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A Question of the Day from a Uni Watch Reader

As you guys know, Ticker Creator-emeritus Mike Chamernik has returned to Uni Watch to bring us his Question of the Week, a popular segment with readership.

Reader Adam (AJ) Kane recently wrote to me with his own question, inspired by the return of the QOTW feature.

He writes,

Hey Phil,

Great job running the site! It’s been a seamless transition thus far!

I had a thought about the question of the week in case you wanted to pass this on:

“Between the City Connects in MLB and the City/Statement alts in the NBA, there have been some surprising design choices in both leagues the last few years. While there has been plenty of criticism (much of it deserved!), which teams have been most successful from a design perspective in incorporating the City Connect or the City/Statement alts?”


Adam (AJ) Kane
Portland, ME

Thanks AJ!

I certainly don’t want to step on Mike’s toes here, but I thought this was a great question that I can both answer and put to the readers to hear their thoughts.

I’ll start with the NBA. Since Nike took over the contract a few years ago, ditching familiar terms like “home,” “road,” and “alternate,” in favor of douche-speak terms like “Icon,” “Association,” “Statement,” and “City,” there have been just a mind-numbing number of new alternates and new uniforms, and it’s honestly all too much. In general, though my favorites from this league was the series of “Miami Vice” unis worn by the Miami Heat from 2017-2020. The design is great, and — to me at least — these encapsulate what a “City” uniform should be.

There have been other good City uniforms, but most of them — again, IMO — have just been an excuse for Nike to push out more retail slop.

In MLB, there have been very few City Connect uniforms I’ve liked over the four years of the program. I’m honestly not even sure the MLB CCs are succeeding in their goal of moving more retail slop creating a uniform that truly connects to the City. Most of the signifiers, if you can call them that, end up feeling forced, and special logos and Easter eggs generally just clutter up the uniform. And I’d really prefer all “City” Connect uniforms to use the actual name of the City (or State) across the chest, rather than a nickname, or worse, an abbreviation or airport code. But as actual uniforms — rather than gimmicks — I have liked a few over the years. My favorites, in no particular order, are as follows:


Chicago White Sox:

If they just replaced “Southside” with “Chicago” this would make a great everyday road uni.

Seattle Mariners:

Normally I don’t like royal and black together, but somehow the Mariners have pulled it off. It’s the perfect harkback to the Seattle Pilots, while maintaining a Seattle Mariners feel — and I love that cap.

Cleveland Guardians:

Other than the giant “CLE” airport code for a wordmark, this could be a fantastic home or road uniform for Cleveland. Like the White Sox, if the team simply spelled out “CLEVELAND” (in the same font) on the front of the jersey, it’d be a great everyday option.


Now, I’ll pose AJ’s question to you guys.

“Between the City Connects in MLB and the City/Statement alts in the NBA, there have been some surprising design choices in both leagues the last few years. While there has been plenty of criticism (much of it deserved!), which teams have been most successful from a design perspective in incorporating the City Connect or the City/Statement alts?

The floor is yours…

Comments (37)

    I think that Cleveland pulled off the best CC unis in MLB. It at least looks like a baseball uniform.
    I am not a fan of almost any of the alternate uniforms in the NBA, what ever ridiculous name they call them.

    Uniforms, regardless of league, should be un team colors. I should be able to pop a game on my TV and know who I’m watching.

    Agreed on Cleveland. It works because other than the “CLE” it feels true to the city, the team and its 123 year history. But there’s also a freshness to it. The shade of blue differs from what’s come before and the red is more of a burgundy or wine. The Guardians of Traffic logo they came up with should become a primary logo on the sleeve or on an alternate cap. Best of all, they used their regular cap logo. You instantly recognize the team.

    I’m with Phil on the NBA. The Miami unis are great but Nike’s designs in MLB, the NFL and NBA are flat out awful.

    In spite of the “CLE” I still maintain that this is the best uni the franchise has ever worn (minus the sleeve ad, of course).

