Are You Ready For Some Football?

Pro Bowls and College Football

By Phil Hecken

With the NCAA Football season now underway and the NFL kicking off this week with a Wednesday night game in the MetLife new Meadowlands, and with Paul’s TREMENDOUS NCAA Preview up on ESPN, it’s time to shift gears away from the summer of baseball, the Olympics, golf, tennis and soccer … and get down to the pigskin. Lots to get to today (and lots of stuff saved up from the summer that will just have to wait). But, like I said in my last post before turning the weekdays back to Paul, lots of favorites are returning for the fall: Duck Tracking, the 5 & 1, Sunday Morning Uni Watch (coming tomorrow!), Colorizations, Concepts, Benchies, 50 Years Ago, and “Stirrup Fridays.” Don’t worry, they won’t all be running today.

I’ll keep my intro short, since we have some big news from our friends over at the Gridiron Uniform Database, plus some new news about their other ventures (the Diamond & Basketball Uniform Databases). Rob Holecko will fill you in on the GUD, DUD & BUD, and then Tim Brulia has an special update on his and Bill Schaefer’s newest addition – the Pro Bowl. So, I’ll now turn the rest of this lede over to Rob & Tim. Gentlemen:

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What’s New at the GUD (DUD & BUD)
By Rob Holecko

As we are on the eve of a new football season, it is time once again to update the Uni Watch crowd on the goings-on at The Gridiron Uniform Database. Just this week we have completed adding the 1920-1932 seasons to the database, and in a moment our Tim Brulia will be telling you about another exciting new section we have added to our site. But first we want to give a quick rundown of our other projects. The Diamond Uniform Database has been rolling along this season, with David Taub continuing to keep track of what every MLB team has worn this season. His tracking, however, has remained merely text-based as we continue to search for a full-time graphics person to bring the uniforms to life. We have had a couple people express an interest in working with us on this, but we haven’t found the right person yet. If you think you are or know that person, let us know.

At The Basketball Uniform Database, we are in our first off-season getting ready for tip off in a couple months and Tim O’Brien, Matt Beahan, possibly Jim Vilk and the rest of the crew will be helping us to track the 2012-13 NBA season when it starts, and research into past seasons is a huge undertaking that we have only begun to scratch the surface of. It will be awhile before the basketball research is anywhere near what Tim Brulia & Bill Schaefer have accomplished with the GUD.

Now to tell you about a new project. We are looking to create a college football version of the GUD. We haven’t exactly defined the scope of the project, whether we are going to eventually tackle every single season of every single Division 1-A/FBS team possible all the way back to the first intercollegiate game in 1869 between Rutgers and Princeton is yet to be determined. We have a long way to go before we even are able to say we intend on having every current FBS team for the current season. We may first roll out simply the Top 5, and then Top 25, and then just the major conferences before expanding. We are beginning by simply expanding upon the teams already covered in the College Football Uni-Tracker.

We started the College Football Uni-Tracker last season and it will continue in that form for the time being. We had some wonderful submissions last year, (the Virginia Tech graphic in the splash photo was done by Ashley Wilkes, and he was one of a handful of intrepid trackers who sent us graphics in last season) and we hope to continue featuring the work of some of the best unitrackers from around the internet. A week or so ago here in Uni Watch, Tim O’Brien mentioned that he would be tracking Indiana and Northwestern as well as taking over the Oregon duck tracker for this season. He also mentioned his blog article where he invited you to participate and set up your own blog and track your favorite college team. For 2012, in order to encourage greater participation, the College Football Uni-Tracker has decided to remove the requirement that you use only Bill Schaefer’s GUD template, so we will be proud to feature your uni-tracking in your blog on our site, no matter what graphics you use. While removing this requirement means that some graphics won’t look like others, in the end we hope it will lead to more trackers participating. Therefore if you are joining Tim’s “movement” and starting your own uni-tracking blog, let us know in the comments below or with an email to RobHolecko@gmail.com, and we’ll be glad to feature your tracking graphics on our site. Or if you’d like to do as those did last year and just send your graphics directly to us, that will continue to work as well. Many of last year’s trackers are returning, but there are still many teams without a tracker.

Hopefully a year from now at this time we’ll be launching a full-fledged college version of the GUD, but in the meantime let’s continue to see how many teams we can track individually.

Now let’s hear from Tim Brulia about the new section that we’ve added to the GUD:

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The Gridiron Uniform Database Welcomes The Pro Bowl
by Tim Brulia

It is our pleasure at the Gridiron Uniform Database to bring you the graphical history of the Pro Bowl. Ably detailed by our graphic engineer Bill Schaefer, we would like to take this time to walk you through the history of the Pro Bowl uniforms, as well as the AFL All-Star Game.

