan for major competitions due to how it sounds in their native Japanese — “2-3” is pronounced “Ni-San”.
7. Every year, the race organizers set aside one spot on the entry list for a possible experimental entry to run in the race. They call this the “Garage 56”³ entry. Previous honorees include the DeltaWing and the ZEOD, but this year it’s a bit more special. Quadruple amputee FrÃ©dÃ©ric Sausset will be competing in an LMP2-spec custom-creation. He lost all four limbs to a viral infection but will be allowed to drive using an ingenious arm attachment for steering and a throttle and brake that can be controlled through his thighs. Sausset will literally be winched in and out of the car for his stints in this race, yet the other drivers on his team will be able to hop in and operate the car as normal. Motorsport has caused too many debilitating injuries since its inception, so it’s nice when you see the community coming together to reverse an injured driver’s fortunes.
8. For the 50th anniversary of Ford’s 1966 Le Mans win, they have returned with an updated version of the ’60s classic Ford GT40 (named for being just 40 inches high, and at times requiring a ceiling bubble to accommodate taller drivers). The new Ford GT (taller now) won’t be competing for an overall win, but rather for a class win in GTE Pro. This is important because GTE cars must be based on current road-going sportscars, yet the earliest possible date one could purchase a Ford GT would be at some point in 2017, because — get this — Ford has not produced any road-going GTs. They were somehow granted a waiver on this very crucial aspect of the regulations because the organizers wanted to see them back in the big race. In their attempt to re-create their 1966 podium lockout, they have entered four cars with near-identical liveries, though they bear no resemblance to any of their four previous Le Mans-winning efforts — especially not the iconic Gulf Oil-sponsored car that won the race back-to-back in 1968 and 1969 — because Ford’s biggest sponsor in 2016 is Castrol, which would have never agreed to the team running a car in rival colors. Instead, we get four rather patriotic-looking GTs with some different-colored mirrors and windshield strips to tell them apart.
9. Every car in the race has one number-board on each door and one on the hood. These are color-coded for the vehicle competition class: LMP1 is red, LMP2 is blue, GTE Pro is green, and GTE Am is orange. As a general rule, you only race cars in your own class (with LMP1 being the quickest and thus racing for the overall win), and you let drivers in faster classes pass by as safely as possible. In effect, there are four simultaneous races occurring together on the same track. This is the beauty of multi-class endurance racing for fans, because the faster cars effectively have to deal with traffic on the circuit and need to navigate among them at high speed. When two fast cars racing each other encounter traffic together, that’s where the fun is. The number-boards provide context to the racing, because the two prototype classes feature similar-looking cars, and the two GTE classes are nearly identical (AM cars are the same just at least one-year old). Fans use them as indicators of meaningful passes compared to basic traffic.
Unfortunately, this means spending a lot of time looking at one design element that has been driving me insane. You see, the teams all use slightly different typefaces for the number-boards despite these regulations:
8.1.3 Race numbers 126.96.36.199 ”“ They are allocated by the Promoter for the whole season. They must be produced and affixed by each competitor on the race number backgrounds described above and must respect the following rules:- Height: 21 cm- Thickness: 4 cm- Colour: white- Font: Helvetica Neue Bold Condensed.
It’s right there in the rulebook, and it’s not enforced at all. There are some teams in LMP2 who use some derivative of Gill Sans, while the Chevrolet team don’t even try and hide their shame in using Impact, though it’s nothing compared to the privateer Larbre Corvette which boasts an outline stroke and God knows what font.
However, my biggest problem lies with Porsche. The numbers they use on their LMP1 919s don’t match what they put on their GTE 911s. Look at the bottom of the “1” on each car. It’s one thing to break the rules for aesthetics’ sake, but at least do it consistently. I get that this may seem like nitpicky unimportant semantics to most people, but that’s what Uni Watch is all about, right?
10. Anyone watching the race this weekend should download the Dunlop Andy Blackmore Spotter Guide. It’s a beautifully organized document with illustrations of every car in the race, complete with driver ratings, class designations, and circuit layout. The race has 60 cars and 180 drivers on a track over twice the length of the longest circuit on the Formula 1 calendar. In three pages, Mr. Blackmore’s Spotter Guide can put a first-timer up there with a 20-year veteran in terms of need-to-know knowledge. Aside from good coffee and live pictures, it’s the only thing you need to fully enjoy the race.
A bloody shame: Big thanks to the many of you who posted kind thoughts yesterday about my surgery. Not only did it go well, but I’m happy to report that we ended up with the best-case scenario: As the old Dizzy Dean joke goes, “They examined my head, and they found nothing!” Well, it wasn’t my head, but they still found nothing, and that was the best possible news. I’m a little sore and worn out, but otherwise I’m fine, and this episode, which had been hovering over my life like a dark cloud for most of this year, is now over.
One of the many forms I filled out at the hospital was a consent form for receiving a blood transfusion, if one had been necessary (which, as it turned out, it wasn’t). And that, along with some current events, leads me to something I want to talk about today.
As I’ve mentioned many times over the years, I donate blood every two months (that’s as often as they’ll let you do it), something I began doing after the Sept. 11 attacks back in 2001. Each time I do so, I have to fill out a form that poses various questions about my health status, my recent travel history, and more. One of the questions that male donors must answer is, “Have you had sex with another man since 1977, even once?”
