As you know, it’s physically impossible — impossible! — for a college basketball team to wear its normal uniform during the postseason. With that in mind, Adidas released a bunch of March Madness uniforms yesterday. As you can see above, the jerseys are fairly conventional, but the shorts all use two-tone color blocking and somewhat oversized logos.
Louisville has already been wearing this template all season long — here’s how it looks on their home and road unis — and I kind of like it. Here’s a closer look at the eight new designs:
A few thoughts:
• Obviously, the whole templating thing, creating a collective sense of “Team Adidas,” is noxious. But as templates go, I like this one a lot better than, say, this one.
• While I’m cool with the color-blocking, I don’t care for the big logos.
• One step forward: Only one school with sleeves!
• Two steps back: Two schools with grey home unis instead of white.
• I’m wondering if there’ll be any mixing and matching, because I think a lot of the home shorts would probably look good, or at least interesting, with the road jerseys (and in a few cases vicey-versey). Would anyone like to mock up a few of these for us?
• Very keen to see the UCLA designs on the court — they look really nice.
• Odd that the Texas A&M jerseys still have the color-blocking on the shoulders. Never liked that look, and it definitely feels like too much when paired with the color-blocked shorts.
• Finally, it’s worth noting that Adidas also has new uniforms for Indiana, but not in the color-blocked template:
(My thanks to Phil for his assistance with this section.)
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G-Man: It had previously been reported that Marlins outfielder Giancarlo Stanton, whose 2014 season was ended by a fastball to the face, would be wearing a facemask during spring training, and possibly during the regular season. It turns out that his mask stakes out some new territory in MLB headgear.
As you can see at right (and can click to enlarge), Stanton’s mask is not the standard plastic extension that we’re used to seeing. It’s made of carbon steel, more like a football mask (Stanton was apparently concerned that a plastic guard might block his vision) and has a stylized “G” — Stanton’s first initial. Further details are available here.
This is, to my knowledge, the first personalized batter’s mask in MLB history. As a one-off, I’m cool with it — it’s fun. But if it kicks off an arms race of players constantly upping the “Look at me” factor, as seems likely, then we’ll look back at this mask as the launch pad for a whole new chapter of stupid.
Several emailers and tweeters noted yesterday that the NFL would never allow this; in fact, they’ve already banned it. It’ll be interesting to see if MLB has anything to say about it.
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And speaking of MLB headwear: The two caps shown at left will apparently be making appearances during the upcoming MLB season — and it sounds like there are others on the way. One at a time:
• New Era Cap Talk reported yesterday that the Diamondbacks would be wearing that purple cap for Thursday home games. New Era’s own website confirms this and adds the following: “The 2015 MLB Special Events Collection consists of fitted caps that will be worn by teams throughout the season to commemorate historic moments or unique promotions.” This was all news to me, and it wasn’t clear which Arizona throwback jersey would be paired with the cap (lots of options: cream vest, cream sleeves, purple alternate, etc.), so I contacted Dbacks media czar Casy Wilcox. His response: “At the moment, there’s nothing we can confirm but we hope to have additional information within the next week or so.”
• New Era’s website says that the navy-brimmed Red Sox cap will be worn on May 5 (a home game against the Rays). The listing includes the same info about “the 2015 MLB Special Events Collection.” It’s not clear what this promotion is about, but May 5 is, of course, Cinco de Mayo, so maybe it has to do with that. (Update: Commenter Howard points out that the Sox are doing a Carlton Fisk bobblehead giveaway on May 5, so the cap is presumably part of a throwback uniform they’ll be wearing.)
I’m assuming that anything referred to as a “collection” will involve more than just two teams, so there are probably more surprises still in store.
(My thanks to Brendan Hickey and Phil for their contributions to this section.)
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Power Rankings reminder: In case you missed it yesterday, the Uni Watch Power Rankings are back, with ratings of all 30 MLB teams’ uniform sets, from first to worst. How did your favorite team do? Find out here.
