When MLB’s awful new spring/BP caps came out last week, with their brutal logo-within-a-logo designs, I singled out a few of them that were particularly bad. That included the Padres’ design, which I described like so: “I didn’t think it was possible to ruin the Swinging Friar, but it turns out I was wrong. Bulldozing all of the Friar’s charm is bad enough. But as many observers quickly pointed out, the partial ‘SD’ also has the unfortunate effect of looking a lot like a swastika. Good luck un-seeing that one, Padres fans.”
Well, now they won’t have to un-see it, because they won’t be seeing it to begin with — at least not very often. Padres beat writer Kevin Acee had the scoop yesterday that the team will wear its standard brown regular season game cap for most spring training activities, with the the new spring/BP cap limited to a day or two of workouts this week.
Acee’s article included this quote from Padres chief marketing officer Wayne Partello: “Following our offseason uniform rebrand and the overwhelmingly positive response from Padres fans, we’ve decided to wear our regular season brown caps with the gold ‘SD’ for the majority of spring training.”
Hmmm — no mention of the swastika issue. As you may recall, I interviewed Partello during the lead-up to last November’s uni unveiling in San Diego and then met him at the unveiling event, so I gave him a quick call yesterday afternoon and asked for a bit more background and context.
He was very gracious (he really is one of the nicer guys I’ve met in this biz) but declined to add anything to the statement he gave Acee.
Since Acee’s article only addressed spring training, I asked Partello if the new cap might still maintain its status as the team’s BP cap during the regular season. Again, he declined to add anything to his existing statement.
Obviously, this is all about the swastika. Just as obviously, nobody’s going to say that, just like nobody’s going to tell us who created the design, which people at New Era, MLB, and the Padres signed off on it, and what the repercussions were, if any, for those people.
And here’s another thing we won’t be hearing from the powers that be: These caps, with their logo-within-a-logo format, are just a mess. Swastika issues notwithstanding, the San Diego design was a disaster, and so were most of the others — everyone saw that, even if they didn’t see the Nazi symbol (which I didn’t immediately see myself until others pointed it out).
Obviously, nobody intended to hide a hate symbol in the cap logo. It was just happenstance and carelessness — an error of omission. But since the swastika tends to distort everything it touches, I’m a little worried that this controversy will overshadow the larger issue, which is that spring/BP caps feature ruinously bad design — not just this year but most years (although this year’s were unusually bad). That’s an error of commission, and that strikes me as the more pressing problem.
Or to put it another way, if you throw a bunch of shit against the wall to see what sticks, don’t be surprised if what sticks is, well, shit.
Meanwhile: This isn’t the first time a team has walked back a controversial BP cap design. In the winter of 2012, thanks to a leak from an industry source, I broke the news that the Braves planned to use their whooping Indian logo on their 2013 BP cap (another error of commission). The negative reaction was so strong that the team shelved the design (and falsely claimed that the design “hadn’t been official,” which was a poor attempt at damage control).
It’s not yet clear if the Padres will rush a backup BP cap into production — or if that’s even possible at this point. If they don’t, they could become the first MLB team in memory to not have a BP cap. Of course, no team needs a BP cap to begin with, so that outcome might be the best thing to happen as a result of this sorry affair.
Pin Club update: Reader Bob Andrews is the latest to come up with a creative display option for his limited-edition Uni Watch pins. I think his binoculars strap may soon run out of room, but I’m sure he’ll come up with other display options as needed.
The February pin, featuring Abe and George, is available here. And if you need to get caught up, here’s the January pin (we’ll keep selling that one until it sells out) and our basic winged stirrup pin.
My thanks, as always, for your support of Uni Watch — much appreciated.
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ITEM! Gumball helmet clearance sale: I have 13 of the green Uni Watch gumball helmets remaining (the white ones are sold out), and I’m cutting the price on them from $9.99 to $4.99, plus shipping. You can order them here. Thanks!
Brand-o-rama: The New York Times has a faaaaascinating article on how Amazon is changing the nature of branding, and warping the U.S. trademark process in the process. It’s a long read, but if you care about branding, intellectual property, marketing, or e-commerce, it’s essential stuff. Check it out here.
