Say It Ain’t So: MLB Reportedly Eyes Ad Patches by 2022

Seriously depressing news yesterday, as Sports Business Journal’s Terry Lefton — a very reliable reporter — broke the story that MLB uniforms will likely have advertising patches within three years. That’s in addition to the Nike maker’s mark being added to the chest next season.

Lefton says chatter about MLB adding ad patches “was the buzz among the marketing cognoscenti at last week’s MLB All-Star Game,” and he got one MLB exec — business and sales EVP Noah Garden — to talk about it on the record. The money quote from Garden: “We’re examining the [advertising] patch, but clearly we have things to work through first. I’d say it’s inevitable down the road, but certainly not immediate. This is something that requires a fairly long runway. There are lots of things to take into consideration, but I think we will get there.”

“Inevitable,” of course, is the word that NBA commish and self-fulfilling prophet Adam Silver used repeatedly when floating trial balloons about ad patches on NBA uniforms. Ugh.

Some additional takeaways from Lefton’s article:

• A chest placement is currently viewed as more likely — or at least more lucrative — than a sleeve placement. (The article does not mention potential cap or helmet ads, so it’s not clear if those might also be in the works.)

• Several MLB teams have already contacted marketing agencies to discussing pricing.

• MLB is interested in going this route because the NBA’s uni ad program has been viewed as a success (which, in case you had any doubts, should make it clear that NBA uni ads are definitely here to stay).

• The players’ union would have to approve uni advertising, but it’s assumed that they’d happily do so (just as the NBA union did) because they’ll get a cut of the revenue.

• Some industry insiders think more traditional teams like the Yankees, Red Sox, and Cubs may opt to skip uniform ads. Of course, some observers thought the same thing about the Celtics, who turned out to be one of the earliest adopters in the NBA ad program. (And yes, the Yankees and Red Sox already wore ads this year for their games in London, but that wasn’t their choice. Those ads were imposed on them by MLB.)

So is this really going to happen? Yes, I think it is. Maybe it’ll take a year or two longer than the 2022 start date they’re currently projecting, but it seems clear that they want to do it, and the NBA has provided a handy blueprint for them, so the logistical hurdles and emotional barriers will both be much lower for MLB than they were for the NBA. Is there anything we can do about it? No, I don’t think so. I mean, you can stop buying jerseys or whatever (I’ve always been in favor of that anyway), but they’ll go ahead with this plan regardless.

Simply put: We’ve lost. This is the world we live in now. We can still critique it or call bullshit on it, but we can no longer forestall it.

Interestingly, MLB commish Rob Manfred isn’t mentioned at all in Lefton’s article, but this news is very much in keeping with Manfred’s approach to uniforms. During his tenure, MLB has added the MLB logo to the back of the pants; added the New Era maker’s mark to caps; added the MLB logo and the Stance maker’s mark to socks; expanded uni ads to include all non-USA/Canada games (they had previously been used only for games in Japan but not for other non-USA/Canada games); expanded the use of holiday uniforms; added the Players Weekend uniforms; added separate caps for the All-Star Game; and struck a deal that will result in the Nike maker’s mark appearing on jersey chests next season. Toss in yesterday’s news about ad patches and it’s clear that Manfred and his executive staff view the uniform as a canvas for non-team branding and as an orange to be squeezed for every last revenue drop, not as a form of team expression or heritage.

That’s seriously depressing — not just for MLB and for the uni-verse, but also in terms of the implications for the spread of corporate culture and advertising throughout ever more nooks and crannies of our world. Baseball may not drive cultural dialogue like it once did (one big difference between the NBA’s uni ad program and MLB’s prospective uni ad program is that the NBA is a league on the rise, while MLB is clearly on the decline, at least from a business perspective), but having ads on baseball uniforms will definitely help validate the notion that any surface is a potential vehicle for advertising. Sigh.

But as disappointing as Manfred may be, I think the lion’s share of the credit here — or the blame — goes to Silver, the NBA commissioner. He was pushing for his league to add uni ads even before he took over for David Stern, and he made it happen. If you view that in conjunction with his aggressive push for legalized sports gambling, I think it’s clear that Silver is the most influential and consequential sports executive of our time — for better or worse.

And what does this mean for the other two Big Four leagues? So far neither the NFL nor the NHL has shown any public inclination to go this route, but I’m sure they’ve been watching and studying the NBA’s experiment, just like the MLB people have been. It’s one thing if there’s just one outlier sport or league — but once there are two such leagues, they’re no longer outliers. In short, this development can’t bode well for the future of ad-free uniforms in North America.

Someone on Twitter asked me yesterday if this might be the perfect juncture to start selling a Uni Watch seam ripper, so people can remove the ad patches (or maker’s marks, or whatever) from their jerseys. I’m all in favor of that — in fact, I’ve wanted to offer such a product for quite a while — but I haven’t been able to find a vendor that offers custom seam rippers. If anyone knows of such a vendor, I’m all ears. Thanks.

