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EXCLUSIVE: Why the Dodgers’ Script Breaks So Awkwardly in Nike’s New Template

Last Friday I wrote about how Nike’s new jersey template, which all teams will be wearing next season, has resulted in some changes to the Dodgers’ home jersey, including an adjustment to how the team’s script breaks across the jersey placket. As you can see above, it used to break at the connector between the “o” and the “d,” but now the “d” is broken into separate pieces. Several readers asked why this change was made, and I didn’t have an answer — but I do now. And it turns out to be such a simple explanation that I’m disappointed in myself for not having thought of it on my own.

Here’s the deal: As we’ve discussed several times, the jersey placket is much narrower in the new template than in the old one. This is most apparent for teams that have headspoon piping, like the Diamondbacks now have with their new uni set:

The team that best exemplifies the difference between the old and new plackets, at least based on what we’ve seen so far, is the Tigers:

But here’s the thing: Even if you don’t have that headspoon piping, the placket is still narrower, which means, among other things, that the left flap of the jersey — the side with the buttonholes, which crosses over the side with the buttons — doesn’t extend as far toward the player’s right side (or the viewer’s left) as it did before.

The difference is small — somewhere between half an inch and an inch. But an inch of fabric can make a big difference when you’re trying to get a script logo to cross smoothly from one side of the placket to the other. And what happens if you eliminate that inch of fabric? Something like this:

According to an industry source I spoke with, that’s the answer. The script hasn’t been repositioned — it’s in the same spot it’s always been. But the edge of the placket isn’t in the same place it used to be, and that means the script now breaks in a different spot. My source says the Dodgers faced the choice of either moving the script slightly toward the jersey’s left sleeve (the viewer’s right), in which case it would have been off-center, or keeping it centered and breaking the “d.” They chose the latter option.

This has implications for any team whose chest graphics extend across the placket. Just yesterday, for example, I wrote about how the Cardinals’ script will now be on two patches instead of direct-embroidered. But how will those two patches break? Here’s how removing an inch or so might affect the old script treatment:

Not good. Since the Cards are changing the production method for their script, I assume they’ll also adjust the script itself in a way that works with the new template. But we’ll see.

Naturally, I was curious to see how this might affect my favorite team:

Ay yi yi. Not good.

But the placket shift doesn’t have to be a negative. Look at how the Giants have handled it, for example:

It looks like they just shifted everything over an inch (or whatever) toward the left side of the jersey (the viewer’s right), which is actually an improvement, because their chest mark was lopsided. (Looks like they may also have adjusted the kerning and the arching, at least for the jersey they used at Jung Hoo Lee’s press conference.)

I think the lesson here is that we’re going to have to wait and see how teams handle the visual challenge presented by the narrower placket. Some may leave their graphics in place and let the new break in the chest insignia fall where it may, as the Dodgers have done; others may adjust the positioning of their graphics, as the Giants appear to have done. We’ll have to wait and see.

Meanwhile: My source also gave me the specs on the new number and NOB sizes. Here are the particulars:

  • All front numbers are now 4″ high.
  • All back numbers are now 8″ high.
  • All NOB lettering is now 2.5″ high.

In addition, all home whites are no longer truly white but are a v-e-r-y subtle off-white.

I’ll continue to share new information as it becomes available. Meanwhile, if anyone at Nike or with a team wants to help fill in more of the blanks, you know what to do. Anonymity assured, of course. Thanks.


Comments (46)

    Totally agree!
    The Brett documentary on MLB network last night showed a plethora of awesome
    70’s -80’s unis, and they were glorious. Absolutely love the Royals powders, but that home white pullover is absolutely incredible.
    And they all fit so perfectly. Nothing big and baggy like the pullover throwbacks of today.

    Might’ve been better for the Dodgers to slightly decrease the size of the script so it still breaks between the o and d.

    Exactly. While the change in placket size obviously explains why an identically sized and located script would break differently, the real question is why the Dodgers would choose not to alter either the size or location of the script very slightly so as to preserve the more natural break in the script across the placket. This isn’t a technical problem, it’s an aesthetic choice by team leadership to uglify the uniform.

    On the plus side, teams with off-center scripts like Houston and Milwaukee may benefit from the narrower placket.

    I think the Mets could deal with this by shrinking the script slightly and shortening the M-e juncture just a bit, so the whole “e” remains on the left placket. I’ve always thought the script was too big since the uniforms were … umm, corrected in 2012, so maybe here’s an opportunity to tweak it.

    I’m dreading what the road greys — the best uniform in baseball, IMHO — will look like with the narrowed placket.

    They varied by team. I can say that for the Cardinals this means the NOB will be 1” shorter while the numbers below will remain the same size. The front numbers will increase by 0.5”.

    I’m happy to see the slightly shorter NOBs. Among teams using standard(-ish) NOB and number fonts, the Orioles and Dodgers have the smaller size, and most teams have the bigger size. (Nobody has the monster size that Cincinnati and Detroit used to use.) The smaller one looks better.

    I’m curious to see what the final product looks like on some of these teams (especially my Cardinals), because that unnatural-looking split looks horrible on the Dodgers jersey.

    Off the top of my head, it seems to me a better way for teams in this situation to handle this would have been to not only reposition the logo, but slightly shrink it as well, so that’s it’s not off-center. Can’t imagine you’d have to adjust it by more than 5ish%. Maybe that would look as equally weird as the logo being off-center for some teams? But it seems like a better approach that what the Dodgers did…but that’s just me. What I’m visualizing in my head may not translate to the jersey the way I think it might.

