Good morning! Greetings from Uni Watch HQ, where we all continue to be in good health and relatively good spirits. Hope the same is true for you!
It’s time for another round of Question Time, the segment where you get to ask me anything (within reason) and I do my best to answer. Ready? Here we go:
With the ongoing pandemic, do you think we will see some type of decal or patch on uniforms when sports return?
I’m fairly certain that all major sports and leagues will wear something that acknowledges the pandemic, yes.
Teams and leagues are losing a lot of money due to the pandemic. Do you think this will accelerate the move toward ad patches on uniforms (for leagues that don’t already have them), because of the need to make up the lost revenue?
I suppose that’s one possible scenario. But sports teams and leagues aren’t the only ones losing money at the moment. Most of the companies that could serve as uniform advertisers are also going through wrenching changes, and you could just as easily envision a scenario in which there’s a decrease in uniform ads because companies have to cut back on their ad budgets. We’ll have to wait and see.
Vinyl, CDs, MP3s or streaming?
All except MP3s.
Why did you choose to go to U. of Binghamton, what was your major/minor, did you enjoy your time there, and finally would you recommend that school to a person interested in studying journalism?
I wasn’t particularly directed as a 17-year-old. I didn’t really know what I wanted out of college or even why I was going, except that it was the thing you’re supposed to do. So I went to SUNY-Binghamton largely by default — I didn’t have enough sense of purpose to justify the expense of going to a private school, and Binghamton was considered the best school in the SUNY system, so that’s where I went.
I was a political science major and also took a lot of philosophy (probably enough for a minor, but Binghamton didn’t offer minors at the time). I wrote a lot for our school paper, but Binghamton didn’t have a journalism program back then — just a single course in the English department (which I took). It does offer a journalism program now, although I don’t know anything about it except that it exists.
The good things about SUNY-Binghamton: It has consistently been rated as an excellent school that offers a good education for a reasonable price (at least by today’s standards). Lots of good student activities, too. And a very diverse student body.
The bad things: (1) The campus is hideous. Terrible architecture, miserable grounds. My mom didn’t see the campus until she came to pick me up at the end of my freshman year. She later told me, “That is not the kind of landscape that stimulates a young mind. If I had known what it was like, I would never have allowed you to go there.” (2) The campus is located on a stretch of highway and is very isolated from the rest of the Binghamton community. Students who live on campus can often go the entire year without venturing off-campus and into town, which I don’t think is a healthy state of affairs. It also creates an even greater town/gown disconnect than is present in most other college towns. (3) The city of Binghamton has been depressed for a long, long time. It can make for a somewhat grim backdrop. (4) The weather really sucks.
Given your feelings about advertising, how do you feel about ads on outfield walls? In the long history of the major leagues, it’s been around for the majority of the time but faded away for 20-30 years before coming back.
Personally, I prefer ad-free outfield walls.
You’re given an expansion team in any of the Big Four sports leagues. What would the team name be, what would the visual identity be, and which rules for players (like the Yankees’ facial hair prohibition) would you enact?
Great question! It’s hard to know what the team name would be without knowing which city we’d be located in, but I’d lean toward the Kittens or the Puppies. Our primary color would of course be green. It’s tempting to have a policy requiring high-cuffed pants (if we’re a baseball team) or real sleeves (football), but we’ve seen that today’s athletes can’t be told how to wear their uniforms, so I don’t think I’d go down that road.
If you were the owner of a new expansion MLB team in Brooklyn, what would you name the team and what uni colors would you use?
See above — Puppies or Kittens! And the Dodgers wore green one year, so we’d have historical precedent for weearing my favorite color.
Baylor University had a campaign last year to “Unite” the brand across all sports, and in doing so simplified the football uniforms, doing away with black, grey, and chrome. But basketball has GFGS and neon green, baseball has “Bears” across one jersey and GFGS on another, and women’s basketball got BFBS and pink. Can you help me understand why they would have a “Unite” campaign, then intentionally NOT do it?!
Beats me! Seems odd, I agree. For what it’s worth, though, I don’t mind it. I think it’s fine for the different sports to have different visual styles, as long as they all have the same primary team colors. I realize others may disagree.
Have you ever been to Kansas City and sampled some of our BBQ?
Yes! It’s been a while (2005, maybe..?), but I’ve been to Arthur Bryant’s, I’ve been to Gates, I’ve been to Jack Stack (my favorite of the three). KC has great ’cue!
Do you have certain uniforms that you consider “perfect” and should never be altered? MLB, NFL, NBA, NHL preferences, please.
