Gear up for the 2020 MLB Season with new gear from Nike

Auction Action

As you may have noticed in the left-hand sidebar, our friends at Grey Flannel Auctions are running another catalog auction. Let’s look at some of the highlights:

• We’ll begin with the item shown above. Can you believe NBA players actually wore these? That’s a 1976 New Orleans Jazz warm-up top. This one actually belonged to Pistol Pete himself!

• I think we may have seen one this in a previous Grey Flannel auction catalog, but taking another look definitely won’t hurt when it comes to this spectacular Syracuse Nationals warm-up jacket!

• Oh man, if this were in my size (and if I had a lot more disposable income than I actually do), I’d be all over this magnificent green/yellow 1968 San Diego Rockets shooting shirt. Right up my alley!

• Can never get enough of the San Francisco Warrors’ classic “The City” design, with the massive cable car numbers on the back.

• Ooooh, even with some moth holes, this 1934 Chicago Bears jacket is a beauty. Love that chenille logo and lettering!

• Speaking of football jacket, check out this Texas Longhorns model, worn by coach Darrell Royal himself.

• As a young Mets fan in the early 1970s, I pored over all the fine print in the team’s yearbooks and programs, so I know that their equipment manager in those days was a guy named Herb Norman. But I didn’t know that he also had the equipment gig for the Jets until I saw this auction listing for his Super Bowl III championship ring. I was like, “Herb Norman — I know that name!” (The auction catalog also has Norman’s 1973 Mets 1973 N.L. championship ring.)

• Speaking of championship rings, I love how this 1944 Cardinals World Series ring shows the birds on the bat on the side of the ring.

• And speaking of the birds on the bat, here’s a jersey from the one season when the birds were AWOL — the (in)famous 1956 one-year style, complete with Slugger Bird on the left sleeve. This one was worn by Stan the Man!’

• And speaking of the Cardinals’ sleeves, I always thought it was weird that they wore sleeve numbers on both sleeves in 1979 and ’80, as seen on this 1979 Lou Brock gamer.

• This is really a listing for an autographed scorecard from the 1951 Baseball Hall of Fame Game, but what I like is the little pin that comes with it!

• I’ve known for many years that the Cubs had handwritten uni numbers inside their raised helmet logos in the 1960s and early ’70s. But I don’t think I’ve ever seen such an up-close view as the one provided by this 1969 Ernie Banks helmet.

• Here’s an Ichiro jersey from his days in Japan, with massive “Ichiro” NOB lettering.

• Has any word on a uniform ever been more jarringly interrupted than the word “Louis” on this 1944 St. Louis Browns jersey? Nice stars/stripes shield for World War II, too.

• And we conclude with one of the strangest jersey designs in MLB history: Baseball chest insignias are usually either straight, arched, or sloped “uphill,” but the 1928 Tigers wore their team name sloping downhill. Bizarre!

Want to see more? Here’s the full online catalog.

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ITEM! Contest results: My latest Uni Watch design challenge was to come up with patches, decals, or other signifiers that teams and leagues could wear to acknowledge this year’s racial justice uprising.

We got some good submissions. You can see the best and most interesting one (including Brandon Pararas’s Josh Gibson-themed patch for MLB teams to wear) over at InsideHook.

Speaking of InsideHook: As you may recall, about two months ago I did my Uni Watch MLB Power Rankings for them. Next up: the NFL Power Rankings, which should come later this month.

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Branch update: After a brief holiday-weekend delay, I’m happy to report that things are proceeding nicely on the Brooklyn Branches prototype jersey that was conceived last week by reader Ron Ruelle. Ron and DIYer Waffledbored have been been talking about how to bring the jersey to life in the real world (there may be a few design adjustments from Ron’s original concept), and yesterday I packed up several branch pieces and sent them Wafflebored-ward. The branch pieces will be used to make wooden buttons for the jersey.

When the one-of-a-kind jersey is done, we’ll auction it off and donate the proceeds to a tree-based environmental group (I’m leaning toward the Arbor Day Foundation). I’ll keep you posted as things develop!

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Membership update: Yesterday I showcased Bill Emigh’s St. Louis Hawks card. Bill emailed to let me know that he appreciated the shout-out but that the guy who really deserves the attention is his buddy and fellow new enrollee Chris Hart, because Chris is the one who turned him on to Uni Watch in the first place.

“Chris went to UNC on a baseball scholarship during the time Michael Jordan was there,” says Bill. “Chris’s claim to fame was meeting Michael on campus and Michael gave his dog, Taj Majal, a pat on his head that Chris swore gave the dog special powers!”

So there you go: Chris Hart — a special guy with a special dog who got head-patted by MJ himself! I’m happy to showcase his UNC-themed membership card today.

Even if Michael Jordan has never made contact with your dog, ordering a membership card is a good way to support Uni Watch (which, frankly, could use your support these days). And remember, as a gesture of comm-uni-ty solidarity, the price of a membership has been reduced from $25 to $20 until further notice.

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 (now more than 2,800 of them!), and you can see how we produce the cards here.

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KRC update: The latest installment of Key Ring Chronicles is about a length of pink ribbon. You can check it out here.