Soccer News: New kit sponsor for Chelsea (from Yusuke Toyoda). … Also from Yusuke: “The Italian club Parma is in deep debt, can’t pay wages, and is now having its players wash their own uniforms because it can’t afford to do laundry.”
Emancipation Day: Nineteen years ago tomorrow (well, it was actually Feb. 29, but that date doesn’t appear on the calendar this year), I walked out of my office at Billboard Books for the final time and began life as a full-time freelance writer. I’d been freelancing on the side for the previous two and a half years and had decided it was time to take the plunge. Haven’t had a regular job since then. (Also haven’t had employer-subsidized health insurance or most other job-related perks, but of course I knew what I was getting into in that regard.) At the time, I thought of going freelance as an experiment. I guess we could now say the experiment has been a success. Good thing, too — after 19 years of working at home, I’m now pretty unemployable in any conventional sense of the term. The mere thought of going to an office gives me a rash.
Anyway, as I like to remind people each year on this date, the moral of the story is this: If you want to change your life or reinvent yourself, don’t just sit around fantasizing about it — go ahead and do it. Even if the experiment doesn’t work out, at least you won’t be wondering about what might have been.
Of course, maybe you already like your life just fine the way it is, in which case more power to ya. Either way, have a great weekend.
GFGS may be silly, but sometimes it doesn’t look so bad. Take those new Baylor football unis from yesterday’s Ticker, for example — ridiculous but not unattractive.
But there’s no way — or at least no way I’m aware of — to make gray and orange look good together. I didn’t like it when the Suns came out with this uniform in 2003, and I didn’t like it when they unveiled their new sleeved alternate yesterday — no sir.
And really, why would a team called the Suns wear gray? The official answer is that the grey represents the ashes from which a phoenix rises, but come on. Anyway, the uniform will make its on-court debut tonight, and you can learn more about it in this ESPN newser that I wrote yesterday afternoon. (Also: The Suns have also added a new interactive uni-centric page to their website — good stuff.)
We’ve talked a bit about buying or receiving game-used memorabilia, but have you ever snagged an item yourself? I’m talking about, have you ever caught a foul ball? Any player ever give you a shoe, stick, or headband before, during, or after a game? Ever take something from a soon-to-be-demolished stadium? Anything along those lines.
If nothing like this has ever happened to you, what is your dream scenario? I always wished that I could’ve caught a Gilbert Arenas jersey.
When I was nine, I went with my aunt to County Stadium in Milwaukee to see the Mets vs. Brewers. We got there early for batting practice, and we were the only people in a section of the bleachers. Not only did I catch a BP home run ball (on a bounce, because my God are those balls hit hard), but Mets outfielder Darryl Hamilton tossed me a ball as well. Also, in 2007, I caught a Ken Griffey Jr. BP homer at Miller Park.
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Patch reminder: Uni Watch 15th-anniversary patches are in stock and available for ordering. Full details here.
NFL News: People are speculating that the Packers might have a new alternate uniform in 2015. Of course, Uni Watch readers already knew that. … Remember the NFL team logo necktie worn by disgraced Toronto mayor Rob Ford when he confessed to smoking crack? That “game-used” tie, so to speak, is now available on eBay. … Adidas said they’d give $100,000 to whoever ran the fastest 40-yard dash at the NFL Combine. Wide receiver JJ Nelson ran the fastest 40 at 4.28-seconds, but even though he wore Adidas shoes he didn’t get the prize because the stipulation was that the winner had to have already signed an endorsement with deal Adidas (from Brinke). … Here’s a good feature story on how Madden ratings are determined. … Steve Smith wore No. 89 in Carolina to help erase the memory of the Panther to wear the number before him: Rae Carruth (thanks, Ethan Hagen). … Scroll down to the comments on this post to read some of the designer’s thoughts on the Browns’ new Dawg Pound logo (from Jon Dies).
