Think Pink: 2021 MLB Mother’s Day Caps Leak

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Almost all of MLB’s 2021 Ma’s Day caps briefly leaked yesterday on the Macy’s website. As you can see from the six designs shown above, they’re going with a simple (and mostly brutal) design approach this year, changing the standard cap logos to pink. Looks awful to me, but this is the world we live in now.

Three teams — the Blue Jays, Rays, and Atlanta — were not shown in this leak. But here are the caps for all the other teams:

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Let’s shift into FAQ mode:

They look like they got put in the wash with a red T-shirt and got stained when the shirt dye bled all over everything else!

Yes, they do.

That’s a weird choice for the A’s logo!

Yes, it is. Don’t recall seeing that before.

They’re not as bad as the ones with full pink crowns and/or visors!

No, they’re not. But they’re still pretty awful.

What about the maker’s mark and the MLB logo on the back — are they pink?

No, they’re in their usual colors.

Will there be pink-accented jerseys to go along with the caps?

They haven’t used holiday jerseys since 2018. In 2019, they had the pink caps but teams wore their regular jerseys with the pink ribbon patch, and my understanding is that they planned to do the same thing last year before the pandemic wiped out all of last year’s holiday dates (well, except for Labor Day, which MLB chooses not to recognize in any special way, presumably because you can’t pander about the labor movement the way you can about patriotism and cancer, plus someone might start pointing out that the caps and jerseys are made outside the USA, mostly by exploited workers, blah-blah-blah — but I digress). Here’s hoping they don’t do holiday jerseys this year either.

Are they going to wear these for the full holiday weekend, or just on May 9?

Except for Independence Day, they ditched the weekend format in 2019 and went back to wearing the holiday merch only on the actual holidays. Again, here’s hoping that’s the case this year.

Are the caps that leaked yesterday just the ones they had planned for last year?

I don’t know that for a fact, but it seems likely.

When will we see the caps for the other holidays?

Soon-ish, I’d think, but I have no specific info on that — sorry.

(My thanks to Macy’s for leaking the caps, and to Ken Bartelt for letting me know about it.)

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WNBA, NWSL Team Up for Big Day of Uni Reveals
By Jamie Rathjen

Thanks to several coincidences of timing, yesterday was a banner day, — possibly the banner day in a long while — for uniform releases in women’s sports. The biggest news came from the WNBA, which released three new uniforms for every team — the “Heroine,” “Explorer,” and “Rebel” editions. (Yes, the first letters of those words spell out “H-E-R.” Nike is nothing if not subtle.)

The major WNBA changes include the following:

• For the first time since 2015, each team has a white uniform.

• Ads, which previously were prominent on the jersey front, sometimes in place of a team name or insignia, have generally been moved to two spots: below the back numbers and to the same upper-left front spot as NBA ad patches. Some teams, but not all, also have them below the front numbers.

• The jerseys also have the WNBA 25th-anniversary logo as a patch.

One of the three uniforms for each team — the “Rebel” design — at least vaguely represents either the team’s city or some aspect of women’s empowerment while not necessarily sticking to team colors. You can see those jerseys here (click to enlarge):

Two of the more obvious inspirations for these uniforms are the New York Liberty’s “Equality” design and the Washington Mystics’ design, which references the 19th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution. There are some outliers, though: The Indiana Fever chose to represent the Netflix series Stranger Things, which takes place in Indiana, and the Connecticut Sun went with an Indigenous theme by rendering “Sun” in Mohegan.

The other two uniforms are conventional colored and white options. Just as in the NBA, there are no home, away, or alternate designations. You can see each team’s two colored jerseys, but not the white ones, on this page, which also has lots of background info.

Meanwhile, yesterday also featured some uniform releases from NWSL teams (who’ve been procrastinating ahead of today’s season opener). The expansion Racing Louisville released their first two kits, and the newly renamed NJ/NY Gotham FC, formerly Sky Blue FC, did likewise with their first two shirts since Tuesday’s renaming.

Kansas City NWSL, which moved from Utah in the offseason, also announced that they’ll wear a plain white shirt, at least for the season-opening Challenge Cup.

I’ll have more to say about those and other new releases in the NWSL next week, but it’s safe to say that Louisville’s dark shirt is the latest in a series of well-received NWSL shirts, and in general the league’s current designs blow MLS out of the water.

In still more women’s soccer news, Scottish Women’s Premier League club Forfar Farmington switched outfitters, from Adidas to Joma, and released a new kit:

That change comes even though they’re in the middle of the recently restarted SWPL 1 season, and surely makes the town of Forfar one of the smallest places to have a pro team showcased on Uni Watch above the Ticker!

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Atlanta update: For a week now, we (or at least I) have been wondering if Atlanta would move their rear-cap memorial patches for Henry Aaron and Phil Niekro to the right-sleeve spot that suddenly became available when MLB decided to move the All-Star Game out of Georgia. I figured if they were going to give Aaron and Niekro the proper sleeve treatment, they’d do it for their home opener, which is today.

Instead, they announced last night that they’ll honor Aaron and Niekro by wearing 1970s throwbacks for “Opening Week.” Their first homestand is indeed seven games in seven days, so the plan is apparently to wear these throwbacks for that full week.

Although I haven’t confirmed this, I’m fairly certain that this was the team’s plan all along for the first homestand, irrespective of the All-Star drama. Meanwhile, we’ll have a wait until they go back on the road next Friday to see what happens with the cap memorials, the sleeve situation, and so on (well, unless they make some announcement before then).

Meanwhile, still no All-Star patch for the Rockies. I’ve asked them about this and will report back if they respond.

