Skip to content
 

Tweaking MLB CCs – A Graphic Designer’s View of the City Connect Program: AL East

Posted in:

Good morning Uni Watchers. Hope everyone had a good Wednesday.

I’m back with UW pal/contributor/graphic designer Chris Diamond, who today will be kicking off his next project: taking the 28 “City Connect” (CC) uniforms unveiled over the past four seasons and tweaking them. But that’s not all — as a graphic designer, Chris brings his unique perspective to the CC program, and offers his thoughts on each teams’ Aesthetics, Functionality, and “Connection” as well as his prescribed tweaks. For each team listed below, you can click on the TEAM NAME for a review of the current CC; Click on the uniform graphic for a much higher resolution view of Chris’ tweaked design.

As we’ve seen, the MLB CC uniforms are some of the most polarizing uniforms ever introduced; if you asked 10 people to rank them from best to worst, you’d likely get 10 completely different lists. But you know what they say about opinions — everyone has one. So while I may disagree with Chris’ opinions (just as he surely differs on my own rankings), he takes a look at them through the eyes of a graphic designer, and offers his thoughts and opinions from that perspective. Chris will tackle a different MLB division every week until all six are done, and today we’ll start with the American League East. While there are five teams in the Division, the Yankees do not have a CC.

Here’s Chris. Enjoy!

• • • • •

Tweaking MLB CCs – A Graphic Designer’s View of the City Connect Program: AL East
by Chris Diamond

MLBs City Connect Program is in its fourth year now, and by the All Star break all teams bar the Yankees and Athletics will have one. As Phil’s piece covering the CCs said, I think it’s fair to say that opinion on UW has so far been quite mixed for the program. But are the unis really that bad? In particular, how do they rate from a pure design viewpoint? That is excluding anything that relates to any historical or emotional investment the reviewer might have. Almost impossible to do you say? Well yes, for anyone brought up with baseball it is very hard to be objective. And anyone in North America, even if they don’t follow baseball closely, will have been exposed to it their whole lives. But as some of you may know, I’m a British graphic designer and have lived in the UK my whole life which has almost completely insulated me from it. Unlike Football, there has never really been consistent TV coverage over here and it’s only been in the last 5 years that I’ve been able to watch games on MLBTV. So I while I know quite a lot about baseball unis now, that is all recent knowledge. Also as a Brit I have been exposed to cricket my whole life. This went through its own equivalent of the CC effect way back in the 1990s when coloured clothing was introduced (domestically) for the first time to similar polar reactions. Hopefully all these factors give me a different viewpoint to review the CC unis.

So I’m going to try and take an objective as possible look at the CC unis from these angles. I’ll rate each design (A-E) purely on aesthetic grounds, then look at functional aspects (how well does it work as a uniform?). I’ll also look at how well I think it succeeds at connecting the team and city. Finally I’ll look if there are any tweaks that could improve each design (from any angle). OK ready? Let’s go!

__________

AL East

BALTIMORE ORIOLES

Aesthetics A-

The O’s got their CC last year and leaned heavily into the “vibrant communities” angle which inspired the colourful districts map pattern used throughout the design. The big idea was to have a greyscale version on the outside with the full colour version only on the inside – effectively like a lining. In this it’s rather like a grey business suit with a fancy silk coloured lining. As a concept it is really clever, and for day-to-day casual wear it looks great. Apart from the map pattern, the jersey is plain with only the stark white all-caps “BALTIMORE”. The slight distressing to the font is a nice subtle touch. The rest of the uni features the pattern as trim, although the socks show the full colour version which jars with the grey version. The cap is also plain black with a script white B which goes with the overall monochrome theme. Overall the design is well executed and looks good.

Functionality B

No visibility issues here at all – white wordmark and number on black could not be clearer. Orange NOB also fine. The only fail really was the fact that the coloured pattern lining isn’t visible unless the uniform is not being worn as intended (rolled sleeves, open buttons). For game use this brings the overall impact down and means it doesn’t rate as highly as it could have been. Note that the team have since corrected this aspect of the design.