Hockey News: Thanks to a Boston-area researcher working in Kenya, Bruins goalie Tuukka Rask got a species of wasp named after him (from Ted Arnold). … The Barclays Center, which will become the home of the Islanders next season has trademarked two “Brooklyn Hockey” logos that look very Nets-like, although Chris Creamer says the Isles won’t be using them (from John Muir). … The Coyotes’ equipment manager is fairly busy with the trade deadline approaching (from Phil).
Soccer News: Dunkin Donuts put its own spin on Liverpool’s crest and the results were of bad taste (from Patrick Walsh). … Sponsors pay close to $1 billion to put their names on the shirts of the world’s top soccer clubs. “It’s amazing how much money the top clubs get to splash ads on the front of soccer jerseys,” says Phil. “And the rich get richer. People bitch about (or used to) the goddamn Yankees, but this is just…”
NBA News: The Celtics have retired 21 uniform numbers, so perhaps the team should end that practice. Though not mentioned in that article, the Yankees have the same issues. Ah, the cost of winning (thanks, Phil Lawson). … The Timberwolves broadcast has a KG cam, but the graphic has his number in the team’s old font. … The Rockets wore their sleeved Chinese New Year alts and the Clippers wore white on the road last night. … Tayshaun Prince, who played for the Pistons until 2013, was reacquired last week. Jeffrey Sak noticed the the Pistons have spaced out their jersey numbers over Prince’s absence.
Grab Bag: Nike and the University of Florida extended their agreement (from Phil). … It’s not just injured Mets players who receive commemorative coins. So do bartenders, as Pete Tognetti, a cocktail bartender in Denver, explains: “The only difference is that we cherish our coins and that we don’t receive ours due to injury, but rather from the United States Bartenders’ Guild or some proxy. I’m somewhat unclear on how they are to be used, some people have told me that they are for trading with other bartenders, other people have told me they are to be used as a bargaining chip to get free drinks. I’d not part with mine for a drink but it would be fun to trade with other bartenders.”
Photo by Brett Carlsen for The New York Times; click to enlarge
So here’s a new one. If a Mets player suffers a major injury — not a sprained ankle or a sore hammy, but something that keeps the player on the shelf for months and requires significant rehab time at the team’s training facility down at Port St. Luice, Fla. — and if the player also dedicates himself to his rehab program, the rehab staff will award him one of these “rehab coins” when he’s ready to play ball again.
The coins have apparently been given out for several years now, but I didn’t know about them until they were featured yesterday in this very interesting article, which explains that the coins were the brainchild of Mets minor league rehabilitation coordinator Dave Pearson:
Pearson got the idea for the coin a few years ago after he noticed that players in the Mets’ strength and conditioning program were getting new T-shirts every year. He wanted something for the rehab program. But, he figured, “Nobody wants to wear a shirt that says ‘rehab.’”
Then he remembered a gift he had received, before he worked with the Mets, from a patient who had served in the military. As a sign of thanks, the man had given him a challenge coin, a special token that signified the unit to which he belonged. Peterson thought the idea might work with the Mets.
A nice idea. But does a millionaire athlete really need a coin as a motivational tool? And do the players actually care about the coins once they receive them? Apparently not:
Jenrry Mejia said he keeps his Mets coin at home in the Dominican Republic; it might be in a drawer somewhere, he thinks. Steven Matz, who has also had Tommy John surgery and has an outside chance to make the Mets this season, said he kept his coin in the center console of his truck. He said the sun might have melted it a bit. Juan Lagares forgot that he had ever received one.
“I might use it as a golf-ball marker,” Harvey said, examining his coin. He was being serious, sort of.
Since we’re talking about the Mets here, it’s easy to make jokes: “The players probably have to pay for the coins” or “Wilpon’s planning to pay his players’ salaries in those coins.” But there’s no need for that, because the coins come with their own built-in Metsian self-mockery:
[After coming up with the idea, Pearson] sketched out a design for a coin that represented the Mets’ rehab program. The result was a mash of Mets history, medical references and, of course, a motto. Pearson searched Google and found “Perfer et obdura; dolor hic tibi proderit olim,” which is Latin for, “Be patient and tough; this pain will be useful.”
