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Tigers Talk Tools of the Trade

[Editor’s Note: Today we have a guest entry from our own Mike Chamernik, and it’s really good. Enjoy. ”” PL]

By Mike Chamernik

I played baseball in high school, and during one practice I was walking maybe 20 feet behind first base as the team was taking infield. After fielding a grounder, the shortstop made a high throw, the first baseman jumped and just nicked the ball, and it ricocheted straight into my — well, you know.

Thankfully, I had my cup on, as always, so I wasn’t hurt at all. During all my years of baseball, I only forgot my cup once (and I played with my head on a swivel that game, let me tell you). For me, a cup was essential, so it really shocked me when I learned a few years ago that most MLB players don’t wear one.

Ian Kinsler shares my mindset, though. The Tigers second baseman was recently asked what his most important piece of equipment was, and he responded without hesitation.

That video was a part of Fox Sports Detroit’s Tigers Equipment Night, which was the theme of last night’s telecast for the game against the Angels. Tigers players, and the equipment staff, were interviewed about their bats, gloves, and gear. Here’s a segment they showed about gloves:

As Kinsler explains, gloves are much more personal to ballplayers than their bats are. If a bat isn’t working, they can toss it back on the rack, but players rarely switch fielding gloves, which need to be tediously broken in. Third baseman Nick Castellanos says he wears a 12-inch glove because it splits the difference between the 11 3/4- and 12 1/4-inch gloves recommended for the position, and shortstop Jose Iglesias said he wasn’t aware that his palm is exposed when he wears his glove.

Outfielder Alex Presley explained that he shifts his fingers inside his glove into the “two in the pink” configuration for a little more reach and comfort. I wrote about the method a few years ago.

Meanwhile, utility man Andrew Romine has already played every position except for catcher and pitcher this year. He has seven gloves and mitts, with some for games and some as backups, so he’s ready to play wherever he’s needed on the diamond. He discusses all of that in this segment:

Clubhouse manager Jim Schmakel says that each player has a dozen bats, and that 120 baseballs are needed for each game. In addition to stocking the dugout and bullpen with bubblegum and sunflower seeds, he also used to have to buy Lucky Charms for outfielder Bobby Higginson, who kept them in his back pocket as a good luck charm. When Higginson slid, the colorful marshmallow cereal would leave stains on his pants. Here’s Schmakel talking about that:

Of course, bat boys have to run out and fetch bats, but they also have to schlep around loads of towels, crates full of sunflower seeds, and jugs of Gatorade. Here’s a segment on the life as a bat boy:

In addition to the video segments, Fox Sports Detroit also ran graphics that showed what types of bats the players used. To my knowledge, however, the telecast did not reveal which players do or do not wear cups.

(Thank you to reader David Raglin for the heads-up about this broadcast.)

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Naming Wrongs reminder: Paul here. In case you missed it yesterday, the new incarnation of Naming Wrongs — the T-shirt project that pushes back against corporate-named stadiums and arenas — is now up and running. Full details here, or you can skip the explainer and go straight to our new Naming Wrongs online shop. (Note that it runs for three pages. Some people have told me that they didn’t initially notice the little “2” and “3” indicators at the bottom of the first page.)

Question Time reminder: I’m currently accepting questions for a new round of Question Time. Details here.

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It was a good day: I used to be a rock critic, so I’ve interviewed plenty of musicians. Still, I never expected to find myself interviewing Ice Cube, especially at this stage of my career. But that’s exactly what happened yesterday.

As you may be aware, Cube is the co-honcho of Big3, the new 3-on-3 basketball league that will debut later this month. Longtime Uni Watch pal/ally Todd Radom, who designed all of the logos and uniforms for the eight-team league, recently told me he got significant input from Cube, who he described as “one of us” when it comes to uniform details, so I figured I had to get the full scoop from the man himself. It was all very interesting. Further details to follow in an upcoming ESPN piece.

