As you probably know by now, MLB released its holiday uniforms on Friday. Phil had a full rundown on Saturday. If you haven’t already read that, start there so you’re up to speed on who’s wearing what.
Personally, I’ve never seen the need for any of this stuff and I’d be happier if teams just wore their regular uniforms on the various holidays. This program has always been more of a merch dump than an on-field design program (the latter following from the former, which is the opposite of how it should work), and it’s hard to think of a single instance of a team whose look has ever been improved by one of these holiday uniforms. I know some of you like to buy some of the caps, and that’s fine, but it’s neither here nor there from a Uni Watch perspective. As far as this website is concerned, the only thing that matters is how it looks on the field.
That said, some of this year’s holiday sets are better than others. Here are my thoughts. (One aside: SportsLogos.net’s Chris Creamer’s article about the unveiling had the web’s best graphics, showing all 30 teams’ designs for the five cap collections. He has graciously allowed me to reproduce those graphics here; for all of them, you can click to enlarge.)
Ma’s Day (May 12)
Thank god they’ve abandoned the pink-trimmed jerseys and are only doing chest ribbons this year. The caps, meanwhile, are an embarrassing mess. They really need to stop this promotion already. Grade: F
Day Long Weekend (May 17-19)
The never-ending quest to celebrate the military and create camouflage merch continues, this time with a three-day celebration for a one-day “holiday” that most people weren’t even aware of. Thankfully, there are no camouflage jerseys, although the little chest patch is both too much (any excuse to use stars/stripes, sigh) and too little (having type on the top of the circle but not the bottom makes the patch seem oddly unfinished). As for the camo caps, they’re brutal, as usual. Three fucking days of this nonsense? Ugh. Grade: F
Memorial Day (May 27)
I never thought I’d live to see the day when an American sports league adopted the remembrance poppy as its symbol of mourning. (For the record, the Cowboys and Jags wore poppies for an NFL game in London in 2014, but no Big Four league has ever gone poppy-clad on a league-wide basis.) It’s actually an appropriate symbol for the holiday! And they’re only wearing it for one day instead of for the entire weekend, imagine that! And in the biggest surprise of all, they’re not selling the poppy-clad jerseys and caps, perhaps because they finally realized how inappropriate it is to merchandize people’s deaths.
I would’ve preferred just the poppy by itself, without the “Lest We Forget” inscription, and the cap patch is pointless, but this is still a huge step in the right direction. Bravo. Grade: A-
Pa’s Day (June 16)
They can call the cap fabric pattern “tie-dye” all they want, but that ain’t tie-dye. A cynical merch dump. Looks better than pink, but that’s about the best thing you can say about it. Grade: D
Day Festival (July 4-7)
Did you know that Independence Day is four days long? Neither did I, but that’s how long we’re going to have to look at these caps. It’s not clear why MLB was willing to scale back the holiday creep on the other holidays but not for this one.
Anyway: Most of these designs leaked two weeks ago (the Brewers’, Tigers’, Mariners’, and Angels’ leaks turned out to be wrong). As I wrote at the time, “It’s always nice to see throwback logos, of course. It would be even nicer to see them without the stars/stripes nonsense.” On the plus side, no pandering jerseys this year! And some of the caps are actually pretty nice (the finished versions look more polished than the video game leaks). But many of them look awful. Did I mention they’ll be worn for four days? Grade: C
All-Star Workout (July 8)
Sorry, but I cannot bring myself to assess workout gear for an exhibition game. Let’s move on to…
All-Star Game (July 9)
Not bad! While I’d prefer to see the players just wear their regular caps, these are pretty tasteful, if not quite tasty. No ridiculous star-shaped metal grommets this year, either. Grade: B+
Gross: In case you missed it, the Reds and Cardinals wore advertisements on their batting helmets for their two-game weekend series in Mexico. The ads, which were not announced ahead of time, were bigger than the team logos. Naturally, they were placed on the camera-facing side of the helmet, depending on whether the batter was left-handed or right-handed. The result looked a lot like a replica giveaway helmet for the first 5,000 kids (or 50 ballplayers) in attendance.
According to a source, “It’s just for the Mexico Series. It’s an MLB initiative — the teams had nothing to do with it and had no option to decline or opt out.”
To my knowledge, this is the first time MLB teams have had uniform advertising for a regular season game anywhere other than Japan. (Previous games in Mexico have been ad-free.) It raises the question of whether the Red Sox and Yankees will have uni ads for their games in London in late June. And if you think the Yankees would never do that, think again — they already did it for their season-opening games in Japan in 2004.
Click to enlarge
April 15: Today is Jackie Day. As usual, all uniformed MLB personnel, including the umpires, will wear No. 42 and go NNOB, causing consternation for broadcasters (and a few Uni Watch readers), although I love love love it. There will also be a “42” sleeve patch (unnecessary) and a “42” cap patch (ugly, like all cap patches).
Today is also Patriots Day in Massachusetts, which means the Red Sox will have their traditional 11am start and wear their “Boston Strong” uniforms. I believe this is the first time since the advent of those uniforms that Pats Day has coincided with Jackie Day, so we’ll see these uniforms get the No. 42 treatment for the first time.
The 10 teams that aren’t scheduled to play today will go 42-clad tomorrow. You can see additional plans, events, and festivities that are in store here.
