Pitchers Turn New Rule into Absurdist Uni-Related Theater

I knew that MLB’s new crackdown on pitchers using foreign substances had the potential to open up a whole new branch of Uni Watch content, because the rule focuses on caps, gloves, and belts (the umps are now literally uni-watchers!). But I didn’t know how long it would take for that to happen. Not long, as it turns out, thanks to Nationals pitcher Max Scherzer.

I should say here at the outset that I have always loved Scherzer. I love that he’s a big ol’ hoss on the mound, I love how he puts his hands over his head as he looks in for the catcher’s sign, I love his follow-through, I love that he has two different-colored eyes, I love how intense he is. I find him very entertaining to watch, and there aren’t many pitchers I can say that about nowadays.

But he was more entertaining than usual during last night’s Nats/Phils game, and it had nothing to do with his pitching. When the umps inspected his gear at the end of the first inning (as they’re now routinely doing for every starting pitcher), it would be fair to say that Scherzer was not amused by the new protocols:

Scherzer was checked again at the end of the third inning (again, this is routine, as starters have been told they can expect to be checked twice per outing). But things got more interesting in the fourth, when Phillies manager Joe Girardi asked the umps to inspect Scherzer yet again. Big Max was so annoyed by this that he threw his cap and glove to the ground in front of the umps as they approached the mound, unbuckled his belt, and looked for a second like he was about to drop trou right there on the field:

That is priceless. You don’t have to be a practiced lip-reader to see him saying, “I got nothin’. I got nothin’!

There are some additional nuances to this story. ESPN’s Bradford Doolittle has a really good account of it here, which I strongly recommend.

I went to bed after writing most of this post. But when I woke up this morning, I learned the A’s pitcher Sergio Romo had out-Scherzered Scherzer! Check this out:

This all seems pretty ridiculous. Obviously, this type of rule/policy/etc. should never have been enacted in the middle of a season. But for all the silliness, I think there’s at least one serious uni-related implication here: Companies like Nike and Under Armour have been saying for years that they can’t believe baseball still uses something so antiquated as belted pants. If pitchers are annoyed at having their belts checked and keep disrobing on the field, it could lead to the revival of sansabelt pants.

In any case, I’m pretty sure this is the first time I’ve ever been able to use the phrase “drop trou” in a Uni Watch post, so that’s a milestone of sorts.

Finally, I leave you with this:

(My thanks to Eric Schwartzman for pointing me to that Charlie Brown tweet.)

• • • • •

• • • • •

Uni Watch gets on-air shout-out: Remember Monday’s post about Mets broadcasters Gary Cohen and Keith Hernandez recently discussing how Mets pitchers Yennsy and Edwin Díaz don’t have first initials on their NOBs? I transcribed their discussion and then noted that the real issue isn’t the absence of initials — it’s that Edwin’s NOB has an accent while Yennsy’s doesn’t.

Cohen decided to revisit that topic while Yennsy Díaz was pitching during the bottom of the third inning of last night’s Mets/Atlanta game. This time he and Hernandez were joined in the booth by analyst Ron Darling, so Cohen brought Darling up to speed and name-dropped Uni Watch along the way:

Cohen: So Keith and I, when Díaz pitched in Washington on Saturday, we were talking about the fact that the Mets have two pitchers named Díaz on the roster, but they do not put their first initial on the back of their jerseys. And most teams don’t do that anymore. However, we have found something out that we didn’t recognize. [Brief aside to track a foul ball.] So they don’t put the initials on the back. But they are differentiated. You know how? Yennsy Díaz does not have an accent over the “I” in his last name on the back of the jersey, but Edwin Díaz does.

Darling: Okay. 

Cohen: This was pointed out by the folks at Uni Watch who pay attention to this stuff.

Darling [sounding delighted]: Yesssss! Good!

Cohen: So even though they are not differentiated by the initial, they are differentiated by the accent. However, Dom Smith and Drew Smith? No differentiation.

