What you see above is a video of the Game Two of the Stanley Cup Final(s) between the Avalanche and the Lightning — sort of. Thanks to tracking technology embedded in the puck and the players’ uniforms, the entire game has been rendered in “Blocky” characters.
It’s bizarre, absurd, funny, and oddly compelling, at least to me — I can’t stop watching it. Check it out and see if you agree. (You can also watch Game One and Game Three.)
Want to see how the animation compares to the real-life action it’s mimicking? A Redditor helpfully made a comparison of a Lightning goal from Game Three — the real thing in one window, Blocky version in the other:
Not bad, right?
There are so many interesting details about this video format. For example:
• The players aren’t the only ones appearing as Blockies. So are the fans and even the Zamboni driver (who appears between periods).
• The officials, however, are not shown at all for some reason (anyone know why?). So when there’s a face-off, the puck just floats to the appropriate face-off spot by itself and then drops to the ice. Very strange!
• One big plus to this format: The ads on the teams’ helmets are not shown!
• When players leave the ice for a line change, they don’t step into the bench area — they just vanish in a puff of smoke along the boards!
• Certain moments are punctuated by comic book-style lettering — “Pow!” for a big shot, or “Boom!” for a collision along the boards. And if the net comes off its moorings, there’s a big explosion of fireworks!
• Obviously, the whole thing would be better if the video were accompanied by play-by-play audio. But never fear — they did that for the game highlights:
• Wondering what a Blocky fight looks like? There’s been only one fight so far in this series, near the end of Game Three, as shown here:
I’m sure there are other noteworthy details I haven’t discovered yet.
The NHL is streaming these videos as simulcasts on its YouTube channel. So if you want to watch the Blocky version of Game Four tonight in real time, it should be available on that page. You can even sync it up with the standard broadcast’s audio to get the full play-by-play effect! I won’t be home tonight, so I won’t be able to do that, but I hope to try it later in the series.
(Mega-thanks to Mike Chamernik for bringing this one to my attention.)
@UniWatch gonna need a bigger seam ripper pic.twitter.com/eoSiRPR8iH
— Ryan Wetstein (@ryanwetstein) June 22, 2022
Ryan Wetstein wins the internet today: Now that’s a funny tweet. Nicely done, Ryan.
But in all seriousness: Those giant caps at Angel Stadium originally didn’t have the New Era logo creep, and they still didn’t have it as recently as 2020. Which means they added it sometime in the past two years. Which is really depressing. Sigh.
Click to enlarge
Something I just learned: As you all know by now, I love old advertising catalogs. I recently had my eye on one that was listed on eBay. I decided not to bid on it because it was a little more than I could justify spending at the moment (more on that in a minute), but one of the photos was too good not to share.
As you can see in the photo shown above, this particular company referred to its plastic streamer thingies as “loopy wigglers.” How great is that? Loopy wigglers! Looks like there were other wigglers available, too.
Some quick googling indicates that “wigglers” was not a standard industry term — too bad. But still: loopy wigglers!
On a serious note: As a self-employed freelancer, I’ve paid for my own health insurance for most of the past 26 years. (The brief exception was the 10 minutes or so that I was on staff at Sports Illustrated in 2019.) As I’ve said before, it’s absurd that our country ties health insurance to employment status, but whaddaya gonna do.
As you’d expect, the cost of my monthly premiums have gone up over the years (because that kind of thing never goes down, right?). Still I was stunned yesterday when I received a letter from my insurer, informing me of the rate increase that they plan to impose for next year (click to enlarge):
You read that right — my monthly premium, which is currently just shy of $800, is jumping to $1,053 (or $12,636 a year). That’s a whopping 32.8 percent increase. I know we’re all dealing with inflation — I mean, I buy gas and food just like everyone else — but that’s just insane.
Let me be clear: I am not broke, or anything close to it. But this will definitely affect my life and will probably affect Uni Watch as well. Remember how I said a few months ago that I planned to go visit Ripon Athletic and check out their old uni files? I had hoped to do that in a couple of months, but now I’m rethinking that trip, because I don’t know if I can justify the expense. Grrrrr.