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The Ticker
By Mike Chamernik

Baseball News: Padres manager Andy Green said that the team may soon use nickNOBs for batting practice or even a game (from @Padsker). … MLB commissioner Rob Manfred said he’s open to allowing players more freedom with their shoes. Between this, the Stance socks, the Under Armour and New Era logo creep, and his statement that he’s “open” to the idea of jersey advertising, it’s clear that he’s willing to shake up the idea of the traditional baseball uniform (from Kate Chavez). … The Lexington Legends will wear Minecraft jerseys on June 28 (from Tyler Hicks). … Two players who hit four homers in a game, Lou Gehrig and Bobby Lowe, posed for a photo back in the 1930s. Chris Costello says he’s intrigued by the placement of the belt loops on their pants. It was actually common for players to have loops directly front and center in those days, and to wear their buckle off to the side. … The Yankees have famously abstained from maker’s marks on their sleeves, but their bat boy had a Majestic logo on his sleeve last night (from George Falkowski).

NFL News: The Dolphins wore solid-orange for their Thursday-night game last season, but this year they’ll wear solid-white. Also, Dolphins CEO Tom Garfinkel said that the team sees the love for the throwback logo from fans, but “as of right now” there is no plan to change from the current modern logo (from @Frankie__Doodle and Bobby Belt). … During their previous season in Los Angeles in 1960, the Chargers had a yellow outline around the blue numerals on their helmets. Some numbers had outlines that were particularly thick (from Mark Palczewski).

College Football News: New black and chrome unis for NC State (from David Taylor). … New cleats for Florida State (from @broc1984). … New font for Texas Tech (from @kevinmaltzy15). … Bob Stoops announced yesterday that he was stepping down as Oklahoma coach. As a player, when he was known as Bobby Stoops, he went FNOB for a time in the early 1980s when he played for Iowa. That’s him trying to tackle current Liberty coach, and former Nebraska QB, Turner Gill (from Brett Baker). … Northwest Missouri State will wear the Schutt F7 helmet this season. That’s the helmet with the two flexible exterior plates, which Paul wrote about earlier this year.

Basketball News: A Cavaliers fan made a bust of LeBron James out of 30 pounds of dryer lint. That reminds me of one of life’s little pleasures: wiping the dryer’s lint trap clean. … Let’s say they decided to replace Jerry West on the NBA logo. Can you guess who the silhouette is in these 11 new NBA logo concepts? (From Jorge Cruz.) … Along with some amusing illustrations that reimagine managers and coaches wearing outfits from other sports, this piece examines the fashion choices of NBA coaches, and why suits are the standard (from Dan Kennedy). … Oh man, I love these uniforms worn by Tillamook (Ore.) High School back in the day! The city’s economy has historically revolved around dairy production (from Chad Gotch). … BYU’s Smith Fieldhouse has a new floor (from Jim Vilk).

Soccer News: New home and away kits for Club Brugge of Belgium, who left Nike for Macron, an Italian apparel company (from Ed Å»elaski). … Spain’s yet-to-be-unveiled 2018 World Cup jersey may be inspired by its 1994 kit. … New home kit for Bradford City. … The U.S. women’s national team will wear LGBT pride jerseys today, which might be the reason one outspokenly Christian player on the team withdrew from the game (from Phil).

Grab Bag: The WWE changed the logo for next month’s Pay-Per-View, the inaugural “Great Balls of Fire,” because the previous version looked a bit too much like a dong. … Here’s a guide to the driver liveries for this weekend’s IndyCar race (from Tim Dunn). … Here’s a Baylor track and field runner wearing a captain’s C.

Comments (55)

    When I played ball as a kid it seems only catchers wore cups.

    Later in life I played the outfield so I didn’t wear one.
    Then I moved to 3rd base and had a bad hop jump between my mitt and my jewels. No damage, but the next day I was at Cups-R-Us.

    As a middle infielder, I didn’t wear a cup until I fouled a ball off the plate. It ricocheted right into the boys. Been wearing a cup ever since.

    From the first years of little league through softball into my 30s I always wore a cup. Would have no confidence without it.

    I wore a cup only once in all my years of playing baseball from 8 to 18. Coach said everyone on the team needed to wear one and he was “going to check” to make sure we were complying with all uniform rules (I assumed we’d have to wrap it hard enough to make a sound) so I told my mom I needed her to buy me one. He never actually checked and he never said another word to the team about cups after that one day so I never wore it again.