We start with the very first NFL Pro All-Star Game between the New York Giants and the NFL All-Stars (with help from some players from non-NFL west coast teams) played at Wrigley Field in Los Angeles on January 15, 1939. The Giants wore their standard red jersey, while the All-Stars wore a rather generic uniform of white helmet, plain blue jerseys, white pants and blue socks. For the next two Pro Star games (both played in L.A.), the NFL Champs (the Packers and Bears respectively) wore their normal garments, while the All-Stars wore outfits that featured a red jersey with a white shoulder insert with a blue star on each shoulder. After the 1941 and 1942 seasons, the Pro Star Game was played in the colder climes of New York and then Philadelphia. Uniform wise, these games resembled their baseball counterpart as the Champions wore their own unis against the All-Stars, who wore their normal team outfits, making for a colorful – if helter-skelter – look for the brave fans in the stands.

After an eight year hiatus, the Pro All-Star Game was resurrected by the Los Angeles Newspaper Charities Associaiton and played at the Memorial Coliseum. The format was the best of the American Conference playing the best of the National Conference. The uniforms were exact duplicates of each other, with one team in red helmets and jerseys, the other side in blue helmets and jerseys. In the 1952 season game, the Pro Bowl rectified the confusing scenario by permanently outfitting the American (soon to be Eastern) Conference in red helmets and jerseys and the National (soon to be Western) Conference in blue helmets, but with white jerseys.

The East and West would retain the jersey colors right through 1969. The only real changes to these duds would be: 1957 season when both team would apply white rounded helmet numbers, 1958 season when the helmet numbers were dropped, but TV numbers would be added to the sleeves of both jerseys, and a thick red shoulder stripe would be added to the East’s red jerseys, 1965 season when the generic helmets would be repainted gold for both squads, with a red/white/red stripe pattern for the East and a blue/white/blue stripe pattern was given to the West. And for 1969 season, both sides wore the commemorative patch for the NFL’s 50th season on their left shoulders.

Before we hit the Pro Bowl chronology since the 1970 merger, let’s take a quick rundown of the AFL All-Star Game’s uni history. The AFL didn’t start playing an All-Star Game until year 2, after the 1961 season. The East wore a white jersey with blue shoulders bedecked in white stars while the West players wore red jerseys with white shoulders and a bevy of red stars. The unique feature was that the players wore their regular team helmets in the fray, making the game a little more colorful. The Divisions would switch uni colors every now and then through the years. One game (played after the 1965 season) featured the Champion vs. All-Stars format (similar to what the National Hockey League was doing with their All-Star Game at the time), with the Buffalo Bills wearing their normal white uniform against the All-Star clad in red. Changes to the unis came in the last two years the AFL ASG was played (1968 and 1969 seasons). The East would have all players wearing a plain white helmet and the West featured the players in solid blue helmets. The next year, the AFL, perhaps sensing history, bedecked both teams with the AFL logo on the helmets and the jerseys. The ASG game played on January 17, 1970, was the very last the American Football League game ever played. One twist of irony in the AFL All-Star Game…one of the innovations of the AFL, names on the backs of the jerseys, was never worn on any of the AFL All-Star jerseys!

Now back to the post-merger NFL. The Pro Bowl was now referred to as the AFC-NFC Pro Bowl, and the uniforms reflected the new NFL. The best of the AFC would wear a red helmet with a large white “A” trimmed in blue, with a white/blue/white stripe combo, a white jersey with “AMERICAN” on the front in red with red numbers and finally, names on the back, red pants and white socks. The NFC’s finest would sport a white helmet with a medium sized blue “N” outlined in red, with a blue/red/blue stripe pattern, blue jerseys with “NATIONAL” on the front in white with white numbers also with names on the back, white pants and blue socks. With the exception of some tweaking (or in case after the ’73 season, the removal) of the stripes, these unis would be untouched through the 1977 season ending Pro Bowl.

In the 1978 season game, the NFL decided to allow the players to wear the same team logo helmets they wore during the season. This look would last right through the 1987 season ender.

Starting with the 1988 season finale, the NFL began the tricking up phase of PB uniforms. For the first time, stars became a part of the look, going down the sides of the pants, as well as the PB logo on the jerseys. Also for the first time in 1988, the maker’s mark (Wilson) was affixed to the uni. This revision lasted through the 1993 season ender.

By the 1994 season, the Pro Bowl unis entered their current phase, with uniforms changing design every two or three years. Such zany items as fading colors, sublimated logos, team wordmarks, PB logos below the back numbers, ankle length pants (the 2010 season edition), etc. come to mind.

But two things have remained constant in spite of the free-form design era: 1) Players wearing their own teams’ helmets and 2) The base color for the AFC has always been red and the NFC’s has always been blue. That goes back to the 1970 merger.

Oops! I almost forgot! We even added the lone AAFC All-Star Game, the Shamrock Bowl that was played after the AAFC’s 1949 season!