The following lists are just off the top of my head, and refer just to primary home/road designs:
MLB: Cardinals, Yankees, Mets, Dodgers.
NFL: Raiders, Packers, Chiefs, Cowboys (yes, really).
NHL: All of the Original Six teams.
NBA: Celtics, Warriors.
You have one choice: Throw out a first pitch at an MLB game, flip the coin at an NFL game, drop the puck at an NHL game, or jump ball at an NBA game. Which would you choose, at which arena or stadium, regular season or postseason, and which uni would you wear?
Definitely first pitch at a big league game — preferably a Saturday-afternoon Mets home game in June. I’d wear a Uni Watch shirt and cap, of course!
Have you ever addressed why your better half is called Tugboat Captain?
It’s a private reference that will remain private. The only two things I’ll say are that it’s not sexual and has nothing to do with the Galaxie 500 song “Tugboat Captain.”
I was (again) recently talking to a friend about your homemade Irish cream recipe and sent him a link to it. I call it “Uni Watch Irish Cream.” That got me wondering about the story of when you first had it and/or how you got the recipe. And if I never thanked you publicly for it, I will now. Thank you!
I got that recipe many years ago — early 2000s, I’d say — on a Chowhound.com message board. Tried it, loved it, made it part of my annual holiday routine, and at some point began sharing it on Uni Watch. Many, many readers have told me that they’ve made it part of their own holiday routines. Glad you like it!
Greetings from France! Have you already been to Paris? If yes, would you come back at some point and also throw a Uni Watch party as well?
I’m embarrassed to say that I’ve never been to France, and even more embarrassed to say I’ve never been to any part of Europe except the UK and Ireland. I hope to rectify that problem soon.
How many cats have you had in your life, and what were their names? Have you ever owned a dog or other animal?
When I was five, my brother’s girlfriend stole a gerbil from her high school biology class and gave it to me. That became my first pet, and the first of several gerbils I had while growing up. I also had lots of turtles and goldfish. No cats or dogs, because my father was allergic. As an adult, I’ve had a bunch of cats: Lizzie, Barbarella, Trevor, Roscoe, Maybelline, Tucker, and President Caitlin. I’m sure there will be more cats to come — I can’t imagine a life without them.
Never owned a dog, although I’m a total sucker for them. Pets of any kind are so amazing — as I’ve said before, I think it’s a miracle that we share our lives and our homes with these other species.
With all of the throwback uniforms across major sports leagues and merchandising, why hasn’t a league adopted a day, week, or series to use throwbacks, complete with warm-ups, umps/refs, fan giveaways, scoreboard graphics, to really sell the nostalgia?
I agree that a coordinated program could be really fun. If the NFL decides to lift the one-shell rule in 2021, maybe Thursday-night games could become Throwback Thursdays, which would be a blast (and certainly better than Color Rash).
Now that you’ve got people removing the New Era logo from their caps, do you think New Era will wise up and make the logo more difficult to remove?
Honestly, I don’t think they care. If a few hundred people are customizing their caps this way (which I’d say is the about the size of the remove-ment), that’s barely a drop in the ocean of New Era’s overall business.
But even if they do respond by making the maker’s mark harder to remove, at least a few hundred people will have had the satisfaction of customizing their caps to suit their tastes, which seems like a better state of affairs than if they hadn’t done so. In other words: No matter what happens going forward, the remove-ment is already a success. #NoEra
What do you consider your top professional highlight or moment?
Taking Uni Watch, which started as a very small idea, to ESPN, and having it run there for 15 years, was tremendously satisfying and validating. Convincing the Syracuse Chiefs to hold Brannock Device Night, and getting to throw out the first pitch, was also a big highlight.
You’ve often said you had no idea that this little comm-uni-ty would grow into what it has become. Looking back, what were your hopes for Uni Watch when you started it? Just a sideline while your “real” job took its sweet time finding you, or did you hope that it would be as consuming and satisfying as it has become?
When I started Uni Watch in 1999, I had already begun thinking of my work and career in terms of creative “projects” that tended to run a few years, and then I’d move on to the next project. That was my goal for Uni Watch: I had come up with the idea of creating a new sports beat and wanted to get some editor to buy in so I could pursue that project until it ran its course, which I figured would be three or four years.
More than two decades later, I still think of Uni Watch as a creative project. It’s just proven to be much more durable and long-lived than my other ones (Permanent Record, Gromm•It, Show & Tell, etc.). I certainly never expected that, but it’s nice that it’s worked out that way.
