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Did the Mets Use a Uni Watch Reader’s Idea Without Credit?

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Elaine: It’s quite a coincidence.
Rava: Yes. That’s all. A coincidence.
Elaine: A big coincidence.
Rava: Not a big coincidence. A coincidence!
Elaine: No, that’s a big coincidence.
Rava: That’s what a coincidence is! There are no small coincidences and big coincidences.
Elaine: No, there are degrees of coincidences.
Rava: No. There are only coincidences.

— From Seinfeld, ‘The Statue’ episode, 1991


An interesting sequence of events unfolded yesterday. Was it all just a coincidence, or something more? Let me walk you through the timeline of yesterday’s events so you can decide for yourselves:

7:41am: I publish Thursday’s blog post, which includes a tribute to Tom Seaver, whose death was announced on Wednesday night. My tribute explains how Seaver always had dirt on the right knee of his uniform pants because, as I put it, he was “the classic drop-and-drive pitcher,” always dragging his right leg against the dirt of the mound.

10:16am: Uni Watch reader Joe Wagner posts a comment, as follows: “How cool would it be for the Mets to memorialize Seaver by making the right knee of their pants dirty instead of some sort of patch.”

10:37am: I see Joe’s comment, love the idea, and feel stupid for not having thought of it myself. I respond, “Oh, shit — Y-E-S!”

10:44am: Feeling that Joe’s idea deserves wider circulation, I prepare a tweet. It summarizes Joe’s idea (giving him credit, of course) and includes four photos of Seaver’s dirt-stained right knee. I tag @Mets because I’m hoping lots of Mets fans will see the tweet, and also because I’m hoping people connected to the Mets will see it. Because it’s Twitter and I’m up against a character limit, I write “drop/drive” instead of “drop-and-drive”:

Next five hours: Some retweets, some comments, but nothing major. I forget about the whole thing while working on other stuff.

3:53–4:02pm: With the Mets getting reading to play the Yankees at 4:10pm, three Mets beat writers — Anthony DiComo (who covers the team for, Peter Botte (New York Post), and Tim Healy (Newsday) — tweet that all Mets players will wear dirt stains on their right knee to honor Seaver. All three beat writers refer to Seaver’s “drop-and-drive delivery”:

4:08pm-ish: The Mets take the field. They all have a smudge on their right knee. Yankees broadcaster Michael Kay approvingly notes the tribute, using the term “drop-and-drive”:

4:10pm: The game begins. The knee-smudged Mets quickly fall behind, 4-0, but come back to win, 9-7, in 10 innings.


Given the repetition of “drop-and-drive,” it’s obvious that DiComo, Botte, Healy, and Kay were all quoting from the same Mets-provided press release. That’s all pretty standard. But did the Mets crib that press release — and, more importantly, the idea itself — from my tweet?

Some quick background: Obviously, I did not invent the term “drop and drive” as it pertains to pitching. But I’m pretty sure that the term did not yet exist during Seaver’s career and that he was not described that way while he was an active player. I don’t recall when I first heard the term (I believe it gained currency through youth baseball academies, where pitchers are often taught to be either “drop and drive” or “tall and fall”), but I do recall that at some point I thought to myself, “Oh, this ‘drop and drive’ thing that everyone likes to say now — that’s what Tom Seaver was, with his dirty knee and that!” That’s why I used the term to describe his delivery in yesterday’s blog post. But to be fair, I’m hardly the only one who has described Seaver in that way over the years.

Shortly after yesterday’s game started, I got in touch with a Mets contact, who said, “I would suspect some in the Mets org probably did [see the tweet]. … I doubt they’d admit it if they did take the idea from you.” That contact then asked a few people and told me, “I asked…didn’t get a real answer. Doesn’t sound like the PR department knows where the idea came from, genuinely.”

I also emailed Harold Kaufman, the Mets’ VP of Communications. As I explained to him, if the Mets got the idea from my tweet, I don’t care about getting credit for myself, but I care a lot about Joe Wagner getting credit for his tremendous idea.

Kaufman did not respond to my inquiry.

Lots of media outlets picked up on the Mets’ knee-smudge tribute. The coverage was uni-versally positive — and with good reason, because it was a wonderful gesture! But did the Mets get the idea for that gesture from Joe Wagner? If so, they really ought to acknowledge that. (Interestingly, ESPN ran a story about the knee-smudge tribute that included an embed of my tweet, but the embed felt pretty random, with no framing or context to suggest that it might have been the impetus for the tribute.)