[Both chuckle.]

Darling: Well, it would be tough for them [the Smiths], wouldn’t it? “D” and “D.”

Cohen: Well, I was saying to Keith that if you did, you’d have to put “Do. Smith” on Dom’s, and then everyone would think Drew Smith was a doctor.

Darling [chuckling]: Oh, that’s right.

———

Two batters later, Atlanta shortstop Dansby Swanson (one of the great baseball names, no?) hit a three-run homer that effectively ended the game and probably led lots of people to turn off their TVs, so I’m glad the NOB discussion took place while people were still watching.

It’s nice to be mentioned on the air, of course (thanks, Gary!). But I think they’re still missing the point, which is this: Why do the two Díazes have inconsistent accent treatments? Does Yennsy not want an accent on his NOB (even though his official MLB player page includes the accent), or is this a case of a mid-season rookie call-up not getting the same attention from the equipment staff as an established veteran, or is it just a simple oversight? Hmmmmm.

(Big thanks to Phil for transcription assistance.)

• • • • •

• • • • •

Click to enlarge

Too good for the Ticker: On the left, Sissonville High. On the right, Herbert Hoover High. They wore very similar uniforms when facing each other yesterday in the West Virginia Class AA Softball Tournament.

Sissonville’s teams, unfortunately, are called the Indians (you can see the spear motif on their sleeve patch), so I was rooting for Hoover, whose teams are called the Huskies. They also have a very cool interlocking-H logo.

Meanwhile, softball continues to be the last bastion of well-worn stirrups.

(My thanks to Jason Martin and Louis Gaunch for this one.)

• • • • •

• • • • •

The Ticker
By Lloyd Alaban

Baseball News: The Cubs and White Sox have been voted to have the best MLB unis, according to a survey of 2,000 MLB fans (from our own Phil Hecken). … Camden Yards was decked out in Pride colors last night (from Marcus Hall). … New uni ads for the Netherlands national team (from Joel Horn). … Dutchess Stadium, home to the Hudson Valley Renegades, the Yankees’ High-A affiliate, is undergoing extensive renovations after the local county government approved the team’s new 25-year stadium lease (from Kary Klismet). … Also from Kary: Georgia State University is planning new baseball and softball stadiums in Atlanta, with designs intended to honor the late Hank Aaron.

NFL News: After coming out as gay on Monday, Raiders DE Carl Nassib suddenly has the top-selling jersey in the league (from multiple readers). … USA Today has ranked the NFL stadiums (from Kary Klismet).

College Football News: Virginia Tech will have its annual “White Effect” game on Sept. 11 (from Andrew Cosentino). … Wisconsin will have new mono-white uniforms when facing Notre Dame in this year’s Shamrock Series game on Sept. 25 (from multiple readers). … Slight change to Missouri’s field design, with “Tigers” now appearing in the diamonds of the south end zone. Previously, “Mizzou” appeared in both end zones (from Ben Arnet). … New 75th-season logo for FSU. It’s not yet clear if it’ll be worn as a patch and/or decal (from @nolescribe).

Hockey News: Canadiens F Cole Caufield honored his college alma mater by wearing a Wisconsin-branded mouthguard last night (from Karl Cardillo).
 

Basketball News: Weldwerks Brewery in Greeley, Colo., has released a special edition of its flagship Juicy Bits Imperial Pale Ale called Sombor Shuffle MVP IPA, in honor of Nuggets C Nikola Jokic’s signature one-footed, raised-knee fadeaway shot (from Kary Klismet). … A college trivia show featuring the University of Minnesota’s trivia team used the Timberwolves’ font instead of the U. of Minnesota’s font (from @bikbokboi1).

Soccer News: Several German clubs are lighting up their stadiums in rainbow colors. The move comes after the UEFA turned down Allianz Arena in Munich’s request to do likewise. Additionally, Werder Bremen hung rainbow banners outside the Weserstadion (from our own Jamie Rathjen). … Also from Jamie: Netherlands MF Georginio Wijnaldum plans to wear a Pride-themed armband on Sunday.