I still tend to think in terms of creative work projects, and I’d like to think that I still have a few more left in me.
I know you’re a fan of The Mezzanine by Nicholson Baker, but have you ever read his other similar novel, A Box of Matches?
I have not read that one. I have read Room Temperature and Vox, which are sort of similar. But The Mezzanine remains my favorite.
Other than teams with purple as a primary or secondary color (because I know how purple works in your mind), which major American sports team do you feel needs a completely new color scheme, and why?
Believe it or not, I wish the Diamondbacks would go back to purple and teal, which I thought suited them perfectly.
Also: The Rays have always felt so plain as just another blue team. Go back to green, or maybe orange (they’re in Florida, after all).
Also-also: Thanks to the profusion of alternate uniforms, lots of NBA teams are now in a state of color confusion. When you think of the Jazz, for example, do you think of their official primary colors, or the “red rock” stripes? When you think of the Hawks, do you think red, black, neon, or peach? This is a problem, but it also presents an opportunity for a reset — the Jazz could now easily claim the red rock palette as their new primary colors, for example.
What is your favorite band logo and/or wordmark?
It’s funny that you bring that up, because Scott M.X. Turner and I have been working on some T-shirts that render the words “Uni Watch” in the style of some classic band logos. Two of my favorites are this one for the Who, this one for Hüsker Dü, and of course Paula Scher’s great typewriter treatment for Cheap Trick.
I have to say, though, that I’m also somewhat uncomfortable with the idea of bands having logos. Music is art, and art is not the same thing as a product (even if it’s for sale). This could be a topic to explore in greater depth later on, but the short version of my position would be this: Logos are fun, but let’s remember that they’re bands, not brands.
You may not be a fan of auto racing, per se, but has there ever been a racing livery that has made you say, “Now, that’s something”?
I’m sure there has been, but it’s never stayed with me. Sorry!
Being here in Tampa, I was wondering, why wouldn’t the Bucs announce TB12 and hold up his new jersey, with new design, at a press conference? The Bucs were set to have a “proper unveiling event,” but there is no way that could happen now. People in town are dying to get their hands on a new Brady uni.
My understanding is that they haven’t unveiled the new design because the retail product isn’t yet ready to go, so there’s literally nothing to sell.
In your opinion, what is the best-to-worst ranking of the uniforms of referees in the five major sports?
I’m going to restrict it to the Big Four, because I don’t have any day-to-day familiarity with how soccer officials dress.
So: At one point, back when NFL zebras wore knickers, I would have put them at the top of the list, but I really dislike their current slacks with the wide white striping. So based on the current designs, I think my rankings would be MLB, NHL, NFL, NBA.
Cannonball Run or Smokey and the Bandit?
Never seen either one. Sorry.
You’ve gone on record before with your favorite uniforms from the Big Four sports leagues, but how about some favorites from lower levels (minor leagues, college, Olympics, any other levels of amateur sports, etc.)? I’m just looking for a handful that have gotten your attention over the years.
A few that come to mind: Team USA’s 1980 white “Miracle on Ice” uni; anything with the Toledo Mud Hens’ logo on it; Ohio State football; Notre Dame football; Michigan football.
Name your top five favorite bands.
Since you specified bands, I won’t include individual artists like Bob Dylan or Elvis Costello. So: the Rolling Stones, the Velvet Underground, the Ramones, the Clean, and the Beatles. (The first three entries on that list are immutable; the last two could change depending on my mood.)
Do you have any bands you’re into during the quarantine?
I wouldn’t say it has anything to do with the quarantine per se, but lately I’ve been listening quite a bit to the Australian band the Stroppies and have also rediscovered the greatness of the amazing 1987 Strum and Drum! album by the Alabama band Sex Clark Five.
As someone who really enjoys discovering music and art, I’m curious to know who some of your favorite artists are.
My favorite visual artist, at least in strictly aesthetic terms, is the Russian painter Wassily Kandinsky. I’ve always loved the sense of geometry in his work. It feels very design-y to me.
Most of my other favorite artists take a conceptual approach to their work: Jenny Holzer, Barbara Kruger, Andy Warhol. In other words, their work is designed more to make you think than to make the world beautiful (although I think they achieve both).
Which do you prefer: Coke, Pepsi, Dr. Pepper or some other brand of cola?
Diet Coke, preferably with a bit of lemon.
Brian Wilson, circa 1963-1967: genius or overrated?
It’s worth noting that “genius” and “overrated” aren’t mutually exclusive. As with so many rock stars, especially ones from the 1960s, Wilson is the subject of a certain amount of mythmaking, but I think he really was a musical genius. I’d also say he might be a bit overrated, given that his lyrical themes were often pretty facile.
