When a player gets traded to from a weak team to a strong one, you often hear commentators saying he’s gone “from the outhouse to the penthouse,” or words to that effect. But what good is the penthouse if you have to wear a Rockies uniform every day (or Marlins, or Diamondbacks, or whatever)? The players know that when it comes to trades, it’s all about the uniform. When word came down on Sunday that Bobby Abreu had been dealt to the Yankees and all his Phillies teammates started hugging him in the dugout, do you really think they were congratulating him just because he’d gained a dozen games in the standings? Duh — they were congratulating him because he’d upgraded his game-day threads!
With that in mind, here are the winners and losers from some of the deals that went down in the days leading up to the trading deadline:
• Ronnie Belliard for Hector Luna: Huge win for Belliard, who takes off a middling uniform and replaces it with MLB’s very best. Pity poor Luna, who’ll likely never get to wear chain-stitch embroidery again.
• Sean Casey to the Tigers for a minor-leaguer: The Pirates have been so bad for so long that it’s easy to overlook their unis, but I happen to like them quite a bit (as long as they’re not accessorized with Nike’s accursed speckled sleeves). In fact, I think they’re probably the most underrated uniforms in the game. And besides, Casey’s a longtime vest man, going back to his days with the Reds. So although he’ll no doubt look good in a Tigers uni — who wouldn’t? — it’s actually a slight downgrade for him.
• Xavier Nady for Roberto Hernandez: Although the Mets have worn more blue this season, they still have those solid-black disasters, not to mention the two-tone Cool Flo helmets. Nady won’t have to worry about any of that in Pittsburgh. Count this one as a win for him.
• Craig Wilson for Shawn Chacon: I’m on such a roll here with the Bucs’ uniforms that I’m tempted to call this one a push — but let’s face it, this is a win for Wilson (not least because he’ll never have to wear this BP cap again).
• Julio Lugo to the Dodgers for two minor-leaguers: Tampa is another team whose on-field bumblings overshadow a perfectly fine uniform. But the Dodgers’ uni is a cut above. Score this one an upgrade for Lugo.
• Rheal Cormier for Justin Germano: The Reds are supposedly excising black from their color scheme next season. But for now, this is a coup for Germano, who leaves the black behind and gets to wear his uni number on his sleeve to boot!
• Jeremy Affeldt and Denny Bautista for Ryan Shealy and Scott Dohmann: If I were a ballplayer, you can bet I’d make sure my agent negotiated a no-trade clause allowing me to veto any deals that would send me to the Rockies. Too bad Affeldt and Bautista didn’t think of that.
• Todd Walker to the Padres for a minor-leaguer: A complete disaster for Walker, who goes from wearing one of the game’s best uniforms to one of its worst (although, on the plus side, the Padres have names on the backs of their jerseys, so Walker presumably won’t get caught wearing the wrong uni like he did last Friday). Have fun at next April’s camouflage game, Todd!
Uni Watch News Ticker: The home plate ump usually keeps the two teams’ lineup cards in his chest pocket. But on Sunday night, the lineup card in Eric Cooper’s pocket appeared to be laminated, or maybe encased in a plastic sheet. Never seen that before. … I’ve previously written about Sean Taylor’s habit of playing with his belt unbuckled. But reader Pat Taylor found this Washington Post photo of Taylor taking things a bit further — with his belt open and his zipper unzipped. … My bad for not mentioning yesterday that the Brewers wore their Latino Cerveceros jerseys on Saturday. … Interesting note from A-Rod’s blog (forwarded by Jordan Sidwell): “Many of you have asked about the white shoes I wore during the All-Star Game. When I was a kid, I used to watch the All-Star Game on TV. I grew up a big Mets fan, as many of you know, and I always noticed saw that the Mets All-Stars wore white spikes for the game. For the past few years, Nike has designed white shoes and wristbands for me to wear as a tribute to my childhood heroes.” As a lifelong Mets fan myself, I’m not so sure about this. The Mets All-Stars definitely wore white spikes in 1976 (here’s Dave Kingman modeling his pair, a few months prior to the game), but that’s because the National League was celebrating its centennial with white pillbox-style All-Star caps. I don’t recall the Mets All-Stars wearing white spikes in other years (although plenty of other All-Star players did). … Never thought we’d be discussing teddy bears on this site, but that was before I got this communiquÃ© from Jordan Hirschfield: “I was recently searching to buy a Cardinals outfit for my two-year-old’s Build-A-Bear. Little did I know that the bear will better dressed than Albert Pujols — check out the stirrups with stripes. I give a lot of credit to the folks at Build-A-Bear — they may rip me off to get my kid a teddy bear, but they sure dress them well.”