Chew on This

Paul here, pinch-hitting for Phil, who has the weekend off. Interesting package-design news yesterday from Big League Chew, which announced that a girl will be featured for the first time on the product’s familiar pouch. This is something that probably should have happened a long time ago, but it’s nice that it’s finally happening now. The new package will start appearing at retail next month.

That got me thinking: Big League Chew was launched in 1980 and, of course, was meant to mimic chewing tobacco. I never chewed Big League Chew myself (I was in high school when it debuted — a bit older than the target market), but I umpired some Little League games in 1981 and remember that it was popular with some of the kids, who had fun pretending that they had a big chaw in their cheek, just like George Brett or whoever their favorite ballplayer was.

Nowadays, though, tobacco has largely been eliminated from baseball. Do today’s kids even understand that Big League Chew is a riff on chewing tobacco? If so, would they view that as a positive thing? It seems like a product whose concept may be obsolete.

For those of you who have young kids, is Big League Chew on their radar?

(My thanks to our own Brinke Guthrie for bringing the new package design to my attention.)

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And speaking of George Brett…: Nice cross-sport uni move by the Royals, who showed their support for the Chiefs in tomorrow’s AFC Championship Game by putting a Patrick Mahomes jersey on the George Brett statue at Kaufman Stadium. Here are a couple of additional shots (click to enlarge):

(My thanks to Lendsey Thomson for this one.)

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The real thing: Bittersweet moment for me last night, as I went to Paulie Gee’s Slice Shop in Greenpoint and visited my old Coke machine for the first time since selling it to Paulie last summer. I’m glad it’s in a place where it can be used and appreciated, but it still shook me up a bit to see it on someone else’s turf. It had been mine for 21 years. Sigh.

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The Ticker
By Anthony Emerson

Baseball News: Absolutely gorgeous new throwback pullovers for Texas A&M. Probably makes them one of the best-looking college baseball teams in the country (from @atxaggie07). … The Phillies have had their St. Patrick’s Day caps leaked: white with a green bill and squatchee, with a green Liberty Bell as the primary mark, with a small clover towards the top of the cap (from @FSBabyHuey). … Houston’s Karbach Brewing Company is teaming up with the ’Stros and launching a line of tequila sunrise-inspired cans (from Ignacio Salazar and Al Gruwell). … HatClub has brought a 1985 Padres prototype cap to life. Here’s the actual prototype cap and jersey (from Shannon Shark). … Cross-posted in the college football section: Whoa, check out these awesome pics of Astros and University of Houston football players testing out the then-new Astroturf at the Astrodome in 1966. A bit odd that the ’Stros are wearing road unis, no? (From Nick Lineback.) … Some really great old Alaskan Little League unis in this gallery (from Christopher Piscotti). … Check out the caps Lakewood is giving away on Irish Heritage Night, Aug. 10 (from John Cerone).

NFL News: So yesterday, CBS Sports Radio host Damon Amendolara sent us this picture of an awesome Bengals cap, taken on the field after the 1981 AFC Championship Game. This led to a long discussion where multiple Twitter users posted their own helmet caps, culminating in Chris Murphy posting a pic of the entire set, and an ad for them featuring Mean Joe Greene. Why hasn’t the power of nostalgia brought these back yet?!

College Football News: Also posted in the MLB section: whoa, check out these awesome pics of Astros players and University of Houston football players testing out the Astroturf at the Astrodome in 1966. A bit odd that the ‘Stros players are wearing road unis, no? (from Nick Lineback). … Here’s a really good Photoshop of Oklahoma transfer Austin Kendall in a West Virginia uni (from David Cline).

Hockey News: We’ve probably covered this before, but just in case: Penguins C Evgeni Malkin wears two different gloves during games (from David Schucosky). … Color on color alert! That’s RMU in blue and Canisius in gold (from Matt Gajtka and Jonathan Hanna). … We’ve seen contrasting nameplates before, and we’ve seen nameplates below the uni number before, but have we ever seen contrasting, below the uni number nameplates? That’s Michigan Tech against Bemidji State (from DJ Belfey).

Basketball News: Memphis will wear throwbacks today against SMU (thanks, Phil). … Western University women went all pink for breast cancer awareness (from Ewan Williams). … It appears a Northwestern-branded ball had the Northwestern logo off-center compared to the Under Armour logo (from Jerry Kulig).

Soccer News: FootyHeadlines has leaked the colors of Manchester City’s 2019-20 away kit. They’re calling the accent color “peach” but let’s be real here — if the mockups are accurate, that’s pink. … German side TSG 1899 Hoffenheim have gotten a new stadium advertiser (thanks, Jamie).

Grab Bag: Reader Jamie Tallman found and uploaded this awesome footage of Cuban Olympic athletes exercising in satin unis on their way to Rome in 1960. Highly recommended, even though it’s less than 30 seconds. … Rugby league team Toronto Wolfpack — who play in the British rugby league system — have launched their new away kit (from James Welham). … “What the hell is this skirt!??” asks Ken Weimer.

Zero-Sum Game: Yanks Sign Adam Ottavino

The Yankees have never had a player wear zero or double-zero. But that might be changing, as reports indicate that they’ve signed free agent reliever Adam Ottavino, who’s been wearing No. 0 for the Rockies since 2013.

Ottavino, like several other zero-clad players over the years, likes No. 0 because his name starts with “O” (others who fit that description include Rey Ordoñez and Junior Ortiz), but it remains to be seen if that sentiment will sway the notoriously hidebound Yankees. The issue was discussed in this 2017 article. Here’s the key passage:

Yankees GM Brian Cashman said he grew up watching Al Oliver, who wore zero, and would allow one of his players to wear it, too.

