Is The C-Flap About to Become More the Rule Than the Exception?

Last year, just as the MLB season was getting started, I wrote an ESPN piece in which I said that the C-Flap faceguard extension was “poised for a breakout season,” which turned to be correct. I also said C-flapped players “might soon outnumber non-flappers.”

It looks like I was right about that as well. I just didn’t expect it to happen so quickly.

Case in point: The Mets, who are the easiest team for me to chart because I follow them on a daily basis, currently have 13 position players on their 25-man roster. Of those 13 non-pitchers, six of them — almost half — wear either the C-Flap or the similar Rawlings Mach flap. Those six players, shown above, clockwise from top left) are first baseman Dom Smith, shortstop Amed Rosario, first baseman Pete Alonso, outfielder Keon Broxton, second baseman Robinson Canó, and catcher Wilson Ramos.

As you can see from that player rundown, the trend cuts across all types of position players. All generations, too — these players range from rookies (Alonso) to established veterans (Ramos and Canó). Five of those six players — all but Smith — were in the starting lineup for yesterday’s game against the Brewers, so five of the eight non-pitcher slots in the Mets’ batting order were flapped.

The trend is even more stark on some other teams. The Dodgers, for example, currently have 12 position players (which seems like a crazy way to build a roster, but that’s another topic for another day), eight of whom — two-thirds of them — wear the flap. Again, the trend is not limited to younger players.

This suggests to me that we have now reached a tipping point and that the flapped look will soon — perhaps very soon — become more the rule than the exception. Just as we charted the last players not to wear a helmet (Bob Montgomery) and not to wear an earflap (Tim Raines), we will likely see the ranks of the C-Flapless dwindle into the single digits soon enough.

It’s pretty remarkable how quickly this has happened. It was only three or four years ago that you could count all of the players who’d ever worn a C-Flap on two hands, and less than three years ago that it was unheard of for a player to go flapped unless he’d already been hit in the face by a pitch. As I wrote in that ESPN piece last year, the tide began to turn in June 2016, when Cardinals catcher Yadier Molina began wearing the flap proactively, as a precaution, even though he wasn’t rehabbing a facial injury.

I used to enjoy seeing a player wearing the flap (or any kind of faceguard), just because it looked weird. It was one of those things I liked keeping track of. And I never had to worry too much about the aesthetics of it because most players would only wear the flap for a few weeks or months anyway — nobody wore it permanently.

But all that has changed. The flap is now becoming a fixture in the game and a full-time part of baseball’s visual culture. And frankly, I’m a bit conflicted about that. By covering a big portion of the player’s face, the flap puts a bit of an emotional barrier between player and fan. The players seem a bit more like interchangeable automatons, less like distinct personalities. I especially dislike the look of the flapped helmets on baserunners. And really, there’s no reason to wear them on the bases, although I understand why the players don’t swap them out once they reach base (you’d need to have separate non-flapped helmets for all the flapped players, and it would just slow the game down).

This emotional distancing is the same thing that happened when helmets became mandatory in hockey. You could no longer see the player’s hair (or lack of hair, as the case might be), and it definitely made the game less visually interesting and the players a bit harder to connect with, at least for me.

Now, hockey helmets have obviously been a good thing for player safety, and I’m certainly not suggesting that we should go back to the helmet-free or even helmet-optional days. I’m just saying that this gain in terms of safety has had a corresponding loss in terms of the game’s visual culture. I suspect we may soon be saying the same thing about the C-Flap.

Update: By crazy coincidence, Craig MacTavish, who was the last NHL player not to wear a helmet, retired 22 years ago today!

(My thanks to @MistaMaxG for the Dodgers flap count and to Erik Spoonmore for the MacTavish item.)

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Just another day at Uni Watch HQ: On Friday I did a phone interview for the Reds Alert Podcast. We were talking a lot about the 15 throwback designs the Reds will be wearing this season, so I had my laptop open so I could see the various designs while discussing them. While I was chatting, Uni Watch girl mascot Caitlin hopped up on me and began obsessively kneading my belly, as is her not-infrequent habit. The Tugboat Captain, sitting nearby, alertly documented the absurdity.

I didn’t think I could look any sillier than I already did with my fingerless gloves, my white socks, my unkempt hair, and all the rest, but Caitlin was pretty much the cherry on top. Next time you hear me on a podcast or on the radio, imagine this scene.

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Even better than Chico’s Bail Bonds: David Wade, a TV news anchor for Boston’s CBS affiliate, tweeted yesterday that his son’s Little League team has an unusual sponsor. It’s nice that Dr. Lazarou wants to support community youth athletics, of course, but this must have led to some awkward discussions between the players and their parents, no?

(Big thanks to Joe Giza for bringing this one to my attention.)

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Best DIY ever: Meet Zaya, the six-year-old daughter of longtime Uni Watch reader Matthew Algeo. “She’s just getting into sports,” says Matthew. “We live in Arlington, Va., so, unfortunately, she is becoming a Nats fan. I feel like I should intervene, but she’s got to find her own way, I suppose.”

As you can see, Zaya wanted to have a Nats T-shirt, so she made one herself by drawing a stars/stripes Nats logo and taping it to one of her shirts. It’s hard for me to express how much I love this (especially all the tape!). DIY FTW!!

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rafflet ticket by ben thoma.jpg

ITEM! New raffle: Our friends at longtime Uni Watch advertiser Vintage Brand are once again letting me run a raffle for a lucky Uni Watch reader. The winner will be able to choose any item from the Vintage Brand website (including the canvas print of a Cubs program cover shown above).

To enter, send an email to the raffle address by this Thursday, May 2, 7pm ET. One entry per person. I’ll announce the winner on Friday.

Speaking of raffles, our three latest winners are Kelly Keenoy, Aaron Peskin, and John Schandler, each of whom has won himself a Hebrew Nationals cap (and, I’m told, some bonus surprise goodies). Congrats to them, and big thanks to Conagra for providing the prizes.

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Membership update: When someone orders a Uni Watch membership card and asks for an Astros tequila sunrise design treatment, I always point out to them that the ’Stros had three different rear-jersey designs during the rainbow era and ask them to specify which version they want. They usually choose the 1977-81 style (bottom-right, Mike Franzosa’s card), although a few people have chosen the 1975 “bullseye” style (center-right, Ethan Rowley’s card). Until now, though, I don’t think we’ve ever had a membership enrollee who’s chosen the 1976 style (top-right) — that’s Byron Tatum’s card, which he recently ordered. It’s one of several new designs that have been added to the membership card gallery.

Ordering a membership card is a good way to support Uni Watch (which, quite frankly, could use your support these days). And remember, a Uni Watch membership card entitles you to a 15% discount on any of the merchandise in our Teespring shop and our Naming Wrongs shop. (If you’re an existing member and would like to have the discount code, email me.) As always, you can sign up for your own custom-designed card here, you can see all the cards we’ve designed so far here, and you can see how we produce the cards here.

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Recommended reading: The New York Times published two really good pieces of business journalism over the weekend. The first one is about how the raisin industry is an insular, bizarrely eccentric world unto itself, with little fiefdoms, petty grievances, threats of violence against people who make waves, and so on. Fascinating, entertaining stuff. Check it out here.

The other story is about how Sterling Jewelers Inc., the company that owns jewelry chains like Jared, Kay, Zale’s, and others, has treated its female employees like garbage for many years and mostly gotten away with it. So it’s a labor/workplace story, but it’s also a story about the jewelry biz and the art of selling. I was particularly riveted by this passage:

The [jewelry] saleswomen watched the men seep into their stores on Monday mornings after they saw a Kay Jewelers commercial aired during the Sunday football game that made their blood run cold. … The men would run to the mall, reminded that there was always an anniversary coming up; they had always screwed something up and needed to apologize; Valentine’s Day comes every freaking year.