I like to thank the website mmbolding.com in particular for their detailed history of the Pro Bowl. Also we courtesy the database of the Los Angeles Times, gettyimages.com, google news archive and newspaperarchive.com for much of the information that you see here. Again, without the artistic talents of our own graphic engineer, Bill Schaefer, the GUD would not be able to make this valuable addition to the database. Whatever you may think of the Pro Bowl today, the game has been an integral part of the NFL’s history and to not include it would be a disservice to the mission of the GUD.

With the recent completion of adding the 1920-1932 uniforms and this inclusion of the Pro Bowl’s uniform history, the GUD has completed its task of bringing you the complete history of Pro Football Uniforms from the beginning…or have we? Stay with us for the coming season to find out!

. . . . . . . .

Thanks Tim & Rob! Great stuff and looks like you guys have some great plans and additions for this year. Looking forward to this season.

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Screen Shot 2012-06-24 at 10.32.36 PM

“Benchies” first appeared at U-W in 2008, and has been a Saturday & Sunday feature here for the past two years.

. . . . .

Sometimes it’s fun just to let him talk and see what happens…

9-1-12 d-Kapper

Click to enlarge

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Stirrup FridayStirrup Fridays…

Because we love the stirrup here at Uni Watch, this section is devoted to those of us who sport the beautiful hose on Fridays — a trend popularized many years ago by Robert P. Marshall, III. For many of us, it’s become a bit of an obsession, but a harmless one — a reflection of our times. Where we once had Friday ties, which has been replaced by Casual Friday — we now have Stirrup Fridays. It’s an endearingly simple concept — no matter where you work (or even if you don’t) — break out a fresh pair of rups to compliment (or clash with) your Friday attire.

Lets talk a look at who participated in Stirrup Fridays recently (click on all photos for a larger view):

. . . . .

Matt BrevetMatt Brevet

Wild Card contention stirrups:

“I rode my bike over to The Yard, biking in stirrups makes sense. I got an Os chant from a passing car. Usually when people yell from cars, it’s not positive, so that was particularly nice. I got a few versions of, “Nice socks, dude.” Sometimes I make the correction.”

. . .

James Poisso - 8-31-12James Poisso

45 Phillies:

“Today’s stirrups are 1945 Phillies, and are for my alma mater LA Tech (start of football season).

The colors & stripe match perfectly.”

. . .

James Huening - 8-31-12James T. Huening

Indiana U:

“Never daunted, we cannot falter…

Yep. College football season is underway and we’re still undefeated!”

. . .

John Kimmerlien - Bainbridge Island-20120831-00184John Kimmerlein

Bainbridge Island:

“Classic-era Orioles today, in support of their relevance this late in the season for the first time in too long.”

. . . . .

And that ends today’s look at Stirrup Friday — all of you who participate, send me your pics and a brief (~50 words) description of their relevance, and I’ll run ’em here on Saturday.

If you’re not a member of Stirrup Nation and want to join, just visit Comrade Marshall’s house of hose (and you can see the available selections here) or if you have any questions about the availability of stirrups, drop him a line at rpmarshallart@gmail.com.

OK? OK!

“from each according to their stirrvp
to each according to their strype”

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Uni Tracking (2012)MLB Uni Tracking – The 2012 As and Nats

Today’s featured Uni Tracker is Stephen Coulter and he’s been tracking both the Athletics and the Nationals this season.

Here’s his up-to-date report:

. . .

Hey Phil,

I am enjoying all the content you guys have been putting out in Paul’s absence. Great work, its a really appreciated break from my otherwise mundane work day.

I was just curious if you were going to do any Uni Tracking pieces for this years MLB season. I have been tracking the Nats and the A’s and its been quite interesting to me, but maybe not to others :)

Anyways, I was just curious….thanks again.

Nationals Uni Tracking Summary
Nationals Game Log

Athletics Uni Tracking Summary
Athletics Game Log

Stephen

. . .

Thanks Stephen — and to answer your question — I’ve only posted one tracker so far, but if there are any others out there (and I know there are), I’m asking you to send them in to me and I’ll run them over the weekend. If you guys didn’t click on Stephen’s links — they’re worth checking out — he’s done a really nice job with this!

Keep them coming, trackers!

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all sport uni tweaksUni Tweaks Concepts

We have another new set of tweaks, er…concepts today. After discussion with a number of readers, it’s probably more apropos to call most of the reader submissions “concepts” rather than tweaks. So that’s that.

So if you’ve concept for any sport, or just a tweak or wholesale revision, send them my way.

Please do try to keep your descriptions to ~50 words (give or take) per image — if you have three uniform concepts in one image, then obviously, you can go a little over, but no novels, OK? OK!. You guys have usually been good with keeping the descriptions pretty short, and I thank you for that.

Like the colorizations, I’m going to run these as inline pics — click on each one to enlarge.