“I have no issue with No. 0,” Cashman said. “To me, it is just a number.”

Cashman is generally not involved in handing out numbers, as that falls to equipment man Rob Cucuzza. Cashman would chime in only if there is a free agent who requests a certain number, and he might start the conversation to see what the team can do.

So it sounds like there’s some wiggle room there. Personally, I’m rooting for Ottavino to wear the zero, just because it would be so incongruous on so many levels.

And what if the Yankees say no? The last non-zero number Ottavino was issued was 37, which he wore for the Rockies in 2012, but he definitely can’t wear that for the Yanks — it’s retired for Casey Stengel.

Meanwhile, as you can see in the photo at the top of today’s entry, Ottavino has sometimes sported a beard. The Yanks will definitely make him shave that off, whichever number he ends up wearing.

(My thanks to Robert Neely for bringing that 2017 article to my attention.)

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ITEM! New ESPN column: When it comes to football helmet design, there’s basically big-time college football and then there’s everybody else. The big college programs have a rotating carousel of helmet designs — often three, four, or five per school — while smaller colleges and high schools don’t have the financial resources for that kind of thing and NFL teams are hamstrung by the one-shell rule.

Now there’s a new product that could change all of that. I’ve written about it in my latest ESPN piece, and I think you’ll find it very interesting. Check it out here.

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Instant classic: Lakers forward Michael Beasley, the man who once rubbed his teammate’s knee because he mistakenly thought it was his own, had another classic moment during last night’s game against the Thunder. As he prepared to check into the game, he ripped off his warmup pants and discovered that he was wearing his practice shorts instead of his game shorts.

Beasley headed straight to the locker room for a quick wardrobe change. No word on whether he rubbed his knee while he was there.

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Braves update: We’ve known all week now that the Braves will be unveiling “refreshed” uniforms, whatever that means, at a promotional event tomorrow. Yesterday we got some hints regarding what that might entail.

The team’s promotional schedule indicates that there will be a red-jersey giveaway on April 7. The jersey shown in the promo photo is different than the star-spangled, tomahawk-free version that the Braves have been wearing in recent years. It appears to be the same red alternate they had from 2005 through 2013.

In addition, the Braves announced a series of bobblehead giveaways for 2019. One of the bobbles is a hybrid design featuring Dansby Swanson and Charlie Culberson (who are supposedly lookalikes — hence the hybrid design), with Swanson (I think) wearing the same red design from the April 7 jersey giveaway.

So I think it’s a safe bet that the Braves will, at the very least, be unveiling a new (read: old) red jersey tomorrow. My understanding is that they have other things in the works as well, although I don’t know what those things are.

In any case, we’ll have coverage of the Braves’ refreshments on Sunday.

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The Ticker
By Yianni Varonis

Baseball News: The Cardinals’ winter caravan logo has an apostrophe catastrophe (from David Truman). … Here’s another example of a tequila sunrise-inspired design, this time on an IPA beer can featuring a generic ballplayer. Also, take note of the player’s hops sleeve patch (from Douglas Brei).

NFL News: From Phil: This article documents the history of the Browns’ helmets. … Also from Phil: This opinion piece bemoans that the Rams will wear their white jerseys in Sunday’s NFC Championship Game instead of their royal blue throwbacks.

College and High School Football News: From Phil: If you ever wanted to know every uniform combination that Florida has worn this decade, now you can. … A Utah high school football coach has been suspended for the first two games of next season because his team wore white uniforms at home during this year’s state championship game (from Paul Warne).

Hockey News: New Flyers G Mike McKenna recently received a mask featuring team mascot, Gritty, and revealed this tidbit: Through his career playing for 19 organizations, he hasn’t always been allowed to keep his sweaters, though he always kept his masks (from @PhillyPartTwo). … Check out the tenths of a second shown on the two sides of the scoreboard in this shot from a USHL game — photographer Peter Wilt must have caught it at just the right moment (from Dan Pfeifer). … The Idaho Steelheads of the ECHL will be wearing unis supporting the Jayden Deluca Foundation this weekend. “First time I’ve ever seen the foundation logo completely replace the team logo on the front of a jersey,” says Brett Thomas.

NBA News: Reader Etienne Catalan has several jersey number updates for recently acquired players: New Pistons G Isaiah Whitehead will wear No. 12, new Pistons G Kalin Lucas will wear No. 24, new Rockets F James Nunnally will wear No. 21, new Cavaliers F Deng Adel will wear No. 99 (the second player in team history to do so), and new Knicks G Kadeem Allen will wear No. 0.

College Hoops News: Michigan State has added a “Gus” memorial patch in memory of former coach George “Gus” Ganakas, who recently passed away. The patch made its debut at last night’s game at Nebraska, and Nebraska’s equipment manager, Pat Norris, got the patches added to the MSU jerseys (from @budcone7 and David Harns).

Soccer News: Italian club Roma’s new retro-inspired shirt has leaked, and it’s a good one (from @deadendnights). … A few items from reader Josh Hinton: Next season, Arsenal will apparently wear a modern rendition of the team’s infamous “bruised banana” jerseys; in the EPL, Leicester City’s Jamie Vardy spooked his teammates by wearing a Spider-Man costume during a training session; and the Seattle Sounders have a new jersey advertiser has been released … Speaking of which: The Sounders and Seattle Reign of the NWSL now share a new shirt advertiser (from Ed Zelaski). … Also from Ed: New shirt for Argentinian club San Lorenzo. … Forward Madison FC, a Wisconsin-based club of the United Soccer League, has invited fans to design the season ticket holder scarf for its inaugural season (from JohnMark Fisher).