• • • • •

Out latest raffle winner is Clint Cavey, who’s won himself a membership card. Congrats to him, and thanks to David Moravcik for sponsoring this one. — Paul

47 comments to Pitchers Turn New Rule into Absurdist Uni-Related Theater

  • Jeff Link | June 23, 2021 at 9:14 am |

    The soccer ticker is a little misleading. Allianz Arena where Germany is playing Hungary today was denied the request by UEFA. That doesn’t apply to the other stadiums in Germany who can do what they choose since they aren’t hosting international matches and will now be lit in solidarity/protest.

    • Paul Lukas | June 23, 2021 at 9:21 am |

      Right, fixed.

      • Jeff Link | June 23, 2021 at 9:29 am |

        Much clearer. Not sure if it was noted already but the German goalkeeper Manuel Neuer has worn a rainbow captain’s armband throughout the tournament and will still be allowed. The stadium lighting in direct response to new laws in Hungary was viewed as explicitly political by the Euro organizers.

  • DJ | June 23, 2021 at 9:14 am |

    Several German clubs have asked UEFA to allow their stadiums to be lit in rainbow colors, but UEFA has turned down the request

    No, only the request to do so by the Allianz Arena in Munich was turned down by UEFA. As it is being used by UEFA for the Euros, they have control over it’s lighting. They have no say as to the other stadiums the article mentions, which are lighting up in rainbow colors.

    • Paul Lukas | June 23, 2021 at 9:21 am |

      Right, fixed.

  • Glenn | June 23, 2021 at 9:15 am |

    Coincidentally, given the ongoing Mets discussion, the Sissonville softball team seems to have two “Baileys”with their backs to the camera (w/o initials). Sisters, perhaps?

  • John | June 23, 2021 at 9:20 am |

    Where’s the love for the very cool stirrups Sissonville is wearing?

    • Paul Lukas | June 23, 2021 at 9:28 am |

      Funny you mention that — I just added a note about the stirrups.

    • Memal | June 23, 2021 at 9:41 am |

      Agreed!

  • Dave Truman | June 23, 2021 at 9:28 am |

    I used to live in Charleston W.Va. Herbert Hoover HS is located just outside of town. I can’t remember if they had the interlocking H logo back then. But considering that the teams are the Herbert Hoover High Huskies, isn’t doing *only* a two-H interlock a missed opportunity? They should have 4 H’s tied together! (Just keep the shamrocks out of it.)

    • Mike | June 23, 2021 at 1:02 pm |

      Why so much Herbert Hoover love in WV? I believe Hoover is from a small town in IA?

      • ChrisH | June 23, 2021 at 1:57 pm |

        Hoover was a mining engineer before entering politics…maybe that’s the connection?

  • MJ | June 23, 2021 at 9:29 am |

    Any mention of MLB dropping trou should include the originator, Steve Lyons of the White Sox. (Google it, kids.)

  • Dave Dahl | June 23, 2021 at 9:30 am |

    “Drop trou” – Steve Lyons

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QLIpmACBq1g

    • Ron Ruelle | June 23, 2021 at 11:02 am |

      That was the very first thing that came to mind when I saw yesterday’s antics!

  • Dave Dahl | June 23, 2021 at 9:37 am |

    Softball – both teams with white tops and red pants? Why?

    • walter | June 23, 2021 at 11:25 am |

      Budget? But I don’t consider that an excuse.

      • Tom | June 23, 2021 at 11:52 am |

        In baseball/softball there is no confusion on the field if both teams wear identical uniforms. Therefore, schools with tightening budgets and taxes being voted down for even important things, decline what will be perceived as frivolous expenditures for additional uniforms to please aesthetics. Suggesting schools spend additional funds because there is “no excuse” to have the same uniforms isn’t good fiscal policy.