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Surely you jest(er): The video in the tweet embedded above is only six seconds long, but check out the pitcher, catcher, and second baseman. They appear to be wearing a two-tone harlequin-style uniform, like a court jester’s outfit. It reminds me of the football uniform worn by Atlantic High School in Florida back in 2012, which caused a big stir at the time.

The baseball team in the video is apparently a travel team, but I haven’t been able to figure out anything else about them or their uniform manufacturer. If anyone knows more, do tell.

(My thanks to Andrew Felder for bringing this one to my attention.)

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The baseball gods are not with us: The Marlins are the worst team in the National League and have miserable uniforms. The Padres are a middling team with a losing record and have long had the most characterless uniforms in the league.

Despite this, I’ve had this week’s Marlins/Padres series, which kicks off tonight in Miami, circled on my calendar for months, because I was hoping for a stirrups showdown between hosiery heroes Chris Paddack of the Padres and Pablo López of the Marlins. How great would it be if they faced off in the same game?

Alas, fate has not cooperated, because López has been on the IL for nearly a month. I was hoping that he’d return to action in time for the series, but no such luck. Paddack will start for the Padres tonight against Marlins right-hander Jordan Yamamoto, who typically goes high-cuffed but not with stirrups. Dang.

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Bouton/Ball Four reminder: In case you missed the announcement on Monday, I’ll be participating in a tribute to Jim Bouton and his seminal 1970 book, Ball Four (which changed my life and so many others), this Thursday evening, 7:30pm, at Le Poisson Rouge in Manhattan. Other participants will include the great Jay Jaffe of FanGraphs; Villanova professor and longtime baseball author Mitchell Nathanson, who’s working on a Bouton biography (and who tells me he’s a big Uni Watch fan); and Field of Schemes honcho Neil deMause (who, like myself, is an alum of the Village Voice sports section and has also been my editor for the recent pieces on collectors that I’ve written for Gothamist). There may be other writers added to the bill later this week.

We’ll each be talking about what what made Bouton and Ball Four so special to us and reading a few of our favorite passages from the book. Doors open at 7pm. Admission is free. It would be great to see a bunch of Uni Watch readers there — please join us!

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Click to enlarge

Collector’s Corner
By Brinke Guthrie

Last Saturday night I was perusing Twitter, Instagram and Facebook, looking for clips and reactions to the Paul McCartney show at Dodger Stadium, the final stop on his “Freshen Up” tour. Somehow, I discovered that his merch team had created jerseys for selected tour stops. They look like authentic MLB jerseys judging from the Majestic sleeve logo and hang tag. (And they’re priced like them, too.) Anyway, these Packers-style jerseys were for sale when he played on the Frozen Tundra on June 8 — looks just like a Pack jersey, but no Nike or NFL logos/tags. How Fab is that?

Now for the rest of this week’s picks:

• One more Pack-related item: this nice 1970s Packers blanket/throw rug.

• Even back when Reebok was an NFL supplier, BFBS was creeping ever so subtly into the 49ers scheme, as this 1990s sideline parka suggests.

• This is a group of five 1970s Islanders or Canadiens NHL player cardboard stand-up figures– each about a foot tall.

• Here’s a package of Mets “Quickstick” stickers (the seller says 1960s or early 1970s), and they were originally just 29 cents! You get a pennant and five Mets logos.

• The Doctor Is Always In, proclaims this 1980s Julius Erving/Dr. J Converse promo poster.

• Here’s an auction for an ABA New Orleans Buccaneers jacket. The listing says “1970s,” but the team was a charter member of the ABA in the late 1960s before moving to Memphis in 1970.

• Had a few of these way back when for the Cowboys and Bengals: This is a set of 14 1970s NFL plastic helmet drink coasters. (They were also for “wall decor.”)

• Calling all Denver Nuggets fans — this bicycle tag is still in its original packaging. The auction listing says “1970s,” but they didn’t use this look until 1981.

• I’ve always liked this San Francisco Giants jersey look. This size XL fan replica jersey is made by Sand-Knit Medalist. Judging from that font, it’s a 1983-1993 item.

• This 1970s Vikings gumball helmet is still sealed in its original iHOP plastic bag. (Just 24 cents! Collect all 26 teams!) Here’s another 1970s gumball helmet, this one for the Steelers. Seems to be a bit of a DIY sticker on the side there. And finally, here are custom helmet buggies for the Chargers and the Jets.

Seen an item on eBay that would be good for Collector’s Corner? Send any submissions here.

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Uni-versary patch reminder: I’m still sitting on a ton of these Uni Watch 20th-anniversary embroidered patches (which, quite honestly, haven’t been selling at anything close to the rate I had hoped for). The patch was made for us by Stitches, the same shop that does all the sewing for the Mets, Yankees, and Islanders. It measures four inches across and is suitable for sewing onto a jersey or jacket, or just for displaying.