Connection D

This is the real problem with the uniform. It has “Baltimore” on it but has little real connection to city OR the Orioles. The “diverse neighbourhoods” and “grey concrete” storytelling applies to pretty much any big city these days. The script cap B harks back to an old Orioles design but that is a rather weak link. The Orioles do wear black of course, but without orange it loses meaning as a team colour.

Tweaks

The things I think need attention are the lack of connection and the invisibility of the pattern. So I’ve changed the pattern from random colours to shades of orange and used it on the outside instead of the greyscale version (like the team has with the rainbow version). I’ve added an Oriole head patch to the sleeve and orange drop shadows to the wordmark and cap B.

__________

BOSTON RED SOX

Aesthetics C

The uni has a yellow jersey and white pants which don’t really work together because of the lack of contrast. Yellow or blue pants would better. The jersey itself is a solid enough design, the stencil font for the city name is smart and clean.

Functionality B

The blue and yellow don’t have enormous contrast, but the numbers are clear enough in a maximalist Victorian poster font style. The outline B cap is a fail though as the low contrast between the colours mean the B disappears at anything apart from close quarters.

Connection B+

The city flag is gold and blue and the same colours are used for the Boston Marathon so the city connection is strong. The only Red Sox element is the cap B but this is so unique for the team that it’s enough to make for a connection.

Tweaks

The low contrast issues are the things that need attention. Both the City Flag and Boston Marathon crest are mainly blue with yellow highlights so I’ve gone this route with a blue jersey. I’ve also replaced the outline cap B with a gold one with a white outline.

__________

TAMPA BAY RAYS

Aesthetics A

This is a beautiful design. The bright neon colours across the dark grey background really pop. And the half-rainbow flaming letters of Tampa Bay wouldn’t look out of place as a rock band logo! The sublimated pattern is subtle and not overdone. As a piece of fashion sporting clothing this is as good as it gets. The cap logo is a clever design that turns a bridge into something ray-like that is also a letter T. The asymmetric trim is the only let down really. The human eye sees symmetry as beautiful so diverging from that will always produce a jarring visual effect. Asymmetry can work in designs, but in the case of sports uniforms it generally just comes across as a fault and someone has forgotten to sew it on. Overall I feel the design is actually better than the Rays current blue based one. A full set of of
unis based on this design would be truly unique (no-one else in MLB would have “Ray-skin” grey as a primary cap colour) and it would get back to the more adventurous look the team started with. Just ditch the asymmetric trim!

Functionality E

The beauty of the design sadly doesn’t translate into a good baseball jersey though. Only the NOB works, all other elements disappear any further than a few feet away.

Connection B

I don’t know enough about the area to know whether the skate culture story telling rings true. It does feel a bit like they started with a look they wanted and tried to find something local that backed up that story. The choice of colours and ray-like logo do link in perfectly to the Rays though so kudos for that.

Tweaks

Clearly the big issue here is number/wordmark visibility issue. Thankfully it’s easily solved by making them solid neon. I’ve also made the trim symmetrical to remove the visual jarring and given the cap a gradient brim – the purple one looked wrong when everything else on the uni is gradient based.

__________

TORONTO BLUE JAYS

Aesthetics A

This design is aesthetically similar to the Rays one – bright neon colours popping against a dark background, and indeed the Jays sell it as a “Neon Night” uni. Visually the high colour contrast makes it very striking and the wordmark has the feel of an old-school neon tube sign. The cap T with maple leaf logo that comes from the city flag works well as a design. The T striping is cleverly carried on around the sleeve cuffs which is unique AFAIK. The buildings-plus-lake design is a good concept, but the execution is slightly off. If you look at various CC merch with the design, it is slightly different on all of them which makes me think they kept tweaking the design.

Functionality E

In exactly the same way as the Rays, the design fails because of wordmark and number visibility issues.

Connection A

The connection to the city through the flag and Toronto lakefront skyline idea is solid. And the Jays are connected through the split letter wordmark, sleeve logo and near-Jays colours. So one of the better connections I feel.

Tweaks

Again like the Rays, this one just needs the wordmark and numbers rendering in neon to solve the issues.