But on the coin, “Perfer” is misspelled as “Prefer.”
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So about that Browns news: Okay, so by now you know that yesterday’s Browns logo release was no big deal. I summarized my reactions yesterday in this ESPN piece, but here are some additional thoughts:
• Several people have noted that the new shade of orange seems closer to the Bengals’ shade. That could be part of an effort on Nike’s part to consolidate fabric dye lots. (There was some chatter about this yesterday on Reddit, although we know by now how reliable that is.)
• As I mentioned in my ESPN piece, you can get a sense of what the brown facemask will look like on the field by looking at Bowling Green photos. One additional visual point is that the brown mask kind of blends in with the skin tone of African American players, who currently comprise about 68% of the league’s players.
• Speaking of the facemask: Several news news stories yesterday, including the one written by ESPN’s Browns beat reporter, Jeremy Fowler, mentioned that the Browns had previously worn brown facemasks in 1952-62. That was news to me, so I asked Jeremy where he got that info. He said it came from Browns spokesperson Rob McBurnett, so I contacted Rob and asked if he had any photographic substantiation of the team wearing brown masks back in the day. He responded with this shot from a 1962 Browns/Cowboys game (click to enlarge):
As you can see, two of the linemen do indeed have brown facemasks. So there you go.
• Several people have asked me why they’re using such an old-fashioned helmet illustration for the new logo. One reason, I’m sure, is because they don’t actually want the illustration to be all that illustrative. When I asked team president Alec Scheiner if the center striping would be getting wider, he declined to answer the question and said we’d all find out when the new uniforms are released in April. So the helmet illustration was probably deliberately inconclusive-looking.
• I really, really like the new Dawg Pound logo. No offense to Todd Radom, who designed the previous version (or to his bulldog Casey, on whom that logo was based), but this new design is really fun. Yeah, he has the requisite furrowed brow and a snarl, but he’s also sort of smiling — he looks more mischievous than ferocious, and I can totally envision him switching into slobbering, tail-wagging mode. Scheiner wouldn’t say whether this logo will appear on the uniforms as a sleeve patch or hip graphic, and I doubt they’ll go that route, but I’m holding out a small hope for it. (As an aside, kudos to the several conspiracy theorists who think the dawg’s mouth is a subliminal Nike swoosh. With the pooch’s mouth and the Broncos’ logo’s nostril serving as our starting points, maybe we can assemble an entire creature out of swooshes.)
• As for the uniforms, they’ll be unveiled on the evening of April 14. Scheiner says they’ll be more “radical” than the logo changes, which isn’t saying much but still sounds like cause for concern.
• Finally, lots of people spotted this on the Browns’ website yesterday and got all excited, thinking it was a leak of the new jersey. As I kept explaining to these people, that’s cornerback Joe Haden’s Pro Bowl jersey.
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Baseball News: The Pawtucket Red Sox are moving, probably to Providence, which unfortunately means that one of the great team nicknames — “PawSox” — will no longer apply. Dang (from John Kimmerlein). … Pretty nice new uniforms for Navy, along with matte batting helmets. … . … Whoa, check out this early-1980s Phoenix Giants uni — yabba-dabba-do! (Nice find by Drake Gilliand.) … Robbie Cano has switched to Franklin batting gloves.
NFL News: This is funny: What if the Browns were in charge of redesigning every NFL team’s logo? … More NFL helmet concepts, most of them pretty dreadful. … Seahawks RB Marshawn Lynch is trying to trademark the phrase “I’m just here so I won’t get fined.” … ” I guess the Chargers’ logo can now mean be used to represent electrochemisty,” says Lydia Kisley. “That’s from the lab of Phil Baran at Scripps Research Institute, which is in San Diego. I found it on his website, in publication 138. I only saw it on the website, not in the publication it’s linked to. Guessing one of the graduate students is a Chargers fan.”