The price is $9.99, plus $1 for shipping (or $2 for shipping outside the USA). To order, send payment to me via Venmo (use @Paul-Lukas-2 as the payee), Zelle (plukas64@gmail.com), or Cash App (plukas64@gmail.com). If you want to use Apple Pay or a paper check, or if you’re outside the USA and can only use PayPal, shoot me a note and I’ll fill you in.

Once you send payment, be sure to send me your shipping address so I can send the patch on its way to you. Thanks!

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The Ticker
By Alex Hider

Baseball NewsPirates OF Bryan Reynolds’s helmet fell off while he was legging out a double last night, but he somehow was able to kick it back to himself and catch it at second base (from Mike Chamernik). … Most MLB players have personalized bats with their own names stamped into them. But two Dodgers relief pitchers batted last night with non-personalized “Los Angeles” bats. … Reader Mike Nachreiner stopped by the Mets Hall of Fame at Citi Field and noticed that Mr. Met was wearing his stirrups backward. … Speaking of the Mets, Gene Frey found a photo of himself as a toddler in 1962 wearing a Mets cap with an unusual logo. … The Johnson City Cardinals and the Elizabethtown Twins played a red-on-red Rookie Ball Appalachian League matchup last night (from Nicholas Badders). … Lots of high hosiery last night between the Tennessee Smokies and the Mobile BayBears of the Double-A Southern League (from Adam Ingle). … Check out the uniforms for the 1930 Denver White Elephants, the city’s first semi-pro team. Some of the players from that team went on to play in the Negro Leagues (from Kary Klismet). … Eric K. Eickmeyer’s daughter played in a softball game Sunday in which both teams wore the same uniform. …  Owen Siebring notes that in a 2008 Dana College (Nebraska) softball game, infielders and outfielders were wearing different jerseys.

Football NewsThe Backstreet Boys played a concert in Ottawa last night, and at one point the entire band took the stage in personalized Ottawa Redblacks jerseys (from @GriffinTSmith and Wade Heidt). … The Indiana High School Football Digest appears to be using the old BCS logo (from @GriffinTSmith).

NFL NewsWe’ve posted before about the Steelers-themed rollercoaster at Pittsburgh’s Kennywood amusement park, but the ride is now open for business. The best detail — the cars on the train are numbered in the same way as the front of the Steelers’ helmets are (from Daniel Gipson).

College Football NewsThis season, Arkansas is returning to a natural playing surface for the first time since 2009 (from @OldPlaying).

Hockey NewsLeafs RW William Nylander is switching his uni number from 29 to 88 — the number he wore while in the Swedish Hockey League. In a nice gesture, he’s said he’ll cover the fee for fans who want to change the numbers on their own retail jerseys (from Wade Heidt and Bill Kramer).

NBA News: It’s a little hard to make out, but the court design at the Warriors’ new arena has “San Francisco” painted along one of the baselines (from @TheGolden_One). … You can see lots of new and changed NBA numbers on Etienne Catalan’s Twitter feed. … Bleacher Report published a new piece that shows some of the biggest stars to switch teams this offseason Photoshopped into their new uniforms (from Nicklaus Wallmeyer).

College Hoops NewsSt. Bonaventure has a new logo to commemorate its 100th season this year and will wear a tertiary version of the logo as a patch. Interestingly enough, this marks both the Bonnies’ 100th season and the 100th anniversary of the team’s founding, because the team did not play during the 1943-44 season, presumably due to World War II (from Chuckie Maggio and @secretrock).

Soccer NewsTottenham’s 2019-20 home jersey has reportedly leaked (from Josh Hinton). … Also from Josh: After lots of leaks, Arsenal’s new throwback kit has been released (and for some reason is being modeled by NBA star James Harden). … Manchester United unveiled their new away kits last week (from Lucan Denfield). … There are a lot of teams in England that wear red and white striped jerseys. As a result, manufacturers have had to get creative to make the jerseys unique (from Denis Hurley). … FC Cincinnati is expected to release new renderings for its planned soccer-specific stadium tomorrow (from Kary Kilsmet). … For a roundup of more kit unveilings from smaller clubs and leagues, check out the Twitter feeds from Josh Hinton and Ed Zelaski.

Grab BagThe Dallas Morning News is holding a bracket-style tournament vote to determine the best high school logo in Texas (from Jeff Meyers). … Cody Duschka re-imagined the teams of Australia’s National Rugby League as hockey teams. You can follow his Facebook page here.

76 comments to Say It Ain’t So: MLB Reportedly Eyes Ad Patches by 2022

  • Jeremy Brahm | July 16, 2019 at 8:50 am |

    The reasoning for James Harden is that Arsenal is switching to adidas and who is an adidas athlete, Harden.