We’ll probably never know for sure, but I have a hard time believing this is just a case of “great minds think alike.” And if I’m right — if the Mets did indeed get the idea from my tweet and are refusing to admit it — that would be so sadly typical. Joe Wagner is a longtime Mets fan (as you can see at right, he even has a Mets-themed Uni Watch membership card) — what could be more fan-friendly than embracing a fan’s idea and then acknowledging it, celebrating it? What a huge missed opportunity, especially in the midst of a miserable year that’s badly in need of feel-good stories.

I emailed Joe during the game to see what he thought of all this. He wrote back, “I’ve been tied up at work all afternoon and haven’t paid attention to the Mets. Your email was a bright spot in a crappy day. I’m just going to tell my kid that it was all my idea and the Mets stole it from me.”

As we emailed back and forth, he added this:

Seaver is just a bit before my time as a Mets fan. … I really started following the Mets in the mid-80s. I’m 49 now, so missed out on his prime years. I knew about the dirty knee, but I didn’t really think about it as a tribute though until I read Uni Watch this morning and I started thinking about what they’d do for a patch. I’m not a big fan of the black circle with the number or initials — It feels like the easy way out to me. Then I thought about a patch on the knee and figured players wouldn’t like it, as it might change the “feel” of their uniform trousers.

And that’s how he came up with the idea of the dirt stain.

Well done, Joe. You probably changed the course of athletics aesthetics yesterday. And if you weren’t the source of yesterday’s tribute, well, it certainly is quite a coincidence.

In other Seaver tribute developments (none of which I tweeted about in advance, so these were presumably all home-grown ideas):

• The Mets hung a Seaver jersey in their dugout.

• The scoreboard was given a Shea Stadium throwback motif and the American flag was at half-staff (or maybe two-thirds staff?).

• Just prior to the first pitch, all Mets players raised their caps toward Seaver’s retired number, which is up at the top of the ballpark:

• The Mets will add a memorial sleeve patch for Seaver “this weekend.”

Those are all excellent gestures. The dirt-smudged knees were even better. It would be nice to know who came up with the idea for that, and how.

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Pin Club reminder: In case you missed it on Tuesday, the Uni Watch Pin Club’s new design for September, which features a football referee theme, is now available.

Need to get caught up? Here are our January, February, March, May, June, July (bobble!), and August pins. (Sorry, April sold out!)

My thanks, as always, for your consideration.

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ITEM! Key ring raffle: Reader Christian Berumen has generously covered the cost of a Uni Watch Key Ring for me to raffle off, so that’s what we’re going to do today.

This will be a one-day raffle, available only to people with USA mailing addresses. To enter, send an email to the raffle address by 8pm Eastern tonight. One entry per person. I’ll announce the winner next week. Big thanks to Christian for sponsoring this one!

Meanwhile, the winner of yesterday’s raffle is Steve Jacobson, who’s won himself $30 to spend on Uni Watch merch. Congrats to him, and thanks to Pedro Naranjo for sponsoring that one.

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ITEM! Bigger Teespring sale: Yesterday morning I announced a 10% Teespring sale. But then in the afternoon they suddenly launched a 20% sale! From now through midnight Pacific Time tonight, you can get 20% off of anything and everything in the Uni Watch Shop, the Uni Rock Shop, and the Naming Wrongs Shop but using the checkout code 100K.

After the 20% discount expires at midnight, you can still get 10% off with the checkout code LABORDAY through next Tuesday, Sept. 8. Enjoy!

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The Ticker
By Anthony Emerson

Baseball News: Reader John S. Choe’s friend Evan Katz has written a very well-researched piece on the protective shoulder flap on a catcher’s chest piece, known as the “Robbypad.” … The Phillies retired Dick Allen’s No. 15 prior to yesterday’s game, and Phils SS Didi Gregorius even wore a Dick Allen mask (from multiple readers). … Mets IF Jeff McNeil wore teammate Brandon Nimmo’s elbow guard during an at-bat last night (from @EliotRants). …  Mariners IF Dee Gordon has announced that he is now going by Dee Strange-Gordon after his mother DeVona Strange, who was killed when he was six years old. We’ll see if he also changes his NOB (from Mike Chamernik). … On Wednesday night, Pirates P Derek Holland wore cleats commemorating Mr. Rogers (from @Finerific). … We’ve known for a while now that the Brewers’ ballpark will be getting a new advertised name after this season. Here’s the new logo that goes along with the name (from multiple readers). … Former Uni Watch advertisers Streaker Sports have released a line of Wiffle Ball T-shirts — the first officially licensed Wiffle Ball apparel ever.