If you answer yes, you are permanently ineligible to donate. That’s based on an antiquated FDA policy that judged gay and bisexual men to be health risks because their blood could be tainted by HIV. The FDA relaxed the policy somewhat last year — gay men are now allowed to donate if they haven’t been sexually active in the past year (which is still a de facto lifetime ban if you’re sexually active, meaning gay men can’t even donate blood to their family members or even their husbands, which is absurd). Some jurisdictions have adopted the new FDA policy but others, including New York, are still using the old policy — which is why I have to answer that question every time I donate.
It pisses me off every time. Both versions of the FDA policy are ridiculous in our modern world, because (a) HIV is not restricted to gay or bisexual men, and (b) the blood supply is now routinely screened for HIV. No matter how I answer that line on the questionnaire, the blood I donate is tested for HIV (and for several other diseases) before it can be used in a hospital. If the test came back positive, they would notify me and discard my blood, so the whole issue is moot. I’ve discussed this with the staff at the blood center where I donate, and they’re even more pissed off about it than I am, because the policy forces them to turn away lots of qualified donors.
Those people being turned away are denied the chance to help their communities, as I help mine, by donating. More importantly, this policy costs lives, because it limits the size of the blood supply. I assure you, if I had needed a transfusion yesterday, I wouldn’t have cared whether the donor had been gay, straight, bi, or other. If you needed a transfusion, you wouldn’t care either. (Or if you did care, you’d be caring for all the wrong reasons, not for reasons that have any scientific or medical basis.)
The FDA policy has come under renewed scrutiny in the wake of last weekend’s mass shooting at a gay club in Orlando, because gay men who’ve wanted to donate blood in response to the massacre have been unable to do so.
If the Orlando shooting leads to a change in the FDA policy, that would be one small positive outgrowth from this horrible event. But the reality is that the policy has been indefensible for years, and it shouldn’t have taken a mass slaughter to make that clear. The policy may have made sense decades ago, but countless health experts have stated that there’s no longer any need for it. The only rationales for maintaining it are the politics of exclusion, the politics of ignorance, and the politics of fear, all of which are unacceptable.
There are currently several online petitions urging that the policy be changed, although I have no idea which one, if any, is the “best” or most “official” petition (or if online petitions have any effect on anything anyway). In any case, I’m doing my part here to add my voice to this issue: The policy needs to change, and I hope it does.
By Mike Chamernik
Baseball News: It’s common knowledge around here that the Padres nearly moved to Washington before the 1974 season. A prototype uniform was made in anticipation of the move, and it turns out that it still exists! The Nationals have it on display in their stadium’s Norfolk Southern Club. More info on the near relocation and the uniform here (from many readers). … A Maryland brewery has released a lemon-drop-flavored beer named Puck Face, a play off of Billy Ripken’s famous 1989 Fleer card (from Steve Hudgin). … Buster Posey showed how he breaks in his caps. Unlike most players, Posey wears a low profile 5950 cap with a lower silhouette and pre-bent visor (from Alex). … There are now five active MLB pitchers wearing single-digit uni numbers. Is that the most ever at one time? … The Indianapolis Indians will wear Hulk jerseys on Saturday — that’s the comic book character, not the wrestler or Brazilian soccer player. … Braves call-up Tyrell Jenkins wore stirrups and carried a throwback Braves backpack yesterday (from Britton Thomas). … Some Diamondbacks opponents, including the Dodgers, say that the D-Backs purposely designed their visitor’s dugout bench to be uncomfortable. Players have said it made their legs fall asleep. … Irish-themed jerseys tonight for the Peoria Chiefs (from MrMichael). … As we all know by now, the Yankees are wearing matte batting helmets on the road — or at least the players are, but apparently not the base coaches.
NFL News: Vikings players wore team-themed hard hats during a tour of their new US Bank Stadium (from Barry Brite). … The Falcons have new Home Depot ads on their practice jerseys. Team owner Arthur Blank co-founded the home improvement giant in 1978 (from Mike Nessen).
College Football News: Sportscaster Jim Mullin is holding a bracket to determine the best logo in Canadian college football (from Brendon Chrus).
Hockey News: Ads for the Flyers’ draft caps show “Philadelphia” spelled incorrectly on the side panels (from Allen Thompson). … Minnesota’s women’s team tweeted its first logo. @Andynel88 notes that the “M” logo combined with the “s”-shaped trail of the puck forms a “Ms.”
NBA News: The Pacers unveiled a 50th-anniversary logo, which will be worn next season as a patch. Indiana joined the NBA in 1976 after nine seasons in the ABA (from Steve Jacobson). … The Patriots’ Tom Brady wore Stephen Curry’s much-maligned new Under Armour shoes while watching last night’s game. He had “Straight [fire emoji]” written on them, like what Curry does. … The Cavs have changed their logo and uniforms many times since they joined the league in 1970 (from @holycalamity).
Soccer News: U.S. men’s team midfielder Michael Bradley wore a rainbow captain’s armband last night in support of the Orlando shooting victims (from @kipvatican). … The colors and number font of Ecuador’s goalkeeper jersey look a lot like what Oregon football wears (from Brad Beutler). … A Germany fan wore a jersey that had “Homer Simpson” as the NOB to yesterday’s match against Poland. … Liverpool unveiled a new black away kit.
Grab Bag: Here’s a neat old “Sporting Life” jigsaw puzzle. … Here’s what several top golfers are wearing for this weekend’s U.S. Open (from Drew Stiling). … Here’s what it would look like if all three Kansas City pro teams — the Chiefs, Royals, and Sporting KC — all wore the same colors. The Chiefs in light blue don’t look too bad (from Phil Chapman).