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

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Good morning Uni Watchers. It’s Friday — we made it!

I’m back with UW pal/contributor/graphic designer Chris Diamond, who today brings us Part II 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 uniform graphic for a much higher resolution view of Chris’ tweaked design. Last time there were some comments that it was difficult to tell how Chris’ tweaks compared to the original CCs. Using my rudimenatry MS Paint skills, I’ve put Chris’ tweak design next to the actual CC uniform, so you can see the differences.

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. Last time, Chris tackled the American League East. Today we tackle the AL Central.

Here’s Chris. Enjoy!

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

Chicago White Sox

Aesthetics A-

Design wise this is a great looking uniform. It simply takes the ChiSox home whites and inverts them tonally, then adds the sleeve stripes from the road greys. The “Southside” wordmark uses the same team black-letter gothic typeface. The hat cleverly replaces “Sox” with “Chi” in the same style.

Functionality A

Silver trimmed white block letters on black could hardly be any clearer. Although it’s mono dark, it still feels like a baseball uniform and calls back to Sox uniforms of old.

Connection A+

This is probably the best City Connection of all. The colours and design connect directly to the White Sox and the wordmark connects to the Southside of Chicago where they play.


This uniform is almost perfect, but I think the White Sox missed out on the opportunity of having a uniform with White Socks! So that is the only tweak I would make. Plain. White. Sox.


Cleveland Guardians

Aesthetics B+

The Guardians are one of the few teams who have gone for a non-mono look for their CC. The use of a TLA for the team name can’t be considered original, but then you could say the same about pinstripes or cursive script! I think the CLE design inspired by the architecture of the guardians of traffic statues looks beautiful and the heavy duty relief brings that to life. The racing stripes are a nice throwback to the 90s teams. I know some don’t see them as traditional, but to someone brought up on Adidas soccer jerseys they look great. The white front panel cap looks a bit out of place as it could just be a batting practice or alt team cap.

Functionality A

The numbers have the same extreme relief details as CLE but that doesn’t detract from their legibility.

Connection A

The whole connection revolves around design elements of the Guardians of Traffic which are common to both the city and team as are the colours.


Not much tweaking to be done here, I would just make the cap solid and use the same font C as CLE to make it specific to CC, rather than just looking like a Guardians cap. For other teams CC they need to have the team logo on the cap (e.g. Red Sox) because of the strange colours. But because these unis are in team colours already you need to make the cap logo CC specific.


Detroit Tigers

Aesthetics B

The Tigers have gone heavily with the theme of “Motor City” or MOTORCITY (which sounds more like something petrolheads suffer from). The sublimated tire tread pattern looks nice and the electric blue on navy works well. The angled stripe sleeve and pants trim integrates nicely into the theme and the overall look all harmonises well. Because the jersey has MOTORCITY as the wordmark, the actual city name has been moved to the cap in the same font.

Functionality B+

The custom fonts are white on navy and they are all really clear. I don’t think the city name as cap logo works as a MLB cap though – as others have pointed out it makes it feel more like something the Detroit Tourist Board would sell.

Connection C-

This is where the design falls down. Although the uniform is mono navy, it leaves out orange completely in favour of electric blue. That combination has little to do with the team or city (unless you take it as Ford blue) but that is the Lions, not the Tigers. Apart from the tiny D on the sleeve patch there is nothing really that connects it to the Tigers. And only the Detroit on the cap connects *directly* to the city. OK so “Motor City” is a nickname for Detroit, but it isn’t really unique. .


If you want to universally connect to a whole city, I feel you need to have the city name as the primary chest wordmark. Otherwise you rely on people knowing the nickname. So I’ve replaced MOTORCITY with DETROIT. I’ve removed DETROIT from the cap and replaced it with a D in the same font. I’ve also replaced all the electric blue with orange apart from the tire marks which I’ve changed to a lighter navy. Finally I’ve put the classic Tiger Head patch on the sleeve instead of the mash-up patch.


Kansas City Royals

Aesthetics A

The Royals developed a whole graphical theme based on the KC fountains and built a CC uniform to go around it. This is really a lesson on how to do a CC uniform design well. The logo is so good I used it for a Alt-Reality Kansas City Royals football team.

Functionality A+

About as clear as you can be – the numbers are very similar to the ones adopted by the English Premier League after exhaustive research into legibility.