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The Ticker
By Lloyd Alaban

Baseball News: We’ve seen MLB players with their uni numbers printed onto their belts, but Mets P Marcus Stroman has been wearing his number — No. 0 — on his belt’s built-in loop (from @UntillTheNight). … The Pirates are hanging banners outside their ballpark honoring medical workers.

Football News: In 1972, Bears DL Willie Holman had some interesting additions to his facemask. It looks like he stuffed athletic tape and gauze between his facemask and helmet. He also had a great-looking leather chinstrap (from Bill Kellick). … LSU released a time lapse video showing the formation of their national champions logo (from Benji King). … Alabama will sell digital-only tickets in response to the pandemic (from Griffin Smith).

Basketball News: Some NBA players have announced the social justice messages that they’ll be wearing in place of their NOBs (from Mike Chamernik). … Here are some of the new shoes that NBA players will be wearing when the season resumes. … U.S. Senator and WNBA Atlanta Dream co-owner Kelly Loeffler spoke out against the WNBA’s Black Lives Matter initiative yesterday. Ironically, she said, “The truth is, we need less — not more politics in sports,” despite being a politician who co-owns a pro sports team.

Soccer News: MLS is allowing players to wear social activism messages or names on the lower back of their game jerseys (from our own Jamie Rathjen). … More pictures of Manchester City’s new shirts have leaked (from Josh Hinton). … Also from Josh: Nike has accidentally leaked Tottenham Hotspur’s new shirt. … Chivas’s new home and third shirts have leaked. … Borussia Dortmund’s new away kit has leaked. … New shirts for Porto (from Charles George). … New shirt for Loch Ness FC (from Mark Coale). … Club America and Pumas went navy vs. navy (from Mauricio Montoya). … Brazil’s famous yellow shirts have been adopted as a symbol by the country’s far right over the past few years, so some on the left want the national team to return to the white and blue worn until 1950, while others want to wear yellow themselves (from our own Jamie Rathjen). … New shirts for EPL team Southampton (from Ed Zelaski). … Also from Ed: Spanish side Real Socidead has extended its kit-outfitting deal with Macron through 2026.

Grab Bag: New alternate logo for Russian men’s volleyball club Fakel Novy Urengoy (from Jeremy Brahm). … Curling Canada has revealed its guidelines for curling to return during the pandemic. Only one sweeper per rock will be allowed. … The NFHS, which makes the rules for most high school sports in the country, is scrapping its rule requiring field hockey players to wear goggles, since requiring them means that players who wear glasses need a waiver, and also that nobody can wear masks when defending penalty corners. In the rest of the sport, goggles aren’t allowed except for medical reasons (from our own Jamie Rathjen). … Parkwood High School (NC) will no longer call its teams the Rebels (from Duncan Wilson). … Check it out: a guy at the beach with a literal NOB (from @ccbiii2000). … A restaurant in Medford, Ore., has bar chairs whose seatbacks feature the logos of assorted pro sports teams (from James Brooks).

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What Paul did last night: When we started doing Pandemic Porch Cocktails™ back in March, we both partook of alcohol every evening. At some point — I’m not sure exactly when — the Tugboat Captain decided she’d imbibe only on the weekends and have seltzer or some other non-intoxicant on weekday evenings. Every now and then, though, she makes an exception. Last night was such an occasion, because she’d had a good virtual remote job interview during the afternoon and decided to celebrate with some sort of vodka concoction. A good day.

On the far sidewalk, you can see Marley (or maybe Marlie — we’re not sure how it’s spelled), a beautiful collie that lives across the street from us and has a very regal bearing, although you can’t tell that from this photo. Always makes me happy to see him (her?) out for a walk.

As always, you can see the full set of daily Pandemic Porch Cocktails™ photos, dating back to mid-March, here.

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Our latest raffle winner is Dan Schneeman, who’s won himself a membership card. Congrats to him, and thanks to Kevin Cearfoss for sponsoring this one.

Which MLB Teams Are Wearing Team-Branded Masks?

Embed from Getty Images

As MLB teams return to their home stadiums for preseason workouts, it’s been interesting, and sometimes jarring, to see some players wearing masks during their training routines. Obviously, by this point we’re used to seeing our friends, neighbors, and fellow citizens masking up, but it still seems weird — at least to me — to see athletes doing it.

Even more interestingly — again, at least to me — is that some MLB teams appear to have issued team-branded masks to their players, while others have not, at least so far.

Yesterday I spent some time looking at Getty Images’ photos for all 30 MLB training camps. Here are the teams that had at least one player, coach, or manager wearing a team-branded mask (with the obvious caveat that there could be others that didn’t happen to appear in a Getty photo):






Red Sox (two different mask styles)




There may be other clubs whose players are wearing team-branded masks. But if so, I haven’t yet seen evidence of it.