Grab Bag: Curling’s Continental Cup has begun, and with it brings new uniforms which this article describes as “loud,” “colorful,” and “patriotic” (from Wade Heidt). … The Ohio State University is hosting an on-campus exhibit on the relationship between sports and fashion (from Lain Landon). … In the Brooklyn neighborhood of Park Slope, where Paul lived until recently, mothers now have a new “uniform” (NYT link). … Donald Trump’s fashion tip for slenderizing? Long ties (from Jason Hillyer). … United Airlines has new uniforms for frontline employees and there’s a reason airlines are outfitting their employees in purple. Sorry, Paul! (From Phil and Edward Hahn.) … Speaking of airlines, here are the five design finalists for Chicago O’Hare’s $8.5 billion expansion. … Seeing double: Nike has a new shoe that includes the company’s logo inside of its own logo. … A North Dakota artist has become popular making throw pillows out of old college marching band uniforms. … A Russian company wants to put a bunch of satellites in low-Earth orbits so they can display advertisements (from Jeremy Reeder).

Talking Trash: Creating a Tequila Sunrise Garbage Truck

Photo by Tyler Evans; click to enlarge

Uni Watch reader Tyler Evans recently spotted something very interesting on the streets of Houston: a tequila sunrise-themed garbage truck! I was intrigued, so I asked him if this was the first time he’d seen it. Did the trash-collection company have a whole fleet of tequila sunrise trucks? Tyler said he’d lived in Houston his entire life but hadn’t seen the truck until that day.

As you can see above, the company’s full name was obscured by a tree, so I googled “pride disposal houston” and found myself at the website for Texas Pride Disposal, which is headquartered just outside of Houston. The star graphic on the website matched the one shown on the truck, so this was definitely the right company.

As I poked around the website, it quickly became apparent that Texas Pride Disposal is no ordinary garbage operation. The site’s “About” page (how many trash companies even have an “About” page?) includes a well-written, engaging note from the company’s co-founder, Kevin Atkinson. Here’s an excerpt:

Growing up, for as long as anyone who knows me can remember, I have always wanted to be a garbage man. Whether it was riding my bike up and down the street with the regular crew, owning an entire fleet of toy garbage trucks, or even having a few goldfish named BFI [for the garbage company Browning-Ferris Industries], garbage has been my passion for quite literally my entire life.

As I grew up, the toy trucks were retired, but the real trucks continued to catch my eye. After returning home from my freshman year of college, I was hired as a helper for a local company. I spent the entire summer throwing trash on the back of the truck, the hardest job I’ve ever had. … After graduating, I was hired full-time, and quickly became an operations manager. Within a year, I was managing the residential division for the entire Houston market, an operation that consisted of over 300 employees, 200,000 customers, and 80 trucks.

[…]

So here I am today … more passionate about what I do than anyone you will ever meet, and ready and excited to go above and beyond for you and your community.

Now I was really intrigued — Atkinson sounded like a pretty interesting cat. I poked around a bit more and found some additional photos of the tequila sunrise truck, along with a photo of Atkinson posing with what appeared to be an LSU truck (click to enlarge):

That sealed it — I needed to talk to Atkinson. I was able to do that yesterday. Here’s an edited transcript of our conversation:

Uni Watch: Which truck came first — Astros or LSU?

Kevin Atkinson: LSU. I went to LSU for college. When my partner and I started the company, I said, “To really get our brand and name out there, I want to do a really obnoxious truck — something people will notice.” So I wanted to do an LSU Tiger truck. He’d already been in the industry for 40 years, and he wasn’t a big fan of the idea, but he said, “How about this: Let’s get 20 of our basic black-and-white trucks going. And if you can sell 20 trucks’ worth of business, you can do the Tiger truck after that.”

UW: When would this have been?



KA: When we first started, in 2013. I think it was about two and a half years later, we’d sold 20 trucks’ worth of business. It was time to order truck No. 21, and I said, “Hey, you said I could do this.” He said, “Have at it,” so I called my truck guy, told him what I wanted to do.

He loved the idea and sent me a mock-up. It had a standard white cab and a white body with a purple logo. And I said, “No, that’s terrible. I want this to be the most obnoxious truck you guys have ever designed, ever.” So he came back with this full-blown purple and gold design. It’s got purple underglow lights that you can’t see in the photos. So we did that, and it got a lot of attention. And for something LSU-related, being in Houston, it was something of novelty.

UW: Yeah, I was going to say, it’s sort of like putting the truck in enemy territory.

KA: Yeah, this is Aggie country, for sure. My business partner was a little concerned that we’d have, like, people throwing tomatoes at us.

UW: They’d throw garbage at a garbage truck!

KA: Right, exactly! But it was popular, and a lot of fun.

UW: Have you ever taken it to an LSU game?

KA: LSU played in the Texas Bowl at NRG Stadium here in Houston in 2015. I wanted to bring it on the field and have it parked in the corner or something like that, but it didn’t work out. If LSU ever plays here again, I’d probably bring the truck out to a tailgate. That’d be a lot of fun.

UW: Would you consider driving it to a game in Louisiana?



KA: No, I wouldn’t take it that far.

UW: Do the people at LSU know about you and your truck?

KA: The Houston LSU Alumni Association definitely knows. The very first day I picked up the truck, I drove it straight to the alumni association’s annual crawfish boil, which was taking place that day. So it was parked there. There were all these kids crawling around in it. It was a really cool experience.