  • Agor | July 16, 2019 at 8:51 am |

    Note to Manfred: fvck you cvnt

  • RS Rogers | July 16, 2019 at 8:58 am |

    The Denver White Elephants ticker link resolves to a Google Pictures page that doesn’t display the image to me. Might be a privacy setting with the hosting Google account?

  • Steve | July 16, 2019 at 8:59 am |

    “Pirates OF Bryan Reynolds’s helmet fell off while he was legging out a double last night, but he somehow was able to kick it back to himself and catch it at second base (from Mike Chamernik)”

    This is undoubtedly the most incredible thing that happened in this game, and (at least in the clip linked here) the announcers didn’t even mention it.

  • Ron McDoogle | July 16, 2019 at 9:00 am |

    I vowed to never watch another game when the NBA added patches and can honestly say that I have followed through. MLB, you’re up next.

    • TwoGloves | July 16, 2019 at 10:59 am |

      Couldn’t agree more!! I was NEVER a hoops fan so their ads didn’t bother me at all as I didn’t watch them before ads. However, baseball always has been my favorite sport and I will NOT watch if they go to ads on the uniforms.
      The last few years I watched significantly less sports as I am tired of the current trend that the name on the back of the jersey means more than the name on the front – it doesn’t. If MLB, NFL & NHL go with ads I think I might just stop watching altogether. That would be the straw that breaks the camels back.

      • Scott | July 16, 2019 at 6:36 pm |

        As we saw with the Spiderman bases a few years ago, people won’t put up with this sort of nonsense in MLB. Just because the NBA has ad patches doesn’t mean anything for whether it will be accepted by MLB, which has far more traditional fans.

        • Paul Lukas | July 16, 2019 at 7:05 pm |

          As we saw with the Spiderman bases a few years ago, people won’t put up with this sort of nonsense in MLB.

          Except that wasn’t “a few years ago.” It was in 2004, nearly a generation ago, and many miles away from where sports marketing is today. Different commissioner, different world, different everything.

          I’d love it if you turn out to be right. But I’m pretty sure you’re wrong.

  • clevo | July 16, 2019 at 9:14 am |

    The Arsenal kit is more of a faux back, or even moreso an homage to the Bruised Banana kit Adidas made for them from 91-93.

    • Jamie Rathjen | July 16, 2019 at 9:22 am |

      Yeah, I wouldn’t call it a throwback, especially since they wear yellow semi-regularly.

      Also would like to point out that Man U’s second (gold) shirt is functionally identical to Aberdeen’s, except for the collar and sleeve piping. Unclear if it also has black shorts and socks.

  • Joe Werner | July 16, 2019 at 9:16 am |

    Let me preface this by saying that I absolutely loathe the idea of on sports uniforms and am saddened by the fact that it’s happening. However, race cars have been rolling billboards for decades, and we accept that as OK. A car’s paint scheme is basically analogous to a uniform, so why is that different?

    • Paul Lukas | July 16, 2019 at 9:26 am |

      Actually, a car’s paint scheme is *not* particularly analogous to a uniform. Why? Because baseball is a team sport — we root for the uniform no matter who’s wearing it.

      Auto racing is an *individual* sport. We root for the individual, not for a team. Same goes for golf, tennis, boxing, MMA, etc. In individual sports, there are no team colors that we’ve been rooting for over multiple generations, no logos that we’ve been rooting for over several decades, no uniforms that we root for no matter who’s wearing them. It’s a completely different emotional mechanism.

      That’s why it’s different.

      (Also: Some of us think auto racing would look a lot better without all the ads on the cars.)

      • mole | July 16, 2019 at 11:22 am |

        Saying that Auto racing is an individual sport in which people root for drivers and not teams completely ignores Formula 1 and the fan bases that constructors have developed. Formula 1 liveries (in fact livery means uniform) are the same for both drivers on the team.

        That may be true for NASCAR but that blanket statement does not apply to all racing.

      • Joe Werner | July 16, 2019 at 11:54 am |

        You can make the argument that racing is an individual sport, since only one person is driving the car at any given time (some forms of endurance racing truly do have a team of 2-3 drivers who take turns driving). However, that driver is backed by a team, or crew, of mechanics, engineers, etc, who typically wear uniforms based on the livery of the car, complete with all the same ads (and I do have to respect your comeback that maybe the cars would look better WITHOUT the ads, but that’s a completely different rabbit hole!) as the car itself.

        Furthermore, similar to the post about F1 teams, there are some racing fans who have a loyalty to a particular race team (longtime teams such as Penske, Ganassi, Roush, Ferarri, Williams, McLaren, & Petty are just a few examples), regardless of who is driving the car, or what is being advertised on the car. Conversely, some people are drawn to a particular team BECAUSE of what is being advertised on the car.