If it was left solely up to you, what would the new Seattle NHL team be called, and what would their colors be?
I’m totally on board with the Kraken (a rare instance in which I’m embracing a team name that doesn’t end in “s”). And of course I want them to wear green — in part because I want more green in the uni-verse, and in part because green is a Seattle color.
Are there any numbers or teams from the Big Four not represented on Uni Watch membership cards? What’s the most popular team and number?
I believe this question was submitted just before reader JohnMark Fisher presented his findings regarding the most popular membership card numbers. You can read about that here, but the short version is that 13 is the most popular number.
I haven’t crunched the data regarding which are the most and least popular teams. If anyone wants to tackle that one, get in touch and I’ll give you the tools you need to get started.
What is your favorite non-sports uniform (USPS, British Navy, etc.)?
Oh wow, great question. I’m sure there are lots of great uniforms out there that I’m not aware of, but I am definitely fond of the U.S. Postal Service uni. I also like how cops in Pittsburgh wear checkerboard hats.
In the space of 15 minutes, I was able to concoct the following list of unused team nicknames: Astronauts, Atlantics, Bluebirds, Captains, Centurions, Daredevils, Desperadoes, Magpies, Mermaids, Meteors, Pathfinders, Quicksilver, Ramblers, Satellites, Skylarks, Tattoos. With all of this available variety, why do you think athletic programs fall back on hoary clichés, like Bulldogs, Panthers, Tigers, and Wildcats?
I’m not so sure new programs are falling back on the old clichés. The old standbys are often used by old teams that have used them forever, no?
But if it’s true that new high school or rec league teams are using the old standbys, I’d say it’s for two reasons: First, it’s much easier to choose something safe and established. And second, uniform companies may have stock designs that already use those team names.
I’m a print journalist who has never freelanced, and I’m curious: How much of your freelance writing comes from you pitching ideas to various outlets, and how much is from outlets reaching out to you?‘
The vast, vast majority of my work over the years — over 90%, I’d say — has come from me coming up with the ideas and pitching them. But that’s just me. Most editors have a few “go to” writers who can execute just about any idea or assignment presented to them. I am not one of those writers — I need to be really enthusiastic about an idea in order to pursue it, and that usually (but not always) means I had to think of it myself.
When I finally get to visit New York, I want to attend as many baseball, football, basketball and hockey games as possible. What would be the best Time to go?
Well, the NFL, NBA, and NHL seasons are all in full swing by late October (at least in a normal year — things may obviously be different in 2020), and there’s usually a decent chance that the Yankees will be active in the MLB postseason during that same period.
Or: In early April, you can get the start of the MLB season and the end of the NBA and NHL seasons. No NFL, but maybe XFL, if that still exists next year.
Approximately how many entries do you receive on average for the various Uni Watch raffles (Vintage Brand, membership cards, etc.)?
It varies, in part because some raffles are just for one day, while others are for three or four days. Membership raffles, which are usually for one day, tend to get fewer than 100 entries; Vintage Brand raffles are usually in the 600ish range. A few raffles have received over 1,000 entries, although I can’t recall which ones.
No matter how many entries we receive, I use random.org’s integer generator to choose the winners.
In the last few years, many MLB teams have either moved into new spring training ballparks or extensively remodeled their existing facilities. My question is this: Why wouldn’t they build them to their regular season home field specs?
I agree that that makes sense, especially if your MLB ballpark has unusual dimensions, like at Yankee Stadium or Fenway Park. And some teams do replicate their big league specs for their spring ballpark for precisely this reason. But yeah, it’s odd that more teams don’t do it.
I’ve always wanted to get into creating uniform/logo concepts as a hobby, but I’ve never known where to start. I recently bought a laptop so I can work remotely from home. Do you or anyone in the comm-uni-ty have some practical advice for someone with no graphic design experience?
Since I don’t make concepts myself, I’m not a good person to ask. But for the many people reading this who create uni design concepts, can you please post some advice in today’s comments? Thanks.
Can you name a good Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson movie?
Where is the right place for loud, eccentric sports uniforms?
Arguably anywhere. I mean, the Astros made the tequila sunrise work at the big league level, right?
Still, minor league baseball and hockey would seem to be the best platforms for the loud/eccentric approach, and maybe the NBA. It just fits better with their ethos.
Stanley Kubrick is my favorite director. What is your favorite film of his?