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Podcast reminder: For this week’s podcast episode, Chris Creamer and I talked about the Red Sox’s new yellow “City Connect” uniforms, plus we have the second and concluding part of our interview with Dodgers senior design director Ross Yoshida, who gave us a scoop about how the Dodgers almost ended up wearing purple in the late 1990s!

In addition, we discussed the situation regarding the 2021 MLB All-Star Game patch now that the game has been relocated from Atlanta to Colorado, plus the question of the week and more. It’s a really good episode!

As always, you can listen to us on Apple, Google, Stitcher, TuneIn, and Spotify, or just use the player below:

The show notes for this episode, which include photos of many of the things we discussed, are here. Those photos (and some additional ones) also appear in the video version of the episode, which you can see here:

Please consider supporting this episode’s advertisers, Streaker Sports (get 20% off any order with checkout code UNIFIED), Ebbets Field Flannels (10% off, except on NFL items, with checkout code UNIFIED), and Homefield Apparel (15% off with checkout code UNIFIED).

Enjoy the episode, and thanks for listening.

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Hot corner: The Cardinals have a history of great program/scorecard covers, and this year’s is no exception. What a beauty!

(Big thanks to Kevin Eckhoff for sending this one my way.)

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Mask mystery: I’ve always been fascinated by MLBers who’ve worn masks connected to their batting helmets after suffering facial injuries. That definitely includes Orioles outfielder Gary Roenicke, who wore a football-style facemask in 1979 (as immortalized on one of his Topps cards).

The photo above, which appeared in The Hartford Courant on May 30, 1979, shows Roenicke comparing headwear with Royals outfielder Al Cowens because, according to the caption, “Both wear protective bars on their batting hats.”

I don’t know about you, but I can’t discern the mask on Cowens’s helmet — frustrating! Moreover, I’d never seen a photo of him wearing a mask, so I went looking for one. No dice. Grrrrrr.

If anyone can shed some light on this situation of Cowens apparently wearing some sort of protective attachment on his batting helmet in May of 1979, I’m all ears. Thanks.

(Big thanks to Matt Edwards for finding and sharing this photo.)

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Sweet: Earlier in the week I mentioned that I’d scored a vintage Golden Seals blank jersey on eBay for a mere 35 beans. It arrived in the mail yesterday, and I absolutely could not be happier with how it fits — it really looks and feels like it was made for me.

As a bonus, check out the tagging:

Isn’t that great? The jersey on the tag mimics the actual jersey — very meta!

Here are two more shots:

A very satisfying purchase. Now the only question is whether I should leave it as is or put a big winged stirrup crest in the center of it. Hmmmmmm…..

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Culinary Corner: The Tugboat Captain, like so many people during the pandemic, has been making a lot of sourdough bread. She usually uses the discard to make sourdough waffles (we have a shitload of those in our freezer), but this week she decided to make homemade sourdough wheat thins! They turned out really well, plus they form a very pleasing grid pattern on the baking sheet. The photo above shows some of the raw dough before it went into the oven, and here are some shots of the finished product:

Cool-looking, right? That last photo looks a bit like a map of the lower 48!

Addictively tasty, too.

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Membership update: Card designer Scott M.X. Turner is always upping his game. Lately he’s come up with a speckle effect that really makes gold elements pop, as you can see here on Sam Mostow’s card, which is part of a new batch that’s been added to the membership card gallery and is based on the Nats’ gold-trimmed championship jersey from last year. Great work!

Ordering a membership card is a good way to support Uni Watch (which, 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 the Uni Watch, Uni Rock, and Naming Wrongs shops, plus the discount also applies to our Uni Watch Classic Cap. (If you’re an existing member and would like to have the discount code, email me and I’ll hook you up.)

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 3,100 of them!), and you can see how we produce the cards here.

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Pin Club reminder: With the Masters now under way, here’s one last reminder about the Uni Watch Pin Club’s April release, which has a golf/Masters theme. It’s a numbered edition of 200, with each pin individually numbered on the back, and there are now about 60 remaining. It’s available here, and we’re donating all the profits from this one to Fair Fight. (You can learn more about why we’ve chosen to do that here.)

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The Ticker
By Anthony Emerson

Baseball News: Cap chaos in yesterday’s Mets/Marlins game, as Mets P Miguel Castro mistakenly wore the team’s alternate home cap and Marlins manager Don Mattingly wore his team’s BP cap (from multiple readers). … Authentic versions of the Red Sox’s City Connect jerseys will retail for an eye-popping $435 (thanks, Phil). … A’s P Cole Irvin appears to still be using the glove from his Oregon Ducks days (from Brendon Smith).

Football News: A new Vicis helmet has received the best score ever in the Virginia Tech youth football concussion tests. … The XFL’s Houston Roughnecks, who were being sued by the NFL for trademark infringement over their very Oilers-esque helmet logo and Patriots-esque alternate logo, have chosen to drop said logos (thanks, Phil).

Hockey News: Rangers RW Vitali Kravtsov had his NOB misspelled last night (from multiple readers). … A ski resort in Idaho has a new logo that looks very similar to the Kraken’s logo (from Eric Taylor). … The Islanders have revealed the sweater numbers of new acquisitions Kyle Palmieri and Travis Zajac (from Jacob Zaldin).

NBA News: New NBA uni number news from Etienne Catalan: Heat C Dewayne Dedmon will wear No. 21 and Rondae Hollis-Jefferson will wear No. 2 for the Blazers.

Soccer News: Haitian side Arcahaie has some uni number size inconsistencies during the CONCACAF Champions League (from Bob Wilmot). … Neither Ajax nor Roma can wear their primary kits for their Europa League quarterfinal, as it’s been decided that they clash (from our own Jamie Rathjen). … Napoli’s new kits have leaked and they are, uh, something all right (thanks, Phil).