      • trevor | July 16, 2019 at 1:48 pm |

        In NASCAR, IndyCar and NHRA, without ads, you can’t race. A race team doesn’t get a direct cut of the TV revenue or ticket sales. They get an indirect portion through prize winnings, which are too low. So advertiser money is how they fund themselves. MLB and the NBA are making billions, but want even more revenue through ads. Never forget most owners care only about making money and could care less about fans.

      • Tim | July 16, 2019 at 4:48 pm |

        The car is driven by an individual.
        The car is assembled/manufactured by a team/owner.

        Usually sponsorships in auto racing come in with the Driver, unless you have a team (say Penske) which has enough clout to get sponsors without drivers.

    • SYH | July 16, 2019 at 9:57 am |

      Club sports teams and race car teams are independent of the leagues that run them (to simplify things a bit). This is why club teams have ads- they sink or swim by themselves, whereas franchise-based leagues like the NBA and MLB are closed garden cartels. MLB *is* the teams- Serie A is a league that Italian soccer clubs qualify for.

      This is simplifying things a bit, but this is why club teams historically have uniform ads, and American ones don’t.

  • MotorCityJeff | July 16, 2019 at 9:24 am |

    “…expanded uni ads to include all non-USA games” – no uni ads in Canada.

    • Paul Lukas | July 16, 2019 at 9:26 am |

      Good point. Will adjust text.

  • Mike Wissman | July 16, 2019 at 9:26 am |

    Paul, since it appears we’ve reached judgement day for uni ads, my question would be whether you see the ads getting bigger and more prominent over time. Do you envision the Yankees will look more like a MLS or EPL team in fifty years, with just the colors and a small crest?

    • Paul Lukas | July 16, 2019 at 9:29 am |

      I try not to engage in long-term speculation. But I’ll say this much: The ads aren’t going to get smaller.

      • Mike Wissman | July 16, 2019 at 10:08 pm |

        I figured. Now I’m sadder :-(

    • Jamie Rathjen | July 16, 2019 at 10:14 am |

      These MLB ads can’t really be compared to soccer in that way, because the standard has always been a small crest or monogram (or even no crest at all) and a lot of blank space on the front. It’s not as if team identity made way for the ads; the ads just took the space that was already there.

      • Mike Wissman | July 16, 2019 at 10:11 pm |

        Yeah that was the first example that came to mind at that time, and agree It wasn’t the best. WNBA is probably a much better example at least in terms of the dominance of ad real estate.

  • Rob Bruder | July 16, 2019 at 9:28 am |

    Yay for Mr. Met! The first time I ever wore a baseball uniform I unknowingly put the stirrups on backwards and kept doing it until ribbons came along.

    • Peter | July 16, 2019 at 9:51 pm |

      Will Mr. Met have to wear an ad?

  • John Peacock | July 16, 2019 at 9:48 am |

    That “1970s Packers blanket/throw rug” is actually a 90’s blanket. I bought two from a JC Penny(maybe Marshall Fields) just after they won the Super Bowl in ’97. It’s also just short enough that it won’t cover your feet, hence buying two to use as a comforter.

  • MG | July 16, 2019 at 10:05 am |

    I don’t mind ads on uniforms, IF, and only IF, the teams decide to give jerseys away for free in all team stores. Of course, this will never happen, but I most certainly will never pay for the privilege to wear a corporate logo on my chest.

    • Paul Lukas | July 16, 2019 at 10:08 am |

      Well, NBA retail jerseys don’t have the ads (except for the jerseys sold at the arenas). So that particular objection may be moot.

      From a Uni Watch perspective, this isn’t about retail merch. It’s about on-field. Because whether you buy a jersey or not, you’ll still have to look at the uni ads when you watch a game.

  • Skott | July 16, 2019 at 10:18 am |

    First and foremost, I want to call bullshit on these leagues saying they need to put ads on unis to help increase revenue. They get plenty of revenue, their problem is their spending.

    Last week we saw a parade of average NBA players get signed to contracts over $20 million per year.
    https://www.complex.com/sports/2019/06/2019-nba-free-agency-moves

    Maybe instead of charging a company $2 million a year to put a patch on a jersey, they just don’t offer insane amounts of money to middling players.

    Secondly, as I’m 38 years old, and past the age of buying jerseys, I’ve boycotted all things NBA. I don’t go to games, I don’t watch on TV, I don’t buy t-shirts. This is my way of fighting back.

    If MLB does the same thing, I’ll be more than happy to give up the National Pastime as well.

    Sending emails is all well and good, but if everyone bands together and stops supporting the business, maybe we can take a big enough chunk out of the wallets that they reconsider.

    • Paul Lukas | July 16, 2019 at 10:24 am |

      I want to call bullshit on these leagues saying they need to put ads on unis to help increase revenue. They get plenty of revenue, their problem is their spending.

      I don’t think they’ve said that they “need” the revenue; they simply *want* the revenue. They’re not pleading poverty; they just see an opportunity to further monetize the sport, however distastefully.