I’m a big Kubrick fan as well. Depending on which day you ask me, I’d go with Dr. Strangelove, A Clockwork Orange, The Shining, or Full Metal Jacket. As I type this, I’m thinking A Clockwork Orange, because dystopia feels about right for our current historical moment. (I like other Kubrick films as well, including 2001, Eyes Wide Shut, Lolita, and The Killing, but the ones I like best are the first four that I mentioned.)
I bought a lot of blank Majestic MLB jerseys ahead of the swoosh takeover, and now I’m left with the question of where to find a reliable vendor selling iron-on name/number kits that match the styles of MLB teams. Can you recommend anyone?
I don’t know anything about iron-on name/number kits, but I do know that longtime Uni Watch reader/pal Joe Hilseberg can do a super-professional job of lettering up just about anything for you. You can contact him here — tell him I sent you.
Football question: Why is mono-white with a colored helmet acceptable, but mono-color uniform with helmet of white, same, or another color, almost always derided?
Just one of those tradition/habit things. Mono-white still feels like a football uniform to me, while mono-color feels like a superhero costume. Maybe it’s because most superheroes don’t wear white..? Just one of those intrinsic “feel” things. That said, I tend to prefer white jerseys paired with colored pants, rather than mono-white.
What other blogs do you read? I’m particularly interested to know if you are familiar with Forgotten New York, which has an appreciation for obscure and overlooked things, but related to the built environment.
I love Forgotten New York and have been friends with the guy who runs it, Kevin Walsh, for over 20 years. We’re mutual fans!
You’ve turned me on to a couple of really wonderful films that I otherwise would never have seen — Uncertain, Texas and of course the incredible Faces Places. So thank you! Personally, I’m pretty up-to-date on popular culture but haven’t really spent any time exploring documentaries. What is it about these types of films that resonates with you, and how do you stay informed on releases like those two?
Staying informed on movies is easy here in NYC: The New York Times’s longtime policy is that they will review every film that gets a theatrical screening here in the city, even if only for one day. So I read the movie reviews.
As for why I like documentaries: As a journalist who often takes a storytelling approach, docs are right in my wheelhouse. That’s not to say that I don’t like fiction movies — I do! But I like docs a lot too. And there are more of them coming out now than ever before, because it’s now possible to shoot a movie on a smartphone.
Do you have a “guilty pleasure” uniform? One that is universally disliked, but you have a soft spot for?
Sox in shorts! But I don’t feel any guilt about it — just pleasure.
Why doesn’t Uni Watch publish the correct answer to each week’s “Name the Scoreboard” contest? It would be nice to know if we were anywhere close to the right answer.
That feature runs on the weekends, so I forwarded it to weekend editor Phil Hecken. His response:
I’ve never stumped the readers, so the correct answer is always found in that day’s comments. There may be an occasional wrong guess, but that is usually corrected by another commenter. So just check the comments!
What do you think will happen when a team runs out of numbers to give to players due to all the retired numbers? Fractions? Triple digits?
I don’t think any team will ever “run out.” Even the Yankees, who’ve retired more numbers than any other pro sports team, have plenty of numbers to choose from.
How much, if at all, does it affect your ability to enjoy a band’s music if you can’t abide the band’s (or a band member’s) politics?
The extent to which we can or should separate the art from the artist is a topic that’s been debated almost as long as art itself has existed. It’s also a debate I often find myself feeling conflicted about. A few random thoughts:
• My favorite music is Delta blues. There’s no getting around the fact that many Delta bluesmen sang rather casually and matter-of-factly about violence toward women. I’ve never let this stop my enjoyment of the music, but some of my girlfriends over the years have had major issues with it.
• I like a lot of pre-1970s country music. Most of it was made by people whose worldviews probably don’t align with mine. Occasionally those worldviews are expressed in the lyrics. Again, I don’t let it stop my enjoyment.
• In those blues and country examples, I probably find it easier to rationalize my enjoyment because the artists are now dead and the world they were describing feels more like a museum than the world we live in today. If a current artist expressed views I found problematic, that would be trickier. I’m trying to remember if this has ever happened, and for now I’m coming up empty, but I guess it might depend on the context. For example, if a band recorded a homophobic song, that would presumably be a lot worse than if their drummer made a homophobic comment during an interview. Or would it? Not sure. Tricky territory.
• These issues go way beyond music, of course, and also go beyond politics. As a kid, I was a big Bill Cosby fan; not anymore. I’ve spent most of my life as a big Woody Allen fan, but that’s become more complicated in recent years. Similarly, movie fans have wrestled for decades with the question of how to assess the work of Roman Polanski, a convicted statutory rapist who’s been a fugitive from U.S. justice since 1978.
