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Nike’s Latest MLB Snafu: New Pants Don’t Leave Much to the Imagination

As if Nike and MLB didn’t have enough uni-related problems on their hands, last night the Mariners posted a video of catcher Cal Raleigh telling a really bad joke — but the even worse joke was the pair of pants he was wearing. Play the video embedded above and see for yourself.

Just in case they take down the video after this article is published, here’s a screen shot:

Yowza! Thanks to the telltale diagonally cut belt tunnels, we know that Raleigh was wearing Nike’s new-template pants, which apparently come in a sheer fabric option that we hadn’t previously heard about.

Naturally, as soon as I saw this video, I went looking for photos to see if any other Seattle players were having the same problem. And I discovered something very interesting: I couldn’t find a single photo or video of an M’s player wearing the new pants during the team’s spring training workouts. Instead, they’re all wearing the old pants. You can tell because the old pants don’t have the diagonally cut belt tunnels — instead, they have two belt loops on each side of the buckle, like this:

Here are some additional photos and screen shots — all from the past few days, and all showing Seattle players wearing the old pants:

Now, there are all sorts of reasons why a team might be wearing last year’s pants for spring workouts, not the least of which is that players have had lots of complaints about Nike’s new pants over the past week, saying that they’re uncomfortable and can’t be customized. But maybe the M’s are also using the old pants because the new ones are too transparent, as seen in the Raleigh video!

(Speaking of which: What was the team’s social media team thinking when they posted that video? Could they really not see the problem with the pants?)

This isn’t the first time Nike has had issues with pants transparency after introducing a new uni template. When they took over the NFL’s uniform contract in 2012, the first month of that season brought us this:

While we’re at it, it’s also worth remembering that Nike had major problems — not with pants, but with uniform quality — when they took over NBA uniforms in 2017. So these growing pains (or, if you prefer, rank incompetence) are nothing new for them.

(Big thanks to Alex McDaniel, who was the first of several people to bring the Raleigh video to my attention.)

Comments (37)

    Maybe the Mariners posted that video so people could see just how heinous the new pants are. Maybe they will be come the leader in this UniVerse revolution.

    Loving all the egg on the face of Nike and MLB at the moment. Saw yet another article about players complaining about the new uniforms on my yahoo news feed today, from USA Today.
    At the end of the day they can tell you how the new uniforms with new fabric will increase performance, but it is abundantly clear they are just cheap.
    I don’t expect this to change Nike’s pattern of stupid templates and ugly designs, but it might make the leagues rethink things (well, other leagues, not MLB given how awful the current commish is).

    Reminds of how they couldn’t get the right color green for the Eagles jerseys until like 10 weeks into the season. They are a lifestyle brand that sells cheaply made consumer athleisure wear and branded team merchandise. Sadly with the re-tail wagging the dog in uniforms now, we are getting companies who mass produce cheap retail goods bringing those production specs to the on field product.
    But it isn’t much different than everything else on our consumer culture now; low quality products we quickly replace.

    Paul, forgive me if I missed it somewhere on this site, but I saw in the Athletic this morning that the MLBPA has gotten involved with the uniform concerns. Tony Clark is hoping something can be done before the season starts, which I feel is highly unlikely. Would it be possible to change back to the old template?? This all just seems like such a mess for Nike.

    In regards to not wearing the new pants in Spring Training, my first thoughts were:
    A: The new fabric is supposed to be light for hot summer days, and players may prefer pants with a little more warmth. You can wear long sleeves under the new jersey, but the pants don’t give much of an option on that front
    B: Teams are having trouble washing dirt and grass stains out of the new fabric, and don’t want to ruin the “new pants” before Opening Day just in case they don’t figure it out.

    Nike is not incompetent. It is very clear that every move they have made, whether it be tiny NOB, printed patches, removing the white trim from Yankee road uniform, no direct chain stitching, removing belt tunnel trim from Braves, no soutache trim, removing Cubs trademark and now see through pants has been done for one main reason…to cut cost of production. Economics 101, which I have taught, tells you that results in higher profit. What is galling is how ruthless they are, not sparing things we hold sacred.