Grab Bag: New athletics logo for Lawrence University in Wisconsin (from Kary Klismet). … T.C. Williams High, the school featured in Remember the Titans and the largest high school in Virginia, is being renamed to Alexandria City High School. The school’s original namesake, Thomas Chambliss Williams, was a longtime segregationist (from William F. Yurasko).

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Today is my indestructible mom’s (97th!) birthday, so I’m heading out to see her. And this time I’ll be permitted to hug her! My brother, who I haven’t seen in well over a year, will be there as well, so this will be a long-overdue family gathering.

Have a great weekend, enjoy Phil’s weekend, and I’ll see you back here on Monday. — Paul

‘Unified’ Turns 10: Yellow Sox, Purple Dodgers

Good morning! For this week’s podcast episode (our 10th — double digits!), Chris Creamer and I talked about the Red Sox’s new yellow “City Connect” uniforms, plus we have the second and concluding part of our interview with Dodgers senior design director Ross Yoshida, who gave us a scoop about how the Dodgers almost ended up wearing purple in the late 1990s!

In addition, we discussed the situation regarding the 2021 MLB All-Star Game patch now that the game has been relocated from Atlanta to Colorado, plus the question of the week and more. It’s a really good episode!

As always, you can listen to us on Apple, Google, Stitcher, TuneIn, and Spotify, or just use the player below:

The show notes for this episode, which include photos of many of the things we discussed, are here. Those photos (and some additional ones) also appear in the video version of the episode, which you can see here:

Please consider supporting this episode’s advertisers, Streaker Sports (get 20% off any order with checkout code UNIFIED), Ebbets Field Flannels (10% off, except on NFL items, with checkout code UNIFIED), and Homefield Apparel (15% off with checkout code UNIFIED).

Enjoy the episode, and thanks for listening.

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Star time: Last week I mentioned that Cubs outfielder Jason Heyward came onto the field on Opening Day carrying a Chicago city flag with the improper stars. That malady appears to be spreading: Yesterday Cubs first baseman Anthony Rizzo’s shoes featured a Chicago flag theme — with the same improper stars. (And yes, Rizzo’s footwear also had a nice wiener dog pattern, a reference to his dog, Kevin.)

Again, the stars on the Chicago flag look like this:

What is it about that shape that the Cubs find so difficult to get right?

(Great spot by Jerry Pemberton on the stars, and my thanks also to Joe Zook for explaining the wiener dog design.)

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Membership update: Great job by card designer Scott M.X. Turner to create Greg Morrison’s new membership card, which is based on Darrell Waltrip’s car. Scott really captured that metallic feel — not easy to do!

Greg’s card is part of a new batch that’s been added to the membership card gallery, as we continue to plow through all the orders from last month’s membership drive.

Ordering a membership card is a good way to support Uni Watch (which, 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 the Uni Watch, Uni Rock, and Naming Wrongs shops, plus the discount also applies to our Uni Watch Classic Cap. (If you’re an existing member and would like to have the discount code, email me and I’ll hook you up.)

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 3,100 of them!), and you can see how we produce the cards here.

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Just my type: Back when I worked in book publishing, I was lucky enough to work with a lot of great authors who wrote about graphic design — a tremendous experience that taught me so much. One of those authors was Steve Heller, who has gone on to become America’s (and probably the world’s) greatest design historian.

Last night Steve gave an online lecture called “The New Typography in America, 1920–1940.” I imagine the video will be archived and posted at some point (I’ll share it when it’s available), but in the meantime I took the liberty of making a few screen shots to share, including the one shown above. If you like that (and who wouldn’t?), you’ll probably like the rest of them, which you can see here. Enjoy.

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The Ticker
By Paul

’Skins Watch: Colorado is the latest state to consider a ban on Native American mascots and team names. Meanwhile, the Washington state Senate has approved its own ban. Approval by the House is still pending (both of those from Phil). … Camanche High School in Iowa will no longer call its teams the Indians (from Kary Klismet). … Also from Kary: The Philadelphia Cricket Club, which has been featured before in ’Skins Watch for its Native American-themed sign, has now decided to remove that sign after complaints from a neighboring church. … One more from Kary: Newington High School in Connecticut, having previously dropped its “Indians” team name, will now call its teams the Nor’Easters.

Baseball News: The whole point of having Francisco Lindor on my favorite team was that the Mets would finally have a player who wore stirrups every day. But yesterday, in only the third game of the season, he went low-cuffed. What the fuck?! … Although the team hasn’t yet announced it, the Rockies will reportedly retire Larry Walker’s No. 33 on Aug. 21 (thanks, Phil). … I’ve written before about Dodgers 3B Justin Turner’s unusual custom jersey tailoring. It appears that new teammate Trevor Bauer is having the exact same thing done to his jersey (good spot by Matt Sanderson). … Hillsborough High School in New Jersey is making players “earn” their batting helmet logos, because “successes in life don’t come from free handouts” (from Fred Versaci). … New caps for the Hartford Yard Goats. … The Cubs are planning to add a statue of former pitcher Ferguson Jenkins at Wrigley Field (from Andreas Papadopoulos). … New costumed mascot for the Pioneer League’s Missoula PaddleHeads (from Kary Klismet). … Red Sox skipper Alex Cora wore the team’s BP cap during yesterday’s game, although I’m told he later changed it to a game cap (thanks to all who shared). … The WCBL’s Regina Red Sox have released renderings of their proposed 3,500-seat stadium (from Wade Heidt). … Trust me, this is worth the click: FIU’s uniforms are really, uh, something (from Stephen Mason).

NFL News: Nike has suspended its endorsement deal with Texans QB Deshaun Watson, who’s been accused of sexual assault and other inappropriate behavior by nearly two dozen women. … With the NFL considering a less restrictive policy on uniform numbers, the Patriots’ official Twitter account posted mock-ups of what some of their players might look like if they were allowed to wear their college numbers — and, of course, they used the wrong number font for some of them (thanks to all who spotted this — proud of you!).