NFL News: Add the Ravens to the list of pro teams selling cardboard cutouts to fill the stands (from Andrew Cosentino). … The NFL’s mobile site has updated Washington’s logo but not the team name, which seems kind of backwards (from Aaron Hirota). … Riley Denver’s nine-year-old daughter created alternate identities for the nine CFL teams, plus the yet-to-be-announced team based in Atlantic Canada.

College/High School Football News: Boston College has a whole heap of new unis, including two different pairs of gold pants, two different maroon jerseys and three different white jerseys (from @ACC_Tracker). … University of North Texas has a gorgeous new white uni. … Georgia Tech’s Twitter account posted a video of the newly remodeled Bobby Dodd Stadium (from @GTThrashFan). … Notre Dame posted a video of the grounds crew applying the ACC logo to the turf at Notre Dame Stadium. Notre Dame is usually an FBS independent but is playing in the ACC this year due to many of their originally scheduled opponents being from conferences that have opted to postpone their seasons (from multiple readers).

Basketball News: Here’s how the Cavs’ Statement alternate will look next season with the Jordan logo (Kary Klismet and @Bsakes). … In Wednesday night’s Thunder/Rockets game, OKC PG Chris Paul got a technical foul for delay of game after taking 22 seconds to tie his sneaker (from Mike Chamernik). … Here’s a great article on the disabled World War II vets who created the sport of wheelchair basketball. A uni note is that a lot of those early teams lacked uniform bottoms (from Kary Klismet).

Soccer News: New kits for Virginia men (from our own Jamie Rathjen). … Also from Jamie, English non-league club Hebburn Town’s new shirts have the same NHS patch that Premier League clubs do, but as the NHS logo is copyrighted, they had to print the shirts before Aug. 31.

Grab Bag: New unis for Polish handball club Łomża Vive Kielce (from Ed Żelaski). … Wanna feel old? Nintendo has a 35th-anniversary logo for the Super Mario Bros. franchise (from John Cerone). … Also from John, the U.S. Air Force is “crowdsourcing” ideas for uniforms and active apparel. … The Air Force Academy’s new live falcon mascot has been named Nova (from Timmy Donahue). … Really interesting article about how the pandemic has changed towel protocols (WaPo link) at the U.S. Open tennis tourney (from Tom Turner). … The LPGA is letting caddies use carts during next week’s ANA Inspiration tournament, due to extreme heat that’s being forecast (from Mike Chamernik).

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What Paul did last night: Thanks for all the feedback about my decision not to blog every single day about the porch photos. After listening to everyone’s comments and thinking about it a bit more, I’ve decided that I’ll still do my best to post the porch photo each day, but I’ll only add some descriptive text when if something meaningful happened or if something’s really on my mind. Most days, it’ll just be the photo, presented without further comment.

As always, you can see the full set of Pandemic Porch Cocktails™ photos — now over 170 of them — here.

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The entire Uni Watch team is taking the Laborious Day weekend off (Phil will resume his weekend posts on Sept. 12). Everyone have a safe, healthy holiday weekend, and I’ll see you back here on Tuesday. Peace. — Paul

Comments (57)

    At the QBC in January 2015, I suggested to a Mets staffer (can’t remember who he was or what dep’t he was in) that they swap the fabric colors of the pinstriped and non-pinstriped home unis; make the pins white and the non-pins off-white. He seemed intrigued. Not long after, they made the pins white and dropped the non-pins altogether.


    The CFL helmet designs by Riley Denver’s daughter are incredibly endearing. The Mussels with muscles, the Ottawa Bagels, Edmonton Frostbite, they’re fun and original. We need more teams named and designed by kids, and less by suits and Lifestyle Brands.

    “created alternate identities for the nine CFL teams, plus the yet-to-be-announced team based in Atlantic Canada.”

    That ship may not sail. It was hopeful the Atlantic Schooners would take the field in 2021. Then COVID happened. Doubts the stadium in Halifax will move forward as quickly as planned.