  • marchingkazoo | June 23, 2021 at 9:59 am |

    In re: “Obviously, this type of rule/policy/etc. should never have been enacted in the middle of a season.”
    I was reminded from the Uni Watch entry from 6/16/20, which included the following sentence clause:
    “A few hours later, MLB commish Rob Manfred — a man who has been ruinous for the uni-verse and who also, I’m fairly certain, does not actually like baseball…”

  • Judy A | June 23, 2021 at 10:06 am |

    16-year-old Me’s mind is blown by the fact that there are two LGBTQ items in the Ticker, and it’s not a big deal.

    I used to go to Orioles games during their last years at Memorial Stadium and the first season at Camden Yards, and if anybody told me then that an MLB stadium would not only acknowledge Pride but actually celebrate it with rainbow flags and a rainbow-themed scoreboard, I wouldn’t have been able to comprehend it.

    And I hope that sales of Nassib’s jersey help pave the way for other athletes – and other people in the public eye – who fear that coming out will harm their careers. In many cases, it can actually boost their careers.

  • Greg | June 23, 2021 at 10:09 am |

    NFL uniforms still include belts? Right? Only Nike, who thinks change for change’s sake is good, would feel the need to get rid of the belt for “innovation” sake.
    I have a hard time picturing belt-less MLB uniforms as anything other than horribly dated, awful looking 70s/80s uniforms.

    Saw that NFL stadium ranking yesterday. It is really hard to tell what their criteria for ranking is, the list is all over the place and doesn’t make much sense. And given that they talk about Solider Field glowingly, as well as a place where the NFL was forged in the 1920s, even though the Bears didn’t start playing there until the 1970s, seems to indicate the writer might not know his stuff.

    • Paul Lukas | June 23, 2021 at 10:41 am |
      • Greg | June 23, 2021 at 11:53 am |

        Interesting. NFL belts seem somewhat vestigial at this point given that the uniform resembles tights more than pants now. I don’t recall seeing them officially disappear with new uniform unveilings lately, so I assume it is a player preference?

    • John H. | June 23, 2021 at 10:59 am |

      I agree that the rankings seem random but the Vikings’ stadium is a pretty good choice for No. 1. It’s absolutely gorgeous.

    • Brian | June 23, 2021 at 1:32 pm |

      And he notes the KC sound record, but then says of Seattle, “No other home stadium is louder.”

      Well, yes, KC is.

  • Ron Ruelle | June 23, 2021 at 10:57 am |

    Scherzer looks like he’s saying “ladies and gentlemen, I implore you…” a la Seinfeld.

  • Tommythecpa | June 23, 2021 at 11:23 am |

    The umpires seem to be using TSA procedures.

  • dave robb santa rosa | June 23, 2021 at 11:58 am |

    Isn’t it obvious umpires are taking it the ridiculous extreme of multiple checks per game to get Manfred to stop making them be the enforcer of the rule?

    • Paul Lukas | June 23, 2021 at 12:10 pm |

      Actually, they were *told* to do multiple checks per game.

      Let’s please stick to reality instead of engaging in mind-reading and speculation. Thanks.

  • Block "O Canada" | June 23, 2021 at 11:59 am |

    Any truth to the rumors that the Sissonville pitcher’s rpms were suspiciously high yesterday? ;)

  • markB | June 23, 2021 at 12:04 pm |

    re: Sissonville softball team

    White stirrups with black sanitaries – maybe Chicago’s Southsider’s should go back to school for Uni 101.

    Those Ladies are showin’ the stripes and rocking’ the socks.

  • Nestor Chylak | June 23, 2021 at 12:42 pm |

    “The Cubs and White Sox have been voted to have the best MLB unis”

    Actually, the linked article states the Cubs and Sox are *among* the best. The Cubs came it at #1 and the White Sox at #4.

    The Cubs and Yankees were #1 and #2.