Connection B

The fountains logo design connects perfectly to the city, but the connection to the Royals is weaker, mainly due of the choice of navy blue. I can see why because the navy makes the pale blue pop more. But if your team name is literally a colour, you ignore that at your peril!


Clearly the tweak is to use ROYAL blue instead of navy! The difference in pop is so marginal it makes me wonder if they didn’t *want* to use royal blue just for the sake of being different?


Minnesota Twins

Aesthetics D

The design inspiration for the uniform is a really good one – sunsets, lakes and The Northern Lights giving a mainly blue hued palette with yellows and reds as highlights. In fact I based my Alt-Reality Minnesota Aurora football team on a similar idea. But at some point someone decided water ripples would make for a cool design element. This could work, but the execution here is almost eye-crossingly bad. Way too busy in a chaotic pattern. The team have created a new “M*N” logo in a rather nice font. But as was pointed out on UW, the M*N has the unfortunate side-effect of looking like the ASCII shrug emoji!. They’ve also created a new cap logo based on the state outline which cleverly works in a background scene.

Functionality C

The bespoke font is a bid spindly, but the NOB and number are rendered in white so no visibility issues. The cap logo is nice, but disappears into the hat at any distance so fails from that angle.

Connection D

The concept does go with the image that Minnesota likes to promote so there is a connection there. But the only thing that ties this to the Twins is the use of a star with the logo. The colours are not team colours and remind some more of the Brewers. They could have avoided that by featuring pink more heavily.


This was a tricky one. Despite a good concept, the whole design is pretty much a failure so it can’t really be tweaked as such. So it’s come down to taking the two good elements (the font and the star) and working them into something better. A lot of Twins fans have been wanting some powder blues, so I went this route instead of the mixture of darker blues. I reworked the M*N shrug logo into a full MINNESOTA wordmark and moved the star to above the M where it should be. This also provided a new M* cap logo. Finally I added the regular state patch to the sleeve.

• • • • •

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 Chris Hickey.

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 Marshall Stanley.

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



And finally...

…that’ll do it for the early post. Big — YUGE — thanks once again to Chris for another really great, fun piece.

I should have another couple articles today, and of course, Anthony’s Ticker will be posted shortly.

Everyone have a great weekend. Jimmer will take you throught that, and I’ll see you back here Monday morning.



Comments (27)

    GTGFTS June 30, 1984 USFL Divisional Playoff Game at Franklin Field. Final score was Philadelphia 28 New Jersey 7.

    That’s it – almost 40 years to the day!
    The game got moved since the Phillies had an evening matchup at the Vet with the Astros, which they lost 7-0.
    The Stars drew about 19,000 fans for this one…not a great showing for a playoff game.

    I’ve lost interest in the City Connect unis so may have missed some. It seems to me that the Red Sox are the only team that got this right. I get why people not from New England might not like a yellow jersey on the Red Sox, but to my eyes they are the only team that nailed the combination of making an attractive uniform that also had a strong connection to the city. I think it is the latter part that people not from the area do not get about this jersey.

    I do sort of wish they only wore it on marathon weekend, but given how good their Win-Loss record has been when wearing this uni I am not going to complain.

    I don’t always love the “concepts” posts, but these are extraordinarily well done and thoughtful. Keep ’em coming!

    My thoughts on these:

    – Chicago: Better.
    – Cleveland: Better.
    – Detroit: Better (I don’t take issue with the blue used on the real ones and their lack of orange, but since I’ve Detroit have such a consistent aesthetic history I don’t see an issue with using team colours here).
    – Kansas City: It wasn’t obvious to me that this was supposed to be royal blue until I read it. I think navy is fine. The royals aren’t named after the colour anyway (or royalty!) and they already have an alternate in that shade.
    – Minnesota: Worse. I love the uniform, but it’s so similar to the throwback uniform they wore up until the recent redesign, which to me isn’t the point of the City Connect program.

    I almost never think everything shown in these re-imaginations look good, but this post is the exception. I like the light touch with Chicago and Cleveland and the medium touch with Detroit and KC, all of which polished these into something really nice.