    When I was writing the Ticker, I thought really long and hard (*snicker*) for a word that described what the picture was, but wasn’t too vulgar, or too cheesy.

    re NCSU black/chrome unis: it’s hard to tell in the video (well at least to me) but there are going to be some red elements in the me it looked exclusively black and chrome


    Played 4 years of HS football in the 1980s and never wore a cup only an athletic supporter. A colleague o mine played 4 years of division 1 NCAA football and never wore a cup. In fact he told most of his college football teammates never wore a cup. My son plays youth baseball and a cup is mandatory. He’s so used to it I don’t think he could play without it. I’m surprised lots of MLB players don’t wear a cup. As odd as it sounds I feel that playing baseball requires a cup more so than football. Getting struck with a hard object traveling north of 70 mph in your testiclles could incur a devastating injury.

    I believe the discussion of *football players* not wearing cups has happened on this forum before.

    I think a tiny percentage actually do.

    For the past few years now, Yankees bat boys and ball boys wear numberless jerseys with the Majestic logo on the sleeve and pants. Wished they still wore jerseys with a giant “BB” on the back. Don’t remember when they stopped doing that.

    You beat me to it… I think the BB days ended after the 96 World Series but I miss them too.

    Yankees bat boys have always had the logo on the sleeve, that’s not new. They wear retail authentic jerseys, not game issued. This picture is from 2011 but that goes back to at least the mid 90s with Russell.


    Mike, great entry on “Tools of the Trade”. I was curious what limit size-wise that gloves have, and I found this interesting article. Back in 1990 Fay Vincent decided to enforce the size limit, since many were playing with gloves much bigger, up to 15″, than allowed. Also just last year they increased the maximum size from 12 inches to 13.

    “That video was a part of Fox Sport Detroit’s”
    – Fox Sports

    “When Higginson slid, and the colorful marshmallow cereal would leave stains on his pants”
    – Drop the “and”

    We had a discussion about cups, stains on pants, dongs, and my personal favorite, “two in the pink”.
    My only wish is that someone had worn a pregame warm-up t-shirt last night that said “Liquor in the front, Poker in the rear”.

    The ticker item about how the US Women’s National Team is wearing LGBT “pride” uniforms and the Christian player choosing to not play I think is worth discussion.

    Without getting into this specific issue, is anybody else not crazy about a national team making a political statement with uniforms, since it might put players in the awkward position of having to either support an issue they don’t support or not participating?

    Again, don’t take this as commentary on LGBT rights, which I support, but rather the appropriateness of a national team advocating any side of a divisive political issue.

    1) For the vast majority of the country, LGBT rights are not “divisive.”

    2) Let’s please be clear that the “national” team is not a government team or an arm of the government or in any way a function of our governmental structure. It does not have governmental sanction or approval. It is simply the team that represents the United States in international competitions. It answers to the U.S. Soccer Federation, which is a nonprofit group, not a gov’t agency. So the term “national team” is somewhat misleading — it’s not the same as referring to, say, our “national military” or the “National Guard” or the “National Highway Traffic Safety Administration,” or any of the countless other “national”-named groups that are part of the government.

    3) Regarding political messaging: If this same team wore camouflage — which, as I’ve explained many times over the years, is a form of political messaging — would you also object to that? Just askin’.

    1. I disagree there – support for LGBT rights have come a long way but there still are numerous opponents. Otherwise, what would be the point in expressing “pride”? Especially if not all team members share that pride?

    2. A fair point, but I wasn’t asking about the legality of the situation, just the appropriateness of it. If nothing else, this example shows that individual players may have to choose between endorsing a position they don’t believe in or not being able to play.

    3. I would, because I think that there is a subtle pro-war message to gimmicks such as camouflage.

    there still are numerous opponents [to LGBT rights]

    I never said there weren’t numerous opponents — but “numerous opponents” wasn’t what you initially claimed, and it wasn’t what I was responding to. You asserted that it was a “divisive” issue, which implies a fairly even split. I responded by saying the “vast majority” of the country accepts LGBT rights. Now you’re moving the goalposts and trying to impose a new standard — it’s no longer “divisive,” now it’s simply that there are “numerous opponents.”