Rough night for my old employer: When I started following baseball in 1972, my favorite player was Mets outfielder Tommie Agee. I quickly learned that the way to tell a serious sports media outlet from a frivolous one was that that the serious ones correctly spelled Agee’s first name as “Tommie,” while the frivolous ones got it wrong as “Tommy.” So I cringed when ESPN ran a little retrospective about the 1969 Mets during last night’s Mets/Braves broadcast and got Agee’s name wrong (see above).
Turns out that was the least of ESPN’s problems last night. At one point they had Hank Aaron in the booth for an extended chat (he sounded great), and they showed an image of Aaron and Jackie Robinson. Great idea, what with Jackie Day taking place today, except for, well…:
— Patrick Williams (@patr1ckw) April 15, 2019
Hey, we all make mistakes. It happens.
(My thanks to @data_guy for the Agee screen shot.)
Click to enlarge
The old woman and the sea(food): My mom turned 95 (!) last week. She wanted to celebrate with a lobster lunch, so yesterday my brother, the Tugboat Captain, and I took her out to a seafood restaurant that was one of her favorites back when our family still lived in the town where I grew up. She hadn’t taken apart a lobster in several years, but it turns out that it’s like riding a bike.
By Jamie Rathjen
Baseball News: Now that the Yankees have P Adam Ottavino wearing No. 0, they currently have players on the roster representing all the tens digits from zero through nine. Do any other MLB teams meet that standard? (From Eric Abneri.)
Football News: Pro golfer Tiger Woods’s caddie, Joe LaCava, is a huge New York sports fan, so he regularly wears team apparel while caddying — including a Giants RB Saquon Barkley jersey at the Masters — and also has a Giants-themed yardage book (from Phil and Joe Loch). … The CFL’s Calgary Stampeders have been selling off the team’s alternate black helmets, saying that all teams have only one helmet this season (from Wade Heidt). … Auburn’s spring game featured what looks like a different number font compared to last season (from Meason Boomer).
Hockey News: Lightning G Andrei Vasilevskiy got new pads for their series against the Blue Jackets, proceeded to lose twice, went back to the old pads, and lost again (from @TheGoalNet45). … Every NHL arena has an extra referee’s uniform that is always No. 35 and an extra linesman’s uniform that is always No. 85, just in case the officials’ luggage gets lost. That’s what apparently happened to ref Francois St. Laurent in Calgary on Saturday (from @Univers47). … In the Greater Ontario Junior Hockey League playoffs, two teams used mirror-image Penguins-style unfiorms.
Basketball News: The Hawks’ NBA 2K esports team, Hawks Talon GC, now have their own uniforms and court for use in the game (from @unavion). … Iowa United, a team in this summer’s The Basketball Tournament made of alumni from the state’s four Division I teams, will have former Iowa PG Nicholas Baer wear No. 40 in honor of former Hawkeye PF Chris Street.
Soccer News: The NWSL’s Chicago Red Stars revealed this season’s first shirt. They have ironically undergone a bit of an identity crisis with their solidly city flag-based scheme, having worn both white and blue as first choice in the past, as well as black last season (from Allie Kutrubis and Steve Johnston). … League-mates Utah Royals have a new second shirt. … The NWSL also has a new NOB font to go with its new number font, which hadn’t appeared yet because no teams wore NOB in preseason. … Twitter-er @UntillTheNight sent us this picture of New York City FC center-back Anton Tinnerholm wearing long sleeves, which Adidas was to no longer offer MLS this season. As NYCFC’s second kit was held over from last season, it would seem they still had some long-sleeved shirts around; Tinnerholm has worn short sleeves with the first kit. … Bayern Munich fans continued their season-long uni-related protest last week against not only the use of colors besides red and white in the team kit, but now the mint-green color of this season’s second shirt, calling it “something you would wear on holiday.” … Japanese team Yokohama F. Marinos released a shirt ostensibly comemmorating the creation of the city’s port in 1859 as one of the first Japanese ports to be opened to foreign trade. … A game was delayed for five minutes when a player from Scottish junior side Renfrew FC was told to remove his underwear (from Mark Coale).
Grab Bag: Reader Justin Hicks tells us that golfer Alex Norén apparently fixed a hole in his glove with a bandage at the Masters. … Cross-listed from the football section: Tiger Woods’s caddie, Joe LaCava, is a huge New York sports fan, so he regularly wears team apparel while caddying — including a Saquon Barkley jersey at the Masters — and also has a Giants-themed yardage book (from Phil and Joe Loch). … The NLL’s Saskatchewan Rush wore jerseys in the University of Saskatchewan’s colors on Saturday for a USask alumni night. “Uni Watch colours!” says Wade Heidt. … The day before, the Rush were on the opposite end of another uni-related promotion for “cancer awareness” by the San Diego Seals (also from Wade). … Reprinted from Friday’s comments: A number of Formula One drivers wore one-off helmet designs for this weekend’s Chinese Grand Prix, which was the championship’s 1000th race (from reader/commenter Dane). … Staying in motorsports, Antonio Losada began a database of MotoGP liveries. … Presidential candidate Pete Buttigieg’s campaign provides color codes as well as “storytelling” for the campaign colors (from Joel Bingham). … Uniform advertising has now spread to rugby scrum caps (from @stumpy7780).
Our latest raffle winner is Daniel O’Connell, who won the copy of Todd Radom’s book, Winning Ugly. Congrats to him, and thanks to Jeff Drumheller for donating the book. We’ll have another one-day raffle tomorrow.