College Football News: Baylor has hopped on all of the standard uniform trends in recent years — BFBS, chrome helmets, matte helmets, custom typefaces, etc. The only thing they haven’t done is GFGS — until now.
Hockey News: The Kings wore their gold throwbacks last night. … The space between Red Wings D Alexey Marchenko’s NOB and his uni number appears to be larger than on his teammates’ jerseys (good spot by Jim Thorburn). … Habs headgear! That’s Christian Thomas wearing the full cage and Jarred Tinordi with the full shield (big thanks to Matt Larsen). … Also from Matt: Blues goalie Jake Allen is Canadian but has an American flag on his backplate.
Okay, so we all know what the big news is for today: The Browns will be releasing their new logo(s). Multiple sources have reported that showtime will be at 10am Eastern.
Once the unveiling takes place, I’ll add the logo(s) to the top of the page here. Then I’m going to interview Browns team president Alec Scheiner, and then I’ll write an assessment for ESPN. Once that piece is published, I’ll include a link to it here.
I’ll no doubt have additional thoughts about the logo(s) after my ESPN piece is published. I’ll gather those thoughts together for an additional post here — possibly later today, but more likely tomorrow.
Update, 10am: Logo and helmet have been revealed. Click on the link within this tweet for further details:
Update, 11am: I’ve now written my ESPN piece. The short version: I don’t much care one way or the other regarding the new helmet and facemask colors; I love the new Dawg Pound logo; and I’m pretty worried about how the uniforms will look. Further details here.
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ITEM! Suns preparing to release new jersey: The Suns will be unveiling a new alternate jersey tomorrow, and it will make its on-court debut on Thursday. You can get a reasonably good sense of what they’re up to in this teaser video:
ITEM! Power Rankings set to resurface: Longtime readers may recall that I ranked all 122 MLB, NFL, NBA, and NHL uniform sets in 2012 and 2013. I didn’t do it last year because, frankly, it was a massive amount of work that nearly killed me the two previous years. But we’re resurrecting the Power Rankings this year with a new approach: I’m going one league at a time, spread out over the year. Maybe I’ll intermix everything at the end of the year, or maybe not, but we’ll at least keep the individual league rankings active.
First up will be the MLB rankings. Here’s how they looked last time around. The new rankings will be out later this week — probably Thursday. Then I’ll do the NFL sometime after the draft, and the NBA and NHL later in the year.
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ITEM! Phil hits the big time: As many of you are aware, longtime Uni Watch pal Todd Radom recently wrote a piece about the Browns’ logo history for the Sporting News. And now Uni Watch weekend editor L.I. Phil Hecken (that’s him at left) has made his own Sporting News debut. The topic is very much in keeping with the kind of stuff he does here at Uni Watch: He’s chosen the best all-time uniform for each American League baseball team.
I’m really happy to see additional voices from the uni-verse getting showcased by a legit sports media outlet, and I’m even happier that those voices are Phil’s and Todd’s. My understanding is that they’ll both be contributing uni-related content to the Sporting News on a regular basis. Big congrats to both of them.
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ITEM! Blast from the inconspicuous past: Back around Labor Day of 1993, I came up with the term “Inconspicuous Consumption.” It nicely crystallized my obsession with design- and product-related minutiae (and, of course, was a play on the more familiar term “conspicuous consumption”), and ever since then I’ve thought of it as my personal brand, or at least my guiding principle, with the immortal Brannock Device, shown at right, serving as the classic inconspicuous object. In the months and years that followed, I published a zine called Beer Frame: The Journal of Inconspicuous Consumption, wrote a column called “Inconspicuous Consumption” (which originally ran in NYPress and then moved to New York magazine and finally to Spin), and wrote a book called Inconspicuous Consumption. Those of you who’ve ever received anything from me in the mail — a membership card, say, or a patch — know that I still use “Inconspicuous Consumption” as my return address. (As an aside, I also briefly had a record label called Inconspicuous Records, which definitely lived up to its name. Here’s its only release).