    Here’s why that’s a bullshit standard: Let’s say, for example, that 85% of the country accepts LGBT rights. That would be a vast majority. Given the country’s population, however, the 15% would constitute “numerous opponents.” So that would meet the new standard you’re trying to impose. But it would fail your initial standard of the issue being “divisive.” Please stop moving the goalposts and defend your original position, if you can, rather than changing it.

    I wasn’t asking about the legality of the situation, just the appropriateness of it.

    I wasn’t speaking to the legality of it either. Your point seemed to be — and I admit that I’m projecting here, so please correct me if I’m wrong — that the “appropriateness” standard was rooted in the team’s “national” status. That was the whole premise of your comment. You singled out this team, as a NATIONAL team, to question its messaging. I was simply pointing out that the term “national,” as used by this team, carries no official status. The team is the arm of a nonprofit organization, period. Why can’t they take a position on anything they like, “divisive” or otherwise?

    Here is a link to some recent Gallup polling regarding gay rights:


    Seems to me that in general, the split is between 60/40 and 70/30 depending on the specific issue. I guess whether or not this issue remains “divisive” is a matter of opinion.

    But let’s suppose that a “national” team was to wear uniforms showing support of one side of an issue that we agree is truly divisive, and happened to support the opposite side of the issue than you do? For example, I am pro-choice, and it would bother me greatly if a US national team wore uniforms with a anti-abortion slogan on them. But to be fair and consistent, I would also not want them to wear pro-choice slogans either, as it might put pro-life team members in a situation where they had to appear to support something that they didn’t.

    I’m saying that this “national” thing is, as I’ve already explained, a red herring. The team has no official “national” status. It’s part of a nonprofit.

    If you’re opposed to a pro-LGBT message on sports uniforms in general, then fine — make that argument. But your original argument — that such messaging is particularly inappropriate for a “national” team — doesn’t hold up. That’s all.

    But are issues like LGBT rights really “political” matters? I view it as a social cause, it’s not like camo, which I think has inherently been a political tool to garner support for continued armed conflicts. I don’t think they’re supporting specific legislation, it’s just a sign of respect and solidarity, and not really about politics.

    If it’s ok to wear camo to “support the troops” it should be perfectly fine to wear LGBT pride stuff to support a demographic.

    Being from North Carolina, home of the infamous HB2 (the so-called “bathroom bill”), I can assure you that LGBT rights are still a pretty hotly contested political issue.

    Trust me, in the South, gay rights are still a volatile issue. There is a big difference these days between the urban areas and small town/rural areas. I live in Charlotte, which is pretty LGBT-friendly and actually kicked off the whole HB2 mess by passing a progressive city ordinance protecting LGBT rights, which prompted a backlash from the majority conservative state legislature.

    i think the LGB part still highly contested. they are looking to pass a bill that bans gay marriage, so i think Dan is right on this one


    A few crackpots in the state legislature grandstanding in a quixotic attempt to roll back a right recently affirmed by the Supreme Court doesn’t mean much, Tony. It’s one of those “has no chance to pass but is a good way to rile people up” moves.

    But okay: Let’s say, for the sake of argument, that Dan is right about LGBT rights being a “divisive” issue.

    That leads us back to the premise of his comment, which is that it’s inappropriate for a “national” team to engage messaging on divisive issues. But as I’ve already explained, there is no official “national” status for this team. It is overseen by a nonprofit group. It is no more “national,” at least in terms of any official status, than, say, the Mets or the 49ers. So the premise of the entire thread is moot. Let’s please move on. Thanks.

    I didn’t mean to suggest there isn’t politics involved in these issues, clearly there are, but with this it’s more like certain people politicizing social issues. With issues like health care, there’s obvious political leanings with regard to business vs gov’t and what not, real political philosophies at play. But with issues of race/gender/sexuality, I see them outside of this realm, where unfortunately we have to develop political solutions to social “problems” that should, in an ideal world, just have people with a sense of decency and respect to people. So when I see Black Lives Matter, LGBT causes, etc, I don’t see political lobbying, I just see a call for respect.