      In other words: greed.

    • SYH | July 16, 2019 at 10:27 am |

      If all the players went away, and the teams were forced to field replacement teams, how many people would buy tickets?

      There’s a reason the players make so much money. It’s because nobody would watch without them, and their job is an extremely specialized discipline where finding skilled replacements is extremely difficult. Given how profitable most leagues are, it’s arguable they should make more.

  • Alan J Tompas | July 16, 2019 at 10:27 am |

    My younger millennial friends mock me for my hatred of uniform ads. I think this generation identifies more with branding than with teams.

    • SYH | July 16, 2019 at 10:39 am |

      It’s more complicated than that. Teams are brands, after all- you can say a New York Yankees uniform doesn’t have ads, but the interlocking-NY logo is practically a lifestyle accessory brand given how much stuff you can buy with it- all of which is in itself a brand trying to get you to watch them on TV and buy tickets.

      A big part of it, I think, is the free agency era, and the marketing of individual athletes- if you follow NBA news, the focus all about superstar players, and less about individual teams. It makes a bit of sense that people would care less about team identities, and more about the players.

      • Alan J Tompas | July 19, 2019 at 2:48 pm |

        Yeah. That’s very true.

  • ThresherK | July 16, 2019 at 10:29 am |

    EPL same colors redux: Aston Villa are returning to the top flight this season, joining West Ham and also Burnley in claret & light blue.

    Not sure if all the new kits have been released but West Ham has the most unique of the three to my eye.

  • John in KC | July 16, 2019 at 10:36 am |

    Regarding the ABA Buccaneers jacket – the seller is an idiot or trying to be misleading by calling it a 1970s item. It’s a throwback – it’s clearly labeled an NBA Hardwood Classics by Reebok item.

  • Hudson Slaby | July 16, 2019 at 10:51 am |

    If someone paid me a fair amount of money to wear an ad on my work uniform I would do it.

    • Paul Lukas | July 16, 2019 at 11:05 am |

      That’s nice. However:

      1) “A fair amount of money” would actually make a difference in your life, while there is no amount of money that will make a significant in the average pro athlete’s life, because the average pro athlete is already wealthy beyond all reason and earns more money in one season than the average non-athlete earns over a lifetime. (I don’t begrudge them this money. I’m simply pointing out that they don’t need an additional revenue stream.)

      2) Few if any people have any emotional or historical connection to your work uniform, but millions of people have that connection to sports uniforms (which is why we’re all here at this website to begin with).

      • DenverGregg | July 16, 2019 at 2:48 pm |

        . . . while athletes do not need the additional revenue stream, I’ve never met anyone who feels they personally have too much income. a friend works managing assets for some very wealthy families and they expect him to get them a good return

  • RD | July 16, 2019 at 11:38 am |

    Will you have any patches with you on Thursday? Would love to grab one if so.

  • Kurt | July 16, 2019 at 12:10 pm |

    I imagine NHL will have the ad patches/helmet stickers by 2020-21, NHL is not going to be third.

    NFL has had the ad patches on practice jerseys for years, very visible especially during training camp.

    College football, coaching staffs headphones have been billboards since early 2000s.

    Auto racing definitely team sport, at least at the big league level. Driver is like the starting quarterback, beyond that there is the crew chief, pit crew, fab shop, research and development – a cast of hundreds.

    • Paul Lukas | July 16, 2019 at 12:16 pm |

      I imagine NHL will have the ad patches/helmet stickers by 2020-21, NHL is not going to be third.

      And you basis for that assertion is..?

      NHL has actually been the most conservative league in terms of uniforms. Maker’s mark is on the back; most promo gimmicks (camo, pink, etc) are restricted to pregame warm-ups; etc.

      NFL has had the ad patches on practice jerseys for years, very visible especially during training camp.

      Yes, and the NBA had patches on practice gear before they went to game gear. But practice gear is a completely different animal. They can replace the uni numbers with ads on the practice gear for all I care. Not the same as game gear.

      • Matthew Radican | July 17, 2019 at 10:32 am |

        I am hoping that the NHL won’t put ads on the uniforms. They already splash ads all over the end boards and even have the electronic ads on the glass.

        I doubt my hope will come true though. They’ll still want the additional revenue streams.

  • Kurt | July 16, 2019 at 12:11 pm |

    Razorbacks going back to grass field definitely gets huge fist pump from me.

  • Josh b | July 16, 2019 at 12:21 pm |

    Today’s blog on potential MLB uni ads has literally made me sick to my stomach……

    • Long time, first time | July 16, 2019 at 1:30 pm |

      What he said

  • Brian | July 16, 2019 at 1:30 pm |

    But is it really Manfred (or Silver, for that matter) to blame?

    Commissioners do what the owners want them to do. Or at least a majority of them, anyway.