• • • • •

Thanks, Chris!

OK readers, time to have your say. Let us know your thoughts down in the comments below!

 

 
  
 

Guess the Game from the Scoreboard

Guess The Game…

…From The Scoreboard

Today’s scoreboard comes from Devon Abner.

The premise of the game (GTGFTS) is simple: I’ll post a scoreboard and you guys simply identify the game depicted. In the past, I don’t know if I’ve ever completely stumped you (some are easier than others).

Here’s the Scoreboard. In the comments below, try to identify the game (date and location, as well as final score). If anything noteworthy occurred during the game, please add that in (and if you were AT the game, well bonus points for you!):

Please continue sending these in! You’re welcome to send me any scoreboard photos (with answers please), and I’ll keep running them.

 

 

Guess the Game from the Uniform


Based on the suggestion of long-time reader/contributor Jimmy Corcoran, we’ve introduced a new “game” on Uni Watch, which is similar to the popular “Guess the Game from the Scoreboard” (GTGFTS), only this one asked readers to identify the game based on the uniforms worn by teams.

Like GTGFTS, readers will be asked to guess the date, location and final score of the game from the clues provided in the photo. Sometimes the game should be somewhat easy to ascertain, while in other instances, it might be quite difficult. There will usually be a visual clue (something odd or unique to one or both of the uniforms) that will make a positive identification of one and only one game possible. Other times, there may be something significant about the game in question, like the last time a particular uniform was ever worn (one of Jimmy’s original suggestions). It’s up to YOU to figure out the game and date.

Today’s GTGFTU comes from Grant Landon.

Good luck and please post your guess/answer in the comments below.

 

 

Uni Tweet of the Day

RIP to the inspiration for the NBA logo

 

And finally...

…that’s going to do it for the early morning article. As always, big thanks to Chris Diamond for the start of what promises to be another great series. Hopefully his takes weren’t too hot for you, but that’s what the comments section is for.

I’ll have at least two more articles today, in addition to any breaking uni news that comes down the pike. So be sure to check back often!

Everyone have a great Thursday, and I’ll be back here again tomorrow morning.

Peace,

PH

Comments (0)

    I love Chris’ tweaks, other than the stripes on the Orioles’ pants. But great idea and looking forward to reading the rest!

    Thanks Dave! Yes pants with patterned trim is not to everyone’s taste. The Astros mono uni Phil and I did that had tequila sunrise down the side got a similar reaction!

    Handsome, thoughtful designs, Chris! Nicely done all over, much improved and believably likable – plus bonus points for not including the swoosh in the mockups!

    Thanks Fw! Yes, although personally I don’t dislike maker’s marks (probably because I come from a soccer background where they have been ubiquitous since the 70s) I know others don’t agree. And I didn’t want that to distract from the piece too much.

    Much approved for all of these teams.

    I *still* think the Blue Jays’ design could use a touch of white to really drive home the upgraded contrast. Otherwise, this is the kind of polish work these designs needed — but didn’t get.

    Looking forward to the rest!

    Thanks KB! I hummed and harred about whether to use white, and it would have made it clearer for sure. But I felt it would have punched too big a hole in the design so that the other blue and red elements would be shoved too far to the back visually, if you see what I mean? You would get the same effect if the Jays wordmark was black instead of royal on their home jerseys.

    I was confused by the E as well. Is that a British thing? I’ve only known ‘F’ as a failing grade.

    We had Es where I grew up (Anne Arundel Co, MD), but I don’t think any other counties in the state even did that, nor do I have any idea if AA still does (I graduated high school in ’99).

    Saddened by the new of Jerry West passing. “The Logo” as he was known should have been known as “Mr. Clutch”. RIP 44.