    Let’s pretty-please not start debating the propriety of Black Lives Matter and other social causes, at least not here, not today.

    The primary premise of the Dan’s comment — the thing that all the rest of the commentary was based upon — was rooted in the team’s “national” status. I’ve already explained that in this case “national” is just an adjective, not an indicator of any official status. So the whole thread is based on a faulty premise. Let’s please move on. Thanks.

    Paul, if you want to prevent political or other controversial issues being discussed here that is completely reasonable. However your approach in this thread looks more to me like you got to have your say and decide the conversation is over which is a little intellectually dishonest IMO. I think it is pretty clear that part of the govt or not playing for the national team is considered representing one’s country. I think it’s a perfectly valid point to ask if a player should choose between representing their country and representing a stance they morally disagree with.

    As was pointed out earlier this isn’t about anyone’s personal feelings on a particular issue it could easily go either way for any controversy. I think it’s kind of crazy that the LGBT thing is still somehow controversial but hey that’s the world we live in.

    i think being from NYC area, you have a different view on the whole LGBT cause/issue because the city is diverse, but as someone who lived in both Raleigh and Fayetteville most of my life, i can attest to how closed minded the state and it’s inhabitants can be. We’re talking about a part of the country referred to as a bible belt. an area that have law that are still “based” off Christian beliefs. and it’s not just a few crackpot law makers that are coming up with this though. it’s the general populace of the state

    this is a map showing a vote for “North Carolina Amendment 1” 2012, an Amendment to prohibt recognizing/peforming same sex marriage link

    61.04% of the people who voted on this issue voted for it.

    but i agree the one part where Dan is wrong is the fact that it can’t be inappropriate for a “National” team to engage in this issue. though to his point, i bet the majority of people don’t realize that the gov. has no role with the team

    BYU’s Smith Fieldhouse has a new floor

    That should be in the Grab Bag section. Even though there were students dribbling basketballs in the video, that’s BYU’s volleyball court. The hoops teams play in the Marriott Center.

    Why does Adidas football keep putting out crap? Football uniforms are trending back to simplicity, yet they blindly march forward with this obnoxious metallic trim. And who thought it was a good idea to put three huge stripes on the shoulders for the NC State one-off uniform? It didn’t work for UCLA.


    Turner Gill would have a short-lived career for the CFL’s Montreal Concordes from 1984-85.

    He also played in the minor leagues for the Cleveland Indians for a while.

    Interesting that Gill’s trading cards with the Williamsport Bills show that the Tribe affiliate just wore Indians hand-me-down jerseys.

    I viewed a cup as essential equipment, maybe because I played mostly as a catcher. But even when I played third base and first base, I always wore one. There’s absolutely no way I’d go out on the field without one; I wouldn’t be able to concentrate.

    in other news… can we talk about how silly it is to call these hats the “on-court collection” when the NBA doesn’t wear hats during the game


    Bobby Stoops wore full name because at the time his brother Mike played for Iowa as well.
    Even though Mike wore #2 they both had full names on back. Mike wore #2 until Bobby gradated and someone else wanted #2 so he switched to 41. My cousin Mark went to Iowa as well and wore 41 like his brothers.

    Not sure if this has been suggested for Naming Wrongs:
    I(‘m) still call(ing) it the D-League

    Are you still accepting suggestions for the Naming Wrongs t shirts? With the imminent demise of Qualcomm/San Diego Jack Murphy Stadium looming, I think a “I Still Call It The Murph” is most appropriate. In Brown & Gold and Powder Blue & Gold options, of course.
    Love your show, keep up the good work!

    Here’s a bit of a late-breaking bonus video: Tigers broadcaster and former outfielder Kirk Gibson talked about choosing a bat: link

    Playing soccer during my junior year of high school an opposing player blasted a ball with all of his force from about 5 ft away directly into my “sensitive area”. I dropped like a rock, came out, retreated into the woods for a very painful and discolored urination. Did play again in the 2nd half, and was eventually able to have children although I did have my doubts at the time.

    Neat story and videos about Tigers’ equipment. Thanks, Mike. By the way, that young man has been a Tigers bat boy for at least five years. When does one become a bat man?

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