By Lloyd Alaban
Baseball News: The Brewers have proposed building sculpture-like structures shaped like their ball-in-glove logo around their ballpark. The full article is paywalled, but you can still see a rendering of one of the sculptures here (from Kary Klismet). … The San Antonio Missions will wear taco-themed uniforms May 22-24 as the San Antonio Puffy Tacos. … Here’s a time-lapse video on how the grounds crew at the Rangers’ old ballpark converted the field from baseball to football for the XFL’s Dallas Renegades (from our own Anthony Emerson). … OF Mookie Betts and P David Price will wear Nos. 50 and 33, respectively, for the Dodgers.
Football News: The Kansas City Public Library is celebrating the Chiefs’ Super Bowl victory with a cartoon image of coach Andy Reid with a book as his mustache (from Mike Stevens). … The Modell’s in NYC’s Times Square has a mannequin wearing a Raiders jersey and a Steelers helmet. Also, the Patriots sleeve logo is missing from the jersey on the mannequin next to that one (from @NYCKING). … Cross-listed from the baseball section: Here’s a time lapse video on how the grounds crew at at the Texas Rangers’ old ballpark converted the field from baseball to football for the XFL’s Dallas Renegades (from our own Anthony Emerson). … Target has apologized for making those “Minnesota Badgers” onesies (from many readers).
Hockey News: The Canucks unveiled new retired number banners with era-appropriate uni-based designs. Here’s what the banners looked like before (from multiple readers). … New Penguins F Jason Zucker received his jerseys this week. He will wear No. 16 with the club. Here’s a photo of his new locker, which shows that the Pens’ locker nameplates have GNC ads. Sigh (from @PenguinsEQ and @FreyDaddy4). … The Hurricanes have released the patch for their upcoming Mom’s Trip to Nashville when the team faces the Predators (from Mike Sundheim). … Northeastern won the Beanpot on Monday wearing these throwbacks (from Evan Landry). … Here’s a (paywalled) article documenting how goalies’ equipment gets to goalies so quickly after a trade (from Jonathan Fox).
NBA News: Michael Kidd-Gilchrist will wear No. 9 with the Mavericks (from Mike Chamernik and Etienne Catalan). … Also from Etienne: PF/C Noah Vonleh will wear No. 32 with the Nuggets. … For the latest NBA number-related news, be sure to check out Etienne‘s Twitter feed. … The Lakers have added a new Lexus ad on their sideline (from Andy Garms).
College Hoops News: UNC F Garrison Brooks, who’s been poked in the eye several times this season, wore goggles last night against Wake Forest (from James Gilbert). … UNC women’s went mono-pink on Monday, forcing Virginia Tech to go with white on the road (from Andrew Cosentino).
Soccer News: The Canadian Premier League officially announced that the new expansion club in Ottawa will be named Atletico Ottawa. The team is owned by La Liga’s Club Atletico de Madrid, which is reflected in the new club’s crest and colors (from Wade Heidt). … New kits for the Pittsburgh Riverhounds of the USL Championship (from multiple readers). … The new MLS kits were added to FIFA 20. Probably the one big surprise is that D.C. United’s shirt was paired with red shorts and white socks, which was a combo they wore in the inaugural 1996 season, including in the first-ever MLS game. We can take that as a reasonable sign that black/red/white will actually be worn this season. A real picture of it exists, but wasn’t included in the reveal last week (from our own Jamie Rathjen). … Also from Jamie: “At both the 1990 World Cup and Euro 92, Scotland’s non-goalie players received numbers based on (roughly) the number of national team appearances made, with the most senior players wearing Nos. 2, 3, etc., down to 19 and 20. The examples here are from Euro 92.” … Atlanta United has a dog mascot named Spike, and he has his own shirt and AUFC-themed harness (from Ross Drucker). … This video explores why Gazprom, Russia’s majority state-owned gas giant, bought ads on soccer shirts (from KC Cless).
Grab Bag: Major League Lacrosse introduced its newest franchise, the Connecticut Hammerheads (from Zeke Perez Jr). … New helmets for Syracuse lacrosse (from Michael Barkann). … Here’s how Nike’s Vaporfly line of shoes has changed running sports (WaPo link). … New logo for the online delivery sevice Shipt. … From Kary Klismet: Northwestern has released new uniforms for its women’s lacrosse and softball teams. … The city of Vienna, Austria, is holding a competition to design its new indoor sports arena. … Reader Matt Bisenius found this shirt depicting James Madison University in Wisconsin. JMU is actually in Virginia.
Raffle results: Our latest raffle winner is Paul Bailey, who’s won himself a complimentary Uni Watch membership card. Congrats to him, and my repeated thanks to reader Joal Kjarsgaard for sponsoring this one.