It’s been a while (but not too many of you sent in during my weekday run — time to start sending in the concepts again, OK?)

And so, lets begin:

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First up is Walter Helfer, with a “what if” set of unis for the Miama Heat:

heat1 - Walter Helfer heat2 - Walter Helfer

Dear Phil,

Here are a pair of Miami Heat uniforms, if their history went back as far as 1972-ish.

-Walter Helfer

. . . . .

And closing down the show today is Jay Goodwin, who has a concept for the 2013 Charlotte Hornets:

Jay Goodwin - Hornets Uni Concept

Jay Goodwin - Hornets Logo

Hi Phil,

My name is Jay Goodwin. First of all, I am a big fan of your website because I am also somewhat of a uni/logo geek (lol). I love to design and draw logos (as probably most of the people who send you emails also say) but I’m also a big fan of bringing the Hornets name back to its rightful home: Charlotte, North Carolina. With the recent news that the New Orleans Hornets owner wants to drop the name for a more NO related name, it only makes sense to return the Hornets name back to the place where it would be a “NC related name”. So I’ve made up a concept that I want to share with you and get your opinion on. Keep up the good work with your website and articles. I hope to hear from you soon.

Thanks,
Jay Goodwin

. . . . .

That’s it for today — Back with more next time.

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8793928_448x252And finally…

Lots and lots of great college football today, starting off with the Irish & Middies playing early (9:00 am EDT) in Ireland, in the “Emerald Isle Classic.” We know Notre Dame will have a special uni for this one, and who knows if Navy will as well — so if you are reading this early — make sure to tune in the game (CBS will carry the early morning broadcast, and Verne Lundquist will have the call). Even Jim Vilk, who long ago swore off watching college football, may have to tune in. Terry Duroncelet will surely have this, and the entire rundown of all the first Saturday of college football tomorrow.

And that’s going to be it for this fine first Saturday in September (wow–it’s September already?) — where did the summer go…

Thanks to Rob & Tim, Ricko, all the stirrup wearing crazies, the concepters and the tracker…you guys keep all those coming. Tomorrow kicks off the first “Sunday Morning Uni Watch” of the season featuring Terry D, the brand new “Duck Tracker” as envisioned by Tim E. O’Brien, and a very special “5&1” with Jim Vilk AND his replacement protégé, Catherine Ryan, plus more good stuff — so make sure you check back for all of that.

Have a great Saturday folks!

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“Monuments to Confederate military figures are all over the South, and Jefferson Davis’s Birthday is still an official state holiday in most southern states. That doesn’t offend me as a northerner; it offends me as an American.”
–Paul Lukas

Trainspotting

IMG_1870.jpg

Yesterday I took the subway out to to the U.S. Open in Queens, where I met up with ESPN.com’s tennis editor, Matt Wilansky, who’s soon going to be taking over the Playbook section (read: He’s my new boss). Quite a few people on the train were wearing U.S. Open shirts, U.S. Open caps, and so on — nothing unusual there. But one guy, pictured above, caught my eye, because of his sneakers, which I recognized as the official ball boy sneakers that Brinke had mentioned here on Uni Watch a few days ago.

So I approached the guy and said, “Excuse me, but are you a ball boy?”

“Yes,” he said, “I am.”

His name is Eric Adler, and he was on the train with his buddy Conrad Dias, who’s also a ball boy, although Conrad wasn’t wearing his official U.S. Open attire (he planned to suit up once they arrived at the tennis center). During the next half-hour or so, I pestered them with all sorts of questions, which they very patiently answered. Here’s what I learned:

• The ball boys are provided with two sets of uniforms, free of charge.

• The uniform consists of a shirt, shorts, and socks, plus there’s a warm-up-style jacket and pants that can be worn in cool weather.

• If you think the logo on the front of the shirt is big, wait until you see the back.

• “Ball boys,” is a colloquialism, of course. Eric and Conrad are both in their late 30s, and there are also ball girls/women (who are provided with a Polo-branded sports bra).

• The uniforms are theirs to keep when the tournament is over. Eric made a point of mentioning the attire’s monetary value, so I asked if he planned to sell the gear on eBay. He said, “Nah, I’ll probably just give it to my dad.”

• Grooming Code, Part One: no facial hair. This was tough on Conrad, who had to shave the beard he usually wears.

• Grooming Code, Part Two: no visible tattoos.

• The pay: $8/hour. Eric (who normally works as a video editor) and Conrad (a project manager for a software company) said this is actually pretty good, because most tournaments don’t pay ball boys anything. They don’t get any tips from the players.

• A big part of the job is being able to throw, because ball boys at the U.S. Open throw the balls to the opposite end of the court. At most other tournaments, including the other Grand Slam tourneys, the balls are rolled to the other end, which takes longer. (Conrad also noted that rolling the balls on a clay court, like at the French Open, is bad news, because the ball picks up little bits of clay as it rolls.) So if you can throw, you work “ends”; if you can’t throw, you work at the net. Eric and Conrad both work ends and both said they prefer it, because the visual perspective at the net is so skewed that it’s hard to follow the match.