A few additional notes:

• White Sox outfielder Luis Robert recently posted an Instagram photo of himself wearing a Chisox mask with his surname and uni number, but neither he nor anyone else appears to be wearing this type of mask at the team’s training camp:

• A few teams had personnel wearing team-branded balaclavas or sleeve masks, but I decided not to count those, because they presumably existed prior to the pandemic:

• Although I didn’t see any Rockies personnel wearing team-branded masks, manager Bud Black has been wearing a purple mask. Obviously, I hate that color, but I give him credit for going with the team’s color scheme:

• With one exception, none of the masks I saw — team-branded or otherwise — carried a maker’s mark. That one exception was an Adidas mask worn by Angels manager Joe Maddon:


Of course, training camps still have more than two weeks to go, so we may see more teams wearing team-logo masks during that time. And even if that doesn’t happen, the bigger question is whether we’ll see more of them when the regular season starts. Players in the dugout will be required to mask up during games, so it’ll be interesting to see if the mask becomes part of the team-issued, team-branded look.

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And speaking of masks…: DIYer Wafflebored has been working on some interesting masks lately. The tweet embedded above shows a pair of Rogie Vachon-themed masks that he recently made, and they’re so cool-looking that I don’t even mind the purple!

Wafflebored also recently made a set of masks with a more complex design. I’ll let him explain — take it away, buddy.

I Am That Masked Man
By Wafflebored

I read a recent study that said denim and canvas make the best materials for DIY masks, because they apparently do a good job of filtering out viruses while still maintaining good breathability. I found this of interest, as I love both of these materials.

I did some experimenting with these fabrics, and also wanted to see if I could come up with a better mask design. Denim and canvas will last a long time, but the elastic is a weak point, especially when sewn in. Also there have been some shortages of elastic material due to high demand, although that seems to be easing up. So I came up with this button design [click to enlarge]:

The folded flap of fabric holds a standard, easy-to-find hair tie. This makes it easily replaceable by the user and also removable when the mask is washed, which should probably lead to them lasting longer.

The one on the left the prototype, made of a really nice hickory stripe denim. I was pleased to find matching hair ties.

I couldn’t resist trying a vintage baseball theme, so the one on the right is canvas with machine-sewn pinstripes and a vintage-style logo and Art Deco button. Here’s a shot of the pinstripes in progress:

I used green satin lining like a nice wool baseball cap underbrim. The satin lining is surprisingly breathable, although I would probably consider this a novelty mask. One of the most enjoyable parts of making these is deciding what color of hair ties to use — they come in all sorts of styles.

Here’s another vintage baseball-based design. Same specs as the green and red one, but this time in black:

I also made an experimental mid-century modern mask from polyester doubleknit baseball fabric with turquoise canvas lining, plus a nice retro button:

Sports fabric is probably the worst mask material as it’s specifically designed to let moist air through, but when backed with canvas it’s breathable and probably decently protective.

As I mentioned earlier, I’m a minor denim enthusiast, so I thought I would experiment with something that looks like jeans or a denim jacket. I used the button style for the elastic loops and added pocket-style stitching.

This is where the mesh comes in. Since two denim layers would be too thick, I realized sports mesh would be perfect as a liner (the opposite of the Rogie Vachon masks shown above):

The added advantage is that the smooth nylon mesh feels cool and comfortable next to the skin, and stays drier than cotton.

Here’s one that’s sort of a 1970s urban cowboy version:

And here’s one more denim design — pleated, with copper rivets and leather laces:

Finally: I love ’80s shadow stripe fabric. This one is backed with black canvas and reminds me of a soccer goalkeeper’s jersey, like Uhlsport used to make:


Paul here. Oh, man — Wafflebored really is the best. So creative! Thanks so much for sharing these projects with us, and for being a constant inspiration.

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Virtually speaking: Yesterday’s discussion of how the terms “name,” “nickname,” and “mascot” have become conflated for each other prompted an interesting note from reader Timmy Donahue (who, as you may recall, is our resident expert on military uniforms):

After reading today’s entry, I thought you might be the proper audience for a pet peeve of mine that has sprung up due to social distancing.

I have seen many people write “virtual” when I believe they mean “remote.” It has been bothering me since the NFL Draft, when people kept saying the draft was virtual and all I could think was, “No, it really happened — it was just conducted remotely.” I believe this article about the draft may have been what started the peeve for me. It even has a reference to a “virtual offseason” at the end. I really do not understand that terminology at all.

For example, I conduct arraignments remotely from my house when people are arrested [Timmy works as a defense attorney for the Legal Aid Society. — PL]. The arraignment (which is very real) is conducted in a virtual courtroom — a Skype meeting shows me, the DA, the judge, the court reporter, and my client all on different screens. So while the remote arraignment is done in a virtual courtroom, it is not a virtual arraignment.

This all came to a head for me when I was reading an article about Boy Scouts earning “virtual merit badges” and the picture showed a scout tying a knot in front of a computer screen. Again, that is a real knot being tied for a real badge, but it is being done remotely — not virtually.

My wife told me to let it go. Am I crazy?

I confess that I had not thought about this at all, but of course Timmy is absolutely correct (although he may also be crazy, as his wife suggests). Has anyone else been bothered by the virtual/remote conflation?