UW: And what about the Astros truck — how did that come about?

KA: After [Hurricane] Harvey came through in 2017, and then the Astros winning the World Series, there was this spirit that grew throughout the whole city. At one point I was sitting in a bar with my girlfriend and I was drinking this beer that had the Astros’ retro jersey design on their can. So I was looking at the can and I was like, “This would be a fantastic truck wrap.” So I took a photo of it, and got a photo of the rainbow uniforms, and told my truck guy that I wanted to do that.

So it’s an Astros truck, but it’s also a Houston truck. It embodies the pride and perseverance that people here had after Harvey, and it embodies how the Astros turned their franchise around from being a bad team to World Series champions, and it also embodies our company’s spirit, because we had some setbacks early on, including a terrible fire that burned four of our trucks. So this truck has a lot of meaning to us.

UW: Do you prefer that uniform to the Astros’ current uniform? Do you wish they’d go back to it full-time?

KA: I like the current uniform. But those rainbow jerseys were so unique.

UW: How have people reacted to the Astros truck?

KA: It’s gotten way more attention than the LSU truck — which makes sense, since it’s Houston. At one point we brought it to the Minute Maid Park parking lot and took photos of it with the ballpark in the background.

UW: Have you been in touch with the Astros, or have they been in touch with you?

KA: We kind of teased the truck on Instagram, and we tagged lots of players in those photos. But no, I haven’t actually heard from anyone connected to the team.

UW: Were you concerned about trademark issues, or using their design without getting permission?

KA: The way we look at it, it’s really just a color scheme. And the star on the truck is not the same star they use. So we just kinda went with it.

UW: You mentioned that there was that beer that also had the rainbow theme as part of the can design. Are there lots of businesses in Houston that use that pattern on their signs, or their vehicles, or their package designs, or whatever?

KA: Yeah, I’d say it’s one of the more popular designs. Off the top of my head, I can’t think of any other examples, but I do feel like you see it around town.

UW: For these specialized truck designs, is that a paint job, or a vinyl wrap, or what?

KA: It’s a vinyl wrap for both of them. Actually, for the LSU truck, they painted it purple for the base, but all the gold was a wrap.

UW: Do you have any other sports-themed trucks, and do you plan to have more of them? What about a Houston Rockets truck, or a Houston Texans truck?

KA: We’ve talked about it, and it would definitely be fun to have a whole family of sports trucks. But I think it would be tough without pushing the copyright or trademark issue, because for those other teams you can’t really do a color scheme — you’d need to use the team logo, and that’s a lot harder to do without consent from the team. We haven’t gotten there yet.

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And there you have it. Let’s hear it for Kevin Atkinson, who’s achieved his lifelong dream and put a uni-related spin on it to boot.

(Major thanks to Tyler Evans for getting the ball rolling on this one.)

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Something you don’t see every day: I’ve always said I’m not particularly interested in fans wearing overpriced polyester shirts. But I never said anything about chainmail shirts.

That’s what a Devils fan appears to have been wearing during Tuesday night’s Devils/Blue Jackets game in Columbus. I’m pretty sure I’ve never seen anything like that before. Is this a new category of retail merch?

Update: Yes, it’s apparently a thing:

(My thanks to K. James for the Devils screen shot.)

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Where there’s a Wilson, there’s a way: I was channel-surfing last night and ended up watching part of Cast Away — my first time watching it since it came out in 2000, I’m pretty sure. Naturally, I found myself thinking about the volleyball, Wilson.

When the movie came out, I remember reading about how it was such a plum product placement for Wilson Sporting Goods (which ended up capitalizing handsomely). But if you were making this film today, would you still use a Wilson product?

In the late 1990s, when Cast Away was being made, Wilson was a pretty major sporting goods operation. (As late as 1997, they made the uniforms for six NFL teams.) Two decades later, Wilson — like Spalding, Rawlings, Champion, and the other legacy sporting goods companies — now seems like a relic from another era. They still make the official NFL football, but that almost seems quaint. Wilson and the other legacy operations were in the sporting goods business; the companies that have eclipsed them — Nike, Under Armour, Adidas — are in the lifestyle business. It’s a different world.

Hollywood, of course, is also in the lifestyle business. If you were making Cast Away today, you wouldn’t want the movie’s key supporting role to be played by a stodgy old brand like Wilson, right? You’d want Nike or Under Armour.

Then again, Wilson makes for a much better character name, so maybe you’d still use a Wilson product after all. Still, it’s good food for thought.

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Membership update: A bunch of new designs have been added to the membership card gallery, including Kevin Oliveira’s card, shown at right, which is based on the Brazilian national team’s jersey. Card designer Scott M.X. Turner did a great job with this one, no?

I have three slots open in the current batch. So the next three people who sign up will get their cards pretty quickly.

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. (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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The Ticker
By Paul

’Skins Watch: During a recent NLL game between the Philadelphia Wings and the Georgia Swarm, the Wings’ PA announcer suggested that everyone should “snip the pony tail” from Swarm player Lyle Thompson, who’s Native American. Fans also suggested scalping him. The Wings later issued an apology, as did the PA announcer himself, who was then fired (from @PhillyPartTwo).