Once the men were in there, they couldn’t have escaped if they tried. Sterling had trained its staff obsessively. The salespeople were given gemology and diamontology courses. … And maybe one of those guys would start looking at the jewelry, but he’d realize that he had no clue about what a woman would like because he was just a dumb man, and so he would ask the [saleswoman] what he should buy, maybe that solitaire? “Sure,” the saleswoman would say, “that’s nice.” But why would you buy a single-stone diamond when you could buy a three-stone diamond? “When one diamond is not enough,” goes the sales copy, “use three to tell your story.” “Uh, what’s my story?” the guy would ask. “You and me and us is three,” she would say. “Or heart and soul and time. Or today and tomorrow and always.” It’s a story, she would explain. The guy would nod. Yes. Now he had a thing to give and a thing to say. Done.

Storytelling. Sound familiar?

Generally speaking, I’ve never much cared about the aspirational-fantasy aspect of consumerism. More specifically, I’ve never had to deal with the bling-industrial complex because I have zero interest in diamonds or gold (although I do like silver) and no woman I’ve ever dated has cared about them either. All of which is a long way of saying that this article was a big eye-opener for me. It was written by the great Taffy Brodesser-Akner. She’s made her mark as the media world’s foremost celebrity profiler (I’ve previously recommended her piece on Tonya Harding), but this jewelry piece breaks new ground for her. It’s a major piece of investigative journalism that she worked on for two years. It’s long but worth sticking with — you can check it out here.

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The Ticker
By Jamie Rathjen

Baseball News: The White Sox once had a logo straight out of heraldry on their letterhead (from Matt Sammon). … D-backs INF Ketel Marte wore the wrong hat yesterday (from multiple readers). … Phillies OF Bryce Harper gave the Phillie Phanatic a birthday present: Phanatic-themed sneakers like the ones Harper wore on Opening Day (thanks, Brinke). … In another picture from the Harper/Phanatic encounter, we can see that Harper has been wearing a belt with his old No. 34 on it (from Bob Novotny). … Reader Mike Chaldu tells us that Nogales (Ariz.) HS has an interesting number-on-logo treatment. … Two white-on-white games from yesterday: Georgia State/Louisiana-Monroe softball (from Will Owens) and New Jersey high schools Gloucester Catholic and St. Augustine Prep (from Nicholas Huba). … Here are some pictures from the first African pre-qualifying tournament for the Olympics, including Burkina Faso, Ghana, and Nigeria in uniform (from Eric Abneri).

Football News: The 49ers traded LB Dekoda Watson on Saturday, leaving his former No. 97 open for second-overall draft pick Nick Bosa. Bosa wore the number at Ohio State, where his brother Joey did as well, and his dad wore it for the Dolphins (thanks, Brinke).

Hockey News: In last night’s Sharks/Avs playoff game, Sharks D Brent Burns scored a goal after taking a shot that knocked the blade off of one of Avs C Alexander Kerfoot’s skates (from Mike Chamernik).

Basketball News: Pictures of the court and uniforms for the Timberwolves’ new NBA 2K League team, T-Wolves Gaming, are hanging in offices at the team’s arena (from @ezbutton11). … TNT showed a No. 10 jersey to promote tonight’s 76ers/Raptors game. That number was last worn for Toronto by DeMar DeRozan, who was traded to San Antonio last summer (from Mike Chamernik).

Soccer News: Scottish team Celtic wore black armbands with No. 5 on them for former center-back and manager Billy McNeill, who passed away last week. Current manager Neil Lennon suggested that the team should retire No. 5 as well. … Other teams that wore black armbands included Aberdeen, Aston Villa, and Leeds United; the first two were also managed by McNeill. … The New York Red Bulls did their annual autism-awareness promotion with blue numbers this weekend (from Brian Henke). … Both teams participating in the Coupe de France final, Paris Saint-Germain and Stade Rennais, wore a French Football Federation-provided number font with NOBs below the number. … Saturday’s Chicago Red Stars/Reign FC game in the NWSL was postponed because of snow, but not before an orange version of the league’s ball appeared for surely the first time ever. … New kits for National Premier Soccer League team Georgia Revolution and English League One’s Plymouth Argyle. … Here are some concepts for the NPSL’s Detroit City (from Ryan Keberly).

Grab Bag: Canadian cyclist Michael Woods (at the far right) was wearing one leg warmer at the end of Liège-Bastogne-Liège yesterday. It’s unclear, because of the vagaries of the sport’s TV coverage, whether he was wearing a second one at some point (from Matt Dowell). … The NLL’s Saskatchewan Rush wore alternates for the last game of the season (from Wade Heidt). … The ACC women’s lacrosse championship between North Carolina and Boston College was color vs. color (from James Gilbert). … Multiple readers sent us the new logo for Bunker Hill (Mass.) Community College, which replaced its former relatively generic bulldog logo with a much cuter version. … Reader Paul Deaver sent us the insignia for the WWII and Cold War-era Citizens Defense Corps, which had many different derivatives of the original insignia representing all the roles available. … The Gotham typeface is currently everywhere in the design world (from Adam Vitcavage).

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What Paul did last night on Saturday: I almost never buy records anymore, but I still go to the WFMU Record Fair every year — in part because I know I’ll see a bunch of my friends there, in part because I enjoy the scene, and in part because they always have some good live bands on hand.

At this year’s edition, which took place this past weekend, the live acts included two notable Memphis bands: the Oblivians (who were good, although I’ve never loved them as much as some folks do) and the ever-awesome Gories (pictured above), who’ve been one of my favorite live bands for many, many years. Always a treat to see them.

In between bands, I was approached separately by two Uni Watch readers — Tom Dunphy and John Flaherty — who recognized me and wanted to say hi. Guys, it was great meeting both you, and I really appreciate your generous donations. You’re the best!

Every MLB Team's Best and Worst Logos: AL Edition

By Phil Hecken

While we primarily focus on uniforms here at Uni Watch, a the quality team’s logo is almost of equal import as that of its uniform. Over its 100+ year history, the Junior Circuit (American League) has largely produced excellent logos, with a few questionable ones thrown in here and there. Today we’ll look at what I consider to be the best and worst logos for each current American League team (both primary and alternate) — these designations are both objective (as in, I know what I think makes for a good logo) and subjective (same criteria). YMMV.

One can find MLB logos all over the interwebs, but the best (by far) collection is found on Chris Creamer’s fantastic website, sportslogos.net, where I found all the logos you’ll see below. For the American League, you can click here to reference all current AL teams. I’ll also link to each team page below so that you can see all the logos (or at least all that Chris lists) for a given team.

Today we’ll cover the 15 current American League teams. All set? Let’s go.

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BALTIMORE ORIOLES

The O’s have had mostly good to great logos over the years, but by far and away, the best one is the original 1954-64. Everyone (well, except possibly Brandiose, lol) loves a smiling happy bird, and the O’s original logo fits that bill. I love the cartoon bird (especially the cap logo), much more so than the ornithologically correct bird too. What’s worse than a smiling, happy bird logo? Yep, the ill-fated, one-year only 1967 angry bird, a steroid-taking muscled up anthropomorphic psychopathic stirrup clad (well, that part’s OK) bird wielding a bat.

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BOSTON RED SOX

For a team that has been in existence since 1901, the Sawx have had surprisingly few logos. This is not a bad thing. You could certainly argue their current logo, featuring a pair of “red sox” is their best, but for my money, I love the 1908 version — which was also featured on their jersey, was tops. Simple, to the point, and beautiful. While the team had a crazy, one-year logo in 1950 which was pretty bad, their 1950-59 logo, which I’ve heard described as the “penis chin” logo, was really, really bad. I love to tease my buddy Todd Radom (a Red Sox fan) with that one, sarcastically telling him it’s their best. But it’s not.

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CHICAGO WHITE SOX

Of all the logos the ChiSox have had (and if you clink the link above, they’ve had a LOT), choosing a “best” and “worst” for this team was actually rather difficult. I liked the elegance of the 1918-1931 logo, but in the end, the simplicity of the large “S” with “o” and “x” interspersed (they had several of those) was my choice for their best (that one is from 1936-38), due to the Tiffany font. The Southsiders have also sported a few duds, but the worst of those was the 1971-75 red circle, with a white sock and “Sox” in white, outlined in powder blue (echoed by their road unis of the time) was both bland AND hard to read. Not a great combo.