• Finally, I know there are Uni Watch readers who have issues with my worldview, and who therefore wrestle with these same issues when reading this website.
In short: Separating the art from the artist (or the blog from the blogger, as the case might be) is complicated. I don’t know that there’s a one-size-fits-all approach to it, as we all have different ideas as to what constitutes a dealbreaker, what counts as disqualifying, and so on. Endlessly fascinating topic, for sure.
Do you have (or do you even desire to have) any sort of beer tap in your home?
Nah. I do have a small collection of vintage tap heads, but I’m not looking to hook them up to real taps.
How do you decide how to balance covering uni-verse without providing free exposure to the companies whose advertisements continue to encroach on uniform design? On the one hand, you’ve used Mr. Yuk to cover NBA ad patches without giving prime real estate on the site to the advertiser. On the other hand, I’ve noticed over the last several months that (particularly on Twitter) you’ve highlighted “good looks” at the Nike logo on various MLB jerseys, even when there was no other design change since last season. Once the presence, size, and placement of the Nike logo was made clear, I thought you might entirely ignore these “reveals” when there was no other design change. Obviously there are other examples, but these two polar opposites particularly jumped out at me.
The big thing about the Nike logo on MLB jerseys this season, at least to me, isn’t the change from Majestic to Nike — it’s the change from the sleeve placement to the chest placement. That’s a big (and horrible) change, so I wanted fans to be able to see how each team’s jersey would look — and how bad it would look — with that new maker’s mark positioning. If they had stuck with Majestic but moved the Majestic logo from the sleeve to the chest, I would have done the same thing.
Mr. Yuk was (and still is) my way of protesting the NBA’s uni ad program. Maker’s marks are bad, but third-party ad patches are exponentially worse, at least to my way of thinking. The point is that it doesn’t matter who the advertiser is because ad patches look like shit, period.
I’ve noticed that when you respond to someone in the comments or on Twitter, you always start by using the word “Actually.” How come?
Actually, I only start a response with “Actually…” in specific circumstances. Generally speaking (there may have been a few exceptions), I do it when responding to something that’s demonstrably false or not yet supported by facts. This can come in several forms — for example:
• When someone posts something that’s factually inaccurate: “Nike made a change to the Yankees’ jerseys by making the pinstripes go horizontally on the shoulders.” (Actually, the pinstripes have been that way, due to the Yanks’ use of raglan sleeves, since 1973.)
• When someone posts an unfounded assertion: “It’s obvious that all the major pro sports leagues will be wearing ad patches on their uniforms within a couple of years.” (Actually, there’s been zero indication that the NFL or NHL is currently moving toward ad patches.)
• When someone exaggerates or “rounds up”: “Nobody wears stirrups anymore.” (Actually, a small but stubborn group of MLB players continues to wear them.)
• When someone posts a speculative conspiracy theory: “The NFL enacted the one-shell rule as a way for them to cover their asses against liability lawsuits.” (Actually, while that is a common speculation, we don’t know whether it’s true.)
• When someone posts a disprovable conspiracy theory: “The reason NFL teams stopped wearing triple-striped socks is obviously because Nike doesn’t want the players wearing Adidas’s signature symbol.” (Actually, the Bears and Patriots still wear triple-striped socks.)
• When someone falsely purports to speak for everyone else and/or engages in mind-reading: “Nobody comes here to read about your vacation.” (Actually, people come to Uni Watch for all sorts of reasons, and many readers have told me they love the travelogues.)
• When someone mischaracterizes me and/or my work: “You’re a traditionalist, so you hate everything Nike does.” (Actually, I’m a classicist, not a traditionalist, and while it’s true that I’m not a big Nike fan overall, I’ve praised lots and lots of their designs and initiatives over the years.)
• When someone insults my personal integrity based on a faulty premise: “You’re such a hypocrite! You say you’re opposed to capitalism but you sell lots of merch!” (Actually, I’ve never said I’m opposed to capitalism. I simply think we should be on guard against its excesses.)
There are probably a few other categories I’m overlooking, but you get the idea.
Why have I leaned so heavily on “Actually…” lately? For starters, it usually allows me to avoid using words like “no,” “wrong,” “faulty,” “incorrect,” and so on. Those are all negative words, negating words, and I’ve found that they often have a bad effect on the discussion. “Actually…,” on the other hand, simply provides a factual counterpoint, so it seems less inflammatory (or at least that’s my hope).