    The trick here was for the NBA and MLB to create something pleasing to the eye while sticking to the assignment. The closest basketball uniforms to this ideal were the Utah Jazz with their shades of orange and red evoking the arches and Zion National Park with suits that for once didn’t feel like a poke in the eye. Second were the Lakers for their Black Mamba uniforms placing their flashy color scheme against black for the full neon effect of showtime. In baseball, I laud the Red Sox for evoking The Hub with the Boston Marathon colorway and a complete set of graphics recalling the big race. After them, I have to praise Cleveland for completing a turn toward the Big Plum (look it up) showcasing the Guardians of Traffic as mascots of the city, completing a rebranding that seems to have had the CC Program in mind, all along.

    The Heat’s “Miami Vice” uniforms work well enough that they could be the basis for a full rebrand/redesign. Most other “city edition” uniforms only “work” as one offs, if they work at all.

    I think the other city edition uniform that falls into this category for me is the Utah Jazz’s “red rocks” style uniform. They already did a black version of it and a red-orange-yellow version, just add a white version and you’ve got a full set.

    Yea the Utah red rocks unis were fantastic. That should have been the inspiration for their recent redesign.

    Also the Suns “The Valley” jersey was amazing as well. They should have kept that uniform in the rotation.

    I liked the theme of the Pelicans City Edition for this past season. It was a unique color scheme that went away from the all to common red/blue color scheme that they have. Also the modified Skelican logo was awesome. I wouldn’t mind them changing to black/bright green/purple as their full time colors.

    While I liked the “Vice Nights” Heat unis, I still think they should’ve gone with Broadway numbers instead of their usual oblique block font. If you’re going to go all in on a reference to one of the hit shows of the 80s focused on your city, go all the way in!

    Hey Phil! Thanks for the write up inspired by my question!

    By and large, I agree with your CC takes–I think Kansas City is another team that’s doing CC’s the right way: the uniforms are different from the regular home and aways but are still related to their visual identity, or in the Mariners case, connected to the team’s history.

    As far as the NBA goes, I think Golden State has had more hits than misses: they’ve utilized colors and uniforms inspired by their franchise history, but have also changed them up in interesting ways (The Town, The Bay, and the Oakland jersey all spring to mind). That said, they’ve had a couple duds recently, including the black one released yesterday.

    Agree with this — I think the best City uniforms are still distinctive for a franchise, even if they’re unusual colors. The Heat pretty much own the Vice colorway. When done well, the City editions can end up defining a team’s season, like the 2021 and 2022 Suns (who made the Finals and then won 60-plus games) wearing the Valley alts.

    It’s really unfortunate when teams discard those successes and have nowhere to go but down. The Heat have had mostly duds since the end of the Vice program and the Suns have yet to match the success of the original Valleys.

    Agreed–especially on the Heat alts. The hostage letter unis last season and the Heat Culture nonsense this year are about as bad as an alt can get. It’s a shame, because the Vice series and some of the alts they had in the Lebron era were really sharp.

    Any CC with a nod to local baseball history gets a thumbs up for me, with the Marlins and Mariners at or near the top. Both the Cubs and White Sox teams did well connecting to their respective “homes” in Chicago. The Angels and Padres are fun designs, and the Royals are just plain clever. Next tier down for me would be the Red Sox, Mets, Orioles, and Rockies.

    The City Connects of my White Sox have grown on me over the years, and I’d say they’ve been quite successful at incorporating them into their overall visual identity (as well as selling a s*-ton of merchandise). It helps a lot for me that the unis are in the team’s colors, as opposed to, say, the Red Sox.

    Both Sox suffer from the same problem.


    Fix that, and both are near the top of my list. As is, they are Rock Bottom.

    Year one CCs were generally the best. I like Boston’s as a City Connect, but less so as a Red Sox uniform because of the color. Couple times a year would be okay. I also think Miami’s is well-done. Again not really in team colors, but what are those for this team? Maybe make the blue a little more teal to tie in to the early years.

    Also, not trying to be ironic or sarcastic or whatever – I think the Yankees home uniforms stand out as a strong City Connect. They’ve worn the same thing for 100 years, and it’s so closely tied to New York that I think it just accomplishes the same objective.