    Big fan of the website Vintage Brand which I learned about through UniWatch. Have purchased a few items from them. Checked out their site yesterday and they no longer carry any MLB or NFL Products. Anyone know why? Thanks!

    I may be conflating memories – it was a long time ago – but I definitely seem to recall Seaver’s technique described as drop-and-drive while he was still playing. My two cents.

    Thanks, Gordon. I’d be interested in hearing if other people remember it that way as well. I definitely don’t, but that’s just me, obviously.

    Well, I’ll chime in since I’m of an age group (b. 1957) to have seen Seaver’s entire career and was a right-handed pitcher through the end of high school — accordingly, fixated on mechanics.

    I don’t recall ever hearing the term in that era. When we we’re really getting into honing our craft in the late 60s/early 70s (read: obnoxiously obsessed junior high kids), Seaver, Gibson, Hunter, Marichal, and Drysdale were the sort of guys we used as models. As I recall, the discussion always revolved around terms like their stride-length and arm-angle.

    Typo in your headline… assuming you meant Reader’s since d and s are next to each other on keyboard.

    Was there when I posted – said Reader’d. Was fixed when I checked right after notifying you… figured you or somebody else caught it while I was typing message.

    I saw it as “reader’d” when the post was first up, then I refreshed and it was “reader’s”, now it’s back to “reader’d”.

    I am 35 and played ball thru college and have been coaching hs ball for the past 14 yrs. It was aleays drop and drive or tall and fall. I would guess I first heard the terms at least 20 years ago…and that is how I teach pitching to my players or clients.

    Dan, I believe those terms are products of your generation, for sure. Pretty sure neither of them was around when I was growing up in the 1970s and early ’80s (which is also when Seaver was pitching).

    Likewise. I’m 47 and remember the dirt being discussed on broadcasts but never heard that term. I was also a pitcher through high school and none of my coaches used those terms as part of their instruction.
    I also never heard the term “walk-off” before the mid-90s, but I digress. (I can’t stand “walk-off”…who is walking off?)

    Walk-off refers to the losing team walking off the field, since they were playing defense.

    By all accounts I’ve seen, Dennis Eckerlsey coined the term back in 1988.

    “The first use of the term “walk-off” occurred on July 30, 1988, in the Gannett News Service: ”In Dennis Eckersley’s colorful vocabulary, a walkoff piece is a home run that wins the game and the pitcher walks off the mound.””


    As if “walk-off” weren’t bad enough, we’re now besieged by “baseball insider” terms like “launch angle” and “escape velocity” not to mention alphabet-soup terms like UBR, PFR, and SIERA; yuck.

    Why is any of this “yuck”? Assuming the comment above yours is correct, the history behind “walk-off” is fascinating. “Launch angle” and “escape velocity” are pretty boilerplate literal technical terms, and abbreviations are… abbreviations? I’ve never known anyone to be angered by abbreviations.

    I’ve been a Poutineur ever since moving to Wisconsin 12 years ago! I would wholeheartedly support the Montréal team.

    Happy Labor Day to Paul, Phil and everyone whose labor contributed to the greatest economy in the world. Let’s also remember those before us who bravely fought and continue to fight for fair wages, benefits and workplace safety.

    Thanks for the Seinfeld quote. Seems like there’s a Seinfeld reference and a Beatles lyric for just about any moment in human life.

    I’m wondering about journalistic ethics here… is there an understanding that the Mets should acknowledge who came up with the idea?

    The Mets are not journalists, so they are not bound by journalistic ethics.

    This seems more like a Golden Rule thing — basic common courtesy and doing unto others.

    I understand citing sources is important and often dismissed these days, however it feels “off” to be looking for some sort of credit for a gesture memorializing the death of an man. It’s not a stolen design for a sleeve patch, and they didn’t steal Joe’s time/effort for their personal gain, it was just a nice idea.

    I just feel like asking to be credited with thinking of a memorial gesture is like buying a youth baseball team’s uniforms and wanting your logo on the chest. ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

    Totally fair point of view. I don’t entirely agree, but it’s certainly possible that I’m too close to the situation, not just because it was my tweet but because I’ve spent a lifetime watching the Mets be tone-deaf when it comes to fan relations. Thanks for the feedback!

    Just piping in that I agree with Sheehan. It was a good idea and it would have been nice if they acknowledged Joe (if they indeed got the idea from him/you), but this really isn’t about Joe, it’s about Tom. In this situation, I’d be happy the Mets had the good sense to carry out this gesture, and less concerned about assigning credit. As Sheehan said, it would be different if they were ripping off a product rather than an idea.

