First and foremost: Yes, I am aware that today’s post looks a little different. Not sure why, but we’re working on it and hope to have it fixed soon.
New ESPN column today — here’s the link. (They’ve been having some technical problems on the ESPN site too, so if the link doesn’t work, try a different browser.)
Meanwhile: Bit of a punctuation slip-up yesterday in Houston, where the name on the back of Cubs pitcher Ryan O’Malley’s jersey was missing the apostrophe (a gaffe that looked even worse when it appeared side-by-side with a properly punctuated TV graphic). The slip-up was likely the result of a rush job: The Cubs played 18 innings the night before and had to use Rich Hill, who’d been scheduled to start on Thursday, so O’Malley was an emergency call-up. Toss in the fact that the team was playing an afternoon game on the road and it’s not surprising that the apostrophe got lost in the shuffle.
Punctuation and diacriticals always pose tricky problems for equipment managers. We take it for granted nowadays that players like Magglio OrdoÃ±ez and Abraham NuÃ±ez will have the tilde over the n on their uniforms, but the use of tildes was largely unheard of during the first decade or two of player names appearing on jerseys. The first player I can recall wearing one was Willie MontaÃ±ez in the late ’70s, and he’d already been in the bigs for over a decade by that point.
Some other players aren’t so lucky. The proper styling of Carlos BeltrÃ¡n’s name, for example, is to include the accent over the a. Some media outlets print his name that way, but not his employer. This same problem afflicts the nameplates of many other Latino players.
Then there’s the question of what to do with names that include Mc, Le, and the like. Take, for example, Mark McGwire: When he broke in with the A’s, his name was styled with a small superscript c. But when he moved to the Cardinals, his name was rendered as all uppercase, with a space between Mc and Gwire (sometimes a really big space, sometimes not big at all). Then-teammate Joe McEwing got the same treatment, then saw his name styled with a superscript c during his stints with the Mets and Royals.
A similar evolution has taken place with Paul LoDuca’s name. When he was with the Dodgers, it was rendered in uppercase letters, with a space (sometimes big, sometimes small). But with the Marlins he wore a lowercase o, which is what also appears on his back with these days with the Mets (who sometimes appear to add a tiny space for good measure).
To my knowledge, there’s never been a ballplayer whose name included an umlaut, circumflex, cedilla, or ring accent. Can’t wait to see who gets to be the first equipment manager to contend with those.
Uni Watch News Ticker: Yesterday’s post about colored gloves prompted a good response from Jordan Sidwell, who writes: “I noticed in the Bobby Abreu photo that his glove had the silver Rawlings Gold Glove patch, which is given to Gold Glove winners who are Rawlings endorsers. Others who I’ve noticed wearing it are Cesar Izturis, Torii Hunter, and Alex Rodriguez (whose glove also has custom pocket stamping).” … Carlos Zambrano was recently spiked in the heel while covering first base but, according to this article (forwarded by Elena Elms), was saved from serious injury by the Venezuelan flag on the back of his shoe: “‘He was lucky,’ [Dusty] Baker said. ‘That Venezuelan flag saved him. That’s what he stepped on. It got all shoe, didn’t cut him. It was about 2 inches away from a possible Achilles.'” … Good article here about the Tigers wearing those useless titanium necklaces and creepy tinted contacts (with thanks to longtime Uni Watch pal Doug Kalemba). … The Bobcats unveiled a new alternate uni yesterday. Of course, the real story there is the sight of Adam Morrison wearing stripe-less socks — shocking! … Soccer news (courtesy of Robin Fishbein): Italy is delaying the addition of the fourth World Cup championship star to its jersey. … Meanwhile, there’s a major footwear controversy on the German team (with thanks to Pete Bonnett). … Jesse Gavin notes that Celtics rookie Kevin Pittsnogle has repeatedly been photographed with his uni number either blank or covered up (here’s another example). “Looks like they either they haven’t decided what number they want him to wear or else they didn’t have enough numbered jerseys on hand,” writes Gavin. … Turns out there’s a Yahoo group devoted to female basketball players wearing high socks. … While searching for illustrations of teachers to use at the top of this page, I came across this great photo of 1930s track star Aileen Meagher, nicknamed “The Flying Schoolmarm” (full details here). … Shinjo’s latest wristbands (courtesy of Jeremy Brahm, who also sent along an interesting shot of vertically striped wristbands). … Underbill update: Craig Hansen’s got something written under there (with thanks to Chris Mills).