    I don’t necessarily dislike the Minnesota redesign, but it’s my least-favorite of this bunch, maybe because it feels like a totally new design rather than a fix of the old design. I still insist that there is a negative space “I” in the M*N logo, so I would have kept that and just gotten rid of the shrugs. I do admit that the new cap logo is really nice, however. I think I’d be more interested in a true polishing of this uni – find a way to have ripples that look better, make the pants match the shirt, swap in red for yellow to keep with team colors – than to see it basically scrapped.

    But that’s just my own quibble. Overall this is maybe the best piece of this type that I’ve seen on this site in terms of presenting uniforms that all look good. (To me :-) )

    Thanks Joe! Minnesota was a tough one. I was torn between this and redoing the actual design. The problem was the actual design has so little connection to the team.

    As a current resident of the Kansas City area I can comment on a few things that Chris being from outside the USA might not know about the area that strengthens the connections. The fountain version of KC is based on the fountain logo from the city flag. The flag at the time was based on the French flag so the blue was slightly darker than the Royals shade of blue- but the shades are pretty close and would have to be seen side by side to show the difference. I imagine that’s why they chose to use navy. Regarding fountains Kaufman stadium has fountains in right field- they were a bit more visible before the renovations.

    As a fellow graphic designer, Chris, you absolutely nailed the improvements for each team. Your breakdowns were fantastic and the tweaks (or in the Twins case, redesign) were all huge improvements over the originals. After seeing these jerseys come out with all these minor issues that no one but a graphic designer sees, it’s nice to have someone else notice and care enough to put together a visual guide like this! Again, awesome job and I hope this series is continued.

    Cleveland was a miss. The white front hat makes the uniform really standout.
    White Sox small improvement.
    KC greatly improved.
    Minnesota was a huge improvement. As good or better than their regular uniforms.
    Tigers aren’t fixable.

    You made the only tweak that needed to be made for Chicago!
    Well, the placket could be fixed by shrinking the lettering and having it split as Sou thside instead of bisecting the u.
    I agree Cleveland needs the white front panel. It’s one of the reasons I say it’s the best Guardians uni ever.
    Since the Royals aren’t named after a color, but the American Royal livestock show, I didn’t penalize KC for going with navy. Your version looks just as great, though…if you put the number on the front of the jersey like the original.
    Great stuff, Chris!

    Of all the CC unis, I like KC’s the best. I really like the navy/light blue combo. Don’t think I like the royal blue tweak as much as what they have, but it’s not bad. Still would be the best of the bunch IMO.

    Although I did the KC unis their official royal blue, I think I should have tweaked it a bit to make it more vibrant like their standard unis look on the field. The difference to the navy version isn’t enough.

    The highest marks of this batch go to the White Sox and Tigers. Royals and Guardies probably could do without the tuning up. Minnesota admitted the real CC uniforms were the ones which say “Twin Cities” across the front. I like the concept of a wave pattern, but the Twins shanked it.

    “The Tigers have gone heavily with the theme of “Motor City” or MOTORCITY (which sounds more like something petrolheads suffer from).”

    All I can think of now is Megamind pronouncing “Metro City” as “Metrocity.”

    Well done revamps 5/5.

    I agree that Chris made each uniform somewhat better; I disagree that the Sox CC, for instance, was a “great looking uniform”. Which is where I find myself standing on the CC program: each one can probably be tweaked enough to make them somewhat more pleasant to look at, but the entire concept is such a sartorial mess to begin with I find myself less interested in the end result than I would like to be. In the end they’re just more crap to sell at team stores.

    I really like the CC design tweaks. Especially the Detroit and Minnesota uniforms. The thing I like about the Detroit uniform is that you added orange and downplayed the royal blue from the actual CC jersey. It’s a good offset of light and dark. For the Minnesota uniform, I like how it fits with the previous uniform history with the light blue color. Thank you, Chris!

    I still would love to see what the CLE would look like with Cleveland written out instead (smaller obviously, same font). With the hat you have here, I think it’d be a great option for a full-time uni

    These look great, but I am torn. Adding orange back to the Tigers and bringing back royal blue for the Royals (their primary color, not the team’s name) connects the uniforms more to the teams. But I have had the feeling that Nike is trying to make a clear connection to the city/state rather than the team, so while I get the purpose here, it feels like it goes against Nike’s idea. (For the record, I think Nike’s idea is dumb.)

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