Baseball News: Back in the 1970s, a baseball card collector and photography enthusiast got the idea of making a set of trading cards featuring famous photographers posing in baseball gear (great find by Paul Friedmann). … Yesterday’s Ticker showed the new La Crosse Loggers logo. Here’s their new cap. … Charlotte Knights skipper Mark Grudzielanek’s nameplate extended all the way to his sleeves — and the “G” extended beyond the nameplate! Never seen anything like that before (from Mark Springer). … The new logo for the PGA Tour’s Houston Open has an Astros-style tequila sunrise theme. … Newly acquired Mets INF Jed Lowrie, who wore No. 8 with the A’s, will wear No. 4 for the Amazin’s. He previously wore that number while playing for the Astros in 2012. … Love this old shot of fireballer Bob Feller and football great Otto Graham trading equipment (from @cDud1970).

Football News: Although there’s been no official announcement, this year’s Pro Bowl uniforms are apparently the same as last year’s. … Cross-listed from the baseball section: Love this old shot of baseball great Bob Feller and QB Otto Graham trading equipment (from @cDud1970). … Falcons P John James wore a foot-warmer while standing on the sidelines during a 1978 playoff game against the Eagles (from Mike Selock). … Here’s a weird one: Some runway models at a fashion show in Paris wore Chargers and Longhorns football helmets. Additional info here and here (from @_STODD and Phil). … New Oregon recruit Kayvon Thibodeaux says the team’s uniforms had nothing to do with his school choice (from Lendsey Thomson).

Hockey News: “Stick It to Cancer” uniforms tomorrow for the Greenville Swamp Rabbits. … One-game food-based team makeovers, already popular in baseball, are catching on in hockey. Case in point: The Maine Mariners will become the Wild Blueberries on March 9. … Here’s a photo gallery of Northern Ontario Junior teams wearing throwbacks. … The Flames are expected to announce the retirement of Jarome Iginla’s No. 12. It would be only the third number retirement for Calgary, following Mike Vernon’s No. 30 and Lanny McDonald’s No. 9. … NASCAR driver Erik Jones visited a Red Wings practice on Tuesday. They gave him a No. 20 Wings jersey (Jones drives the No. 20 car for Joe Gibbs Racing) and he gave autographed racing helmets to several Wings players. … Golden Knights G Marc-Andre Fleury got caught building a snow wall in front of his soon-to-be-empty net on Tuesday night. … Here are some really nice 1932 photos showing hockey teams from Michigan’s Upper Peninsula. Really nice uniforms (big thanks to Benji Hainault). … The AHL All-Star jerseys have been unveiled (from Kristopher Sharpe).

NBA News: NBA players’ feet take a beating, so many of them are getting pedicures (WaPo link). … The D League’s Grand Rapids Drive will wear Flint Tropics jerseys uniforms tomorrow. … Logan High School in Utah wore the Jazz’s red rock uniforms last night (from @macpm15). … Rockets G James Nunnally’s uni number looked badly off-center last night.

College and High School Hoops News: New BFBS uniforms for the Iowa State women’s team (from Sean Jankowski). … Awesome throwback warmups last night for Southeastern Louisiana (from @EddieScissons). … Cross-listed from the NBA section: Logan High School in Utah wore the Utah Jazz’s red rock uniforms last night (from @macpm15).

Soccer News: New shirts for the Urawa Reds (from Ed Zelaski). … Many players on the Chinese national team have been wearing long-sleeved undershirts, even in stiflingly hot weather, because of the country’s sports officials have banned visible tattoos (NYT link). … Here’s a closer look at the match ball for the USL Championship (formerly the USL, and the current second tier of USA soccer), the new league USL League One (USA 3rd tier), and USL League Two (formerly the PDL, and the current fourth tier of USA soccer) (from Josh Hinton). … English League One team Scunthorpe United is having a poll to choose next season’s kits (from our own Jamie Rathjen). … And so it has come to this: The Seattle Sounders are doing a countdown clock to hype the announcement of their new jersey sponsor advertiser. … New away kit for Venezuela (from Ed Zelaski).

Grab Bag: Interesting piece about modern chefs’ attire. Key quote: “The exact origins of the classic chef’s uniform are murky. Amy Trubek, a professor at the University of Vermont, said the outfits were white, like the uniforms of many other professions in the 1800s, because they represented ‘the 19th-century idea of purity, sanitation and cleanliness.’” … The Chinese smartphone brand OnePlus will become the jersey advertiser for the esports organization Fnatic. … Cross-listed from the baseball section: The new logo for the PGA Tour’s Houston Open has a Houston Astros-style tequila sunrise theme. … Speaking of the PGA, golfer Bryson Dechambeau carries a yardage book personalized with his initials — but the period after his last initial is missing (good spot by Jerry Kulig). … Cross-listed from the hockey section: NASCAR driver Erik Jones visited a Detroit Red Wings practice on Tuesday. They gave him a No. 20 Wings jersey (Jones drives the No. 20 car for Joe Gibbs Racing) and he gave autographed racing helmets to several Wings players. … New logo for Slack. Additional info here (from Eric Bangeman and our own Brinke Guthrie). … The Polish men’s volleyball club team Trefl Gdańsk has a bizarre number font (from Jeremy Brahm).

A Story About the 1997 World Series

It’s looking like I’ll probably be traveling for at least part of the day on Sunday, when the NFL’s two conference championship games will take place. There’s also a vaaaaague chance that I’ll be traveling two Sundays after that — the date of the Super Bowl.

These potential travel plans have reminded me of a story I hadn’t thought about in a long time, about the 1997 World Series (Marlins/Indians). The story isn’t uni-related, but it’s interesting and fun, and I’m pretty sure I’ve never told it here on the blog, so I’m going to share it with you today.