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Collector’s Corner
By Brinke Guthrie

The Fourth of July was just a few days back, so we’re leading this 1976 National League Green Book with that cool red/white/blue 1976 N.L. centennial logo on the cover. MLB produced these for years (the American League’s version was the Red Book) and they were jammed with all kinds of facts and figures for media use. That would be Reds pitcher Will McEnaney and catcher Johnny Bench celebrating their Series win in Fenway the previous fall — the precise moment every player dreams of. [As a uni-related aside, see how Bench’s chest protector has the horizontal strap around his waist but doesn’t have the usual vertical strap. I believe he was the first — or at least the first I was aware of — to wear that style. — PL]

Now for the rest of this week’s picks:

• I firmly believe that the art of copywriting has suffered greatly over the years. In 2020, we just wouldn’t get this coolly dispassionate Joe Namath ad: It starts with “The Dingo Man. He’s No Ordinary Joe.” And then: “He knows just how to wear boots. With style. He knows when to wear them too. Whenever he feels like it.” That’s gold, Jerry, gold! (And look at that groovy chair he’s sitting in! That’s where you kicked back while listening to your hi-fi.)

• Got a selection of stickers here: When I was growing up, our 1971 Ford station wagon (with simulated wood grain paneling, of course) had one of these bright blue/silver foil Cowboys stickers on the back window, but this version also includes the call letters of their radio flagship, KRLD. Not a Cowboys fan? This Buffalo Sabres sticker includes their radio station, too, WGR55. Want to go three-dimensional? Here are some NHL puffy stickers from 1984-1985. And finally, this 1970s Indiana Pacers bumper sticker says “Baby, We’re Due.”

• Here’s a 1970s Miami Dolphins chalk holder. You open the little football, and you … keep your piece of chalk inside of it. Was there really a market for this item? Who used chalk besides elementary school teachers?

• This 1970s-80s all-blue in-store baseball player standee was for some type of unknown product — no identifying marks present. But check out those high-cut stirrups!

• Terrific artwork on this 1984 Elias Brothers Detroit Tigers restaurant placemat, but have you ever seen the team use that tiger before? Looks more like Tony the Tiger to me — grrrrrrrrrreat!

• In 1961, everyone knew who your favorite baseball players were when you wore this cap with the enormous Maris/Mantle/”Cap of Champions” patch on the front. The back has “9” and “7” patches, too.

• A decade later, people knew you were a Pittsburgh Pirates fan when you sported this belt featuring this snazzy Buccos belt buckle

• Here’s a beautiful-looking 1972 Stancraft Philadelphia Eagles poster done by one of The Three Masters, George Bartell (the others being Dave Boss and Bart Forbes). This is for local Philadelphia pickup only; it’s already framed with glass and ready to hang!

• I guess this blue/yellow Sears T-shirt is supposed to mimic a 1970s Los Angeles Rams jersey. It does have the NFL shield on the sleeve, but the sleeve stripes don’t have the curling-horn effect.

• And one more from Sears — a nice-looking 1960s New York Football Giants wool coat from Stahl Urban.

• And from reader Will Scheibler: Everyone loves former Expos mascot Youppi, so check out this great Youppi coin bank.

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ITEM! New membership raffle: Reader Kevin Cearfoss — he’s the one who makes those cool wooden 3D logos — recently purchased a membership for me to raffle off, so that’s what we’re going to do today.

This will be a one-day raffle, with no entry restrictions. To enter, send an email to the raffle address by 8pm Eastern tonight. I’ll announce the winner tomorrow. Big thanks to Kevin for sponsoring this one!

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Membership update: What gorgeous design is that? It’s from the old St. Louis Hawks, forerunners of today’s Atlanta Hawks. It’s one of two cards recently ordered by reader Bill Emigh, part of a new batch that’s been added to the membership card gallery.

Ordering a membership card is a good way to support Uni Watch (which, frankly, could use your support these days). And remember, as a gesture of comm-uni-ty solidarity, the price of a membership has been reduced from $25 to $20 until further notice.

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 (now more than 2,800 of them!), and you can see how we produce the cards here.

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The Ticker
By Alex Hider

Baseball News: MLB unveiled each team’s 60-game schedule yesterday. With teams playing exclusively within their own divisions and the same geographical divisions in the other league — in other words, the Mets will play exclusively against teams in the N.L. East and the A.L. East — this map shows every team’s travel routes for the year (from Andrew Cosentino). … In social media graphics for the schedule unveiling, only Dodgers RF Mookie Betts was depicted in a Nike jersey (from Kevin, who didn’t give his last name). … Some Yankees players are wearing patches for the 25th anniversary of Steinbrenner Field — the team’s Florida Spring Training home — for summer workouts. The patch was originally worn during spring training (from Jorge Cruz). … The Savannah Bananas of the collegiate Coastal Plain League aren’t allowed to livestream their road games, per league rules. So when the Bananas played on the road against the Macon Bacon, Bananas broadcaster Jared Orton described the action by drawing it out on a whiteboard (from Steve Vibert). … There’s an interesting anthem-related note in a Season 7 episode of Star Trek: Deep Space 9 that features a baseball game. Prior to the game, the anthem for the Federation plays, and only the players who are part of the Federation place their hands over their hearts (from Michael Rich). … Under new social distancing policies, pitchers won’t be able to lick their fingers for moisture while on the mound. That won’t be a problem for Brewers P Brent Suter, who says he goes to his armpit when he needs moisture. TMI? (From Mike Chamernik.) … Phillies OF Andrew McCutchen, who had a brief stint with the Yankees in 2018, criticized the Yanks’ facial hair policy during a podcast appearance on Sunday (from @tierknala). … Mets bullpen catcher Dave Racaniello was walking around camp yesterday wearing a Mets football helmet (from Paul Moehringer and @ddddwhite9). … Senate majority leader Mitch McConnell wore a Nationals mask on Capitol Hill last week. … Players from the Madison Mallards and the Lakeshore Chinooks — two Northwoods League teams that won’t be able to participate in the collegiate summer league this year because of pandemic restrictions — are combining to form the K-Town Bobbers, who will play a 26-game schedule against the Kenosha Kingfish in July and August.