    Yeah this is great as it solves the main issue I have with the CCs which is they feel like they needed one final revision for a lot of looks to solve the structural and logistical issues. While 1/4-1/3 just have atrocious designs, a lot issues are logistical, i.e. you can’t see the numbers. This is because it seems like Nike is just thinking of them as fashion not uniforms. They don’t seem to consider that these need to be worn on the field. Tampa is a perfect example. I actually really like the design, rainbow colors work great and the hat is fantastic. It’s just you can’t read the numbers…

    So great job and can’t wait to see the rest (hopefully we can see the Mets CC in Orange and Blue)

    Thanks Patrick! Yes the big problem with a lot of the designs is functionality as a uniform. But this is a problem that affects a lot of other baseball unis. So many MiLB teams have cap logos that are a visual mush at a distance. This is why designs like that *feel* minor league compared to the bold high contrast ones most MLB teams have. It’s not just Nike, other makes and sports suffer from the illegible NOB and name problems these days. It’s only generally league mandated fonts (like in the English Soccer Premier League) where serious research into legibility has taken place.

    You nailed it with the fashion vs. uniform comment.

    It seems like Nike thinks 95/5 in terms of fashion/uniform on some of these CC unis. And as Chris showed, if you simply adjust the sliders to 75/25 (or whatev), the improvements are very noticeable.

    GTGFTS – Game 1 of the Alumni Showdown at Comerica Field, December 31, 2013, as part of the Hockeytown Winter Festival that tied into the 2014 Winter Classic. The Red Wings alumni (sporting the 2009 Winter Classic uniforms) won this game over the Maple Leafs (wearing blue Ballard-era unis) 5-4. The second game would also be won by Detroit, although that one went to a shootout. Plus, that second game was color-on-colour, with the Wings in red versions of the 2009 jerseys while the Leafs stuck with their blue jerseys.

    I think you made the Orioles worse. Looks like a bad leopard type stripe. The colorful part of the jersey was it’s best aspect and you took it completely away without doing much to make the bland black parts more interesting. The orange added to Baltimore doesn’t really do much to make it less boring. Just my two cents.

    Thanks for your comment Daniel, definitely interested to hear it if someone prefers the pre-tweaked version too :)

    Those tweaks to the Sox uniform make a big difference, though my personal feeling is that if you have Red in your name it should also be somewhere on the uniform. Minor nitpick in an otherwise great concept!

    Thanks AJ! Yes it is particularly jarring for the RED Sox to not have any red. But I was trying to make any changes tweaks as much as possible. And there is a good reason to have chosen blue and yellow to connect to Boston. I don’t think some other team’s colour choices stand up as well, as you will see ;)

    Chris picked the right criteria for judging. If functionality is an F, then the entire jersey is a fail. Connection is second and finally aesthetics. It’s amazing how a few small changes can make such a big difference. All these uniforms were improved.

    Yes I marked each individually by category but not an overall grade so that UWers can make up their mind about which one is most important. In theory a fail in *any* category fails the uniform, but everyone will have their own order of importance.

    Hey! For the first time ever, I know the scoreboard game. It’s from Game One of the Alumni Showdown at the Hockeytown Winter Festival at Comerica Park on December 31, 2013. It was held as part of the 2014 Winter Classic pregame festivities, which were held at Comerica Park instead of Michigan Stadium, where the Winter Classic would be played one day later. The Red Wings alumni won both games

    GTGFTU Week 3 2010 Jets at Dolphins Sunday Night Football. Miami wore the same uniforms at home against the Jets in 2009 but the Jets wore green pants that year. Thanks to GUD for the info.

    Some of the tweaks here are so slight that they’re not noticeable at first glance. I think a side-by-side with the original uniforms would be helpful to show how much the subtle changes improve them.

    Hi Charlie, yes that would make sense, I may do that for the next set. Or at least find a suitable pic to show with them.

    All are improvements, Chris, job well done! How about a red outline for the Boston B on the hat and the Boston wordmark on the jersey? It will make it pop even more and adds a Red Sox accent to it to make it differ from the UCLA Bruins.

    Thanks Ingmar! Yes a red outline would definitely help with the pop factor for sure. It all depends on how much it would visually corrupt the original blue-and-yellow scheme as to how well it would work in practice. But a good suggestion :)

    Jerry West, the best Laker ever if you add up everything he did for the team as a player and as an executive. Rest In Peace, Mister Logo.