• A big part of working ends is being ready when a player asks for a towel between points.

• Working a doubles match is a bit easier than working singles, because the players tend to confer between points, which means the pace of play is a bit slower.

• During the trophy presentation at the end of the tournament, some of the ball boys are called upon to carry and hold flags (a bunch of American flags, plus the national flags of the two tournament finalists). Conrad was a flag holder last year; Eric’s thinking he might want to do that this year.

• This is the second year working the Open for both Eric and Conrad. They met and became friends at last year’s tournament (which was the first time either of them had ever been a ball boy). Eric lives in Brooklyn; Conrad lives in San Francisco and flew to New York just to try out for the gig. This year he’s staying at Eric’s place.

As for my time at the tourney, I did see some tennis, but I was talking with Matt the whole time — getting acquainted, discussing ESPN stuff, etc. — so I wasn’t really paying close attention to the match we were watching and have nothing to report on that front. Sorry. Still, it was a productive Uni Watch day, thanks to my encounter with Eric and Conrad.

+ + + + +

Screen shot 2012-08-29 at 6.30.43 PM.png

College football update: FBS uni updates continue to trickle in (go back to the middle of yesterday’s post for more of them, and of course the mother lode is in my ESPN column from earlier this week):

•  The bulldog’s sweater on the Fresno State helmet is now red.

• Regarding those Georgia Tech honeycomb helmets, reader Jason Hirschey says, “While walking by Bobby Dodd Stadium today on my way to class, I peeked inside the gates to watch the football team practice. They were all wearing those honeycomb helmets.” Further info on the helmets can be found here.

• Temple has removed the “T” logo on the collar and added the school name on the chest.

• I had previously reported that UNLV would have a new helmet, but I didn’t realize they’d also have new uniforms.

(My thanks to Michael Rich and Max Torrente for their contributions.)

+ + + + +

Screen shot 2012-08-30 at 10.01.27 AM.png

NFL query: Got a note yesterday from reader Mike Cline Jr., who asked, “Are NFL officials now wearing the black pants full-time? It seems like they’ve worn them in every preseason game I’ve caught so far.”

Now, we all know the NFL officiating situation is in a state of flux, because of the labor impasse and the replacement zebras. So even if the slacks have been worn for every preseason game, that might just be a placeholder protocol until the real officials are ready to come back on the job. Still, it hadn’t occurred to me that the entire preseason had been bereft of white knickers. Is that true? Can anyone recall seeing any knickers-clad zebras over the past month?

I’ve asked the NFL about this (and about several other things), but they’ve been unresponsive so far. I’ll give them another friendly nudge today.