Football News: Dick’s, Target, and Walmart are no longer selling Washington NFL apparel from their online stores. … Although multiple reports have indicated that the Washington rebranding could take place as soon as this season, The Washington Post (soft paywall) looked at some of the issues and determined that the process could drag on for a while (from Tom Turner). … Speaking of Washington, Nate Rathjen reports that some broadcasters at WRC-TV — the team’s broadcast partner — are no longer using the team’s name on the air. … ESPN has published a great piece about the eating habits of NFL linemen and how those habits carry over into retirement (from Mike Chamernik). … According to this piece from The Athletic (hard paywall), the Giants never issued uniform numbers in the 90s prior to 1980. Weird! (From Ted Kerwin.) … Chiefs blog Arrowhead Addict has proposed a few potential team names should the team decide to go in a new direction (from Kary Klismet). … The CFL’s Ottawa Redblacks are replacing the turf at their home stadium and are embedding a 2016 silver dollar under the new playing surface for good luck. The team won the CFL’s Grey Cup that year (from Wade Heidt). … New number assignments for new Oregon State players (from Pat). … Bob Gassel was watching a 1970 Bills/Steelers game at Three Rivers and noticed that most of the midfield logo apparently got swallowed up by a seam in the Astroturf.

Hockey News: Vegas G Robin Lehner has a new pad set (from Wade Heidt). … @KingsUniHistory is holding a bracket-style tournament to determine the best uniform in Kings history. … It had been previously announced that the mascot for the Yokohama Grits — a new Asia League Ice Hockey team — would be a beluga whale. And now the whale has a name: Guruga the Beluga. Cute, too! (From Jeremy Brahm.)

Basketball News: The Pelicans will reportedly have a New Orleans flag-based City alternate in 2021. … Sixers F Mike Scott says it was a “bad choice” for the NBA to provide players with a pre-approved list of social justice NOBs instead of letting the players pick their own (from Mike Chamernik and Aaron Pinto). … When the WNBA begins play, players will wear NOBs of women who have died as a result of police action or alleged racial violence. …  The uniforms from this 1925 Young Men’s Hebrew Association basketball team in Harrisburg, Pa., aren’t that remarkable. But the team’s coach is wearing a pretty dapper sweater (from Max Weintraub). … Pelicans G Sindarius Thornwell will wear No. 12 with his new club (from Etienne Catalan).

Soccer News: The font that will be worn by teams in EFL Championship, League One, and League Two has leaked (from Josh Hinton and Mike Miller). … Couple more leaks from JoshMexico’s 2020 home jersey has leaked, and German club Union Berlin’s new home jersey has leaked. … Staying in the Bundesliga, Werder Bremen played in a relegation playoff game last night in a new “city” uniform — a concept that appears to have been borrowed from the NBA (from Tim Wünderlich). … Couple of kit unveilings from Ed Zelaski: New uniforms for English League Two team Morecambe FC and a leak from Russian Premier League team FC Lokomotiv Moscow. … The Museum of Jerseys blog is taking a poll to determine Barcelona’s best uniform dating back to 1998. … Players for Atletico Ottawa of the Canadian Premier League have been given team-issued facial coverings, modeled after their vertically-striped home jerseys (from Wade Heidt). … New second shirt for Chelsea and the Chelsea women’s team (thanks, Jamie).

Grab Bag: Schools throughout Virginia are changing their Confederacy-based school names, team names, and mascots (WaPo link) (from Tom Turner). … President Donald Trump says he’s opposed to the Indians and ’Skins changing their team names. … Some Big Boy restaurants will be swapping out their eponymous overalls-clad mascot character in favor of a girl named Dolly in the coming weeks. It’s unclear how long the change will last — the restaurants aren’t changing their names, and the new mascot is tied to the promotion of a new chicken sandwich, not to any social protest (thanks to all who shared).

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What Paul did last night yesterday afternoon: We usually hit the porch in the early evening. But at about 4:15pm yesterday, we got hit by a pretty heavy thunderstorm. The Tugboat Captain and I both love being on the porch when it’s raining — there’s something very nice about feeling sheltered and dry while everything else is getting soaked — so we went out for a look at the storm. After a few minutes, I said, “Should we just have cocktails now?”

So we did. We hadn’t expected to sit for any length of time, so we hadn’t brought the cushions with us, and we had to sit back a bit from the edge of the top step because of the rain. Just enough differences from our usual routine to make it seem like a fun change of pace.