Hockey News: New “Irish Night” uniforms for the ECHL’s Allen Americans (from Chris Mycoskie).
 
 

Basketball News: A USC grad has created homemade trading cards to commemorate UCLA’s improbable run to this year’s Final Four (from Kary Klismet). … Good article on college hoops coaches now going with more casual attire (from Warren Ehn).

Soccer News: Liverpool winger Harvey Elliott has signed an endorsement deal with New Balance. … Inter Milan’s new shirt is the first one to feature their new club badge (thanks, Phil). … Meanwhile, here are several dozen Inter logo designs that didn’t make the cut (thanks, Anthony). … Camila Castilhos created mock-ups of the AFC Richmond Fantasy kits from the TV show Ted Lasso. … MLS expansion franchise Austin FC has partnered with a local animal shelter to feature a new live mascot for each game — a dog that’s ready to be adopted by a good home (from Kary Klismet).

Grab Bag: Reprinted from yesterday’s comments: Chinese TV is blurring out the logos of Western companies (from Peter, who prefers that his last name not be used). … Colorado is auctioning off a series of marijuana-themed license plates (from Max Weintraub). … Here are some thoughts on the logo for the 2026 Milan Olympics. … Microsoft marked its 46th anniversary by reviving its original 1975 logo, which was definitely a a product of its era. … Aussie football team Brisbane Lions are asking for public input to name their new lioness mascot (from Kary Klismet). … New athletics logo for D2 school Humboldt State. … I’ve previously written about my visits to the Neon Sign Museum in Las Vegas and the American Sign Museum in Cincinnati, so I’m super-excited to learn that there’s a new neon sign museum opening much closer to home — in Philadelphia (big thanks to Rob Riegert for the tip). … Here’s a pretty cool video clip showing the evolution of Ohio Roller Derby jerseys (from Dan McGowan). … This is pretty funny: an article on why so many comic book villains wear my favorite and least-favorite colors — green and purple (big thanks to James Poisso). … The @Super70sSports Twitter account asked people to name their favorite uniform and got lots of great responses (from Erick Kriewaldt). … New maternity uniforms for the U.S. Marine Corps. … New uniforms for Nashville police officers (from Timmy Donahue). … Even without fans, sports owners got richer last year. Tell me again why we need all those new ads that were added during the pandemic?

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What Paul did last night: Our neighbor Hunter is a Phillies fan, and he knows I’m a Mets fan. So with the Mets getting thumped by the Phils yesterday afternoon, he moseyed over in the Phillies cap, just to give me the business. I like that he even wore the proper blue cap, which is what the Phils wore yesterday because it was a day game.

As always, you can see the full set of daily Pandemic Porch Cocktails™ photos — now well over a full year’s worth — here.

Nikefication of MLB Begins with Bosox ‘City Connect’ Uni

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We’ve known for a while now that MLB would be adopting some of Nike’s NBA-style uniform programs, but we didn’t know when those programs would launch. We got our answer yesterday, as the Red Sox became the first team to unveil a uniform as part of MLB’s new “City Connect” series.

The simple yellow/blue design, shown above, references the finish line at the Boston Marathon:

I didn’t have advance access to this one, but ESPN and SportsLogos.net did, so I strongly encourage you to read their articles on this uniform, which includes good background info and quotes from various connected parties.

Let’s shift into FAQ mode:

When will the Red Sox wear this uniform?

On April 17 and 18 — the Saturday and Sunday of Patriots’ Day weekend — when they host the White Sox.

What about their traditional Patriots’ Day game on April 19, which is also the day of the Boston Marathon?

They’ll wear their “Boston Strong” alternates that day, as usual.

Will every MLB team have a “City Connects” uniform?

Yes, but not all at once. Six other teams besides the Red Sox will be part of the program this season: the Marlins (whose alternate will make its on-field debut on May 21), White Sox (June 5), Cubs (June 12), D-backs (June 18), Giants (July 9), and Dodgers (late August).

When will those uniforms be unveiled?

It’s not yet clear, but presumably shortly before their respective on-field debuts.

What about the other 23 MLB teams?

Some will join the program in 2022, and the rest in 2023. By the end of that season, all 30 teams will be participating.

Even the Yankees?

Yes, even the Yankees.

In the NBA, City alternates are worn for only one season. Will that be the case with these uniforms too?

No. The plan is for them to stay in each team’s wardrobe for three seasons.

For the seven teams that are part of the program this season, why did they wait until the season had already started to unveil the designs?

Good question (sure would have made my MLB Season Preview more interesting!). Might have had something to do with retail production issues, or maybe they just wanted to space it out.

Those aren’t Red Sox colors.

Sharp eye! But as we’ve seen in the NBA in recent years, a team’s established color program doesn’t matter that much for this type of alternate uniform program.

Didn’t Boston once have a team with those colors?

Good memory! In the late 1930s, the new owners of the Boston Braves (forerunners of today’s Atlanta franchise) rebranded changed the team’s name to the Boston Bees, and they did indeed wear blue and yellow. (They later went back to the old Braves name and colors.) But that was a National League team that had nothing to do with the Red Sox, and the Bees weren’t referenced at all in yesterday’s Bosox announcement, so that historical antecedent is just a coincidence, not a “storytelling” detail.

It looks like a UCLA uniform!

That was the most common reaction I heard yesterday, especially because UCLA has a cap with a “B” logo (for “Bruins”) that looks a lot like the Red Sox’s “B”:

It looks like the Eagles’ 1930s throwbacks!

Yeah, kinda.

It looks like a maintenance staff uniform!