    I’d agree that these moves are all intentional and ruthlessly designed to maximize their profits. I would disagree about their competence, however, in that they have not shown themselves to be pretty bad at gauging public reaction to their reckless decisions. Also, even if Nike is trying to cut costs and doesn’t care all that much about the perception of their quality, they still emphasize their revenue over the basic needs of their client, which I still see as a certain level of incompetence.

    Public reaction to things they have done over the years has not prevented Nike from becoming a $150 Billion company, in the Dow Jones 30 and the 65th largest company in the S&P 500.

    In this particular case, a company worth $150B would be better served shelling out a little bit of cash so that the professionals wearing their gear as walking billboards don’t ply their trade in sheer, threadbare garbage. Sometimes, you need to spend money to make money.

    Even if everything you’re saying is true (which I don’t doubt), I still feel like it falls within the realm of incompetence. You can only cut costs to maximize profit so far before your product just becomes too shitty for anyone to want to buy. And of course, if nobody buys it, you’re not making any profit. If Nike has reached that point, then that certainly qualifies as incompetence, at least in the sense of understanding the market.

    Nike has gotten so big that they must think they can’t fail. Ask Sears how that worked out.

    Sears was the original Amazon with their mail order catalogs that go back a hundred years if they only would have modified that catalog to an online store Amazon may never have existed

    When I read the headline and first watched the video, I thought the whole point of Cal Raleigh’s joke was to highlight that Nike’s new uniform pants are as thin as toilet paper. I guess it still works best on that level for me.

    MLB photo day pics can be seen at Getty Images website. Type “mlb (or any team if they already had their shoot) photo day” on site’s search bar. Make sure Editorial tab is chosen and not Creative which is the default option. Also, sort the results by the newest images appearing first. Here’s Rafael Devers in 2024: link
    and 2023:

    It is all about maximizing profits by minimizing materials and quality. I applaud all the complaints about these inferior uniforms. Nike has to learn it at one point. For once making quality uniforms? Just do it.

    Great point. Remember too, in the old days, teams could source from Wilson, Spaulding, McAulliffe, Rawlings, Goodman, Sand-Knit. Teams had choice and competition forced suppliers to offer quality. Nike has uni Monopoly in baseball…not a good thing as you see.

    Team USA has also had a long history of problems with Nike uniforms. The speed skaters in particular have complained for years.

    This photo of Justin Verlander with similarly sheer pants was posted on Reddit earlier today. Don’t know the original source of the photo. link

    Teams recycling pants from the previous season for spring training has been the norm for years, IIRC. Returning players wear last season’s pants, callups and new guys get the pants of previous players.

    I’m going to go with Rank Incompetence, with a big dose of Cynical Profiteering. The whole Nike/Fanatics deal has been terrible. There was no reason to slap the swoosh on the front of the jerseys, and this cheap corner cutting is indefensible. MLB never had those problems when Majestic Athletic was the uniform supplier.

    Now that we see all the uniform elements together… the navy blue on the Mariners caps and jerseys doesn’t match.

    That side-by-side pic on Twitter/X that highlighted the differences between 2023 and 2024 not only showed the shrunken name and whatnot, but it also showed that the navy on the jerseys were different; the 2023 version had the name and numbers in midnight navy, while the 2024 version had those elements in a more bluish-navy color:

    You can see the difference in the above pic of Cal Raleigh; the navy on the hat looks much darker than the navy on the “MARINERS” wordmark.

    We need to look at it as MLB providing yet another way to advertise. You could have a coffee sponsor for the cup, maybe Folgers, with an ad on the cup holder in the jockstrap that says “the best part of wakin’ up.”

    Just a thought:
    Most teams keep their old, unused uniforms in storage.
    I know for a fact that one team has a full supply of their old Majestic gear.
    As a FU to Nike, a team should take the field in their old Majestic uniforms for a spring training game.
    Yes, I know that would be illegal.
    No, I don’t know what the punishment would be.

    As a former baseball player, I literally cringe when I think about sliding in pants made out of this material. Strawberries galore is one thing, the pants shredding is another.

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