It was a really good storm, by which I mean that it wasn’t as violent as the one that brought down the branch last week but was still a serious soaker — the kind that makes you appreciate how crazy nature is, and how lucky we are to have places where we can take shelter from it.

As always, you can see the full set of daily Pandemic Porch Cocktails™ photos, dating back to mid-March, here.

3 Days That Rocked the World of Native American Sports Imagery

Good morning! Greetings from Uni Watch HQ, where all three inhabitants continue to be healthy and safe. Hope the same is true at your home and that you all did your best to enjoy the weirdest Independence Day of our lifetimes.

I know many people kind of tuned out from following news developments during the holiday weekend (I tuned out quite a bit myself, in fact), so you may not realize just how much churn there’s been on the topic of sports teams using Native/Indigenous imagery. The short version is that it’s now basically a done deal that the Washington NFL team will be getting a new name, possibly even as soon as this season, and potential changes are also afoot in Cleveland (MLB) and Edmonton (CFL).

It’s astonishing how quickly these developments have taken place. When we all woke up last Wednesday morning, we had no inkling that any of this was going to happen. By the end of Friday, the entire landscape had shifted. To put that in context, here’s how last week played out in terms of Native and Indigenous issues in sports:

Monday and Tuesday: Nothing.

Wednesday: AdWeek runs story about shareholders and investment firms urging FedEx, Nike, and PepsiCo to divest from ’Skins until team name is changed.

Thursday afternoon: FedEx calls on team to change name.

Thursday evening: ’Skins merchandise disappears from Nike website.

Friday morning: ’Skins announce “thorough review” of team name.

Friday afternoon: Multiple NFL journalists report that name change is highly likely to happen, possibly this year. … Meanwhile, CFL’s Edmonton Eskimos announce plan to “ramp up our ongoing engagement with the Inuit communities” regarding the team’s name.

Friday evening: Cleveland Indians announce search for “best path forward” regarding team name.

That’s a pretty amazing sequence of dominoes falling in such a short time. (Of course, you could also say it’s taken an agonizingly long time for these long-overdue moves to happen, but the pace of last week’s developments was still remarkable.)

There was a bit of additional news yesterday:

• ’Skins coach Ron Rivera said he’s been working with team owner Dan Snyder on a new team name, indicated that he’s particularly fond of two of the options they’ve discussed, and said it “would be awesome” if the change could be made by the start of the 2020 season. He also repeated his odd qualifier, first expressed in the team’s “thorough review” statement on Friday, that the new team name should honor the military. (Rivera comes from a military family and is a strong pro-military advocate, but it’s not clear why that would have any bearing on an NFL team’s name.)

• Indians manager Terry Francona announced that he’s in favor of the team changing its name.

So that’s where things currently stand.

These developments have prompted a lot of questions. Here are the ones I’ve heard most often:

We’re always hearing how it takes two years for an NFL team to get new uniforms. How can they possibly do a total rebrand in two months?

It’s true that the normal process calls for a two-year time frame, but that’s largely due to retail supply-chain issues, not because it takes two years to create the design itself. That said, I’d imagine some combination of the following issues are in play here:

First, since the team’s name has been an ongoing controversy for years now, it wouldn’t be surprising to learn that some sort of “In Case of Emergency Break Glass” options have already been prepared and are largely ready to go.

Second, whatever the new team name turns out to be, they may end up keeping the same colors and even the same basic uniform design (helmet logo and chest wordmark notwithstanding, of course), so a redesign wouldn’t necessarily be a drastic visual makeover.

Third, they could take the intermediate step of removing the helmet logo and chest wordmark from the uniform set and simply play as “Washington” in 2020, with the new identity and design to follow in 2021.

What do you think the new name will be?

I have no idea. I’m just glad the old name will soon be gone.

What about the Braves, Chiefs, and Blackhawks?

I’ve long thought that Chief Wahoo and the ’Skins name were the low-hanging fruit, the no-brainers, regarding this issue. I think the other teams will be harder, but I expect they’ll receive some scrutiny — or at least I hope so.

Why do you hope so? There’s nothing offensive about the Chiefs. What’s the problem there?

As I’ve long explained, my position on this stuff has nothing to do with what’s “offensive” (a subjective term that has largely been rendered meaningless in today’s cultural debates). I see it more simply: When a non-Native team uses Native iconography, they’re using something that doesn’t belong to them — something most of us are taught not to do at a very young age. If a school on a Native American reservation wants to call itself the Chiefs — or, Braves, or Indians, or Redskins — more power to them. But the Hunt family? Nuh-uh.

But that’s just me. It’s true that most other people do tend to view this issue through the lens of “offensiveness” — that’s why Chief Wahoo and the word “Redskins” were the low-hanging fruit to begin with, and why I think it will be harder to achieve change with the other teams (although the Braves and Chiefs will draw added “offensiveness” scrutiny thanks to their fans’ use of the tomahawk chop, which many people view as distasteful, so that could be a factor).

What about the Vikings, Celtics, Yankees, etc.?