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CLEVELAND INDIANS

Cleveland is also a tough call because for most of their history, they’ve graphically depicted an American Indian, sometimes in red face (1939-45), and often in various grotesque caricature. And what even is this? So those are all out. That leaves the 1921-27 stylized “C” as their best. There are a lot of logos that could be considered their worst, but the 1947-50 version of Wahoo, with the oversized nose, is the worst of their worst. The current C logo just ain’t cutting it, but it’s still better than what preceded it.

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DETROIT TIGERS

The Detroit Tigers have had a number of stylized Olde English “D” logos over the years, but my personal favorite is the 1908-13 model. For pure cuteness sake, the 1967-77 pitching tiger (looks almost like he’s wearing a Pilgrim hat) is pretty good, while the 1967-77 crazy-eyes batting tiger shows the designer may have been influenced by some of the popular trends of the day. And for some reason, I’ve always liked the 1927-28 logo. The Tigers haven’t had too many duds, but their worst was the 1964-93 circular logo “DETROIT” on top, “TIGERS” on bottom, with an orange and almost navy=royal depiction of a tiger. Almost as bad, but not quite, is attempts to depict an angry beast crawling through the “D”. Pick one of those. Mashing both together is overkill.

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HOUSTON ASTROS

It’s still hard for me to say “Houston Astros” and “American League team” in the same sentence. But it is what it is. I LOVE their 1972 logo depicting the Astrodome with a set of baseballs (not quite) encircling it as would electrons about an atom. The team, their uniforms and first home (the first domed stadium in baseball) were all modern and futuristic, yet this logo has stood the test of time (even if the Astrodome, at least as their ballpark, hasn’t). After some 25 years of really tremendous logos, the team’s decision to drop the orange and blue for navy and metallic gold, reflected in their worst logo (1995-99) and their uniforms, was unfortunate. I rather liked the not-quite-a-full star logo that followed, but it’s not their best.

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KANSAS CITY ROYALS

Over the course of their 50 years in baseball, the Royals have usually had quite nice logos. Their primary logos have always been sharp, but their best was the 1986-92 version, which consisted of a more athletic gold crown and a larger “Royals” script. The later versions with metallic gold weren’t nearly as nice. On the flip side, when the Royals uniforms went BFBS in the early 2000s, their 2002-05 logo, featuring a black crown and black dropshadow (on an otherwise excellent “KC” mark) was their worst. Not awful, by any means, but black never belonged anywhere near their uniforms or their logos.

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LOS ANGELES ANGELS

First they were the LA Angels, then the California Angels, then the Anaheim Angels, then the LA Angels of Anaheim, and now they’re the Los Angeles Angels again. But they never had a better logo than their 1971-72 logo, which featured the State of California, with a halo over the northwest corner, and “angels” spelled out in lower case letters. Their original logo was cute and folksy, and they had some weird logos along the way (that’s an alternate from 1971-75). But nothing was as bad as the Disney-fied period, and particularly the 1997-2001 logo featuring crossed bats beneath a powder blue home plate, with a single angel wing forming part of the “A” in a crappy font. Ugh.

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MINNESOTA TWINS

Bar none, the interlocking “TC” (1961-present) is the team’s best logo — and one of the best in all sports. The Twins have really had some good logos throughout their history, from the surprisingly original “Minnie & Paul” (1961-75) to the surprisingly excellent Twins (with “win” underlined — 2010-present). I never liked the unis that went with that logo, but it was a damn fine logo. Really, very few duds in their history. Well, with the exception of the 1972 one-year “wonder” — yeah, it’s Minnie & Paul, but somehow the floating heads with a bridged river leading to a … baseball (and what’s with TWinS?) just doesn’t cut it.

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NEW YORK YANKEES

I’m NOT a Yankees fan, but damn, they’ve had some classic logos over the years — and very few of them to boot, which should say something about both their staying power and their quality. In fact their best (1968-present) and worst (1973-present) don’t look all that much different. But that script Yankees WITH the top hat is just so good, while their only alternate logo, which is sans-hat (and the unnecessary “NEW YORK”) just doesn’t look right — particularly how the “Y” in Yankees looks chopped off — it works with the baseball because that gets cut off due to the shape of the ball — but it doesn’t work as a stand-alone.

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OAKLAND ATHLETICS

All the A’s primary logos have been great, but their World Series-winning, polyester-wearing Swingin’ A’s of 1971-81 is just a cut above the rest. Their alternate logos, all of which have featured some form of elephant (which goes back to the Connie Mack Philly A’s days), have usually been pretty good too. Well, except for the bat-totin’, sunglass-wearin’, cool pachyderm in front of a blazing sun (1994-2002). That’s just…weird. And not in a good way either.

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SEATTLE MARINERS

The athletic gold circle with the “Seattle Mariners” (the upside down trident forming the “M”) and the words “Baseball Club” is endearingly simple yet beautiful. I’m not normally a fan of a team announcing the sport they play (I mean, it should be fairly obvious if you’re a big league club in a major sport), but this one works (they used that from 1977-80). Conversely, their 1987-92 logo, with “M’s” on a baseball almost borders on laziness. I realize by this time the team was probably colloquially known as the “M’s” but ugh. The squad hasn’t had too many logos since (and I dig the compass rose logo they’ve used since 1993), but there’s something that just seems “minor league” about that “M’s.”

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TAMPA BAY RAYS

Did I reverse these? Maybe. Could I have? Probably. Because the Rays have unfortunately never had good uniforms or logos throughout their 20-plus year history. I picked their original (1998-2000) logo because it’s so bad it’s good (an underrated factor in judging both uniforms and logos). At least it was colorful. Their “worst” logo (2008-18) isn’t really terrible, but it’s not very good either. Blue and white (ok, there’s a hint of athletic gold with the “sunray”) is so bland and the cliched diamond-with-bases beneath “Rays” (and powder blue drop shadow to boot) feels like their designer just checked off some requisite boxes rather than thinking outside one.

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TEXAS RANGERS

Other than the two year (1982-83) logo with the GIANT “TR” atop the state of Texas, the Rangers have had really great primary logos. Clearly the best among those, though, is the 1972-80 logo with the stetson atop the baseball, and TEXAS Rangers in a circus font (with drop shadow on “Rangers”) — AND there’s even a tiny sheriff star on the serif of the “R” — it’s just awesome. I just love that font and the whole thing is so over the top it just works. Some of their alternate logos haven’t been great, but by FAR the worst is their use of the Texas flag (2000-present) as a logo. Yes, you’re the Texas Rangers, but you’re not the only team who plays in the state. Plus, it’s not even a good representation of a waving Texas flag. I get the designer is trying to show a waving motion, but look at that closely — there’s a gray area (“shadow”?) and then there’s the “blue” area that shows, what … the back of the flag? No, if you wanted a waving Texas flag, something like this would have been better.

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TORONTO BLUE JAYS

Since their inception in 1977, the Blue Jays have had five primary logos — the first (1977-96) was their best, and their current logo is pretty sharp too. In between there were three not-nearly-as-good logos. What’s interesting here (and is true with a number of teams) — a squad’s best (or worst) logo doesn’t always jibe with a team’s best (or worst) uniform. Case in point: the Jays worst logo (2003) does not correspond to their worst uniform period. But that logo, with the smirk-on-his-face, roided up, holding a bat and tossing a ball is just…not good. Their worst uni-period (2004-11) actually had a better logo than the one-year wonder that preceded it. And that’s not easy to do.

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And there you have it — the best and worst logos of the 15 current American League teams. I’m sure you’ll agree with some…and disagree with others. Have at it!


Kreindler’s Korner

I had the distinct pleasure of featuring the wonderful artwork of artist Graig Kriendler on two occasions over the summer and fall of 2017, and more recently, in August of 2018.

For those who don’t wish to click the links, Graig paints baseball heroes (and regular guys) from the past, and is an immense talent.

Occasionally, I will be featuring his work on Uni Watch.

Here’s today’s offering (click to enlarge):

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Title: “The Caracoling Elephant”
Subject: Honus Wagner, 1909
Medium: Oil on linen
Size: 68″ x 34″

Sportswriter Hugh Fullerton once wrote, “If a man with a voice loud enough to make himself heard all over the United States should stand on top of Pike’s Peak and ask, ‘Who is the greatest ball player?’, untold millions of Americans would shout, ‘Wagner.’” The pugnacious Manager of the Giants, John McGraw claimed he was, “the nearest thing to a perfect ballplayer.”