You’ll get no argument from me on that point.

So you hate it?

I don’t think it’s a terrible uniform. But I do think it’s a fairly terrible Red Sox uniform.

Do you have anything good to say about it?

Sure. The design of the “bib number” sleeve patch is very nice:

Also, I’m thrilled that the team I root for won’t be part of this program until at least next year — and maybe not until the year after that!

I haven’t seen a rear view yet. What do the uni numbers look like on the back? Will the jerseys be NNOB?

Here’s a screen shot from the hype video (poor image quality because of all the fake smoke, but it’s enough for you to get the idea):

You can see how other numerals look in that font by checking out the retail versions.

What do you think of all this in the big picture?

A few thoughts:

1. This is obviously where MLB uni design is heading, at least for the near future. Or to put it another way, this is why MLB hired Nike — to do stuff like this. MLB exec Noah Garden said as much in that ESPN story I mentioned earlier: “This is what we expected, and this is what we wanted. This is the plan we always set out for.”

2. The league, the teams, and Nike understand that not everyone will like this approach, and they’re fine with that. Red Sox exec Adam Grossman told SportsLogos.net, “These were not designed for the traditionalists, we recognize it may not be everyone’s cup of tea, and we’re okay with that. That’s something that we talked to Nike about. They said, ‘These are designed to push the envelope and it’s okay to acknowledge that not everyone’s going to gonna like these.'” So if people like me (or you) don’t like it, I’d say they’d consider that a feature, not a bug.

3. Further to that point, Grossman also specifically said that this uniform is intended to appeal to “younger, more diverse crowds” — in other words, not a middle-aged White guy like me. MLB has the oldest fan base of any of the Big Four leagues, so this is part of a big push to change their fan demographic because they’re worried that their core fan base will literally die off and they’ll be left as an also-ran sport while everyone else plays soccer and watches football and basketball. They realize this approach may be a turn-off to some longtime fans, but they believe they have more to gain than to lose by going this route, and that the risk of sticking with the status quo outweighs the risk of shaking things up.

4. Here’s another Grossman quote from that jumped out at me from the ESPN article:

Grossman said that the City Connect series provides baseball an opportunity to grow its audience among casual fans and become a part of daily lifestyle culture.

“When you see this convergence and for us and the sport, we want to be more part of the lifestyle,” Grossman said. “We do as a game, but getting outside the white lines of the diamond, that merch and hats are part of everyday culture is essential to growing the game just as the game itself.”

The approach he’s articulating there — reaching the casual fan or even the non-fan via merchandising, and calling it “lifestyle” — is consistent with what I reported in my recent InsideHook article about NBA marketing. Compare Grossman’s quote above with this one from Cavs exec Tad Carper:

Our brand really is bigger than basketball, and it’s bigger than sport. We want to be at the intersection of lifestyle, culture, sport, fashion, music, food — all of those things that fit into that equation. When you look at it that way, our potential to reach fans expands beyond wins and losses.

And then check out this quote from Cavs creative director Daniel Arsham, describing the approach he’ll be bringing to the team’s new uniforms:

A lot of people looking at basketball overseas, they don’t really follow the games or the season — they’re more interested in the idea of this American sport. So you could see a kid walking around in Tokyo wearing, say, a Lakers jersey, and they don’t know anyone who’s on the team and [have] probably never even watched a game. That’s the kind of interesting universe that I’m trying to push toward.

So I think there are two things at work here: First, there’s MLB’s attempt to grow and diversify its fan base (an understandable and commendable goal, even if I don’t much care for the resulting aesthetics). And then there’s MLB’s attempt to sell baseball as a consumerist experience to people who don’t actually care that much about baseball (a goal for which I have much less sympathy, at least to the extent that it affects the on-field look of the game).

5. HOWEVER … despite all of the above, here’s something worth keeping in mind: History shows that when it looks like the uni-verse is heading off in a new direction, the pendulum often swings back toward established norms — not just in baseball but in most sports. For example:

• MLB: In the 1970s and ’80s, most MLB teams wore some combination of pullover jerseys, sansabelt pants, and powder blue road uniforms, plus we had the Astros’ tequila sunrise, the White Sox’s leisure suits and shorts, and a lot more. By 1993, all of that — all of it — was gone and everyone was back to wearing buttoned jerseys, belted pants, grey on the road, and and fairly conventional designs.

More recently, after the Diamondbacks introduced an “innovative” uniform set in 2015, all of the “innovative” elements — the blood-stained pant cuffs, the snakeskin fabric pattern, the charcoal road uniforms, the half-length pants piping — had fallen by the wayside within a few years.

• NBA: In the 1990s, as sublimation opened up new design possibilities, lots of NBA teams came out with fairly gonzo uniforms. Within a decade, all of those teams had moved to something more conventional.

More recently, in 2015, the Hawks launched the most outré NBA uni set in a generation. A mere five years later, they scrapped that and returned to a much more traditional approach.

• NFL: From 2013 through 2015, the Browns, Buccaneers, and Jaguars all pushed the envelope in terms of NFL uniform design. By 2020, all of them had gotten back to basics. (Jury’s still out on the Rams and Falcons, but I’d be willing to bet that at least one of them will ride the pendulum back in the other direction in a few years.)

In short, despite all the branding nonsense and marketing mumbo-jumbo, it appears that fans often have a somewhat stubborn notion of what a sport is “supposed to look like,” so attempts to redefine the look of a sport often meet with a fair amount of pushback (and not just from middle-aged White guys). That’s not always the case — the Broncos and Seahawks are examples of teams whose newfangled designs have stuck, for example — but it’s an indication that new trends don’t always pan out in the long run.