Again, I’m not a poverty case here. But in the wake of this news, I respectfully ask those of you who have the means — and especially those who enjoy Uni Watch but haven’t supported it in the past — to please consider purchasing a Bulletin subscription (if you want to do it without Facebook, email me), a membership card, or some of our fine products. If you’d simply like to make a donation, that works too.
Thanks for listening, and for your consideration.
By Lloyd Alaban
Baseball News: The Rays wore their standard home whites last night for the first time since April 30! … MLB issued new guidelines requiring all teams to “muddy up” the ball uniformly. … New Mothman-themed unis for the West Virginia Black Bears. The Mothman is a humanoid creature that’s part of the state’s folklore. … Monday’s Ticker included an item about the rededication of the Negro Leagues’ Hamtramck Stadium in Michigan. This slideshow includes several photos of the newly renovated facility and the throwback uniforms worn by those playing in the rededication event (from Kary Klismet). … Here’s a weird one: D-back P Noé Ramirez’s white sanitary socks were showing over the top of his stirrups last night. … In that same game, Padres 1B Luke Volt went without an undershirt and also left several jersey buttons unbuttoned, thereby exposing a fair amount of chest hair.
Football News: Here are some of the NFL players who’ve been wearing Riddell’s new Axiom helmet at practice (from our own Phil Hecken). … New uniforms for Northwestern (from multiple readers). … New helmets for Speedway High School in Indiana (from @Hoosier_Steve).
Hockey News: SportsLogos.net’s Chris Creamer has created a fun graphic showing the history of Stanley Cup socks (thanks, Phil). … New 20th-anniversary logo for the Atlanta Gladiators of the ECHL (from Wade Heidt).
Basketball News: New uni ad for the Spurs (from our own Brinke Guthrie). … The Guntersville High School girls’ basketball team in Alabama has received their championship rings for winning the state title (from Kary Klismet).
Soccer News: New shirts for Bulgarian side Botev Plovdiv (from Ed Zelaski). … Also from Ed: New shirts for the Bundesliga’s Eintracht Frankfurt. … New shirts for the EPL’s Leicester City (from multiple readers). … New home shirts for third-tier Scottish side Falkirk FC (from multiple readers). … Speaking of Scotland, new 150th-anniversary kits for Dumbarton. “The blue/white/red was their very first color scheme, and the shirts intentionally don’t have ads,” says our own Jamie Rathjen. … The next few items are from Kary Klismet: New crest for Italy. … New kits for Panathinaikos of Greece’s Super League. … New shirts for Holstein Kiel of the 2. Bundesliga.
Grab Bag: Here’s why the U.S. military switched from blotchy to digital camouflage patterns on their combat uniforms (from Kary Klismet). … Also from Kary: Here’s the evolution of Volvo’s logo.
What Paul did last night: Saw the new David Cronenberg movie, Crimes of the Future, last night. If you’re a Cronenberg fan, as I am (I’m particularly fond of The Fly, Naked Lunch, Dead Ringers, eXistenZ, A History of Violence, and Eastern Promises), this new one is almost too perfect. It’s set in a dystopic near-future where people are spontaneously growing new organs and performance artists stage events to have those organs surgically removed while hushed crowds watch and rhapsodize about “inner beauty.” Despite all the blood and gooey viscera, it ends up being a hilarious critique of contemporary art, body modification, technology, industrialization, cultural beauty standards, and more. Mary and I were snickering throughout the whole movie. Peak Cronenberg — highly recommended.
Padres player with the open jersey is Luke Voit. Padres analyst Mark Grant commented the look exposes Voit’s “chest lettuce”
Thanks. I’ll add his name to that Ticker item.
The blocky animated simulcast was something I didn’t know I needed in my life. Love all the little nuances to it. Players hanging their block heads after giving up a goal cracked me up.
I’m against graffiti 99.999999% of the time, but fully endorse it on the giant Angels cap logo creep.
Lastly, sorry to hear about your insurance jump. As I understand it employer supplied insurance became the norm because it was a way to provide more compensation to employees without paying as much tax. So our messed up health insurance situation is yet another thing partially caused by our screwed up tax system.
I wish the blocky hockey used more creative camera views. It’s a virtual 3D model, so show us more action at the ice level, from the POV of a player, etc.