Honus Wagner certainly did not look the part. His chest was broad, and looked like it had come from a barrel maker’s shop. His massive shoulders could have doubled for those of a bear. His legs were terribly bowed like a parentheses, and with his long arms and catcher’s mitt hands, players alike swore he could tie his shoes without bending over. In 1909, the German’s face, though 35 years old, looked twice that. As a matter of fact, he had looked twice his age for the more than the ten years he had been playing professional baseball. His nose resembled a beak that always faced the earth. He had ears like an elephant and cheekbones that could break glass.

On his way to the batter’s box, he never engaged in theatrics, never swung three bats at once to loosen up while on deck, or even methodically tap the bottom of his cleats to dislodge dirt. Well off of the plate and deep in the box, he rarely even glared at the pitcher. As a result, the hurler usually did not knowwhen Wagner was ready to hit, until the big man said so. The bat was held a few inches above the knob, with his hands spread a palm’s length apart. His wide stance turned into savagery as the delivery came in. It was said that in that split second, he looked like a ‘primeval man about to club a wild beast to death.’

His short compact swing was capable of rocketing line drives to all field with equal facility. And it seemed that regardless of what the pitcher gave him, he would lunge his bat forward with great efficiency. With those efforts, by 1909 Wagner had led the league in batting for six years, and since he joined the Pirates in 1900, he had averaged over .350 in that time span.

Honus’ fielding was as good as his exploits with the bat. So versatile was Wagner that he was able to play almost every position on the diamond – seemingly better than anyone else as well. With his shovel-like hands, he would throw the ball – and he would throw the ball hard. Players swore that when they were at the receiving end of a Wagner throw, it always slammed into their mitts with iron force, along with pebbles and dirt from the base paths. Grace played a very little role in his fielding arsenal, as he would go after a ball with reckless abandon, moving every single part of his body. Those same motions – along with wonderful instinct – gave Wagner great range on the field as he became an ideal relay man with his powerful throwing arm.

Even his glove bore scrutiny. Barely larger than his hand, the palm of the mitt had been stripped of all of its leather. In doing so, Wagner felt that he could grip the ball better, and do so with greater mobility. It was said that fans could see streams of sunlight piercing through the old thing, that is, when they could actually tell that he had it on.

The speed at which he ran the base paths was extraordinary. He was likened to a freight train when going from base to base, with his legs seemingly spinning like a wooden wheel riding over cobblestone, and his pelvis no more than 15 inches off of the ground. He led his league in stolen bases for five seasons, and was constantly at the top of the league in doubles and triples. With his 5’11”, 200 pound frame he could break up a double play better than anyone else, as well as block any base-runner when covering.

Mentally, few could match Honus’ aptitude on the diamond. While having a limited formal education, he seemed to instinctively break down hitters and pitchers, learning their tendencies and remembering them well. His manager Fred Clarke called Wagner “the brainiest player of all time.” Piloting the Pirates club for 19 years, he persuasively claimed that Honus had a sixth sense, and eyes in the back of his head.

The seemingly ungraceful Wagner is pictured lacing a safe hit into the outfield against the Cubs in 1909. The catcher and umpire follow the flight of the ball, as do the crowded stands of Chicago’s West Side Grounds. At the end of that season, Honus and his Pirates would find themselves in their second World Series of the modern era, where they would take their first title home to Pittsburgh. Beating a dominating Detroit Tiger team with Ty Cobb and Sam Crawford, the everyman batted .333 with eight hits and six stolen bases.

Perfection never looked so good.

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Thanks, Graig! You can (and should!) follow Graig on Twitter.


Uni Concepts & Tweaks

After being dormant for a while, the Uni Tweaks/Concepts have returned!

I hope you guys like this feature and will want to continue to submit your concepts and tweaks to me. If you do, Shoot me an E-mail (Phil (dot) Hecken (at) gmail (dot) com).

• • •

Occasionally I’ll have some concepts tweeted at me. This one comes from Joshua Kramer, who has created a fictional professional team from the state of Iowa — the Iowa Field Generals:

Check out the team/branding I created if Iowa were to have a professional football team.

A self-initiated project in which I wanted to create a pro American football team from scratch. I chose my home state of Iowa, which currently has no professional teams. From there I wanted to utilize my custom made type face “Hardin” for the project. The end result is an homage to the hard working heart-land farmer.

You can see more of Joshua’s work here.

Thanks. OK readers, tweeters (and concepters). If you have some tweaks or concepts, shoot ’em my way with a brief description of your creation and I’ll run ’em here.

Li’l Help?

Reader Vincent Wong-Crocitto shared the photos below and asked the following. Perhaps the readership can assist:

Hi there,

Got a quick question for you. Wondering if you have any idea when Sports Specialties had MLB licensing? My dad can’t remember when he got his old mets hat. I’ve attached a couple photos. I’m guessing late 80s, early 90s by the looks of it.

Thanks,
Vincent

Anyone (*coughJayBraimancough*) have any ideas?

And now a few words from Paul: Hi there. It was a very busy week on the blog, so here are some developments you may have missed:

• We’re currently raffling off three caps Hebrew Nationals softball caps. Full details here.

• We’re also running a design contest with the Portland Pickles — with a $150 cash prize for the winning designer. Full details here.

• Our latest Uni Watch product is our new Tequila Sunrise Deluxe Hoodie, and it’s really something to see. Don’t take my word for it — get the full scoop here.

• After a brief hiatus, the Uni Watch Classic cap is once again available for ordering. All fitted sizes from 7 to 8 are in stock, although we’re almost out of 7-1/4 and 7-3/8, so move fast on those. Full details here.

• Teespring is running a site-wide sale that has now been extended until 3am Eastern on Sunday morning (i.e., midnight Pacific tonight). You can get 10% off of everything in our Uni Watch shop and our Naming Wrongs shop by using the checkout code TSPRING10.

Thanks for listening. We now return you to your regularly scheduled Phil-fest.

Uni Watch News Ticker
By Phil

Baseball News: My buddy Andy Brown continues his tour of the US painting stadium scenes, including A’s vs. Blue Jays on Friday night. … On April 27, 1947, the Yankees held “Babe Ruth Day” at the Stadium. Here’s a great color shot of that day (from Bruce Menard). Also from Bruce, here’s some footage of the day. … Here’s a photo from Babe Ruth day, when 58,339 fans paid tribute to the Babe (from Ronnie Bolton). … And here’s a terrific painting of that day from Graig Kreindler. … And Tim Godden, whose work was featured in yesterday’s TGFTT, even created a Babe Ruth Day graphic. … Next Saturday (May 4), the Cincinnati Reds will have a celebration commemorating the 150th Anniversary of their first game. They’ll also wear the first of 15 throwback unis they’ve planned for the season (that will be the 1902 home uni. I should have full coverage of that the next day. … The Fresno Grizzlies (Class AAA; Pacific Coast League) are planning a car show in which the “Best in Show” will be adapted into the 2020 branding for Fresno Lowriders, the team’s Copa de la Diversión alter-ego. … “Not sure if anyone noticed this, but it appears @Royals LF Alex Gordon wore the wrong hat in [Friday] night’s game” says Michael Olguin. … The Daytona Tortugas are wearing special First Responders jerseys this weekend (from Daytona Tortugas). … Tough to see in this photo, but a nice set of rups on the Georgia pitcher (from Nick Proto). … I’m not sure what team this is, but they channel the BoSox nicely (from Danny). … ICYMI: On Friday night, the Salem Red Sox wore uniforms honoring the 75th anniversary of D-Day (from Daffy-Deuce). … While discussing the Royals wearing gold on their uniforms (originally done in 2016 to honor the 2016 World Series Champions), I mentioned to Chris Creamer it should have been a Mets/Jays series that year. He replied, “Sigh…I know” and proceeded to produced a graphic depicting how a Mets/Jays series (logos, banners, merch & such) might have looked. … Baylor baseball has a set of very dark gray pants (from Nole York City). … New mascot from Brandiose, who write, “When a logo becomes a mascot! “Toasty,” the mascot for the Rocky Mountain Vibes in all his marshmallowy, graham crackery, chocolatey goodness. You’ve never seen so much confection look so fit!” … J.W. Cannon tweets, “These July 4th Bomb Pop jerseys from the @JaxShrimp are so MURICA.” … The Louisville Bats (and I’m not sure in what promotion it was) wore specialty jerseys and caps yesterday, but kept their regular pants and red socks (from Evan Nash). … Tweeter Shailesh notes this is “[n]ot uniform-related but I found it interesting. @ABC7Chicago had the Cubs as the home team for two outs in the 1st before they fixed it.” … From Griffin Smith: “All women’s sports have a Power of Pink game, [last] night is softballs turn and this is the final Power of Pink game across all sports.” … Good spot from Patches O’Houlihan who spotted this MLB Network thumbs-up guy wearing a 2018 MLB Postseason polo. … Apparently FSU had Military Appreciation jerseys yesterday (from Mike Lucia). … In a sea of (mostly) red-clad Nats fans yesterday, there was one Padres fan rocking the brown (from Maximiliano). … This is both cute and awesome: Matthew Algeo writes, “Zaya made her own Nats t-shirt today, drawing the logo and taping it to an old shirt.” … Reader Ronnie Yates went to a Bowie Baysox game yesterday and saw something odd. “A few of the Bowie players had a bat with a weird knob at the end. It almost looked like a bottle cap surrounded in resin, but I was thinking maybe it was some sort of sensor.”