Still, all of those pendulum-swing examples I just listed had to do with primary uniforms, which fans tend to feel more strongly about, while this new MLB program is about alternate uniforms, where there tends to be less resistance to tinkering. I think that’s probably what we’ll be seeing a lot more of, in all of the major pro sports: fairly straightforward primary uniforms, at least for most teams (there’ll always be a few outliers), and lots of wackadoodle stuff for the alternates.

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So that’s it for now. The next team up is the Marlins. Miami Vice, MLB version?

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Patchwork: At left is the best photo I’ve seen of the cover-up patch that Atlanta is using to obscure their All-Star Game patch. Yesterday was the first time they wore their navy alternates since the announcement of the ASG’s relocation, so we got to see that cover-up patch’s debut.

People have been asking why they covered up the patches instead of simply removing them or even getting new jerseys. Removing the patches probably wasn’t an option because there likely would have been lots of sticky residue. And being on the road at the very beginning of the season during a pandemic probably isn’t the best time to coordinate a whole new set of jerseys (or two sets, if you count the grey and navy versions). So as counterintuitive as it might seem, the cover-ups may have been the most feasible option.

I fully expect the team to have fresh jerseys for their home opener this Friday. I figure that’s also when we’ll find out if they plan to move their Henry Aaron and Phil Niekro cap memorials down to the now-available sleeve — Friday or never.

Meanwhile, the Rockies played their first game since the announcement that the All-Star Game will be played at their ballpark. So far, no patches for them, but of course it’s still early days. We’ll see how that develops.

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Pin Club reminder: In case you missed it last Thursday, the Uni Watch Pin Club’s latest release has a golf/Masters them. It’s a numbered edition of 200, with each pin individually numbered on the back, and as of this morning there are about 65 remaining. It’s available here, and we’re donating all the profits from this one to Fair Fight. (You can learn more about why we’ve chosen to do that here.)

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The Ticker
By Lloyd Alaban

Baseball News: Here’s a new D-backs uni tracker for this season. … A sportswriter has ranked the 10 best Mets unis ever (from our own Phil Hecken). … Graffiti legend Blake Lethem, aka Keo aka Lord Scotch 79 aka Jonathan Lethem’s brother, made this fun two-tone Mets piece (from Ebin Sandler). … Here’s a look at the cold weather gear that Cleveland and the Marlins wore for Game Three of the 1997 World Series, which was played in frigid conditions (from Graham Clayton).

Football News: The Edmonton CFL team doesn’t yet have a new name, but it has quietly changed its logo (from Johnny Garfield).
 

Basketball News: NBA numerologist Etienne Catalan has a bunch of new NBA uni number assignments. … Remember those March Madness-themed route-marker signs that recently went up along Interstates in Indiana? Here’s what will happen to them now that the NCAA tourney is over (from William Yurasko).

Soccer News: New third kit leak for Manchester United (from our own Phil Hecken). … Sky Blue FC of the NWSL has a new name and logo (from multiple readers). … England’s Women’s Super League has a new 10th-anniversary logo (from our own Jamie Rathjen). … ESPN has ranked all of MLS’s new shirts (from our own Phil Hecken). … New shirts for Army men’s (from Justin Rocke). … FS1’s graphics for the CONCACAF Champions League match between the Portland Timbers and CD Marathon showed the wrong logos for both teams. When Portland scored, the graphic showed the badge of Werder Bremen; when Marathon scored, it showed the badge of Bayern Munich (from LM Grismer). … New kits for Alianza Lima (from Trevor Williams). … Also from Trevor: Alajuelense and Atlanta United both wore “metallic” numbers and NOBs in their CONCACAF Champions League game last night. … One more from Trevor: New fourth kit for Inter.

Grab Bag: The No. 28 will return to NASCAR Cup after a 12-year hiatus as part of driver Joey Gase’s Davey Allison fauxback/tribute entry for the Spring race at Talladega (from Christopher Hickey). … New UFC fighter unis (from @vicious155). … Russia has been banned from numerous worldwide competitions because of doping, which means Russian teams are not allowed to use the country’s flag. Instead, the Russian curling team has used the abstract shapes of a curling house to echo the white, blue, and red of the national flag. You can see it at the top of this screenshot, fifth flag from right (from Scott Rogers).

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Does anyone have an extra March 2021 Uni Watch pin that they’d be willing to sell or trade to another reader? If so, please give me a shout. Thanks. — Paul

Why I Support, and Even Applaud, Gov. Greg Abbott’s Decision

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The photo above shows Texas Gov. Greg Abbott throwing out the first pitch for the Rangers’ 2019 season opener against the Cubs. He also threw out a virtual first pitch to open the Rangers’ season last year, and he was scheduled to extend his personal Opening Day streak by doing the honors at the team’s 2021 home opener yesterday.

But as you’ve probably heard by now, Abbott announced a few hours before yesterday’s game that he’d decided to boycott the first pitch as a way of protesting MLB’s decision to pull this year’s All-Star Game out of Atlanta due to Georgia’s new voting law. (The Rangers had a bunch of pandemic “frontline heroes” throw out first pitches instead.)

I saw some people critiquing or ridiculing Abbott’s decision. Personally, I disagree with those people. Here’s why.

First, as I’ve previously said many times regarding many issues, boycotting something seems like a perfectly reasonable form of self-expression, and a good way of exercising one’s freedom of association. If Abbott doesn’t want to be associated with MLB right now because of the All-Star Game situation, then skipping the first pitch makes perfect sense. It’s an effective use of the platform the Rangers gave him and the power of his office.

Moreover: Is Abbott engaging in a nakedly transparent bit of political grandstanding here? Yeah, probably — and what’s wrong with that? He’s a politician — making grandstanding maneuvers based on raw political calculations is a big part of his job. Whether yesterday’s move was rooted in principled sincerity or something more cynical, it was completely sensible when viewed from a political perspective.

