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MLB/Nike Fiasco Now Features Mismatched Road Greys

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The screen shot shown above is from the SNY broadcast of yesterday afternoon’s Mets/Cardinals spring training game. If it looks like Cards pitcher Miles Mikolas’s jersey and pants were two distinct shades of grey, well, that’s because they were indeed two distinct shades of grey.

Now, you may be thinking, “Was he wearing the old pants with the new jersey?” Nope — those are the new pants and the new jersey. You may also be thinking, “Maybe the jersey was just sweaty!” Maybe, but I don’t think so. More importantly, Mikolas wasn’t the only St. Louis player wearing mismatched shades of grey. In fact, every Cardinal was wearing the mismatched greys. Here are some additional screen shots from the game:

As you can see, it’s more apparent in some instances than others. While I was watching the game live, it felt to me like the jerseys had a vaguely green-ish sheen, while the pants were a more traditional grey. You can see it (albeit very briefly) in these video clips:

Let’s shift into Q&A mode:

Can you think of any reasons why the greys wouldn’t match?

MLB has stated several times, in response to the see-through issue, that the pants fabric has not changed this year, while we know that the jersey fabric has changed this year. So that could explain it — even if the grey dyes were the same for the jerseys and pants, the dyes may react differently with the different fabrics, and/or the fabrics may react differently to sunlight.

Isn’t that something they should have anticipated and video-tested for?

Yes, that would be standard due diligence when introducing a new fabric. It’s hard to fathom how something this obvious could have slipped through.

Has this same issue been apparent in the Cardinals’ other spring training games?

Yes, as it turns out. I went back to check the video from the Cards’ road games on Feb. 24 and 25, and they had the same problem:

Have other teams had this same problem?

I’m not 100% sure of this, but I think the Cardinals may be the only team wearing grey jerseys for spring training games. Other teams are wearing grey pants but are pairing them with solid-colored softball tops. So we may be seeing more of this problem when the regular season begins and teams start wearing their full road greys. Or maybe it’s just a Cardinals issue — we’ll see.

One thing’s for sure, though: The Mariners and Rays look pretty smart right now, because they scrapped their grey jerseys last season due to the “four plus one” rule, so they won’t have to deal with this problem. (The Padres also don’t have grey jerseys, although it’ll be interesting to see if they have any color-matching issues with their road tans.)

Are there any other factors to consider here?

Now that we’ve seen this phenomenon play out during several day games, I’d be very interested to see how the greys look during a night game. Unfortunately, the Cards aren’t scheduled to play a night road game until March 8 — next Friday — so we’ll have to wait a bit to see how the uniforms look under the lights.

I’d also be interested in knowing if the mismatched effect is as apparent in person. If anyone has seen the Cards’ new road uniforms in real life, instead of on TV or in photographs, I’d love to hear from you.


I think that about covers it for now. Interestingly, Uni Watch reader Brian Phillips first raised this issue with me about 10 days ago, based on some photos, but I didn’t write about it because I thought the color mismatch was so subtle as to be almost undetectable. It’s clearly much more evident on TV, though. You were right all along, Brian!

Anyway: My god, what a complete clusterfuck this uniform rollout is turning out to be. To everyone at Nike and MLB who’s reading this, have fun with all the “50 shades of grey” jokes that are heading your way once this story starts circulating!

Update: It’s been brought to my attention that the Phillies are also wearing grey jerseys for their spring training road games. Looks like they have the same problem:

Additional update: Reader/commenter Stanley points out that the mismatched greys were evident way back in November, when the D-backs unveiled their new uniform set. Check it out:


On the plus side, the grey pants don’t seem to have any see-through issues!



Anniversary Tour Update/Reminder

Contributions continue to come in for my proposed Uni Watch 25th-anniversary tour. Yesterday’s funds pushed our total up to $2,354 — about two-thirds of the way to our $3,200 goal. Thank you to everyone who contributed!