+ + + + +

Uni Watch News Ticker: As some of you are aware, there’s now a uni-centric podcast, called “The Logocast.” I was interviewed for the latest installment, which you can access here. … Jersey Snafus, Part One: The SF Giants wore their “San Francisco” road jerseys last night — except for Marco Scutaro. Even weirder: He put on the wrong jersey in the middle of the game. Details here. ”¦ Jersey Snafus, Part One: Several readers had nothing better to do last night than watch yet another NFL preseason game noticed that Packers QB Graham Harrell was wearing a Reebok jersey with a blacked-out logo last night. Apparently his main jersey got a tear, and then he had to switch to the Reebok product (screen shots courtesy of Steven Gates and Nicholas Honeck). ”¦ In a vaguely related item, someone on the Raiders sideline was wearing a Reebok jacket last night. I guess all these clowns didn’t get the memo about worshipping Nike, eh? (Screen shot by Rudy Gutierrez). ”¦ Man, the 1974 West Leyden High School basketball team sure had some crazy uniforms (from West Leyden alum Mike Hinkel). … Gordon Blau was watching the old 1960s sitcome Mothers-in-Law when this T-shirt caught his eye. “Looks kinda like the Red Wings logo with a wagon wheel,” he says. … Life Imitates Art That Imitated Life Dept.: Campbell’s is rolling out a limited edition of Warhol-inspired soup cans. Very cool. … Also very cool: this Reds-themed corn maze! … Yesterday I Ticker-linked to a photo of 49ers coach Jim Harbaugh wearing a shirt with a cover-up patch. Now Mike Bergan has provided persuasive evidence that it’s one of his old Stanford shirts. … Good piece on the airbrushed artwork on hockey goalie masks (from John Muir). ”¦ Speaking of goalie artwork, Western Michigan goalie Frank Slubowski, whose nickname is the Big Slubowski, has the Dude on one side of his mask. His other nickname — Frank the Tank — is referenced on the other side (from Adam Bodnar). ”¦ New logo for the Hershey Bears. ”¦ Two New Zealand rugby teams — Otago and Bay of Plenty — went color vs. color the other night. “Was very hard to keep track,” says Andrew Kendall. ”¦ Lots of great SF Seals photos in this slideshow (from Frankie Parish). ”¦ A cartoon in this week’s New Yorker takes humorous aim at corporate douchebag sponsorship. ”¦ The Twins are sending out season ticket renewal packages that include a 2014 All-Star Game logo. Not sure how official that logo is (from Luke H). ”¦ Leo Strawn found two killer Dayton Triangles photos. ”¦ A high school in Florida recently sold the naming rights to its stadium (yes, a high school stadium — I can never wrap my head around that concept). Here’s what they plan to do with the money (from Tom V). ”¦ Prince Fielder’s helmet squatchee decal is still badly askew (from Blair Riffel). ”¦ Bill Theiss was at last night’s Steelers/Panthers game and spotted a few guys showcasing their striped socks. Maybe they’re gearing up for this year’s throwbacks. ”¦ “I had a work function on Thursday night at an art museum, and the instructions were to wear something that inspired us or a piece of art,” says Aaron Kusch. “What did I choose? Stirrups, of course. It was hard to get the blousing right with dress pants, but it seemed to work.” ”¦ “Sponsorship at the Paralympics is different than at the Olympics,” says Blain Fowler. “Sponsors get their logos right on the field of play and on the athletes’ apparel.” Hooray for equality, which allows even the disabled to be saddled with corporate douchebaggery! ”¦ A guy is Seattle is selling striped arm sleeves. “Bought a pair for the Seahawks game today,” says John Przebieglec. ”¦ I think it’s a safe bet that 49ers punter Andy Lee doesn’t wear a cup (screen shot by Rick Rutherford). ”¦ And that reminds me, Mets shortstop Reuben Tejada took a ground ball in the jewels the other day, and it was later reported on the air that he hadn’t been wearing a cup. His predecessor as Mets SS, Jose Reyes, never wore one either. ”¦ After the tennis yesterday afternoon, I went to Manhattan and met up with a friend to see Compliance. Ended up walking out after about 45 minutes — not because it’s disturbingly creepy (which it is), but because all the characters were so mind-bogglingly, cringe-inducingly stupid. Seriously, had none of these people ever watched a cop show on TV? ”¦ New basketball uniforms for Georgia Tech, and also a new court design. But they don’t have a honeycomb pattern, so they must be fakes (from Michael Rich).

Holiday Schedule: Phil will be back on board this weekend with his usual Saturday and Sunday content. The site will be open on Laborious Day, but content will likely be minimal. A happy long weekend to one and all.

A Close Look at Ball Sacks (no, not that kind)

Screen shot 2012-08-27 at 8.51.30 AM.png

I’m a member of SABR — the Society for American Baseball Research — which means I subscribe to SABR-L, the organization’s listserv. Much of the info on SABR-L involves statistical number-crunching, historical esoterica, biographical info, and so on. Occasionally, though, uni- and equipment-related queries come up. Such was the case a few weeks ago when a SABR member named Bob Bogart posted the following:

You know those pouches that the home plate umpire wears to hold the new baseballs that have yet to be used?

1. What is the capacity (in baseballs) of those pouches?

2. Is there an ideal capacity that umpires prefer to not exceed rather than the maximum capacity, enabling better maneuverability in the event the home plate umpire needs to hustle to another base to make a call? Or doesn’t it make a difference?

Just wondering. Thanks for your help.

I had never thought about this before. Within a few hours, a gentlemen named Michael Shapiro — apparently a former umpire, although he didn’t specify at what level — responded like so:

Generally, the pouches can easily hold about half a dozen balls each. Any more than that is problematic for a number of reasons, not the least of which is running from one base to another. Of course, it’s a matter of personal preference, since some umpires use one bag and some two.

Personally, I used two bags, but that was in leagues that didn’t have the luxury of tossing balls out of the game after one scuff. I’d put the balls that came back to me in the left-hand bag and toss the new ones in from the right. I never had more than three in the right-hand bag and would rotate them through as the game went on, so that the balls would get pretty even use.

Interesting. But a much more detailed response came the following day from another ump, Barry Deutsch:

These pouches, more properly referred to as ball bags, hold different capacities of baseballs depending on the manufacturer. I prefer the “wide mouth” style, so I don’t have to mess around angling my hand into and back out of the bag. I prefer a square-shaped ball bag; some of them come in a more trapezoidal shape.

I like to have at least four in each bag and I wear two, one on
each hip, although some umpires in amateur ball wear only one. It might be a uniform requirement for umpires in professional leagues to be bilaterally bagged [apparently not ”” PL]; I think it looks better, more polished, and certainly more balanced, with one bag on each side.