All of which leads me to a question: Why the hell should politicians of any stripe be throwing out the first pitch to begin with?

Politicians already get tons of free media coverage and publicity (and can get more whenever they want simply by calling a press conference). Plus they get to kiss babies, cut ribbons at grand openings, stick shovels in the dirt at groundbreakings, serve as grand marshals at parades, and appear in lots of other ceremonial photo-op capacities. Why should they also be given the high-profile showcase of tossing out a first pitch? It basically turns a sporting event into a campaign event. It would be easy to say that Abbott was politicizing the first pitch yesterday, but the reality is that the first pitch has been politicized all along, at least when it’s being performed by a politician.

Everyone’s always saying they want to get politics out of sports. This seems like a good place to start, no? No more elected officials tossing out the first pitch (at least 40% of the fans in the crowd probably voted against the politician anyway, so why give the honor to someone whose presence will annoy a large subset of your customers?). And ditto for White House team visits, which turn players into campaign props. Just scrap all of that.

As an aside: Abbott, in his announcement yesterday, also said he doesn’t want MLB to move the All-Star Game to Texas. That’s a laugh, because Texas (among several other states) is considering new voting laws very similar to Georgia’s, so the chances of MLB moving the ASG to Houston or Arlington were approximately zero anyway. Abbott saying, “Don’t even think about bringing the game here, we don’t want it!” is like the math nerd telling the prom queen that he’s not interested in dating her. But because Abbott got to make his grandstand play of boycotting the first pitch, he got to piggyback this additional grandstand play of not wanting to host the ASG. Two for the price of one! I don’t blame him for doing that — again, it’s smart politics, at least in terms of appealing to his base — but it’s yet another reason not to involve elected officials in this stuff in the first place. (Footnote: Later in the day, it was reported that the game will be relocated to Colorado. The official announcement is supposedly coming today. It’s not yet clear whether the Rockies will add a sleeve and/or cap patch for the occasion.)

Now that Abbott has chosen to take his ball and stay home, I wonder if teams will start to rethink inviting politicians for the pregame pitch. Maybe getting involved with elected officials will become more of a loaded proposition than teams want to deal with and they’ll stick to non-politicians. Hope so. (Yes, I know, it’s funny when a politician botches the pitch and we all get a good laugh. But still.)

It would be fair to say that Greg Abbott’s worldview differs significantly from my own. But I think he has every right to express that worldview by boycotting a first pitch ceremony — which is a good reason why he shouldn’t have been offered that opportunity in the first place. He’s done us all a favor by shining a light on a longstanding practice that should be retired. If his decision yesterday goes down as the beginning of the end for politicians tossing out the first pitch, we’ll all owe him a serious debt of gratitude.

Let’s please keep today’s discussion on the issue of politicians throwing out the first pitch and any uni-related aspects of the situation, not on MLB’s course of action regarding the All-Star Game. Thanks!

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All that glitters: The Dodgers finally made it official yesterday, revealing the gold-trimmed championship uniform that they’ll be wearing for their home opener on Friday. The Roman numeral VII on the left sleeve is for the franchise’s seven World Series titles.

The cap had already leaked nearly two weeks ago, but here’s the official view of it:

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Dang: As you might expect, I’m happy that a team whose colors are green and yellow won the national championship last night. But I’d be a lot happier if they actually, you know, wore green and yellow instead of going AFAS (anthracite for anthracite’s sake). A puzzling choice for the biggest game in program history, although I guess it’s hard to argue with the results.

Anyway: Congrats to the Bears and their fans. Keep it green!

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Buccos history mystery, continued: In yesterday’s post, I wrote about how the Pirates had at least two players wearing their uni numbers on the side of their batting helmets in 1976, and how the team had previously used those same number decals on the helmet brim. Now reader Chris Hickey has found a photo of Richie Zisk (one of the all-time great MLB names, no?) wearing those same numeral decals on back of his helmet.

This photo is definitely from 1976, because Zisk is wearing the telltale National League centennial patch. Seems like Pirates equipment manager John Hallahan was having a hard time coming up with a consistent helmet number protocol! Unfortunately, he died in 1991 (the team even wore a memorial patch for him, so we can’t ask him about this unusual chapter in Buccos uni history. Too bad.

(My thanks to Jerry Wolper for reminding me about the Hallahan memorial patch.)

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Too good for the Ticker: This is so awesome — reader Pete Woychik has created a dingbat font based on hockey jerseys! It’s a brilliant little project, and you can learn more about it here. Great job, Pete!

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Collector’s Corner
By Brinke Guthrie
    

Leading off this week with some classic-looking artwork for the Chicago White Sox. This is a scorebook from May 7, 1971, when the visiting Yankees beat the Sox, 2-1. That season was the first time the Sox wore the color red, so this cover art had just been unveiled a month earlier!

Now for the rest of this week’s picks:

 • Another program for you, from two seasons earlier: This is a “Programme Officiel des Expos” from 1969, their first season (or première saison, if you prefer). Southpaw Larry Jaster is your cover star.

 • Don Mattingly closed his “Mattingly’s 23” restaurant in Evansville, Ind., back in  1996. Here’s a mug bearing his image. (It also shows the Yankees’ “NY” logo on his cap. Wonder if that was officially licensed or if he just did it on his own!)

 • You could personalize this 1967 NFL Helmet Bank with a small gold decal bearing the name of your favorite team.

 • This 1970s red/blue T-shirt from Russell Athletic features the NFL shield on the front.

 • “Hats Off to the Mets!” That’s what this promo visor says on the front. It was sponsored by Thom McAn shoes and given away during the 1969 playoffs. (By the way, ever wonder where the name “Thom McAn” came from? Wikipedia says it’s from a Scottish golfer named Thomas McCann, but this article maintains it was simply made up.)