I’d be willing to bet that the refs are not included in the Blocky video because they do not have trackers in their sweaters.
This article from 2019 references Puck and Player Trackers, but does not mention refs anywhere.
Well, yes, but *why* don’t they have trackers in their sweaters? It would be simple enough to add, right?
I totally understand forgetting the refs in the original plan for tracking as they are meant to blend in, almost as if part of the rink and not part of the game itself.
But you make a great point! In today’s age of infographics and data minutiae, how cool would it be if the NHL put out a graphic of which refs skated the most distance throughout the season. What the top speed was, who skates backwards more than forward.
Seems like the type of thing the Internet would eat up these days!
I want every sporting event Blocky now.
I’m going to miss the Northwestern Stripes that previously went across the torso of Northwestern’s uniforms. When it comes down to it, there’s not much room for aesthetic innovation in football uniforms, compared to other sports, and it’s difficult to add stripes/piping/blocks of color without looking silly. I thought the torso stripes were respectful and tasteful while also being unique.
Very well stated. I agree.
Those are the exact reasons I wanted so badly to like them, but I just couldn’t.
I always liked the concept of the torso stripes, but never thought they quite worked. The black stripes on the purple jersey and the purple stripes on the black jersey were always tough to see. Additionally, the stripes would often get jumbled up when the jersey bunched up (which is more of a flaw of the jersey than the stripes, I guess), like so:
So while the new unis will be less original, I like that the Northwestern stripe (truncated as it will be on the shoulder) will stand out more.
I’d guess that this new set wouldn’t get super high marks from Paul (it’s not as unique as the previous; the BFBS version; there’s an aggressive amount of purple) but I really like the purple and white versions.
The Wildcats have had some embarrassing uniforms over the years, but they’ve made some smarter choices recently (getting rid of the “WILDCATS” tramp stamp on the back of the pants; also ridding the pants of those small Northwestern stripes across the thigh). Folks may not love these new unis, but I think it’s a simple/classic look (well, at least the white and purple versions) that I have no issue getting on board with.
The other reason the torso stripes didn’t work was because the jerseys were constructed with side panels, the stripes did not wrap completely around the torso.
The first thing I noticed and loved about the blocky game was that the players that had single digit uni numbers were rendered with a zero first (06, 09).
Off the Uni-topic, but I love the acknowledgement that a major problem with health insurance is that it’s tied to employment! So true!! Seemed like a good idea when unions negotiated for it a couple generations ago. I love seeing old movies where not only was care affordable, but the doctor actually came to your house! Here’s to finding an affordable solution to staying healthy!
Does anyone know the big Angels cap have the MLB logo on the back of it? Would be weird if they took the time to add the NE logo, but not the MLB logo at any point.
Yes, you can actually see them when you zoom in enough on google earth.
Just wondering if there’s any chance the white stripes above the Diamondback’s stirrups are actually tape holding up the stirrups and the sanis, but he’s wearing his pants too high to cover what is usually covered. For people who use tape for that purpose, that’s about where it would go.
After checking out that excellent Chris Creamer link, it occurred to me that hockey SOCKS… aren’t actually worn on the player’s feet. They’re worn over the shin pads. I’m aware that some socks had a little loop like stirrups that went under the foot, but I’m sure that none do nowadays. The player’s ACTUAL socks go inside the skate.
So really, they’re more like leg warmers. Kind of like how hockey “pants” are really shorts.
I blame this all on Canada.
They’re also no longer knitted, at least in the higher-end uniforms worn in the NHL. Aren’t they a spandex?
Looking forward to the new Cronenberg.
Let me suggest an underappreciated classic: Last Night. Cronenberg acts but doesn’t direct, it also features a TON of faces you’ll recognize like Sandra Oh and Genevieve Bujold.
Directed by Don McKellar (who plays Wippet in Crimes of the Future).
“New Mothman-themed unis for the West Virginia Black Bears. The Mothman is a humanoid creature that’s part of the state’s folklore.”
– Like indoor plumbing.
The Patriots unveiled their throwback uniforms for the upcoming season:
I’m once again annoyed by the truncated shoulder stripes but I understand that’s just the way it is these days. I wish they could use whatever template the Carolina Panthers use to get the “proper” complete stripes around the shoulders. And I need a pair of the Patriots’ throwback red-white-and-blue striped socks immediately.