I could fit five balls in each bag if I wanted to, which I might on a day when the grounds are wet and I know I’ll be throwing out a lot of damp, muddy balls and putting a lot of dry ones into play. But most of the time I’m satisfied with four in each bag. Five on each side tends to weigh them down. As Bob Bogart mentioned, there’s also a maneuverability factor that comes into play with a bag or bags crammed full of baseballs: I might
subconsciously slow down and not hustle as hard if I thought baseballs might come spilling out of my ball bag because it was too full.

When I get down to three or two baseballs (total, not on each side), I start signaling for more, as I don’t like waiting until I’m down to one and then the next thing you know there’s a foul ball and suddenly I’m completely out of baseballs and then the game gets held up while I’m waiting for new baseballs, and I hate it when the game gets held up! Most umpires do — we want the pace of every game to flow smoothly and uninterruptedly. The idea is to keep enough baseballs on hand — four to eight — to be able to keep the game moving and put a new ball in play immediately after a previous one goes out of play without feeling pressured to ask for more until the half-inning is over.

Styles of ball bags and the total number of baseballs held in each is generally an individual umpire’s choice; there are no hard and fast rules about how many baseballs to carry or whether to use one bag or two, although some college and professional leagues have specific uniform requirements for their umpires that include using two ball bags as opposed to just one. And not all identically shaped ball bags are the same, as some have separate pockets on the insides for whatever — indicator, lineup cards, writing implements, gum, stopwatch (which we’re now required to have in college ball), and other small accoutrements of the trade.

Faaaaaascinating! I hereby nominate “bilaterally bagged” as the best uni-related term to show up here on the site in many a moon. (If you want to go bilaterally bagged yourself, there are several ball bag options available here.)

Meanwhile, I know several of you out there are umps. Anything to add on this topic?

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In case you missed it yesterday, my annual college football season preview is up on ESPN. As is always the case every year, additional tidbits of information started showing up soon after the column was published, so here are some updates on a few FBS teams:

• The two games sponsored by the corporate chicken sandwich douchebags will both be color-vs.-color.

• Arizona State is letting fans vote for which uni combo the team will wear on Sept. 22 against Utah, and students will be able to vote for the uni that’ll be worn on Oct. 27 against UCLA.

• I’m told that Auburn’s NOB lettering will be larger, like it was two years ago.

• Florida’s nose bumpers will now feature the new Gator head logo, and the neck bumper will have the new “Florida” wordmark. Also, the Gators are getting a new field.

• Lots of rumors about Georgia Tech possibly wearing this honeycomb helmet design on Monday. Also, Tech may have a lot of new looks this season.

• Houston will wear throwbacks on Nov. 10 against Tulsa.

•  Nevada has added a center stripe to its helmet.

• I wrote that North Carolina would wear its white helmet at some point but that the exact date had not yet been specified. Turns out it’s slated to be worn on Oct. 6 against Virginia Tech.

• I wrote that Penn State would be wearing a blue ribbon jersey patch. I’m now told that that it will be a helmet decal, not a patch.

• The uni numbers on Texas Tech’s red and black jerseys are now white, which seems like a big plus in terms of visibility.

(My thanks to all who contributed info, including Josh Coney, Pat Davis, Trey Groce, Jeff Hunter, Thomas Lenneberg, Mike Moore, Aaron Newman, and Guy Ryan.)

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Uni Watch News Ticker: Attention Ryan Connelly, Doug Keklak, Jason Bernard, Jennifer Sweet, and all the rest of our Pittsburgh readers: One of you needs to buy this sign (and when you do, you can send a thank-you note to Frank Bitzer). … New third kit for Tottenham (from George Chilvers). … James McNamara spotted a home plate ump wearing some sort of arm sleeve the other night. That’s a first, at least for me. … Oh, baby — now that’s a basketball uniform (big thanks to Mike Hersh). … A school district in Utah is looking for logo submissions (from Jon Alviani). … Hmmm, shouldn’t these two folks be sitting the other way around? (From Brady Phelps.) … This is awesome: The restroom signs at Citizens Bank Park show little figures wearing stirrups (from Tim Donovan). … Jeff Ash found some more photos of those padded aprons worn by Packers linemen during practices in 1962, presumably to save wear and tear on the body. More photos can be found scattered throughout this gallery. … Skip down to the fifth graf of this story to learn something interesting about Felix Hernandez’s jersey preferences (from Brian Terreson). … Small note at the very end of this article indicates that the Sabres will have a new third jersey in 2013-14 (from Timothy Tryjankowski). … Cowboys QB Rudy Carpenter almost lost one of his numerals last night (screen shot by Lance Phelps). ”¦ Bishop LeBlond High School in Missouri has a rather unusual soccer uniform. The jersey is so bold, it’s easy to overlook the initials on the socks (from Brady Graham). ”¦ Several readers noticed that 49ers coach Jim Harbaugh seemed to have a cover-up patch on his shirt for the recent preseason game against the Broncos. ”¦ Matt Thomas was reading this obituary of former NBA/ABA player Art Heyman and noticed the ghosted “4” under his under number. Must have been a recycled jersey. ”¦ Good article on the comeback of the Prince tennis brand (thanks, Brinke). ”¦ Rare sight at last night’s game between the Myrtle Beach Pelicans and the Wilmington Blue Rocks: powder blue vs. powder blue! (Photo by Adam Brodsky.) ”¦ Here’s another potential leak of the new Nets uniforms, this time via a McFarlane figure (from Jamal Worobec). ”¦ I’ll be off the grid for most of today, starting at 11am, so everyone play nice. See you tomorrow.