NFL News: “Raiders #1 pick calling day two selection Trayvon Mulllen on Friday,” says Willie Gabel. “I noticed a Reebok visor. Are Reebok sneaking back into the NFL fan gear canon?” This was also noticed by Rudy Gutierrez, who writes, “Check out the raiders # 1 pick in a old Reebok visor.” … ICYMI: Alshon Jeffery has been hiding jerseys around Philly for young fans to find. … Check out this awesome, vintage Thermos (from Eric Stangel). … Here’s a cool Joe Namath jigsaw puzzle that Brad Eenhuis found at a thrift store in Iowa City for $12.99. … Good lord, I’m not sure who is responsible for this but a Bengals draftee was given a jersey with an upside down “6” acting as a “9”. Quality control, my friends (from Wily Snow Pena).

College Football News: OK — this one is interesting. Griffin Smith reports that NFL prospect Jordan Hill appears to have his own logo. However, it appears it’s not his logo but it was apparently stolen from Jordan Herald! (from Jordan Herald himself). … ICYMI: Furman now has gray footall uniforms (from T Gordo).

NBA/Basketball News: With the untimely passing of Celtics great John Havlicek, yesterday’s ticker noted the Celtics would wear a black striped patch on their uniforms with a white “17” across the patch. Now we have a look at the patch. … Here are the inaugural uniforms for the Guelph Nighthawks of the CEBL (from Wade Heidt).

Soccer News: ICYMI: Yesterday’s ticker noted Minneapolis City FC (ugh) released a new jersey. Here’s a look at the “design” process (from John Flory, who notes the “kit with the subtle dig at Forward Madison FC”). … Speaking of Forward Madison, one reviewer thinks they have the best kit in the USL. … FC Wichita Falls, a member of the US Arena Pro Soccer League, have released the design for their official uniforms. … Pumas UNAM (soccer LigaMX) will be doning a black ribbon for Juan José Muñante who died last week (April 23rd) and played for Pumas for 5 years in the 70s. Submitter Omar Jalife adds, “He is a fan favourite, even being part of the starting XI voted by fans in 2014. As you can see in the link, the memorial has his face, name, birth and death year and his number. Also, it is located where most teams have their crest, but since UNAM has used their logo on the chest (a lá MLB turn the clocks) since the 70s, that space is available.” … Good looking (kinda) color vs. color matchup yesterday between NYCFC and Orlando (from BandaBear).

Grab Bag: “Well timed promotion in Super Rugby” notes Jon Horton as the Stormers and Bulls went full Avengers yesterday in Super Rugby. A new Avengers movie (“End Game”) opened this weekend. … Trollin: Golfer Jason Dufner played his round at the Zurich Classic in New Orleans on Friday wearing a “Saints Got Robbed” hat (from Joe Nocella). … Did you ever wonder why airlines obsess over paint jobs on their planes? Me neither, but wonder no more (from James Gilbert). … Check out the New York Jets-inspired jerseys worn last night by Supercross rider Christian Craig at the Meadowlands MetLife Stadium (from Justin Bruce and also from John Flory). … Here’s a Arizona sports logo mashup on a laptop (from Adam Vitcavage). … Tweeter Ben Hayden writes, “[N]ot sure when this was taken at Albany down in the Bahamas but TW [Tiger Woods] missed a belt loop and it’s driving me insane.” … Is there room for still more awesomeness in today’s ticker? Yep. Check out Nelson B.C.’s summer curling bonspiel (ca. 1945). Submitter Will Scheibler notes the post includes tourism travelogue clip of as summer curling bonspiel in Nelson, British Columbia.

A Simple (Game)Plan: Re-Reimagining The NY Jets

By Phil Hecken

Earlier this month, as you’re all aware, the New York Jets introduced a redesign of their helmet and uniforms (pretty much only the third re-design in their 60 season history). Paul covered the unveiling and I followed up the next day with my own assessment (scroll down). Normally when a team redesigns, there’s a few oohs-and-aahs, a stream of (mostly) negative commentariat from social media, and even a reader tweak or two. But then the hysteria dies down and we wait to see the new unis on the field (or even a first rounder displaying his wares). Rarely will there be a professional designer seeking to reimagine the unis & helmets right after an unveiling.

But my pal, Tom O’Grady (who designed uniforms in the NBA for 13 years, among other things) immediately set to the task of a re-redesign. For those who aren’t aware, Tom is currently the Chief Creative Officer of Gameplan Creative, a “global sports + entertainment agency celebrating 15-years of building better brands,” and who posts on Twitter from the GameplanChicago account. Shortly after the Jets new uniform unveiling, I noticed Tom tweeted a new logo and helmet, which was followed shortly by the following:

I was immediately struck by the helmet — particularly the “steel” look portrayed. A couple weeks ago I asked Tom if he was planning on doing more and if he’d like to share his designs with Uni Watch. He did (and boy did he ever). Tom prepared the following, which takes a look at Tom and company’s vision for how they would have done a Jets redesign, had they had the chance. It’s a great look not only into what a professional design team will do (including “storytelling” lol) and how a design goes from concept to fruition. I’ve reposted below the entire project as Tom sent it to me. I think you’ll really enjoy this one!

• • • • •

BRIEF NEW YORK JETS HISTORY + SIGNIFICANCE TO NFL EVOLUTION.

In 1969, the green and white clad New York Jets changed the NFL forever.

The upstart AFL had lost the first two Super Bowls to the establishment NFL with Vince Lombardi leading the Green Bay Packers by lopsided scores of 35 to 10 over the Chiefs and 33 to 14 over the Oakland Raiders. In 1969, the Jets were to face the powerhouse Baltimore Colts led by another symbol of the NFL establishment, quarterback Johnny Unitas. The Jets were led by a flamboyant playboy wearing the white Puma cleats and Fu Manchu mustache, the perfect polar opposite match-up. The Colts were heavily favored with a gaudy 13-1 record in the senior NFL… the Jets were just happy to be there. But one strange (potentially disastrous) thing happened during Super Bowl week.

BROADWAY JOE WILLIE NAMATH GUARANTEES A SUPER BOWL WIN.

The Jets flashy quarterback guaranteed the Jets would beat the Colts.

The promise made national news with sports fans everywhere waiting for the Colts to make Namath pay for his braggadocious statement. Except, one thing happened during Super Bowl III, the Jets played a near perfect game and they defeated the heavily favored Colts, 16-3. Still one of the biggest upsets in NFL history. The game made Joe Namath a household name, during a time where taking on the establishment, dressing outlandishly and playing loose with life was becoming the culture of America. Joe became a symbol of America’s counter culture challenging society norms in place for decades in America.