So: In October of 1997, my then-galpal Alleen and I flew to Wisconsin for a four-day weekend. The fourth day — the day when we’d be flying back home to NYC — was Sunday, Oct. 26, which was scheduled to be the day for Game Seven of the World Series, if the Series went that far. When booking the flights, we thought, “Hmmm — we could take an early flight that would get us home in time to watch the game, or we could get a later flight that would get us home in time to catch the end of the game, which we could watch at a bar at LaGuardia after we landed.”

We decided to go with the later flight, because we wanted to maximize our time in Wisconsin. And besides, what were the odds that the Series would even go to a seventh game? Sure, booking the later flight meant we might miss most of the game, but we felt good about our choice.

The Wisconsin trip was a good one. Among other things, we went to Door County for the first time, bowled at the great Holler House for the first time, and, thanks to a random development, met two people who would end up becoming my close friends and heroes (R.I.P., Julie). Travel was very different in those days — there was no such thing yet as WiFi, neither of us owned a cell phone, and I didn’t own a laptop (Alleen did, but she didn’t bring it). I remember the second day we spent a ridiculous amount of time trying to find a place with a fax machine so my editor at Spin, where I was a columnist at the time, could fax me a proof of that month’s column.

Naturally, the World Series did go to a seventh game. As it turned out, there were terrible thunderstorms in Milwaukee that day and our flight was delayed. Our late-afternoon departure kept getting pushed back, and back, into the early evening — and then the game started. So we began watching the game at an airport bar near our departure gate, sticking our heads out every so often to see the latest status of our flight.

At some point during the game — I no longer recall which inning this would have been — they announced something bizarre: They were going to drive us to O’Hare in Chicago (only about an hour away), where the weather wasn’t quite so bad, and then we’d fly home from there. This seemed like a huge hassle, but whatever — we had to get home.

I expected them to put us in a bus or a van, but instead they brought out a series of limos — each of which had a TV. Great, we thought, now we can keep watching the game! But this prompted an argument, because everyone else in the limo wanted to watch Sunday Night Football. “Look,” we said, “this is the last baseball game of the year. After tonight, you can watch all the football you want.” We won the argument, but as I recall things were a bit tense in the limo. I remember huddling close to Alleen, staring at the tiny limo TV screen, and trying not to feel everyone else glaring at us.

Under normal circumstances, the game would have ended either during the limo ride or soon after we arrived at O’Hare. But as you may recall, Game Seven of the ’97 Series went into extra innings, so the game was still going when we boarded our plane. Again, there was no WiFi, no smart phones — we were completely in the dark. I wondered if the plane’s captain might announce the game’s outcome during the flight (I think maybe we even asked a flight attendant about that), but he didn’t. So when we arrived at LaGuardia, we had no idea who’d won.

Because of all the flight delays, it was now very late — after midnight, I’m pretty sure — and almost all of the airport concessions were closed for the night. No restaurants, no bars, no TVs. So as we went through the airport and prepared to get a cab to go home, we still didn’t know who won.

I asked the cabbie to put on one of the all-news radio stations. After 20 minutes, they finally did the sports report, and that’s when we learned that the Marlins had won a title in only their fifth season. Although I usually root for the National League team, I had been rooting for Cleveland, mainly because I disliked the Marlins’ uniforms (Uni Watch was still nearly two years from being born, but the seed had already been planted in my brain), so I was disappointed, but finding out about it after the fact, while riding home late at night in a cab, felt oddly anti-climactic.

What a difference 20 years make. If I do end up traveling this Sunday and/or on Feb. 3, it’s a safe bet that I won’t have much trouble finding out what I missed.

Thanks for listening. We’ll get back to more traditional uni-related content tomorrow.

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Hmmmmm: Yesterday was National Hat Day, which I didn’t know until a bunch of people pointed it out on social media. (If I had known, maybe I would’ve done a headwear-centric post yesterday.) The Pirates apparently didn’t know either because, as you can see above, they waited until 8:09pm to unveil their new G.I. Joke cap “in honor of” National Hat Day.

Leaving aside the timing and the optics, it’s worth noting the the Pirates — one of the few teams to have a military-themed alternate uni as part of their regular rotation in addition to the MLB-wide Memorial Day costume — are now on their fourth different G.I. Joke alternate cap in as many years (click to enlarge):

I’m assuming that sets some sort of record. Yep, nothing says support for the troops (or for National Hat Day) like trying to get your fan base to buy another piece of merch every 12 months.

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Worth a closer look: The Grab Bag section in yesterday’s Ticker included a small item about Trusox being mired in some messy business affairs. Having now read the entire article, I can wholeheartedly recommend it — it’s full of interesting details about the lengths some soccer players will go to wear Trusox even when they aren’t an approved uniform element, the intra-family spat at the heart of Under Armour’s founding, nonsense “branding” efforts, and a lot more. Good reporting, good writing, good stuff all around.

You’ll have to spend a Washington Post click to read it, but it’s worth it. Trust me.

Meanwhile, as long as we’re talking about corporate theater, Deadspin’s Dan McQuade has written a pretty amusing and revealing piece about how insidious Nike’s sneaker hype is, and how a lot of reporters — including, at one time, McQuade himself — are basically in Nike’s pocket. There’s something rather conveniently self-serving about this piece, because it’s basically a confessional to assuage McQuade’s guilty conscience for his past sneaker-hype sins (nice try, Dan), but there’s still a decent amount of wisdom here. Worth reading.

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Culinary Corner: In my recent Cincinnati travelogue, I mentioned that we loved eating goetta, the unusual breakfast sausage created generations ago by Cincinnati’s German immigrant population, and planned to try making it ourselves. On Saturday we did just that.