    If enough of the owners said “no uniform ads,” I really don’t think it happens. But it appears that many/most/majority want the additional revenue.

    The commissioner’s job is the be point person and face of the league. While that means supervision of implementation of these, that also includes take the blowback on things like this.

  • Robert Carlson | July 16, 2019 at 1:36 pm |

    This is just so infuriating. Would an online petition against ads on MLB uniforms be a wake-up call, or just reinforce how few people would care? If it’s the latter, screw baseball fans in addition to baseball executives.

    • Joe Werner | July 16, 2019 at 4:05 pm |

      This kind of scares me too. As members of the Uni-Verse, we have lots of discussions about uniform ads, for better or for worse (mostly worse, I’d say). But I wonder if the average fan really cares, or even notices, for that matter?

      • David | July 17, 2019 at 3:47 pm |

        I really don’t think they do. Consciously, at least; I think it’s just another element of noise that reduces everybody’s connection to the experience, except the folks profiting from it, for whom it will be a nice bump for a couple of years before they have to brainstorm ways to stick ads on the grass.

  • Perry | July 16, 2019 at 1:47 pm |

    The thing that I feel is being missed with all this uni ad talk is the fact that the NCAA has not taken this opportunity to further monetize on their amateur athletes through placement of corporate logos on uniforms might just be the upset of the century.

    • Dan Pfeifer | July 16, 2019 at 2:24 pm |

      I can see the NCAA being the last to budge on uniform ads. They so badly want to make sure the players don’t see revenue that they don’t/won’t want to invite the criticism of saying, “You can’t make money with your personal image, but we can put something on your personal image that makes us money.” They’re more into the greater subtlety of doing it through the company that makes the apparel than actually allowing ads on that apparel.

      • Daniel Tarrant | July 16, 2019 at 9:24 pm |

        Every major NCAA sports team has had uniform ads for years…usually a Nike, Adidas, or UA logo.

        And sure, we can rationalize them as “maker’s marks”…but they’re advertisements, since the “makers” pay teams to include them.

        • Paul Lukas | July 16, 2019 at 9:46 pm |

          I’m opposed to maker’s marks as well as third-party uni advertisements, but they are not the same thing. There’s a reason one of them has been around for decades while the other is just now coming into vogue. Using the former as a way to diminish the impact or importance of the latter is sophistry.

        • Daniel Tarrant | July 16, 2019 at 10:48 pm |

          Well, I see it as two points on the “slippery slope”. I’m not sure exactly when visible maker’s marks started appearing on college and pro uniforms, but obviously for many, many decades they weren’t there, even though some company or another was making the uniforms. But I’m pretty sure back then the schools/teams were actually purchasing the uniforms from the manufacturers, but now of course Nike, et al, pay large sums to be “uniform providers” and of course part of this deal is that the maker’s mark is visible to fans.

          I’ll grant you that such advertising is not as offensive as “third-party” ads, but these companies are paying teams/schools/leagues to wear their logos. That’s a form of advertising any way you cut it.

        • Paul Lukas | July 16, 2019 at 11:19 pm |

          It’s absolutely a form of advertising. I’m just saying it’s a very *different* form, and that you can’t simply say, “Oh, uni ad patches are nothing new because uniforms have had ads all along in the form of maker’s marks,” because they’re clearly in two very different categories.

  • Dan Pfeifer | July 16, 2019 at 2:46 pm |

    If you gave me a tinfoil hat, told me to put it on and come up with conspiracy theories about baseball, one I’d come up with is that the owners — knowing the game and its slow-by-design pace, which is being exasperated by analytics, is a long way from being relatable to the minuscule attention spans of those who have never known a world without smartphones — may be looking to milk as much money out of the game over the next 15-30 years with the knowledge that it may truly struggle to capture people’s fancy beyond that. Get the value while it’s there, then discard when the use-by date has been surpassed. We live in a largely disposable society nowadays, anyhow. Consider that we hold a device in our hands that has more computing power than the Apollo 11 rocket, yet we get a new one every two years. Uniform ads? Heck, why not. We’re basically killing the game; we might as well get cash while we’re doing.

    Admittedly, that’s a very fatalist, dystopian, cynical view, and it’s one I’ll only admit to with the tinfoil hat on. But it seems oddly plausible.

    • David | July 17, 2019 at 12:56 pm |

      I agree with you, Dan. I would have to think the money folks behind the game are skeptical about its long-term prospects given the way they present it – it truly gets worse every year, more ads breaking up the tiniest bits of non-essential game action and making the whole thing less accessible to the masses with each and every TV deal/stadium upgrade.

      I have two kids who love the game, but mostly actually playing it themselves (or old video game versions of it). They get bored to tears by the TV presentation and all the distractions at the ballpark. I’m mostly with them, at this point.