Most of my creative projects — including Uni Watch, for sure — have had some element of the inconspicuous. But I haven’t actually written under the “Inconspicuous Consumption” banner in many years. That changed yesterday, when re:form, the design website I’ve been writing for over the past six months or so, published my latest piece, which marks the rebirth of “Inconspicuous Consumption” as a monthly column. (And yes, you can all laugh at how the art director chose purple for the column’s color scheme, grrrr, but I’m told this will change each month.)
The topic this month is classically inconspicuous — the design of things that go “Click!” when you close them, like this asthma inhaler:
Frankly, all the other things I’ve written about for re:form would have fit just fine under the “Inconspicuous Consumption” heading as well. So I’m not changing what I’ve been doing for them; we’ve just taken the step of making it a formal monthly column, complete with its own name.
T-Shirt Club update: Big thanks to those of you who bought the St. Paddy’s Day design from the Uni Watch T-Shirt Club. We sold as many of these as we did of the white “Home” design, which was a very pleasant surprise. The shirts should all deliver by March 10, although many of you will likely receive them sooner than that.
The April design will launch on Tuesday, March 17. I’ll preview the design for you at some point during the preceding week.
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Uni Watch News Ticker By Garrett McGrath
Baseball News: Yesterday’s Ticker mentioned that Braves OF B.J. Upton, who’s renamed himself Melvin Upton Jr., would be wearing JrOB this season. Here’s our first peek at that. … The Wilmington Blue Rocks, the high-A affiliate of the Kansas City Royals, have a new logo. … In 1978, the Gray Harbor Loggers had a player named William Murray who went 1 for 2 with a single in his only game. The rest of the world would go on to know him as Bill Murray (from Tim Dunn). … A look at the new uniforms for the University of Illinois-Springfield baseball team (thanks, Paul). … Russell Martin, now with the Blue Jays, appears to have switched brands for his catching gear. … Here is a photo of Don Newcombe with the cast of the The Brady Bunch (minus Robert Reed) during a charity baseball game at Dodger Stadium, circa 1973. … No pictures but a good story from Brice Wallace: “I saw a fine version of Damn Yankees over the weekend at Weber State University. I was very impressed with the attention to detail with the baseball stuff. The logos for the Senators, Red Sox, Indians, and Tigers were period-appropriate, and the players wore their stirrups correctly (more of the sanitary sock showing in the back). But near the end of the show, a player was holding the uniform of one of his teammates, and the uniform pants were dangling from his arms, revealing that the stirrup socks were sewn onto the pants cuff, meaning the actors had no choice about how to wear the stirrups.”
Hockey News: The Montreal Canadiens celebrated their equipment manager’s 2000th professional game (from Jeremy Brahm). … Alternate captain Cody McLeod of the Colorado Avalanche wears a wedding band when he plays (from Jerry W.). … The Arizona Coyotes will wear their throwbacks on March 5 against the Canucks (thanks, Phil). … Tampa Bay Lightning goalie Ben Bishop has a new mask with glow-in-the-dark lightning (thanks, Paul). … The Federal Hockey League unveiled new logos for this season’s playoffs and championship. … The Boston University Terriers wore 1949-50 throwbacks last night (thanks, Phil). … The Spokane Chiefs of the Western Hockey League will have a breast cancer awareness night (from Larry Brunt). … The Prince George Cougars of the same league have a unique Zamboni (thanks, Phil). … The Kalamazoo Wings of the ECHL played two games on pink ice this past weekend — photos here and here (from Tony Anderson).
Soccer News: The Vancouver Whitecaps of MLS unveiled a new primary kit yesterday. The back of the jersey includes a little “Since 1974″ notation, which raises a good question: Which is better: “Since” or “Est.”?