 • Let’s Talk Hockey was a 1964 album featuring the Toronto Maple Leafs and their coach. This edition comes with an instructional booklet. Comin’ off three straight Cup wins, these guys knew their stuff.

 • This early-1970s NFL team catalog is from a company called Pro-Central. Check out all that team-branded merch! Pretty much exactly what you’d find at Sears.

 • Here’s a 1960s San Francisco 49ers Punt, Pass & Kick varsity-style jacket, made by a company called Timberetta. The sleeves of this jacket are in “Dry Cleanable Vinyl,” aka the “New Leather Look.” These were awarded to PP&K winners. To the losers? “Here’s a T-shirt, kid.”

 • Red Sox star Carl Yastrzemski “shares his know-how with you” in this 1969 book simply titled Play Ball.

 • Just the basics, m’am: No flashy trim on this 1970s-80s Detroit Pistons sweatshirt/sweatpants set made by Champion. Just a white logo on navy blue. 

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Pin Club reminder: In case you missed it last Thursday, the Uni Watch Pin Club’s latest release has a golf/Masters them. It’s a numbered edition of 200, with each pin individually numbered on the back, and as of this morning there are fewer than 70 remaining. It’s available here, and we’re donating all the profits from this one to Fair Fight. (You can learn more about why we’ve chosen to do that here.)

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The Ticker
By Alex Hider

Baseball News: Something I certainly hadn’t noticed until now: Apparently, Nike’s MLB pants have a ventilation panel at the crotch, which looks particularly weird on pinstriped pants. I will never unsee that (from Justo Gutierrez). … Earlier this spring, Jeff Frandsen noted that Mets SS Francisco Lindor appeared to be wearing the belt of teammate Michael Conforto. That continued during the Mets opener yesterday, when Lindor again wore Conforto’s belt (from C.B. Ciullo). … Speaking of belts, Twins RF Nelson Cruz wore a grey belt during Saturday’s game, while the rest of his teammates wore navy belts (from John Luther). … More belt news: The Red Sox were mixing and matching red and blue belts last night (from Lorne Geller). … Reds manager David Bell was wearing a batting practice cap during last night’s game. … A Blue Jays coach was also wearing a BP cap during their game (from James T. Paterson). … Cubs OF Joc Pederson switched his cleats midway through Sunday’s game (from @MBDChicago). … Sales of this Mets/Metropolitan Museum of Art mashup cap, which we’ve discussed before, have reportedly raised $15,000 for charity (from Chris Nordloh). … Victory Field, the home of the Triple-A Indianapolis Indians, had the NCAA Final Four logo mowed into its outfield in honor of last night’s national championship (from Michael Kinney). … An ESPN graphic that aired yesterday mistakenly listed Barry Bonds as a Hall of Famer (from Joseph Matlock). … For sale on eBay: an Expos mini football helmet (from @BenOnSports). … Oregon State debuted a retro/throwback cap yesterday (from Max G. and @peeweereis). … Here’s a great story: Sam Chatto works at a middle school in Maine — heavy Red Sox territory — and to boost fundraising for a cancer charity drive, he and his co-worker (also a Sox fan) promised to wear Yankees jerseys for a day. It worked — the students raised close to $750. Congrats! … Former MLB P Daniel Mengden, now playing in Korea with the Kia Tigers, wore some serious candy-striped socks yesterday (from Brian Smith).

NFL News: Ravens WR Sammy Watkins will wear No. 14 with his new team (from Andrew Cosentino). … Washington has released the first episode of a new video series giving viewers a behind-the-scenes look at the work in putting together its new team identity (from @realRosebud). … Darrell Dawson notes that the Colts’ Ring of Honor graphic for Peyton Manning lists him as having played for the team from “1998-11,” which makes no sense. Should be 1998-2011.

Hockey News: The Jets wore Pride warm-up sweaters before last night’s game (from Wade Heidt and Anthony). … Reader Josh Pearlman received an email from the Coyotes indicating that the team has a new sweater in the works.

Basketball News: Steph Curry wore sneakers featuring Bruce Lee as a show of solidarity with the AAPI community amid a rise in hate crimes (from Brinke). … A Raptors blog counted down the top five uniforms the team has worn this season (from Phil).

College Hoops: It’s been 80 years since Wisconsin won the national championship, and they looked good doing it. Check out those striped socks and coaches’ jackets (from David Petroff). … North Carolina hired Hubert Davis as its new head coach yesterday. James Gilbert notes that Davis modeled the Tar Heels’ argyle unis when they were unveiled in 1991. … Cross-listed from the baseball section: Indianapolis’s minor league baseball stadium had the Final Four logo mowed into its outfield in honor of the national championship (from Michael Kinney).

Soccer News: The NWSL’s Houston Dash have a new second uniform (from Ignacio Salazar and our own Jamie Rathjen ). … Also from Jamie: Chelsea women’s midfielder Maren Mjelde got a framed No. 100 shirt for reaching 100 total appearances with the club. … The San Jose Earthquakes have sold the naming rights to their stadium (from our own Lloyd Alaban). … Polish club Górnik Zabrze wore retro-inspired uniforms yesterday (from Ed Żelaski).

Grab Bag: Bloomberg has a new piece that looks into the current branding trend of removing detail and depth from logos (from William F. Yurasko and David Raglin). … Oscar Mayer has released limited edition bacon-scented shoelaces (BrandNew article, hard paywall) to accompany the re-release of Nike’s bacon-themed sneakers (from James Gilbert).

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Our latest raffle winner is Dave Feit, who’s won himself $50 worth of Uni Watch merchandise. Congrats to him, and thanks again to Jerry Kulig for sponsoring this one.