If we don’t hit the target by the end of tomorrow, I’ll refund everyone’s contributions and we’ll still do the Purp Walk party in Baltimore on May 17 and the anniversary party in NYC on May 26. It would be fun to do the Minneapolis, L.A., and New Orleans gatherings as well, but I need your help in order to make those happen. Remember, there’s a hard $35 contribution limit, because the idea is to involve a lot of the comm-uni-ty.  So if you’d like to donate to the Uni Watch 25th-Anniversary Tour Fund, please send your contributions via Venmo (use @Paul-Lukas-2 as the payee), Zelle (; please include your email address in the “Memo” field, in case I need to refund your contribution), PayPal (, or Apple Pay (email me to get the number). Again, donations are capped at $35 per person. Thanks!

(If you have no idea what this is all about, look here.)



LAST CALL for Most of Our Teespring Merch

In case you missed it earlier this month: Teespring recently announced an upgrade to its software, the main result of which is that product listings that originally launched with an earlier version of their software will expire at the end of February (that’s today) unless they’re taken down and then relaunched. This affects about 95% of the T-shirt listings I’ve amassed over the past nine years.

The 17-step (!) relaunch process is cumbersome and time-consuming even for just one product. The prospect of doing it hundreds of times is out of the question. So I’ve decided to let most of our Teespring product listings go dark at the end of this month, which is tomorrow.

Here’s what this means for you:

  • If you want anything in the Uni Watch Teespring shop, order it today. A few newer items, like the 25th-anniversary products, will still be available after this month, but most of the listings will sunset at the end of tomorrow.
  • Almost everything in the Naming Wrongs shop will go dark at the end of the month. So if you want any of those shirts, the time is now.
  • Likewise, everything in the Uni Rock shop will also vanish at the end of today. So it’s now or never.

My thanks, as always, for considering our products.



Mascot Watch

Sometimes it’s almost like they don’t have eyes.


Can of the Day

They’re not pretzels — they’re bretzels! And they’re not the best, just better. Also, check out that apostrophe is nested into the “L”!

• • • • •

Happy Leap Day! As longtime readers may be aware, Feb. 29 is a special date for me. I’ll have more to say about that in a separate post later in the day. — Paul

Comments (37)

    As much as Nike likes to brag on themselves for all of their testing on new technology, how do they not notice things like this. Especially when they have had three years to get it right. Let’s not forget them not being able to get the correct shade of green for the Eagles jerseys a few years ago as well. They had to wear the black or white jerseys for a while until Nike to figure it out.

    Given some of the designs Nike has come up with (like those awful grey and neon Pro Bowl jerseys), I’m not surprised no one noticed this as looking bad.

    Re: Mismatched shades/sweat

    I think both might be true. I’ve noticed sweat stains more on the darker jerseys than on the home whites, but all of the photographic evidence points to two different shades of grey.

    It’s only in the photos of the pitcher and catcher I can see a difference. And in both of those, it looks like the sleeves are lighter-colored than the body of the shirt!

    I’ve been scouring Detroit Tiger spring images to see if any road greys have been worn on the back fields. I especially want to see what the road triple-color NOB’s look like. Now that there’s a chance of mismatching greys, their uni set will look even more putrid.

    I’m terrified the Tigers road set will look awful now. The script across the front probably breaks in a terrible spot, the names and numbers will look different, and now the grays might not match. Thanks, Nike!

    I thought the Tigers (and Yankees) were wearing navy jerseys for all of spring training. So I guess we’ll have to wait and see.

    It seems sort of obvious this would happen if the pants were going to be the same as they had been, and the jerseys were going to be some sort of new product. Forget sportswear, fabrics in general just are difficult to replicate the same color on different materials.
    But this again leads you to wonder if the jersey is this great material that is going to be better for performance and the players will like it better, why weren’t the pants produced with the same materials?
    Also I don’t think Seattle was smart to dump the road grays, but rather they have an unintentional benefit from making a bad aesthetic decision.

    I don’t think Seattle was smart to dump the road grays, but rather they have an unintentional benefit from making a bad aesthetic decision.

    Well, yes. I was being facetious.

    From what I have seen so far, it appears that the jerseys have kind of a shiny appearance and the pants do not. So, maybe it’s how the sunlight is reflected off the “shiny” material vs the pants? I’m with Paul. It will be interesting to see what they look light during a night game.