    I like the Boston one a lot more than the current one, great job and I appreciate the reasonings you gave for the tweaks. By chance would you have a link to where you got the mockup template for the jerseys?

    First off, let me say that I love Chris’ concept articles. It’s always fun to see creativity and originality appreciated, and especially if it’s being produced by someone who’s actually trained in the field.

    While I myself have complained about CC unis whose color scheme doesn’t relate to the team’s regular uniforms, I also see the value in analyzing them purely on aesthetic merit in a vacuum. So I enjoyed that aspect of this article too.

    As for the unis/concepts themselves… To start with the negative, I’m not sure Baltimore’s uni is salvageable. The colored pattern helps, but the rest of the uni is just so dull, it can only help so much. On the positive side, I love the Rays’ concept. The first neon-on-black uniform I remember seeing in any sport was the Dallas Stars’ alternate in 2021, and I honestly found it a bit jarring at first. But I’ve come to appreciate not only that uni but also that general design ethos. And when you add gradients to it… *chef’s kiss*

    Thanks Daniel! Yes, I agree that Baltimore’s CC is the weakest so far. I think I will definitely produce a full new set for the Rays based on this design,

    IMO, any tweak to improve the Rays set has to remove the flames from the wordmark. The colors are great but that part is so tacky. Still feels like it belongs on the sign for a Tampa-area Guy Fieri-themed restaurant chain.

    Blue Jays Uni looks better with a number up front, but you can’t get custom ones yet. Instead of selling blank jerseys, they could have had a player/number combo of “THE/6” which would have sealed the deal on connection with the 6 main municipalities within the city.

    I like the idea of a local artist (30 in total) creates a uniform that is used for 10 or so games throughout the season. True locals know the flavor of the city better than an out of towner (Nike, Fanatics designers). This to me would truly be a City Connect.

    I follow the Australian Football League (AFL), and each season they have an indigenous round. All of the teams have a unique jersey or ‘jumper’ that has a design from indigenous artists who are from that city or region. The artist is usually different every year, the jumpers are different every year, and they always look fantastic in my opinion.

    Here is a good page on this years 2024, designs.
    link

    This is a site called ‘Footy Jumpers’ link. It is similar to the Gridiron Uniform Database. You can use it to see the history of the teams jumpers.

    Side note………….
    It looks like Uni-Watch has an article from 2016 talking about AFL Indigenous Round. Although it appears the photos are all missing from that article.
    link

    That Footy Jumpers website is amazing! It’s not just Guernseys it’s full uniforms and club crests too. Been looking for something like that on-and-off for ages.

    Do any of these mistakes look better than the regular uniforms the teams wear? No! What a waste of time. A game is ruined for me when teams wear these clown suits.

    It’s funny, when coloured clothing like the CCs was introduced into English cricket in the 1990s, critics liked to use the term “pajamas” to describe them. It took about 10 years before that name gradually fizzled out. Now I think cricket whites are seen as a bit old-fashioned and are only worn domestically in the County Championship matches which is the oldest form of the game. In the two limited over cup competitions and The Hundred only coloured clothing is worn.

    Love your work however the ones you tried to make more legible still seem illegible to me, especially when considering distance. Still better than what they have though!

    Here’s what I would’ve tried if I had the skills:
    – Baltimore hat with an orange B, seems obvious to me. Also keeping multicolor sleeve trim and make that the pant stripe with no sock stripe
    – Toronto needs white to make the letters visible, we’ve seen this enough to know red on dark isn’t visible from the top seats. Skyine outlined in white too, what’s its point if we can’t see it clearly in a picture, let alone from afar? Bird on sleeve as well.
    – Tampa with a white outline, agree with the gradient everywhere though!

    Nice effort. However, my tweak to the City Connects involves a 55 gallon drum, some kerosene and a match.

    The random colors on the Baltimore CCs are a nod to the city’s diversity and its neighborhoods. To remove that makes the uniforms just another black and orange combo — it defeats the purpose. And the fact that the colors only peep out of the sleeves and the buttons is cool.

Comments are closed.