The Jets victory gave the AFL (American Football League) legitimacy and beginning in 1969 the NFL and AFL were considered equal leagues with equal talent. 57 years later and Super Bowl III in 1969 is still the Jets only NFL Championship. The uniform the Jets wore from 1965 through 1977 was the uniform made popular by the Jets historic Super Bowl upset in 1969.

THE NEW YORK JETS TEAM LOGO HISTORY

The name Jets came from the “Jet Age” and the team’s new Shea Stadium home was between LaGuardia and Idlewild (soon to become JFK) airports.

THE NEW YORK JETS UNIFORM HISTORY

With some minor changes in jersey numbers, sleeve and pants stripping and shades of green, the Jets have had only two really different uniform designs since changing their name and colors from NY Titans to New York Jets. The design of both styles of uniform have been popular with Jets fans and we are not sure the reasoning behind why the team decided to their uniforms in early April of this year. The two primary Jets helmets have gone through minor changes including mask colors and color of the helmets from white to green and back to white.

NEW YORK JETS TEAM IDENTITY REBRAND LAUNCH.

The New York Jets redesign unveiled on Thursday evening, April 4th at a private event in New York City was met with strong feelings about the teams new primary logo, new colors and new team uniform designs. Twitterverse immediately came alive with thousands of posts from Jets and football fans, with some positive but many more negative about the redesign.

That evening, Brigitte Smith, Gameplan Sr. Designer and I were working late on a project and when prepping a post to Twitter we noticed the Jets new identity story TAKE FLIGHT trending and we began to review the different posts (some from esteemed Uni Watch founder, Paul Lukas) and we were struck with how significant the change was, and how it didn’t really look or feel like the NY Jets but more
like North Texas or Marshall college football team identities with the green and black color schemes.

Our team came to a quick and clear conclusion. The new team redesign did not move the Jets brand forward. We concluded the new Nike design actually sent the overall look backwards from the previous identity, which had become a classic. We took to Twitter to provide a uniform critique of the new design and overall it was not flattering. And clearly we were not alone. The all black uniform was panned universally. The JETS are not a team that should ever feature black as part of their identity. BFBS (black for black’s sake) feels like a fad left behind a decade ago.


1. NY JETS PRIMARY LOGO – We found a series of small design flaws with the new design which when added up weakened an already fairly pedestrian design solution.

1.) Too much space between NEW YORK and JETS.
2.) Five laces on the ball when there should be eight.
3.) The ball covers up too much of the J E T S.
4.) Football shaped oval is redundant w/inner ball.
5.) The J and E are letter spaced too close together.
6.) Too much green space around the lettering and ball.
7.) An additional inner line in the oval would enhance logo.


2. NY JETS HELMET. We were surprised to see a shiny green chrome helmet for the Jets. The design looked like it belonged to a mid-major college, or another Oregon shiny-things helmet or possibly one of the expansion Alliance of American Football teams which would have been appropriate as they would be wise to attract the attention of difference but it did not match the classic National Football League standard. We thought taking the JETS out the oval and not featuring any stripe down the center of the helmet seemed liked a missed opportunity.

3. NEW YORK WORDMARK. Too big. Too much overkill on an area of the uniform that doesn’t need such large branding.

4. NY JETS ALL BLACK UNIFORMS. The black uniform was panned universally. The JETS are NOT a black branded identity and BFBS seems like something left behind a decade ago.

. . .

NEW YORK JETS LOGO BRAND DIAGNOSTIC.

Gameplan Sr. Designer Brigitte Smith and I did a quick analysis of the previous Jets logo and discovered some interesting facts and notes about the Jets primary logos.

1. The JETS are the only NFL team to have a football included in their logo.
2. The new JETS logo is the only NFL team with a full city name “NEW YORK”.
3. The RAIDERS and JETS are the only NFL teams with nicknames in their logo.
4. The JETS are the only pro sports team to have one-color green as their color.
5. An official NFL football has eight laces, not five, as JETS use in their logo.

And what was our brand design analysis takeaway? The JETS have the most basic, straightforward team logo of all the 32-teams in the National Football League.

From those observations, our team also drew some observations about what JETS could imply as we discussed creating a concept identity for the NFL club, basically we wrote our own creative brief, and acted as our own design agency and client.

The new and previous NY JETS primary logos did NOT include:

• A jet within the primary logo (more abstract than the Winnipeg Jets jet)
• The use of a second or third color to extend options team partners would have instead of a challenging standalone one-color green logo. Designers don’t count “white” as an official color although it’s included in specs for ink and thread needs.
• The use of a football icon for a team which has played in the NFL for 57 years seems unneccessary as fans of the game understand the JETS are part of the League. If JETS were an expansion team, a football would be more appropriate.
• The Giants NY, Yankees NY, Mets NY, Islanders NY and the Knicks in the past featured NY… and so did the Jets. Our thought was to move away from an NY and replace with an NYJ to provide their own unique take on NY.

. . .

GAMEPLAN CREATIVE DESIGN JETS PRIMARY LOGO

The new Jets logo felt it was missing brand triggers to appeal to football fans and work at retail.

1.) Use the NYJ acronym to appeal to all levels of sports/casual fans.
2.) Feature an oval which appears fast and balanced.
3.) Include a silver fighter jet never featured in the Jets history.
4. Include curved silver horizon line within NYJ suggesting flight.
5.) Add a bright third color neon green jet streak to add movement
6.) Crop tight on elements to maximize negative space conflict.
7.) Use metallic silver to reflect jets structural property.

SIDE-BY-SIDE OF JETS LOGO AND GAMEPLAN CREATIVE VARIATION.

GAMEPLAN CREATIVE DESIGN NEW YORK JETS HELMET – Typically, our agency would create a series of different design options but since this was only a conceptual design option, Brigitte and I went with one strong idea.

Gameplan Creative design highlights were:

• Feature a fighter jet plane, not a commercial passenger plane.
• Use a brushed silver treatment for the helmet shell.
• Apply the NYJ new logo sticker adding a few faux bolts graphics.
• Add a green facemask and chin strap onto the new helmet design.
• Complete design with a faux runway helmet stripe down the center.
• The helmet numbers are intended to match the team jersey fonts.



Add a J that fits the NY


Merge the NYJ w/current football


Is the football shape right?

Work through jet details



. . .

THE UNIFORMS

HOME

ROAD

. . .

ADDITIONAL DETAILS

ALTERNATE HELMET DESIGN

BUMPER (SILVER HELMET)

NUMBERS

Option 1

Option 2

“JETS” COMPASS

SUMMATION

A redesign concept project like Brigitte Smith and I tackled on the Jets rebrand is a great pleasure for a designer as you are outfitter, agency, team and league with NO restrictions. This frees up the designer to explore possibilities without owner input, team brand police or over aggressive licensees trying to put their own spin on a team design that should flow naturally and with relevancy to the region, history and fan passion of which the Jets fans have NO shortage (a very good thing!).

• • • • •

And there you have it! Thanks, Tom — great look into the redesign thought process.

Readers? What say you?


Uni Concepts & Tweaks

After being dormant for a while, the Uni Tweaks/Concepts have returned!

I hope you guys like this feature and will want to continue to submit your concepts and tweaks to me. If you do, Shoot me an E-mail (Phil (dot) Hecken (at) gmail (dot) com).

• • •

I received the following e-mail from Jakob “Jake” Hamar, who submitted a bunch of logo and jersey concepts for the LA Clippers:

Hi Phil,

My name is Jake Hamar, and I live in Reno, Nevada. Hope you’re doing man. I love the page. Big fan for a long time. It inspired me to kinda make my own jerseys and logos, so to speak. I’m just learning Photo Shop and Adobe Spark. Both great programs!

I have made a few logos of my own for the LA Clippers. They seem like a team with really bad branding. Their jerseys are like something you would buy at Walmart. Clippers fans deserve better. Steve Ballmer deserves better.I have made some mockups of some logos, jerseys and also some stuff of the LA Stars, the ABA team from the 70’s whose jerseys the Clippers would wear a few years ago.

If you could check out some of my logos and jerseys, I would really appreciate it! Have a great rest of your week.

Thanks!