    Your second paragraph perfectly captures the irony of the CC program. If you are an old-school team whose uniforms have undergone relatively few changes over the years, what could possibly connect to your city more than your standard uniform?

    At the end of the day it’s all about marketing and of course making money from folks to make the 64.5 billion industry continue to grow while buying their gear to wear at the games and around town.

    San Diego fell in love with their City Connects instantly. On any given day you’ll see more CC gear than standard Padres gear—in or out of the ballpark. I would guess this has been the most successful merch dump in the entire program.

    As a mariners fan I couldn’t disagree more about the mariners CC Uni. The use of black looks terrible, especially with the darker blue. The original pilots used a baby blue, and that looks good. It also appears to have used a softer yellow. The harsh colors with the random addition of black just makes my eyes bleed. As for the hat, the trident logo is so small, and it looks odd being on its own. Theres a really nice stylized trident/M logo already in the teams arsenal that would have been a more fun version.

    If the goal of the CC program is to push merch to a larger audience (people who may not care for the sport/team, but like the hat that reps their city) I’m surprised they didn’t go with an “evergreen” theme, or the mountains, or something more region oriented as opposed to just rehashing an old teams design (and not even staying true to it)

    I think we all need to accept that cities simply don’t have enough unique features that translate into professional sports uniforms.

    Depends on the city. You’d get a lot more inspiration from New York or Los Angeles than, say, Salt Lake City or Anaheim.

    it’s funny that Anaheim and SLC are the two cities you point out as not having unique features, cuz, y’know… Disneyland… the Great Salt Lake… Mountains…

    And oranges, which was a nice inspiration for the Anaheim Ducks.
    Wish the Angels would have gone there instead of using that devilish red.

    No offense, but the bigger the city, the greater the choices. In fact, I concede the smaller cities find it easier to zero in on what makes them famous, while the metropolises have trouble choosing which facet to emphasize.

    I think it’s most correct to judge these programs in terms of fan acceptance and merchandise sales, since that’s the real actual (and almost overtly stated by each league) purpose. In that regard, the Brewers stand out to me. I live in Brewers territory, and fans hereabouts have absolutely devoured the CC merch. Hats, shirts, jerseys, when I see folks younger than my 50 years wearing Brewers gear in public, it’s easily half CC stuff. That’s what the program is intended to achieve, and for the Brewers it’s working as planned.

    As much as I like the Cubs CC uniforms as a Cubbies alternate, I have never once seen a stranger wearing Cubs CC gear. Not the cap, not the jersey, not a shirt. This despite the Cubs being reasonably popular here in southern Wisconsin. There’s a significant cohort of loud and proud Cubs fans at my church, and while they skew toward my age and thus out of the target demo for CC in general, I’ve never seen one wearing a CC product. That’s anecdotal, and for all I know the streets of Chicago’s North Side are chockablock with CC-wearing folks, but in my personal experience the Cubs CC uniform looks like a much less successful design than the Brewers.

    Valid point, especially since we know the real purpose of the CC is to sell merch. So the best or most successful of these uniforms is the ones you see fans wearing the most, regardless if they are aesthetically good or not.
    I could see why the Brewers would be near or at the top given those metrics. The design really connects and represents the fandom more than any of the other CC sets out there. At best some of the other CC might represent a city, but the elements in the Brewers design feel specifically like an ode to the fans themselves, instead of various aspects of the city the fans live in.

    Hard to comment on the NBA since so much has come out and it is hard to know what is special/alternate vs standard at this point.
    For MLB I think the Angels have the best, and it actually looks like a baseball uniform, with some slight modifications to it would turn it into a great full time uniform. Agree that White Sox have a decent set (even if I am a white at home, gray on the road purist). I don’t even mind the “Southside” designation simply because as one of two teams in and known as Chicago, it sets their designation within the city.
    Also agree that the Guardians have a good CC that would be a great full time softball top alternate if they had Cleveland or Guardians on it instead of CLE.
    Outside of that I think the Astros, Blue Jays, and Rays cap logos were good things to come out of the program that should make their way into the teams’ respective identities on a full time basis.