    I’m glad you mentioned this because the mismatched new road uniform of the D-Backs during their unveiling was driving me crazy: link

    This is the uniform equivalent to the Chicago car chase from The Blues Brothers. Just crash after crash after crash…

    Time to re-visit my article that got published here from last season about which teams should ditch their road grays!

    Spoiler alert: it’s now every single team.

    This may have already been posted here, but if not, may also be notable: link

    That’s the Mariners’ teal alternate. You may remember the Mariners were having some kerning issues with their navy alternate. Alas, maybe their kerning issues have not gone wholly away, even without the serif font.

    Someone had an interesting comment in that thread: “Teams got sick of people buying DH Gate jerseys for $19 so they said if you can’t beat em, join em.” As someone who used to rail against how bad most knockoff jerseys I saw looked … I may actually have to give this some credence.

    Baseball and basketball are not the same fish as football and hockey; the former’s shirt and pants are made of the same material, the latter are made from different materials. I have to admit I have trouble seeing the difference between the baseball “blouse” and trousers, but I am colorblind to green. Anyway, it looks like the texture is the main difference between jersey and pants, the shirt being a tad more shimmery.

    I suspect the effect is less visible for the Phillies because the Fightin’s already wore the lightest possible shade of gray road fabric. In sunlight up close, speaking from personal experience at Nationals Park here, the Phillies road uniform appears just barely off-white. Like, if you showed in interior decorator that paintchip as a wall color, they’d reject it in favor of something less white and more neutral. So if they and the Cards are effectively wearing pants made with last year’s trouser fabric, then I would expect a closer match to the apparent lightness of the new jersey fabric.

    Paul, you mentioned a few days ago that Nike had test-driven these new uniforms with a couple of different minor league teams during the past few years. Have you considered asking players or coaches from one of those teams about their experiences with these uniforms? Did their grays match, were the pants see-through, did the jerseys feel rinky-dink, etc.?

    Generally speaking, minor leaguers wear what they’re told to wear (think of all the humiliating one-off designs). Their uniforms are often a hodgepodge of hand-me-downs, leftovers, etc. Moreover, they have no MLB experience to compare against. Not a very good control group for gathering anecdotal data.

    I am a baseball coach for my high school, and we eliminated our road grays two years ago because our head coach got tired of trying to make sure our road grey jerseys and pants matched. The jerseys and pants would fade differently because of different sun exposure times, so our coach would have to order all new uniforms to match every few years. We still get gray pants, but wear it with a solid black or solid gold jersey instead. Looks better and saves a lot of money.

    Could undershirts be playing an issue here as well? Showing through the “lighter, newer, insert jargon fabric” that the jerseys are mad of? Either way, it’s another ding on what is literally and figuratively a bad look for Nike/MLB/Fanatics.

    For the people screaming “fire Nike”, I hear you.
    The problem is, with company contracts signed, and money handed over, it’s not that easy legally.

    You gotta love how the biggest story of spring training isn’t the Boras holdouts or Ohtani’s marriage or a woman umpiring ballgames.
    Blame for the mismatched road gray uniforms isn’t just on Nike. Blame also has to go to Fanatics, the company that’s now manufacturing unis for the 30 major league ballclubs. The same Fanatics that’s become like Lululemon when it comes to see-through pants.

    Nope. Fanatics uses the fabric that’s provided to them. This is about Nike, not Fanatics.

    I realize everyone hates Fanatics because they pump out retail slop. Simple solution: Stop buying retail slop. Either way, Fanatics has nothing to do with the current on-field fiasco.

    Hi, curious what others could recommend as far as alternatives to Fanatics “retail slop”. Are there other non-counterfeit manufacturers that are still producing high-quality jerseys, or is the only option to look at used/old merchandise produced before Fanatics/Nike changed the authentic/on-the-field blueprint? Sorry, I am not as versed on this, so trying to understand what options are available. Thanks!

    I’ve been wondering WHY MLB/Nike decided to do away with the distinctive front number font previously used by the Cardinals and Orioles and replace it with a miniature version of the back number font…just like the knockoff shops have done for years. For years now, I’ve thought all the new, custom number fonts infiltrating MLB were to foil the fakers. Apparently, I was wrong.

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