    The Reds had a moment of silence for Seaver, who is a member of their Hall of Fame. I would be inclined to believe that Cincinnati will do something as well uni related.

    re: Hamilton “Iron Men.” Don’t tell Disney. I’m sure they’d have no qualms suing a 9 year old girl to kingdom come.

    I grew up a Pirates fan but was lucky enough to see Seaver pitch the 1st game of a Sunday DH sometime in the mid-seventies at Three Rivers. He was a great pitcher, a true workhorse.

    I used to have a friend who worked for Bill Aucoin in the 1970s and was about the biggest KISS fan you could ever hope to meet. In 1983, the group removed their trademark makeup. My friend said, “That was totally my idea and I want credit for it!” I’m more inclined to think good ideas (or at least what we tend to think of as obvious ones) tend to occur to many people at more or less the same time. And everybody knows somebody who could be called “The World’s Biggest KISS Fan.”

    Since Seaver’s pitching days, the Met broadcasters highlighted the dirt on his knee. I have known the term drop and drive for quite some time, though can’t pinpoint an exact time frame. I agree it would be nice if the Mets sent you an email thanking you if that is where the idea came from, but don’t think they necessarily have to mention it publicly. In fact the seemingly “spur of the moment” or grassroots nature of how the players did this on their own is what gives it extra charm.

    the seemingly “spur of the moment” or grassroots nature of how the players did this on their own is what gives it extra charm.

    Except there’s no evidence that the players “did this on their own.” Nobody has claimed that it was the players’ idea; nobody has claimed that it was *anyone’s* idea. But it was clearly *someone’s* idea. I’d be interested in knowing whose. That’s why I asked the team. They chose not to respond.

    I agree it would be nice if the Mets sent you an email thanking you…

    Actually, I never said I want them to thank me. I said I want them to thank *Joe Wagner,* or at least acknowledge him, if that’s where they got the idea.

    There is no evidence the players did the dirt on their own, just as there is no evidence they raised their caps spontaneously. Quite the opposite, based on the tweets above, it seems pretty planned out between whoever mentioned it to the players first, the players and whoever publicized it ahead of time. Certainly by not crediting any outside influences, it make the Mets organization and players look more thoughtful in all the ways they acknowledged their fallen star – more than if it was clear the idea came from outside the organization. People are naturally sentimental about this type of tribute…remember 3 year old JFK Jr. saluting at his father’s funeral? He could not of thought of that on his own…someone is clearly shown telling him what to do. It could not have tugged on people hearts the same way if people considered how he was coached to do it.

    While Joe should get an acknowledgement if indeed the person who told the players to do this got it from your tweet, so should you Paul. If not for your tribute, thoughtful assessment of the dirt patch, photo examples, tweeting it out, he likely would not have thought of it and the Mets may have never heard of it. I should also point out to readers from outside NY that these are the owners who for years never thought enough to have a Seaver statue at the current Shea when so many teams have honored players this way. I know of radio hosts who begged them to do so for years and even had a sample statuette commissioned. Last year, the team finally said they would erect a statue. Sadly nobody will get any credit either and Tom did not live to see the statue. I can’t have any more disdain for these owners than I already do, but this in unconscionable.

    I kind of hate to use such terms as “first world problems” but like ir said term was ever warranted, it would be at this point in time.

    The visiting team isn’t walking off, they jog off just like any other inning. The pitcher walks off the mound every inning. I’ve had this discussion with others and no one can convince me that it makes sense.

    As with most things, I wonder if NYM is going out of their way to avoid a lawsuit. If they gave anyone outside the organization credit, that could open themselves up to liability if someone tried to profit off the dirt-on-the-knee tribute since they would have ‘admitted’ taking the idea from someone else. While I doubt it would be a meritorious suit, I’m sure its ‘best practices’ to avoid giving anyone else evidence of ‘ownership,’ for the same reason all tv/movie studios return unsolicited scripts/ideas unopened to avoid proof that they had knowledge of the idea lest the sender thinks a new tv/movie was ‘inspired’ by their script.

    See last entry of the 9/4 post. Holiday weekend off for the UW team. Glad that you all are able to scale back a little Paul and Phil, while still keeping us up to date in the uni world. Balance is so important, and we realize that UW can sometimes be a big weight!

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