  • Bat Manuel | June 23, 2021 at 1:40 pm |

    Last night during the Tigers broadcast, Jack Morris mentioned that he had kept a sleeveless “Ted Kluszewski” jersey from when he was on the Reds. I didn’t know he played for the Reds, but it turns out it was only for Spring Training in 1995. The interesting part was that he mentioned that Hal Morris was on the team but neither of them used their first initial.

  • Tim | June 23, 2021 at 1:43 pm |

    Three Items:

    1. But he was more entertaining that usual during last night’s Nats/Phils game…I believe should be than

    2. Cubs I can see as best uniform. But the White Sox? Seriously? Were like 1500 of the 2000 who voted from Chicago?

    3. With respect to the accent, isn’t that the player’s choice? I know MLB has their Ponle Accento program which began in 2016, but I don’t think it’s mandatory…

    https://www.mlb.com/press-release/press-release-mlb-celebrates-hispanic-heritage-month-2020

    • Paul Lukas | June 23, 2021 at 2:02 pm |

      Yes, it’s a player’s choice, but it’s the kind of thing that a mid-season rookie call-up might not feel comfortable speaking up about if the equipment guy got it wrong.

  • Rach | June 23, 2021 at 1:53 pm |
  • RICKAZ | June 23, 2021 at 3:14 pm |

    FYI, the CFB ticker says NFL.

  • BvK | June 23, 2021 at 3:51 pm |

    “In any case, I’m pretty sure this is the first time I’ve ever been able to use the phrase “drop trou” in a Uni Watch post, so that’s a milestone of sorts.”

    Did a search and can confirm that this is the only time you have ever said “drop trou” in a Uni Watch post. The only other time it has ever appeared before today was from a reader (the great DenverGregg) in the comments section on October 21, 2008.

    /nerdery

  • Michael | June 23, 2021 at 4:09 pm |

    Completely agree that Scherzer is one of the most aesthetically pleasing pitchers I’ve ever seen. I love the full arm rock above/behind the head while going through the windup.

  • Andrew | June 23, 2021 at 4:37 pm |

    Good article today Paul. One thing, in the ticker you have NFL News listed twice instead of College Football News

  • PaulS | June 23, 2021 at 5:33 pm |

    That USA Today article – like the entire paper, really – is useless. That’s five minutes of my life I won’t get back.

  • Jon | June 23, 2021 at 6:22 pm |

    Quick note on the use of the Timberwolves font. When the Wolves use it, the A is left without the crossbeam. (I believe the intention is to make it look like it’s an arrow pointing north.) The gameshow did not follow this convention.

  • Patrick in MI | June 23, 2021 at 7:27 pm |

    Horrible idea by MLB to institute this silly rule in the middle of the season, or even at all. This is only going to slow down the game even further which is not what they need. All these stupid rules in the last 2 seasons seem to be further eroding their audience and making them less relevant. Sorry Manfred, you’ve lost me. Hooray for Scherzer and others who stand up to this tomfoolery.

  • Moose | June 23, 2021 at 9:26 pm |

    Although I understand the frustration, I really wish the players did not take it out like that on the Umps. It’s like getting upset at the customer service rep because the cable company raised your bill. They look like spoiled children when they react in such a manner.

  • Gregory Koch | June 23, 2021 at 9:54 pm |

    The only other instance of “drop trou” on this site is from a comment in 2008 by DenverGregg proposing that instead of a blue-out, Titans fans should organize a “Blue Moon” to protest monochromatic fan attire. You yourself have never used it apparently.

  • Niel | June 23, 2021 at 10:01 pm |

    Sissonville also uses a feminized version of Chief Wahoo. Yikes.

    https://www.maxpreps.com/high-schools/sissonville-indians-(charleston,wv)/softball/roster.htm

  • Don Clarke | June 25, 2021 at 3:36 am |

    Lol, Angel Hernandez deserves to have that green puke-face on his arm full time!