-Jake

Click to enlarge any of the images below:

• • •

Thanks Jake. OK readers (and concepters). If you have some tweaks or concepts, shoot ’em my way with a brief description of your creation and I’ll run ’em here.

And now a few words from Paul: Hi there. It was a very busy week on the blog, so here are some developments you may have missed:

• We’re currently raffling off three caps Hebrew Nationals softball caps. Full details here.

• We’re also running a design contest with the Portland Pickles — with a $150 cash prize for the winning designer. Full details here.

• Our latest Uni Watch product is our new Tequila Sunrise Deluxe Hoodie, and it’s really something to see. Don’t take my word for it — get the full scoop here.

• After a brief hiatus, the Uni Watch Classic cap is once again available for ordering. All fitted sizes from 7 to 8 are in stock, although we’re almost out of 7-1/4 and 7-3/8, so move fast on those. Full details here.

• Teespring is running a site-wide sale that has now been extended until 3am Eastern on Sunday morning (i.e., midnight Pacific tonight). You can get 10% off of everything in our Uni Watch shop and our Naming Wrongs shop by using the checkout code TSPRING10.

Thanks for listening. We now return you to your regularly scheduled Phil-fest.

Too Good For the Ticker
Too Good…

for the Ticker

Got an tweet yesterday from Tim Godden who posted this amazing illustration that’s simply TGFTT.

Check it out:

• • •

Originally, I thought he was referring to this tweet, but that’s by SABR BioProject.

So I scrolled a lot deeper and here’s that thread. Lots of good looks (in color!) of those New York teams (Giants, Yankees & Dodgers) who sported the Trylon & Perisphere patch that season.

• • •

ALSO! My pal Rob Brown from Team Brown Apparel tweeted this out yesterday:

I asked him if that was the “official” 100th Anniversary Logo for the Negro Leagues and indeed, it is 100% official, designed by the Negro League Baseball Museum — which is awesome.

First time I’ve seen this. More info/pics in the tweet and thread.

OK. Now, on to the ticker…

The Ticker
By Anthony Emerson

Baseball News: Phillies OF Nick Williams’ helmet was missing its logo during last night’s game (from many, many readers). … Prior to his MLB debut, Blue Jays OF Vladimir Guerrero Jr. wore his dad’s Expos jersey (thanks, Paul). … The Twins will give away purple jerseys and caps with the Prince symbol for their third annual “Prince Night” on June 14 (thanks, Phil). …. The Corpus Christi Hooks have unveiled their “Corpus Christi Blue Ghosts” gear (from Ignacio Salazar). … Here are the Military Appreciation uniforms for the Salem Red Sox. … Paul asks if anyone’s ever seen a bobblehead with c-flap before, like this one for Ronald Acuña Jr. … Illinois player Jack Yalowitz, who is normally No. 3, had his luggage lost, so he wore No. 22 for last night’s game against Nebraska (from Aaron Stock). … Have you ever seen a high school have a bullpen cart? That’s Corona (Ca.) High (from Andres Cardenas). … Also posted in the hockey section: Rawlings teamed up with the Blues to produce Blues-themed baseball gloves (from Greg Burda). … Canada Post has unveiled a stamp (paywalled link) honoring the Vancouver Asahi baseball team (from @ohhhsourry).

NFL News: The Cardinals posted a Twitter video of their equipment manager applying Kyler Murray’s nameplate to a jersey (from Ted Jones). … Speaking of the Cardinals, a different Twitter video of Murray in the new video game Madden NFL 20 may have briefly revealed a new sock style for the team (from Tanner Liby). … Russell Goutierez sends along Merv Conning’s Evolution of the Uniform series of paintings from the book The First Fifty Years.

College/High School Football News: Maryland’s spring game helmets are surprisingly reserved and very nice (from Andrew Cosentino). … Furman is adding a GFGS uni (from Russell Dorn).

Hockey News: NBC identified Islanders goalie Robin Lehner as a member of the (eliminated) Lightning during last night’s Islanders/Hurricanes game (from Bryan Molloy and Jared Allen). … The Blues’ arena usually has green outdoor lighting because of the corporate advertiser, but they’ve changed them to blue as the Blues are taking on the green-clad Stars in this round of the playoffs (from AJ Kitchen). … Speaking of the Blues and cross-posted from the baseball section: Rawlings teamed up with the Blues to produce Blues-themed baseball gloves (from Greg Burda).

NBA News: Naturally, the Celtics will wear a black memorial band with a white No. 17 in honor of John Havlicek. The Celtics will wear the band for the remainder of the playoffs (from Mike Chamernik and Chris Schwartz). … The Philadelphia Inquirer used the 1997-2009 Sixers logo in in yesterday’s issue (from @ItsCurran).

Soccer News: Yeovil Town FC is asking fans to choose next season’s primary and change kits (from Alex Evans). … Minneapolis City SC unveiled their “City of Lakes” kit yesterday (from Ed Żelaski).
.

Grab Bag: Something called StadiumTalk.com ranked the 25 worst uniforms in US sports history, and I know Uni Watch readers will have problems with the list (from @walbergLines). … Andrew Gruttadaro of The Ringer wrote an article about the Marvel Cinematic Universe’s ubiquitous logoless baseball caps (from Paul Friedmann). … Check out the T-shirts Eric Stoker‘s friend made for Stonington (Ct.) High’s track and field team.

A Uni Watch Look at the 2019 NFL Draft

I’m right about a lot of things — the viability of a media project about uniforms, the non-viability of the AAF, the loathsomeness of purple — but I’m also wrong about a lot of things. Sometimes very wrong, spectacularly wrong.

I remember, for example, when bottled water started becoming readily available. I was in high school at the time, and I thought, “This is never going to work. Who’s going to pay for bottled water? You can get water for free from the faucet!” Uh, right.

Similarly, I remember when sports bars started appearing. “Who needs a special bar just to watch sports?” I thought. “You go down to your local bar, they have the ballgame on the TV — boom, there’s your sports bar!” Well, we all know how that turned out.

And when the NFL Draft started being televised, I thought to myself, “Who the hell would watch that?”

About half the country, as it turns out. I confess that I still don’t understand the appeal, but whatever — there were some uni-related developments. One at a time:

• The Bills used draft day to quietly unveil their new 60th-season logo (as always, I wish they’d wait until next season and celebrated the anniversary, not the ordinal):

it’s not yet clear, at least to me, if this logo will be worn as a jersey patch. Photos of the Bills’ top draft pick last night, Ed Oliver, only showed the back of his jersey.

• After the Jets — you know, the team that just held a big unveiling event for their new logo and uniforms — chose Alabama defensive end Quinnen Williams, he tweeted an ad of himself wearing a cap with the team’s outdated/obsolete logo:

• ESPN showed a graphic with the Titans’ old white helmet instead of their current navy helmet — a particularly egregious error when you consider that the draft was held in Nashville:

• Kentucky linebacker Josh Allen, who was drafted by the Jaguars, wore a suit with a custom lining that honored his son.

• Speaking of Allen, a giant poster of him had to be removed from the side of a building near the draft because the NFL didn’t grant permission for its logo to appear on the poster.

• ESPN reportedly had a policy that it would not show draftees at their homes or at parties if sponsorship advertising logos were visible on-camera. Good.

• Here’s the annual obligatory story about how the onstage draft jerseys get lettered up so quickly.

• Although it doesn’t apply to the upcoming season, Rams COO Kevin Demoff gave some hints about the team’s upcoming 2020 redesign.

• And then there’s this, from reader Michael Stoudt:

My wife and I attended the Buccaneers’ draft party at Raymond James Stadium. (We’re actually Eagles fans, but we love Bruce Arians, the Bucs’ head coach.) I was wearing a Uni Watch T-shirt, and we were walking the concourse when this guy Kevin saw me and shouted, “Uni Watch! I love it! I read him every day! I even wrote to him that this is my uniform. Could I get a picture with a fellow Uni Watcher?” So we took this photo:

I thought it neat, because I really wasn’t expecting anything. But it’s nice that Uni Watch is well known.

Indeed! Thanks for sharing that, Michael. And Kevin, if you’re reading this, thanks for the support!