As recently as 2020 UCLA was able to render the stripes pretty close to properly given the cut of modern jerseys. I am guessing it is just a matter of the teams not pushing the manufacturers to do it properly, and settling for the truncated look which renders easier on the modern jersey cuts and templates.
There’s another post on the Patriots site that gives a lot of detail as to what led up to the return of the classic Pats uniforms, including a lot of insight into NFL uniform policy and decision-making (link). As Paul would say, “Highly recommended.”
Re the giant Angels cap at the Big A…it’s always bugged me how the marquee on the entrance has such awkward logo placement that it looks like it reads “Angela Stadium”
Which, yes, must be delivered in a Tony Danza “Who’s the Boss” voice.
“New helmets for Speedway High School in Indiana”
The school has the blessing of Roger Penske to use the IMS ‘corporate’ logo…so why is last flag on the right-hand side white when it’s supposed to be yellow?
I actually find the blocky animations hard to watch, because the whites on the players tend to blend in too much with the ice surface. There needs to be more contrast with the shading, or at least with the ice – maybe go with a bluish tinge, like the ice in the EA Sports NHL series back in the Sega Genesis days.
Healthcare is a tricky subject because it’s just so expensive. The government can’t afford to fund it properly and neither can individuals. That leaves you with employers, although it’s not quite a satisfactory option either.
I do wonder if it’s worth it to get it at all if you’re self-employed. Do you really spend $12,000 a year on health care? Maybe you do but I would guess most people don’t. I’d have to do the math but I almost feel like self-employed people would be better off just covering expenses as they come up.
Do you really spend $12,000 a year on health care?
Not usually. But I have several chronic medical conditions, and I’m a daily cyclist (which has resulted in two broken wrists in the past decade, one of which required surgery, plus a separate bike incident that required an ER visit).
In any case, even if I’d never had any of that, that’s really neither here nor there, because the whole point of insurance (auto, homeowner’s, whatever) is that you hope you never need it, but there’s no way to know when you *will* need it. It’s a calculated risk. I purchase the level of insurance that I feel is appropriate for my body, my financial situation, and my risk calculation. Could I just skip it and pay out of pocket? Sure. But I don’t think that would be a wise choice. Thanks for your interest.
One thing I hoped would come out of the pandemic was a renewed discussion of overhauling the nation’s broken health care system. Unfortunately, like nearly every issue in this country, public division, lobbyists and continuous election cycles prevent us from making any progress. I’m fortunate to have insurance available through my employer. While wages have remained essentially flat over the last five years, my health care costs continue to skyrocket. That being said, I am covering myself, my wife, a 17 year old and a 21 year old for “only” $1k more than you are paying to cover yourself. This is obscene.
One last note; In the past five years I’ve had two multilevel spinal fusions. Combined, the charges for the two major operations billed north of a quarter million dollars. My out of pocket costs? “Only” about $6,000. So if someone wants to ask if $12k in annual insurance premiums is worth it, it most certainly is. All it takes is one health issue to cause irreversible financial damage. Still, there is a better way to provide health care in this country.
I guess it depends how good of a plan you have. I don’t know how much a $12,000/year policy covers so I can’t say. But I know self-employed people who had insurance and when they had a serious, expensive issue they were still stuck with 6-figure bills. So if they’re not going to cover everything anyways, then what’s the point?
It also depends how many serious issues someone has had. Those spinal fusions are close to a worst case scenario financially but if that was your only issue over a 25 year stretch (which is definitely possible), you’d still be out ahead. And that’s not counting the time value / investing potential you’d be gaining by keeping that insurance money that much longer.
My daughter approves of blocky hockey.
Weren’t the mariners going to fix the kerning issues for Julio Rodriguez? Looking at last night’s game they haven’t done it yet.
I took a cursory look through the comments here and what Paul wrote about the videos, but I didn’t see anyone mention the uniform potential for the blocky hockey: Those are just textures rendered onto 3D models; the uniforms could be whatever the designers wanted them to be. (E.g. they could put the Avalanche in Nordiques uniforms, or use completely custom ones or whatever else.)
It’s a very cool concept.