And then there’s this: One of our society’s biggest problems these days is our inability to agree on a shared set of facts. There’s so much misinformation and disinformation out there, and so many people either unwittingly or intentionally spread and circulate that false info (I’ve sometimes unwittingly done it myself, by retweeting something that turned out to be inaccurate), that it’s more important than ever to stay grounded in reality. Obviously, I can’t solve this problem all by myself, but I can at least try to keep my own yard clean, so to speak. And that’s what “Actually…” tries to do: It steers the discussion back to the realm of the actual — the realm of reality — instead of the realms of fantasy, speculation, conspiracy theorizing, unfounded assertions, and confirmation bias.
As a big fan of college football tradition, I’ve noticed that many traditional “black cleat programs” (USC, Penn State, Alabama) tend to use white shoelaces with their black cleats, to the point where they’d even replace black laces with white. That tradition has slowed down a bit, but it used to be a staple. Any background you can tell me about this tradition?
I’m not 100% certain about this, but I think it was because some of the older shoe brands, like Spot-Bilt, routinely used white laces with their black cleats. Since those older brands were the standard for many years, the black/white look also became the standard.
If anyone knows more about this, feel free to enlighten us in today’s comments.
What is the earliest documented example of a uniform worn during a sporting event that you have come across? Perhaps in a drawing/painting, or described in words.
Well, the athletes in the original Olympics in ancient Greece reportedly competed in the nude!
I’m aware of her existence, and also aware that she’s a bit controversial. I think the Tugboat Captain kinda hates her..? In any case, I haven’t really read enough of her stuff to get a fix on her. Will try to do so soon.
That’s it for this round of Question Time. Thanks for all the great questions! You can see the previous installments in this series here.
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Cross-tastic: My friend Miriam Sicherman, who’s a serious crossword puzzler (she even competes in tournaments!), got in touch with me on Saturday to direct my attention to that day’s New York Times crossword — specifically 10-Down, a three-letter word with the clue “Sports getup, for short.” Uni!
Miram says, “Although UNI is in the puzzle fairly often, I only remember it being clued in relation to sea urchin. So, thought you should know!”
The byline indicates that the puzzle was created by Erik Agard. I looked him up on Twitter to see if he’s one of my followers — nope. Sent him a DM, but no response yet. I’ll report back if he responds.
Flattening the curve: This isn’t an endorsement or an exhortation (I know many of you feel very strongly about brim curvature). It’s just a uni-centric visualization of a now-familiar phrase, meant to be amusing. I’m a little surprised New Era hasn’t come up with something similar and tried to turn it into a sales pitch.
(My thanks to reader Steve Krupin for giving me the idea that led to this graphic.)
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ITEM! Cycling jersey returns: With the weather getting warmer and more people riding their bikes instead of driving because they’re staying closer to home, Adelph Wear’s Nathan Haas and I have decided to revive the Uni Watch cycling jersey.
Just like before, you can customize the back of the jersey with your choice of number and NOB. We’re taking orders for one week, and the product should be ready to ship in early May. Full ordering info here.
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All dressed up with no place to go: The Tugboat Captain got me a gorgeous vintage blank North Stars jersey as a Christmas present. I wore it by itself for a while (I really like blank hockey jerseys — I love the basic yoke/stripe template on its own) but then decided to turn it into a Uni Watch jersey. So I had master embroiderer Amy Bengtson make a chain-stitched crest (a larger version of the ones we sell; in retrospect, maybe I should have had her make it even bigger), and then the Captain sewed it onto the jersey for me. Look how perfectly the colors match — I love it!
When I tweeted that photo over the weekend, some people said the logo looks like it’s a bit too low. But that’s because the hemline is riding up a bit. If I showed you the jersey laid flat, you’d agree that the logo is properly positioned — trust me.
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Membership update: Got a nice note yesterday from reader John Goodrich, who recently ordered a membership card for his son Evan (patterned after Rudy Ruettiger’s Notre Dame jersey, don’tcha know). He wrote:
We were happily surprised when Evan’s card came in the mail yesterday. It was a welcome distraction amongst all that has been going on. He showed the card to his sisters and then stored it with his most prized possessions — his mini helmet collection. I’ve attached a picture of the proud guy.
Thanks again for keeping things going on Uni Watch. It’s been a comfort to still be able to read it every day.
How great is that? Welcome aboard, Evan — you totally Get It™ (and so does your dad, clearly).
Meanwhile, a bunch of new designs have been added to the membership card gallery, including Julien Marques’s card, which is based on Ferndando Alonso’s 2017 Indy 500 helmet. Great job on this one (and one many other challenging requests from this batch) by card designer Scott M.X. Turner.