There are tons of goetta recipes on the internet, and we read a lot of them. Almost all of them use the same basic ratio of 2.5 cups of steel-cut oats (also called pinhead oats) to one pound of ground beef, one pound of ground pork, one large onion, and eight cups of water and/or beef broth, but we were surprised that most of the recipes called for no seasonings other than salt, pepper, and bay leaves. The goetta we enjoyed in Cincinnati seemed like it had a greater flavor complexity. Hmmmm.

We decided to make two batches, so we could compare. For one, we just did the basics — salt, pepper, bay leaves. For the other, we used several additional flavorings, toasted the oats, and, following the advice of one particularly interesting recipe, cooked the goetta in the oven instead of on the stovetop.

For the basic recipe, the process was pretty simple: We put four cups of water and four cups of beef broth in a big pot, brought it to a boil, added 2.5 cups of steel-cut oats along with salt, pepper, and two bay leaves, and let the whole thing simmer for two hours. Then we added a pound of ground beef, a pound of ground pork, and a large chopped onion, and let it cook for another hour. It’s basically making meat/onion oatmeal.

Before I get to the next steps, let me explain the process for the spiced batch, which was slightly more involved:

1. We toasted the oats (again, 2.5 cups) in a big pot, along with some minced garlic, salt, pepper, cayenne pepper, and marjoram (for all photos, you can click to enlarge):

We then removed the toasted oats from the pot and set them aside. Here’s a comparison of the toasted oats (on the left) compared to the non-toasted oats we used for the basic batch:

2. We added liquid to the pot (again, four cups each of water and beef broth), brought it to a boil, and added the toasted oats, a large chopped onion, the meat (again, a pound each of ground beef and ground pork), and two bay leaves:

3. We covered the pot and put it in a 200º oven for four hours, stirring occasionally.

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There’s no way to sugar-coat this: After both batches were done cooking, they looked, well, not very appetizing (although the house smelled really good). Here’s the basic batch:

Goetta is usually formed into loaves and then sliced, so we took a bunch of loaf pans (for some reason we had seven of them in the house, of varying sizes, and we ended up needing all of them), lined them with plastic wrap, and spooned the cooked goetta mix into them. We labeled the loaf pans so we knew which ones were the basic goetta and which ones were spiced, and we also used one pan for a half-and-half hybrid batch.

After the loaf pans cooled a bit, we put them in the fridge overnight so the goetta could set.

The next day, our friend Carrie came over to help sample the goetta. We brought some of the loaf pans out of the fridge, used the plastic wrap to help turn the goetta out onto a cutting board, and made a few slices (sorry about the varying lighting conditions — the light in our kitchen really sucks):

Then we put the slices in a non-stick skillet. Some recipes said to use oil or butter, but one article I read said that it’s easier to keep the slices intact, without having them fall apart when you turn them, if you cook them without any added oil or fat, so we tried that. One of the slices broke apart anyway, but it wasn’t a major problem. The slices browned up beautifully:

Now came the moment of truth — we tasted it. Both varieties were really good (like, really good), but they didn’t taste quite like Cincinnati. I found myself wishing we’d brought home some of the authentic Cincy stuff, so we could compare.

While I tried to figure out how our goetta differed from what we’d had in Cincinnati, the next step was to make some breakfast sandwiches:

The sandwiches were great. I had some more of our goetta Monday (it tasted more like Cincinnati, maybe because it had dried out a little more, or maybe just because I’m getting used to our version), and then I made some goetta hash on Tuesday (so good!).

All in all, a really fun experiment — one that we’ll definitely try again. Here are some adjustments we might make the next time around:

• Our spicy version is a bit too spicy for my tastes (too much cayenne). My favorite version is the hybrid batch. So next time maybe we’ll just cut down on the spices a bit.

• Our version definitely isn’t as toothsome as the goetta we had in Cincinnati. We’re wondering if we could remedy this by cooking the oats for a shorter amount of time and/or by using less cooking liquid.

• We’re a little puzzled by the large onion. Every recipe calls for it, and the chopped onion bits are therefore very visible and tangible in our goetta, but the goetta we had in Cincinnati had no visible or tangible onion. Maybe we need to chop the onion more finely next time.

But that next time is probably a long way off, because our fridge and freezer are now stuffed with goetta. I look forward to being able to say the same thing in the days and weeks to come.

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ITEM! Call for entries: I am very much in the market for new entries in my Key Ring Chronicles project. If you have a special item on your key ring with a good story behind it (like the quarter on my own key ring, whose story is told here), please get in touch.

If you want to get a feel for the sort of stories I’m looking for, you can see the full archive of KRC entries here. Thanks.

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The Ticker
By Lloyd Alaban

Baseball News: The Pirates released this logo to celebrate Steve Blass’s 60th season with the club, both as a player and a broadcaster (from Jared Grubbs). … July 27 is the 20th anniversary of when the Mets and Pirates wore their futuristic uniforms. As it happens, the Mets and Bucs are playing each other again on that same date this season, so Mets Police blogger Shannon Shark is calling on the Mets to revive the “throwaheads” for that game. … Proof that Spider-Man Gets It™: Peter Parker has a uni-centric Mike Piazza Hall of Fame pennant on his wall in the new Spidey movie trailer (from Zeke Perez Jr.). … In yesterday’s lede, Paul wondered if the minor leagues had any costumed mascots before the 1950s. Turns out the Milwaukee Brewers, a minor league team not affiliated with the current Brewers, employed a Barrel Man mascot in 1942 (from Chance Michaels). … The Potomac Nationals, a minor league affiliate of the Nats, released their promo schedule for 2019. … Here’s an aerial view of Trinity High School’s new field in Louisville, Ky. … New caps for UC Santa Barbara. … New caps for FAU (from Jake Elman). … New uniforms for the University of Miami. … New logo for the La Crosse Loggers of the Northwoods League. … Towns County High School in northern Georgia, whose teams are called the Indians, has poached Chief Wahoo and the Twins’ “TC” logo (from Mark Eiken). … Derek Vergolini showed off his college cap collection for National Hat Day.