(My thanks to Josh Hinton, Brian Petree, Josh P., our own Yianni Varonis, and Phil for their contributions to this section.)

• • • • •

• • • • •

Odd couple: Someone on Twitter the other day said that the negative space on the Idaho state highway sign forms a silhouette that looks like “sad Nixon.” I’d never really noticed the face-profile silhouette before (admittedly, it’s been more than 20 years since I’ve been in Idaho), but once he pointed it out, it occurred to me that it looks a lot like the great graphic designer Milton Glaser’s famous poster of Bob Dylan!

(My thanks to Ted Bloss for bringing the “sad Nixon” tweet to my attention.)

• • • • •

• • • • •

rafflet ticket by ben thoma.jpg

ITEM! Hebrew National cap raffle: Remember my recent post about the all-Jewish softball team called the Hebrew Nationals? Several of you asked if the the team’s “HN” caps were available for purchase. I asked the folks at Conagra (Hebrew National’s parent company) about that, and they said they don’t want to sell the caps, but they do have three extras that they’re letting me raffle off.

The caps are adjustable, so one size fits all. To enter, send an email with your shipping address to the raffle in-box by 7pm Eastern on Sunday. One entry per person. I’ll announce the three winners on Monday.

My continued thanks to the Conagra crew, who’ve been wonderful in every aspect of this story.

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Hoodie reminder: In case you missed it on Thursday, I announced the launch of our spectacular new Uni Watch Tequila Sunrise Deluxe Hoodie. Check this out (for all pics, you can click to enlarge):

The stripes inside the hood are a nice touch, right? And there’s another fun detail lurking inside of the pocket:

Okay, so that doesn’t really mean anything in the grand scheme of things, but it’s a nice little Easter egg. My Teespring contact, Jimmy Nutini Jr,, gets credit for that one.

Here’s how it looks from the back:

As for the fabric: It’s 100% polyester (that’s the nature of the beast when doing sublimation), so it’s not as plush as a cotton hoodie. But it’s not bad — it feels properly substantial, like a hoodie should, and the interior is a bit fleece-y. All in all, very comfortable:

As with all sublimated products, this one will cost ya — the price is $47.99. That’s all because of the wholesale unit price, not due to any gouging at my end (my cut for this item is the same as for a normal screen-printed T-shirt).

But I honestly think it’s a pretty sweet item. You can order it here.

And that leads us to….

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Teespring sale reminder: In case you missed it on Thursday, Teespring, which hosts our Uni Watch shop and the Naming Wrongs shop, is running a limited-time sale. From now through noon Eastern on Saturday, you can get 10% off any of our products by using the checkout code TSPRING10. Uni Watch will make the same profit on each item, and Teespring will cover the difference.

This discount applies to everything in both shops, including the hoodie described above, our popular Goodywear-inspired T-shirt, our tequila sunrise deluxe sublimated shirt, all of our coffee mugs, the full slate of Naming Wrongs shirts, and more.

My thanks, as always, for considering our products.

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Design contest reminder: In case you missed it on Monday, Uni Watch is teaming up with the Portland Pickles — that’s a college wood bat summer team — for a contest to design the Pickles’ “Future Baseball Night” jersey, which will be worn on July 4. There’s a $150 cash prize for the winning designer, along with a free futuristic jersey.

Entry deadline is Friday, May 3. Full details on the contest rules and entry requirements, along with the full scoop on what “Future Baseball Night” will entail, can be found here.

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The Ticker
By Yianni Varonis

Baseball News: A few items from Phil: Miami introduced new jerseys made from ocean plastic, and the Indianapolis Indians unveiled a new alternate that was likely inspired by the NBA’s “city edition” uniforms (also from Michael Grace and Jarrod Campbell). … The Dodgers will celebrate the 30th anniversary of the TV show Seinfeld by giving certain fans a commemorative baseball that reads: “30 years of nothing, now that’s something” (from multiple readers). … New Blue Jays call-up 3B Vladimir Guerrero Jr. will wear the same No. 27 that his father wore throughout his big league career (from Gabriel Hurl). … The Reds have copied a Braves promotion by challenging fans to race a team representative who, in Cincinnati, wears a classic uniform. … The West Virginia Power have new Charleston Wheelers throwback jerseys. Unfortunately, neither the pants nor the caps match (from Joshua Exline). … The Binghamton Rumble Ponies will wear “Peanuts”-themed jerseys tomorrow, modeled after Charlie Brown’s famous yellow shirt (from Justin Grimes). … The Ohama Storm Chasers played last night as the Omaha Sizzle.

NFL News: It was announced last evening that Chiefs QB Patrick Mahomes will grace the cover of Madden NFL 20. That also provides our first look at how the NFL 100 logo will look on the collar of a Chiefs jersey.

Hockey News: Golden Knights owner Bill Foley said it’s highly likely that the team will wear an alternate uniform next season (from Phil and multiple readers). … Maple Leafs F Patrick Marleau will reportedly try to transition to a one-piece stick in order to help improve his game (from @jehawks).

Soccer News: The new home, away, and third kits of Scottish club Rangers probably leaked (from Ed Zelaski). … Also from Ed: Polish club Wisła Kraków was forced to play multiple underage players as the result of injury, necessitating that the team replace the betting advertisement from those players’ shirts with a generic slogan. … German club Borussia Mönchengladbach’s new home kit may have been leaked (from Josh Hinton). … The Canadian Premier League has revealed the inaugural home and away kits of each of its seven founding clubs (from Andy Rawlings). … Chelsea’s new away kit has leaked (from Josh Hinton). … Also from Josh: Here are this weekend’s Premier League uni matchups. … Starting next season, the name of Tottenham Hotspur’s women’s team will change from “Spurs Ladies” to “Tottenham Hotspur Women” (from our own Jamie Rathjen).

Grab Bag: From Phil: Here’s how Fanatics “is taking over sports apparel one league at a time.” … Tennis pro Naomi Osaka played her first tournament after signing with Nike, and interestingly, she’s allowed to wear ad patches, unlike other Nike athletes (from our own Brinke Guthrie). … Joe Biden’s new campaign logo has already led to a lot of criticism on various fronts. … We’re way late on this, but Geico is now advertising on the tail of all NLL jerseys. Additional info here. … United Airlines will feature its first new design in a decade by scrapping the gold from the exterior of its planes in favor of blue. … Here’s the backstory on the origins of the Ferrari logo. … IKEA has made a very subtle update to its logo. … A high school administrator in Texas was suspended for forcing a black student to cover a shaved hair design with permanent marker. … E-sports has given rise to its own apparel style (NYT link) (from Tom Turner). … Have you noticed that the Marvel Cinematic Universe is filled with logo-free caps? (From Jason Hillyer.)

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What Paul did last night: One of the great things about my current neighborhood is that it’s extremely diverse, with lots of Pakistanis, Yemenis, Orthodox Jews, and more. There’s also a Mormon church, and we’ll sometimes see their missionaries around the ’hood, wearing their nametags that identify them as Brother James or Sister Janet or whatever.

Anyway: Last night the Tugboat Captain and I met after work at a nearby-ish bar. After a few drinks, some super-excellent jerk pork, and watching that Jeopardy! guy win again, we went to the bus stop to catch a ride home. There were two young women already waiting at the bus stop, and they started chatting with us. Turns out they were Mormon missionaries — one from Oregon and one from the Congo! They’d been in Brooklyn for just a few weeks.

Unfortunately, I’ve already forgotten their names, but we chatted with them for the whole ride home. Fascinating stuff. And it was the Congolese woman’s birthday! How weird it must be to have spent it so far from home, in a place so very different from home.

Sometimes I really fucking love New York.

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Today we wish a fond farewell to Yianni Varonis, who is contributing his final Ticker to the site today before moving on to greener pastures on Capitol Hill, where he’s about to become the Communications Director for U.S. Rep. Zoe Lofgren of California. Yianni came on board as a Ticker assistant last fall and was a quick study, producing excellent work for our Friday entries. He’ll be missed!

Beginning next week, Anthony Emerson, who for the past couple of years has been producing the Tickers that appear on Saturdays, will add Friday Tickers to his portfolio. Congrats to him on the increased role on the site, and bon voyage to Yianni. — Paul