  • DenverGregg | July 16, 2019 at 2:57 pm |

    I’ve already cut back a whole lot on baseball viewing/listening thanks to the shift and frequent pitching changes. going to a game has become too expensive and too filled with stupid noise and endless (sometimes grossly offensive) promotional tie-ins. but i’m not the target market.

  • Rick | July 16, 2019 at 3:39 pm |

    I remember about 15 years ago MLB wanted to put ads on the bases for a Spider-Man movie and the reaction was so negative that they scrapped the plan the next day. Hopefully the reaction to desecrate the uniforms will be similar, but with a new commissioner it probably would have no effect

  • YourAdHere | July 16, 2019 at 4:28 pm |

    I don’t like the ads on uniforms either but I would say that the target market for any major sports league are not people that read this blog. Younger people, for the most part, do not care about ads. Sending emails is going to do nothing. They aren’t going out of business because a bunch of 50+ year olds won’t go to the games any longer. My guess is, most of the people protesting aren’t going much anyway.

    I’m fine if people feel the need to stop watching sports because of ads on uniforms. But I really don’t see the point of declaring it. Just stop watching and move on. No need to tell the world. Never understood this mentality. Venting, I guess.

    • Paul Lukas | July 16, 2019 at 4:46 pm |

      I’m fine if people feel the need to stop watching sports because of ads on uniforms. But I really don’t see the point of declaring it. Just stop watching and move on. No need to tell the world.

      In other words, it’s fine for *you* to post your thoughts right here on this website (and, presumably, anyplace else that you choose), but everyone else should should shut up. Is that how it works?

      ;)

    • YourAdHere | July 16, 2019 at 5:28 pm |

      Hmm…not really. But I see where my thoughts didn’t turn into words that well.

      I read some sports board game forums. There are (pretty much daily now) threads that complain about some rule or the way players act today or how baseball games are boring. And the same people are on them every day. They say they are tired of it and won’t watch any longer but yet there they are every day telling people what they saw the night before and how bad it was. Better description?

      I guess it’s all just venting to the bubble; which I did above so, yeah, you’re right. :-) (Sorry for the probable poor use of punctuation)

  • Steve D | July 16, 2019 at 4:47 pm |

    This turn of events is sickening. I did some very cursory research…top NBA teams get around $20 million a year to wear ads, give or take a few. They get higher ratings than MLB, I believe…but of course there are twice as many baseball games a year. Just estimating, and welcome any debate, but I would assume the Yankees could garner $30 Million a year…does this throw the balance of revenue more out of whack again? I’m sure Tampa Bay would not get a fifth as much.

  • Ryan M | July 16, 2019 at 5:16 pm |

    MLB’s going to reduce the length of commercial breaks, then, since teams won’t *need* that revenue as much anymore, right???

  • Jim Vilk | July 16, 2019 at 8:02 pm |

    Simply put: We’ve lost. This is the world we live in now.

    Pfff. I’m going back to my own little world now…

    • DenverGregg | July 17, 2019 at 12:23 am |

      like the man sang “make the world go away”

  • Paul Lee | July 16, 2019 at 11:37 pm |

    I read it too quickly and thought that the lede read
    “Say It Ain’t So: MLB Reportedly Bans Eye Patches by 2022” and asked myself “why?”

    • Paul Lee | July 16, 2019 at 11:38 pm |

      Make that “MLB Reportedly Adds Eye Patches by 2022.”

      • DenverGregg | July 17, 2019 at 12:24 am |

        yep. on the umps to make strike zones less predictable

  • Russell | July 17, 2019 at 1:17 am |

    Add me as another person who’ll stop watching baseball entirely if the ads happen. I stopped watching the NBA entirely, and it hasn’t been a particularly significant struggle.

    Baseball is my favorite sport and I love my A’s dearly, but I’m already kind of disgusted with the influx of maker’s marks and insistence on screwing with the game wherever possible to cater to people who don’t like it in the first place. I’m not going to watch the A’s run around with Exxon patches on their uniforms, and the day it happens is the day I’ll stop watching baseball (and by extension, sports) entirely.

    I’m 35, so perhaps I’m older than the people they want to attract. But to me, baseball has always been a game of simplicity, beauty, heritage, and continuity. That’s been true of the game itself and has been echoed in its visual identity. If the game is now one of constant reinvention, pandering, and corporatism, then it’s no longer the game I love. Rather leave it to the new generation who’ll watch home run clips on instagram and think no more of it than to hang on to something that is a shadow of what I once loved.

    There are plenty of old A’s games on youtube and, since there are so many every season, I could probably cycle through regular season games for years before I actually get to one I have clear recollection of. It’ll all be new to me.

  • Jim P | July 17, 2019 at 1:57 pm |

    as far as the short clip of the jester’s unis, it looks like they are the TritonRays from Next Level Academy in Alabama, on the header of the website, it shows 3 different unis, but none look like the one in the vid, hope that helps a little bit