    This feels like first time Nike’s “LOOK AT ME!” tailoring modifications really makes things worse. With the NBA uniforms, the truncated stripes at the shoulders looks dumb and does nothing for performance. Neither do the offset notches in the hems of the shorts (but they disrupt visual identities for some teams going back decades). Every few years, they mess with NFL jersey tailoring, stripes are truncated, TV numbers are lost but life goes on. This needless change to the width of the placket affects nearly every wordmark across the chests of MLB teams. Iconic scripts like the Dodgers and Cardinals that have been around before Nike was ever a thing. Headspooning looks weird, especially on teams like the Tigers. What will it take to stop Nike and Fanatics from destroying the uniforms of the teams we have followed for generations?

    “In addition, all home whites are no longer truly white but are a v-e-r-y subtle off-white.”

    …and the hits just keep on comin’!

    Why!? Why do sports leagues let the manufacturers dictate how the league should look? Why are we subject to changes that make teams look worse because they want to play with new fabrics and stitch lines and space age crap? With things like the above mentioned, the NFL toilet seat collars, and all the way back to when Reebok destroyed the look of several NHL teams in 2007, it’s really starting to tick me off.

    For the exact same reason your nice planned Sunday afternoon at Taxpayer Funded Stadium can suddenly become a Sunday night (or even Monday night, now) PITA. It’s the same reason your team’s game in London is streamed at 6 a.m. your time.

    Leagues aren’t going to let little things like tradition or our preferences be a concern when there is money to be made (on the front end, from fhe manufacturer, and on the back end, from more merch sales).

    A good percentage of owners don’t care about the aesthetics and another segment will always tow the league line. Fortunately, there are teams out there that care about their look. But I am sure it’s a minority. I wish my teams were more like the Yankees and Packers who seem to always draw the line in the sand.

    It’s not very subtle!

    White is a team color for the White Sox. Are they going to take the field in cream pinstripes?

    To be honest I cannot tell the “off white” with the Dodgers, so I imagine day games and bright lights might washout the cream. The Giants and D-Backs have cream home uniforms, so that’s not a great indicator. I can’t tell with the Tigers, but its a LQ picture.

    I like the larger NOB letters on the Marlins and Rays. Now it will shrink, probably same size as a NBA team.

    A key question here is WHY does the placket need to be narrower.

    Does a narrower placket add a couple of mph to maxed-out pitchers’ fastballs? Do hitters have more room to swing? Does it permit Nike to use less fabric, saving bucks?

    The SF Giants have replaced their sleeve braid with a set-in engineered fabric. That’s another century-old tradition gone.

    The narrower placket looks terrible. As dumb as “performance-enhancing” claims are, I’d like to hear the Swoosh’s reasoning.

    I totally agree that placket looks silly now, just a couple of Stripes that’s all

    The reason is they’re Nike and there are billions of dollars in play. It is a way to make a conventional template that has gone unchanged for decades THEIR OWN and everyone can see that it is just different enough to be different. It will not make anyone throw harder, run faster or hit farther. It’s their default setting. And it sucks.

    That Nike thought they needed to mess with this stuff is so annoying. Another arrogant corporate empire.

    Hmmmmmmm wonder what the “Los Dodgers” and “Gigantes” scripts will look like on the new template?

    The Twins white jersey might look better with this switch. Not sure it’s enough to fix the akward break in “w” though.

    I’m worried about the off-white. One of the things I loved about the new Twins uniforms was how bright white they were. Now…?

    The usual “lighter, more moister-wicking, blah-blah-blah.” All of which I’m sure is true, although the incremental changes from one version to the next tend to be minor. (The *cumulative* changes do add up.)

    The Mets script, which has been distorted over the years BTW, looks too far left any way, so this could help that. Here is what I consider to be the traditional Met script


    As for all teams having the same size letters and numbers…why is this necessary? I loved when teams like the Reds used to have big NOBs.

    In that photo, Lee is wearing a white dress shirt underneath his home white jersey…
    If that’s an example of the “new” white for MLB, that is not subtle at all, it looks like the LA Rams dishwater jerseys

    Nope nope nope — the Giants’ jerseys weren’t white to begin with. They’re been cream for over 20 years now.

    A better comparison would be the dress shirt and jersey that Ohtani was wearing: link

    Ohhh, did not know that…the side-by-side of the “Old-New” SF uni photos looked very contrasted, too…guessing that’s just lighting differences, thanks

    I love an article where the Giants get one over the Dodgers :-)

    (Its going to be an even rarer occurrence over the next 10 years with Ohtani’s decision, so I may as well make the most of it!)

    re: standardized letter & number heights

    I am assuming that the overall dimension includes border colors. If so, I wonder if teams that have two border colors will drop one in an effort to make the base number appear larger.

    For example, the Detroit Tigers road uniforms. The NOB and numbers (and the script) are midnight navy with an orange and white border. If they ditched the white border they could enlarge the navy lettering/numbering to the size of the current orange border and the orange border could replace the current white border. Maybe it would look too clunky.

    The smaller placket is part of cutting costs and increasing profit. It is like a row of dominoes: once you make the placket smaller, the rest of the jersey has to change, including the splitting of the wordmark on the front.

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