What, No Turkey Gritting His Teeth?

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My annual college football season-preview column is up now on ESPN. Of all the designs featured therein, the most intriguing one is this Virginia Tech “Fighting Gobblers” helmet, which the Hokies will wear on Sept. 8 against Austin Peay. It’s nobody’s idea of a good design, but it’s impressive to see a high-profile school pull a uni-related move that isn’t rooted in intimidation, militarism, machismo, BFBS, comic book costumery, and so on (all of which perhaps explains why they didn’t have a kid posing with the helmet while trying to look all rough and tough, or flexing his muscles, or any of the other stock poses that have grown so tiresome). In short: It’s a bad design, but at least it’s not bad in all the usual pathetic ways, and you know all the lunkhead morons out there will absolutely hate it. I actually count this as progress.

Speaking of college football, my ESPN colleague Dave Wilson recently asked all the SEC coaches for their thoughts on the current state of uniform design. The answers are illuminating.

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My adoring public: As you might expect, last week’s Uni Watch Power Rankings project generated no small amount of hate mail, much of which was rather amusing (the guy who said, “You are everything that is wrong with America” was particularly entertaining). It had slowed to a trickle by Monday and had pretty much stopped by yesterday, but then last night I received the following note, which is too good not to share:

you’re an asshole. i hate you and your job as a jersey analyst is complete bull shit. I hope you lose you job. you look like you have had facial surgery done by a blind dog. your beard looks like my ass hair. you have a simple job that you did terribly. ill keep emailing you until you respond. thank you for your time

If there’s one thing I like, it’s a polite, respectful hate mailer (even if he knows what his own ass hair looks like, which is pretty creepy).

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Show & Tell update: Show & Tell, the monthly storytelling series I’ve been hosting here in Brooklyn for nearly two years, now has its own web site, whoop-whoop!

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Uni Watch News Ticker: The Knicks will unveil their new uniforms next Thursday. I’ll attend the event, but there isn’t much suspense, because the new design will reportedly match what we saw last week in those video game leaks. ”¦ Here are this season’s Premiership rugby kits. “As you can see, the away kits do not always resemble the home kits and can be completely different colors,” sasy Josh Jacobs. ”¦ A fast-“food” chain is now producing a Ragin’ Cajuns-branded burger (from Tom Mulgrew). ”¦ USA Hockey has unveiled the uniforms for the Top Prospects Game (from Erik Sundermann). ”¦ Because We Can Dept.: That company with makes all the fancy-shmancy helmets has produced a gold Jags helmet (from Theo Manning). ”¦ England’s soccer kits will now be made by Nike, not Umbro. Yes, I realize they’re the same company (from Mark Emge). ”¦ Check out this trucker-style Astros cap. Must’ve been a spring training photo (good find by Mike Hersh). ”¦ Bizarre cross-sport, cross-city turf news from A.J Frey, who writes: “The Charlotte Copperheads of the new indoor Professional Lacrosse League apparently managed to find the old New York Titans carpet that was used at MSG and the Nassau Coliseum to put down on their floor, at least for now.” ”¦ Bethanie Mattek Sands’s latest, uh, unusual look on the court included red high-tops, eye black, and — although it’s hard to see — a green ponytail. ”¦ A’s beat writer Susan Slusser still calls it the Jake — in her byline! (Great spot by John English.) ”¦ The Boston College hockey jersey now has five stars on the back, to reflect the school’s five national titles (from Dave Levy). ”¦ Ron Roza is (a) our contact at StickerYou, the company that makes the membership card stickers, and (b) a huge Chicago Bears fan. So he recently decided to make himself a Bears-themed bike helmet. “I added the Payton tribute and the SBXX logo, but other then that I tried to be a true to the current helmet decals,” he says. ”¦ Matt Lesser notes that Joey Votto went high-cuffed in his first rehab game with the single-A Dayton Dragons, which is odd, because it doesn’t look like the whole team goes high-cuffed.

For our readers in and around southern Louisiana, Phil and I hope you’re all okay today. Hang in there, and if you have a free moment, let us know how you’re doing.