Those are all examples of a culture celebrating itself (Minnesota was settled by Scandinavian immigrants; Boston is a heavily Irish-American city; New York is in the north), which is very different from misappropriating someone else’s culture. But if you have objections to any of those team names, feel free to start a movement protesting them. If your position is convincing, I’m sure it will gain traction, just as the ’Skins movement did.

We may as well just change every team to the name of an animal, because any other name will be offensive to someone.

Actually, I’ve never heard anyone take offense to non-animal-based team names like Mets, Dodgers, Astros, Angels, Patriots, Packers, Steelers, Jets, Texans, Chargers, Titans, Heat, Rockets, Knicks, Clippers, Suns, Nuggets, Pacers, Maple Leafs, Oilers, Red Wings, Flyers, Flames, Senators, Blues, or countless others — have you?

It’s true that several categories of team names that were common and acceptable in previous eras are now being reassessed. Names associated with Native Americans are one such category; names associated with the Confederacy are another. Reasonable people can have differing good-faith positions about those names. But trying to delegitimize the entire discussion by saying “Every name is gonna offend someone!” is a bad-faith tactic.

This is so phony. Everyone knows the ’Skins are only changing the name because they’d lose a lot of revenue otherwise.

Soooo many people have said this, or something like it, in recent days. (Other versions included “There’s no altruism here — it’s just about the money” or simply “Money talks.”) The unspoken subtext of these comments — sometimes unintentionally, sometimes very intentionally — is that the team’s impending name change is somehow tainted, or less satisfying, or less legitimate, or less of a win for longtime name-change advocates, because it was based primarily on financial considerations.

I disagree. Would it be nice if Dan Snyder somehow saw the light and did the right thing simply because it’s the right thing to do? Yes. Is he instead engaging in a somewhat cynical exercise driven by his balance sheet? Also yes. But why is he doing that? Because FedEx and Nike put pressure on him to do so, that’s why. And why did those companies do that? Because their shareholders and investment partners put pressure on them to do so. And why did that happen? Because that’s where we are right now as a country: Cultural standards of acceptability have shifted and lots of things are changing as a result, including an NFL team’s name.

So yeah, in the little picture, Snyder is changing the name because of dollars and cents. But in the big picture, the change is happening because our collective sense of right and wrong has shifted — that’s why the team name is no longer financially viable. In other words, it is happening for the right reasons, and it’s very much a win for those of us who’ve long advocated for it.

It’s also important to remember that economic boycotts have a long history of spurring meaningful change. The Montgomery bus boycott, for example, was a key step in the Civil Rights movement; consumer boycotts of non-union fruit as a result of the Delano Grape Strike helped achieve major victories for farm workers in the 1970s; the movement to divest from South Africa helped topple apartheid; and so on.

There are also plenty of previous examples of successful boycotts connected to sports: The NFL’s decision not to hold Super Bowl XXVII in Arizona helped spur the state to finally to finally establish a holiday for Martin Luther King; multiple leagues boycotted North Carolina in 2016 due to the state’s discriminatory “bathroom law” (including the NBA, which moved its 2017 All-Star Game out of Charlotte), leading to the law’s partial repeal in 2017; and the NCAA’s decision last month to boycott the state of Mississippi may have been the deciding factor in the move to change the state’s flag.

Whether done by big companies or by individual citizens, boycotts are perfectly legitimate forms of civic engagement and are an example of democracy in action — voting with your wallet! Is it sad that that’s the only language Dan Snyder understands? Yes. But while that may taint him as a human being, it doesn’t taint his team’s name change in any way. It’s the right outcome for the right reasons.

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What’s in a (nick)name?: One ’Skins side issue I’ve been noticing is that lots of media outlets have said the team is changing its “nickname.” ESPN’s story about Ron Rivera and Dan Snyder discussing new team identity options, for example, is headlined “Coach Ron Rivera says he has been working with Redskins owner on new nicknames,” and the article itself refers several times to the team’s “nickname.”

But the word “Redskins” is not the team’s nickname; it’s their name. Similarly, I often see articles saying that such-and-such high school will be changing its “mascot,” and then it turns out that they’re actually changing their team name and don’t even have a mascot! The three terms — name, nickname, and mascot — increasingly seem to be used interchangeably.

That bugs me — in part, I admit, because of my own detail-obsessive neuroses, but also because mistakenly referring to a team’s “nickname” (instead of their name) has the effect of diminishing and thus trivializing the issue, as if we’re just talking about a conversational or vernacular trope instead of the actual, formal name of a multi-jillion-dollar enterprise.

It seems like a basic taxonomy guide would be helpful here:

Name: Cleveland Indians
Nickname: Tribe
Mascot: Slider (current); Chief Wahoo (retired)

Name: New York Yankees
Nickname: Bronx Bombers
Mascot: None

Name: Philadelphia Phillies
Nickname: Phils
Mascot: Phillie Phanatic

Name: San Diego Padres
Nickname: None
Mascot: Swinging Friar

And so on. I suppose we could go further and distinguish between mascots that exist solely as logo depictions and those that exist as live, costumed characters, but you get the idea. Further feedback/input welcome!