Football News: Worlds of Fun, a theme park in Kansas City, Missouri, has temporarily renamed its Patriot ride to “Patrick” ahead of the AFC Championship Game. … Bert Church High School in Airdrie, Alberta, is poaching the Rams logo while using “Chargers” as its team name (from Joe Bettinelli). … Helmet manufacturer Vicis designed a helmet for comedian Adam Carolla inspired by actor Paul Newman’s Porsche 935 (from Jeff, who didn’t give his last name). … Saints WR Dez Bryant showed up at a Dallas Stars game last night in a custom Stars sweater (from Bo Childers). … Bryan Station High School in Lexington, Ky., has probably the biggest midfield logo in existence (from Josh Claywell).

Hockey News: Hurricanes F Brock McGinn had a bit of trouble with his helmet decal, as the “2” on his helmet came loose (from Tom Faggione). … The Rangers celebrated Pride Night last night. There was a rainbow puck and rainbow-bladed sticks at the pregame ceremonial puck drop (from Alan Kreit). … Here are some shots of the Red Wings’ Salute to Service sweaters. … This Maryland youth club, named the Maple Leafs, is wearing sweaters with their team name on a Capitals template. This photo is taken from a WaPo article documenting how the team stood up to racist taunts and defended their black teammate (from our own Phil Hecken). … Cross-listed from the football section: Saints WR Dez Bryant showed up at a Dallas Stars game last night in a custom Stars sweater (from Bo Childers).

NBA News: The Hawks wore throwback uniforms last night against the Thunder, who wore their Statement edition uniforms (from Max Strauss). … 99% Invisible, a podcast that focuses on design, wrote about NBA uniforms in the early 1990s (from Gabe Whisnant). … The following three items are from Etienne Catalan: F Julian Washburn will wear No. 4 with the Grizzlies, F Corey Brewer will wear No. 00 with the Sixers, and F Bonzie Colson will wear No. 50 with the Bucks. … Conrad Burry came up with this 2019 NBA All-Star Game uniform concept based on the 1991 ASG uniforms also held in Charlotte.

College/High School Hoops News: Central Michigan men’s F Rob Montgomery suffered a cut on his face during last night’s game against Northern Illinois. He had to change into a new jersey, and the only one available was a No. 30. His regular number is 5 (from @so_it_gohs). … South Florida men’s wore some hideous BFBS neon uniforms last night against Cincinnati (from @rwilzb001). … San Diego State men’s showed off their custom Air Jordan XXXIIIs last night (from Nathan Clark). … Here’s Pounce, Georgia State’s mascot, participating in the viral 10 Year Challenge (from Hans Hassell). … Brad Eenhuis sent us this photo of the 1952-53 Klemme High School girls team from Klemme, Iowa.

Soccer News: Brazil’s yellow, green, blue, and white kit is iconic now, but it wasn’t always that way. Brazil used to play in an all-white football kit. In 1953 they held a competition to design a new one. The only rule was that it had to include the four colors of Brazil’s flag. 18-year-old Aldyr Garcia Schlee sent in three sketches. The one on the left won. Schlee died in November at the age of 83 (from Sergio A. Garcia). … Austin FC, MLS’s newest expansion club, has revealed its colors and crest (from Griffin Smith). … The crest of the Portuguese top-tier team Santa Clara is essentially the same as that of Benfica, one of the biggest teams in Portugal. So not only are Santa Clara poaching another team’s crest, it’s one that they now play twice a year (though this is only their fourth season in the top tier) (from our own Jamie Rathjen).

Grab Bag: Cross-listed from the football section: Helmet manufacturer Vicis designed a helmet for comedian Adam Carolla inspired by actor Paul Newman’s Porsche 935 (from Jeff, who didn’t give his last name). … A Bangladeshi cricket team has just introduced MNOB — Mother’s Name on Back (from @wolicyponk). … South Africa’s Super Rugby clubs unveiled Marvel-themed uniforms (from Eric Bangeman). … Cloud9, an esports league, has inked an apparel deal with Puma (from Sara, who didn’t give her last name). … An internal survey showed that two-thirds of fans didn’t really care that F1 changed its logo. … The following three ticker items are from David Firestone: NTT is the new title advertiser of IndyCar. … Pennzoil bought the naming rights to Houston Raceway Park. … Drag racer Cruz Pedregon is seeking fan input for potential car names. … Lehigh men’s lacrosse team members get issued this sweater (from Chris Jastrzembski). … The University of South Carolina has officially changed its abbreviation from “USC” to “UofSC” to avoid confusion with the University of Southern California. … Michael, who didn’t give his last name, showed us the committee logo for commissioning of the USS Wichita this past weekend. The background is the flag of Wichita, Kan., with the Wichita Native American symbol for “home” in front of the Keeper of the Plains statue, where Keeper of the Seas comes from. … According to Sen. Amy Klobuchar’s staffers, mockups of her presidential campaign logo found on a coffee shop table in New York are fake (from multiple readers).