Ordering a membership card is a good way to support Uni Watch (which, frankly, could use your support these days). And remember, as a gesture of comm-uni-ty solidarity, the price of a membership has been reduced from $25 to $20 until further notice.
And while we’re at it, remember that I’ve also lowered prices on Uni Watch caps and seam rippers, plus you can get a 15% discount on everything in the Uni Watch Shop and the Naming Wrongs Shop with the checkout code COMMUNITY. You can also help support Uni Watch by (which, quite frankly, could use your support these days) by making a donation. As always, thanks for your support and consideration.
By Jamie Rathjen
Baseball News: Reader Tyler Maun points out that a picture of Shea Stadium is visible in an episode of The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel, which takes place in 1958. Shea didn’t open until 1964. … Mike Chamernik sent us a series of two MLB team logos fused together into one. … Here are five odd moments in Tigers uni history (from Timmy Donahue). … Chris Mycoskie’s son has been putting Chris’s childhood collection of baseball mini-helmets on his own collection of Paw Patrol figurines. “It’s been a fun way to teach him about the different MLB teams,” says Chris.
Football News: The Ravens revealed a 25th-season logo yesterday. Although they didn’t say anything about it appearing on the uniform, it will presumably be worn as a jersey patch, as they’ve done with similar logos in the past (from many readers). … CFL commissioner Randy Ambrosie said that the Calgary Stampeders will get new uniforms this season, and the rest of the league might follow in 2021 (from Wade Heidt). … What appears to be a new Sun Belt Conference logo appeared on South Alabama’s practice field; note that it appears to be rendered in team colors (from multiple readers). … Colorado is conducting a March Madness-style bracket to determine the best helmet design in school history (from Kary Klismet).
Hockey News: Reader Frank Mercogliano sent us video of this 1978 Islanders/Maple Leafs game that provides a great view of the Leafs’ non-contrasting NOBs, plus the broadcasters briefly mention it. … Here’s a series of videos featuring hockey players explaining why they wear their current uni numbers (from Jerry Wolper).
Soccer News: English Championship team Bristol City produced a history of their kits. We also missed the Robins wearing 125th-anniversary shirts, which were a mismash of nine designs from the club’s history, March 7 in their last game before coronavirus stopped everything. … Staying in England, sixth-tier York City started a contest to determine their best-ever kit, and they’ve worn some pretty distinctive ones. … Reader David Raglin tells us that a new book on soccer shirts is out today.
Grab Bag: A few years ago, the Italian women’s volleyball team Saugella Monza wore slanted NOBs to go with their design at the time (from Jeremy Brahm). … More volleyball from Jeremy: Argentine team UPCN San Juan became the latest team in the sport to put their logo in a house to tell people to stay home. … The Mercedes Formula One team helped to design CPAP machines for use in hospitals as an alternative to ventilators, and its engine-manufacturing company is planning to manufacture them. … Julian LaFerla tells us that a Minnesota company redesigns NFL, MLB, and NBA team logos with Native American cultural features, among other projects. … Here’s an article about the enduring impact of the typeface Helvetica. … The inductions that had been scheduled for this summer at the International Boxing Hall of Fame have been postponed due to the pandemic.
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What Paul did
last night on Friday night: Friday was so nice — sunny, warmer, no wind. Our friend Sridhar (in the red cap) had arranged to come over and join us for Pandemic Porch Cocktails™, and then our neighbor Jason (in the striped shirt) wandered over from across the street to join the gathering — with everyone maintaining safe social distancing, of course. It was really nice.
The next morning, our landlords, who live upstairs and are elderly-ish, asked us to stop having guests, because it makes them nervous. Sigh.
So the next day it was just us, although we made up for it by bringing some snacks:
Yesterday it rained, which meant the front edge of the porch was wet, so we used the deck chairs:
You can see all of the Pandemic Porch Cocktail™ photos here.
Afterward, we made dinner. There were some lamb chops that had been in the freezer for three or four months, and we decided last night was as good a time as any. Some green beans and roasted potatoes completed the meal:
A really nice Sunday night — except for, well, you know.
Meanwhile, as you can see, the stress is really getting to Uni Watch girl mascot President Caitlin (whose birthday is one month from today!):
Daily cat break: catnip Rx pic.twitter.com/jZ7vkl0rp5
— Mary Bakija (@mabatron) March 30, 2020
Hope your weekend was a good one. Hang in there — we’re all in this together, and we’ll get through it together. — Paul