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Membership update: Sometimes when we get an unusual membership card design request, I tell the enrollee, “I’m not sure our designer can do that — let me check with him and get back to you.”

That’s what happened when reader John Wood Jr. recent requested a card based on pro wrestler Ric “Nature Boy” Flair’s robe. I was pretty sure card designer Scott M.X. Turner would say, “No way,” but instead he said he’d do it — and it turned out great!

John’s card is part of a new batch that’s been added to the membership card gallery, as we continue our push toward 3,000 designs.

Want to help us reach that milestone? Ordering a membership card is a good way to support Uni Watch (which, frankly, could use your support these days). And remember, as a gesture of comm-uni-ty solidarity, the price of a membership has been reduced from $25 to $20 until further notice.

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 (now more than 2,800 of them!), and you can see how we produce the cards here.

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The Ticker
By Jamie Rathjen

Baseball News: Here’s Pirates RF Dave Parker wearing a helmet with a football facemask to protect a broken cheekbone in 1978. In 2008, Paul wrote about that and Parker’s other adventures with cross-sports masks that season (from Nick Stamo). … A D.C. Little League team is wearing uni numbers positioned against an outline of the district’s shape (from @VictoryCB). … The Brewers have added a new ribbon board to their ballpark.

NFL News: Pro Football Journal’s John Turney conducted a fascinating uni-centric interview with former Rams DL Jack Youngblood. And yes, Youngblood’s double-decker FNOB is one of the topics addressed in the interview.

Hockey News: The goalies are wearing different jerseys in this 1973-74 team photo of the WHL’s Swift Current Broncos, who played in what was then called the Western Canada Hockey League (from Wade Heidt).

Basketball News: In case you missed it over the weekend, here is the list of the 29 social justice messages that the NBA and the players’ union have approved for use in place of NOBs when the season resumes. Players can also opt to retain their standard NOBs instead of a message. … Here are some of the uniforms for The Basketball Tournament, which started this weekend with a reduced number of teams compared to previous years (from Timmy Donahue).

Soccer News: The NWSL’s Sky Blue FC wore a Black Lives Matter sleeve patch on their warm-up shirts on Saturday. … Real Madrid officially started a women’s team after completing a year-long buyout of the women’s Primera División’s CD Tacón. One consequence of that process was Tacón’s home matches this season were only open to Real Madrid members, even before the pandemic. … Also in Spain, the men’s Segunda División’s SD Huesca have brought a different captain’s armband to every away league game this season, usually highlighting a landmark or famous person from the home team’s area, and give each of them to their hosts (from Alvin Nguyen). … Both teams in the women’s German Cup final, VfL Wolfsburg and SGS Essen, wore second kits — Wolfsburg’s is for next season and Essen’s for this season. … In Italy, Juventus commemorated goalie Gianluigi Buffon’s record 648th Serie A appearance on their sleeves. … New first and second shirts for English League Two’s Oldham Athletic, and they also mentioned that a new English Football League number/NOB font is coming this month (from Ed Żelaski). … New shirts also for Brazilian team Corinthians and English League One’s Peterborough United.

Grab Bag: A San Diego high school named after Junípero Serra, an 18th-century Catholic priest who built some of the Spanish missions in California using Native American labor, wants to change its school name and “Conquistadors” team name (from Brad, who didn’t give his last name). … A school in Princeton, B.C., is dropping its “Rebels” team name (from Timmy Donahue). … Formula One drivers wore “End Racism” T-shirts — the championship’s one Black driver, Lewis Hamilton, wore a BLM shirt instead — and a majority knelt before yesterday’s Austrian Grand Prix, although some were not comfortable kneeling. … Australian Football League team West Coast wore their indigenous-designed jumper, which appears to me to be unchanged from last year’s design.

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Click to enlarge

What Paul did last night: I’ve mentioned a few times that we have several stray cats in our neighborhood. On Saturday we saw one of them, who we call Puma because he’s solid-black, being chased up a tree by another cat we’d never seen before. They were screeching and hissing and swatting at each other — nasty stuff. Eventually the other cat retreated and Puma came down and went on his way.

While porching last night, we saw Puma walk by. He didn’t look so good — he wasn’t exactly limping, but his gait seemed tentative and timid, like he was suddenly much older. We worried that maybe he’d been injured in the cat spat.

But about 10 minutes later, he came back the other way, seeming more like his sprightly self — good to see! Maybe he was just a little hung over from Fourth of July activities, same as us.

I miss the branch.

As always, you can see the full set of daily Pandemic Porch Cocktails™ photos — now more than 110 of them — here.

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Our latest raffle winner is Jon Goudreau, who’s won himself a Pierogi T-shirt. Big congrats to him! — Paul

Happy Fifth of July

Our friend Matt came over yesterday for a socially distant cookout — chicken, steak, shrimp kebabs, and grilled kale — and then he stuck around to join us for Pandemic Porch Cocktails™. First time we’ve had a guest for that. Also the first time we’ve had sparklers! (While we’re at it, I don’t mind saying that the previous day’s PPC™ photo was really good. You can see the full set, now up to 110 daily pics, here.)

That’s it for today. We’ll be back with full content tomorrow. Enjoy the rest of your holiday weekend. — Paul