    Totally agree on the Angels–I think they also fit my personal criteria for a successful alt in that the uniforms are different from the regular home/away set but are also connected to the team’s established identity.

    I also think the Rays hat is really great. As a teenager in the late 90s/early 00s, I would’ve definitely bought one of those, which I’m certain is some measure of success.

    For me, the NBA has the hardest answer to research (the never-ending pile up of uniform editions and alternates is daunting), but the easiest answers: Miami Vice, Utah Red Rocks, Phoenix the Valley, Golden State the Town.

    MLB should be easier but it’s been such a bag of crap for the most part. Many design hits and great touches, but very few unis that were executed well through and through. I agree with others on both Chicago teams, although the Sox need some tweaks before I’ll really like the uni, I admit that it connects to the neighborhood (even better than just the city!) and the team and fans seem to love them, and it isn’t an ugly uni, it just needs work in my book. The wrigleyville unis may be the cleanest best executed for me but does it do much to “connect to the city”? Meh. They didn’t try too hard, and thus I can’t say it failed. What they did says Chicago and wrigleyville, and maybe keeping it simple is the better route based on other unis from the program. The mariners are my next pick. Again, needs work from a simple asthetics standpoint. Swap in blue pants, yellow undershirt, and make the hat brim blue or yellow, and it’s perfect to me. Not sure how the team and fans are enjoying it, but it connects to the team’s history and the “region” well. Boston would be my next and probably last choice since it’s a nice uni, if controversial for looking nothing like a Red Sox uni, but it connects to the city, and got to the heart of the fans and the citizens.

    Nats city connect has gone over very well in DC. Not my thing, but I think it’s been quite successful.

    Not an answer to this question, but a comment on the site lately in general:

    I’m really enjoying the Questions of the Day/Week posts. They really make me think and it’s fun to hear everyone’s opinion. Keep ’em coming!

    I really struggle with using non-team colors. For me, the color is more important than the team name. As much as I like the Jazz or Heat unis (and I do!), it shouldn’t be an orange vs blue/pink matchup.

    Living in Denver I’ve had a bit more exposure to Colorado teams, but I think the Nuggets’ updated takes on the rainbow skyline resonated with people, and the Rockies CC uniform has been a hit because we’re suckers for the mountains and license plate design. Additionally I think what the DC teams have done to incorporate the cherry blossoms have naturally lent themselves to local appeal, especially in the springtime when the trees are blossoming – honestly wouldn’t hate if the WFT/Commies ditched their black alts and found a way to incorporate a subtle cherry blossom design.

    I haven’t watched the NBA in many years and my only exposure to the uniforms are on this site. From my point of view there are so many, I can.t keep up with City, Statement or whatever. Most are ugly and not needed.

    For MLB and the CCs my favorite would be Cleveland by far (yes CLE needs changed). In a distant second would be St. Louis but the hat is awful and The Lou should be changed.

    Anything with dark pants should be burned.

    As for connecting with the city Boston, San Fran, SD, Marlins, Angels Padres and the Philles seem to do serve that purpose, but generally aren’t a uniform a big leaguer should wear.

    I’m sure I’m in the extreme minority here, but I think the Giants did an excellent job with their CC jersey. Orange is a criminally underused color in MLB, and as far as I know, this is the first uniform that’s ever had an orange cap. Aside from that, it’s instantly recognizable as a Giants jersey, and it cleverly invokes fog, something for which SF is famous for.

    My favorite CC uniform is the Nationals, because they found something that is clearly identifiable with Washington DC without invoking the military or government. They did it without falling back on the bullshit marketing-speak about how the lines, waves, color blocks, or funfetti represent the diversity of the neighborhoods, or some other nonsense story. Cherry blossoms = Washington. Got it.

    Others that I would put at the top of a fairly short list because they’re both aesthetically pleasing and you don’t need a decoder ring to understand the significance:

    Red Sox: the Boston Marathon. Got it.
    Cubs and White Sox: You rep Wrigleyville or you rep Southside.
    Rockies: Colorado has a cool license plate. Changing from monochrome to white pants was a significant improvement.

    I’m not an NBA fan, so I can’t really speak to those unis.

Comments are closed.