By Bryan Redemske
In just more than a month, the pool of Presidential candidates has been whittled — nay, chopped — to just a precious handful. Iowans had their early say, Super Tuesday has come and gone, and states are doling out the remaining delegates like crazy.
We’ve heard about tax plans, health care plans, and Iraq. We’re heard about budgets and spending. But what about uniforms? Or, perhaps more accurately, if these candidates were on a sports team, would they wear the uniform properly or Manny-style? Would they opt for “comfort” or a timeless classic? Time to find out.
First off, it’s a shame John Edwards is no longer in the running. Trim, fit, and owning a nice head of hair, Edwards pulled off a late-July bike ride alongside Lance Armstrong with panache. The former candidate joined Armstrong for part of a day of RAGBRAI, the annual bike tour across Iowa. Edwards hopped on a loaner bike from Trek and hit the road. Note the properly worn helmet — just above the eyebrows — and also the confidence displayed by having a conversation while also moving forward. Many riders on RAGBRAI can’t do either without endangering everybody within 100 feet. Minor points subtracted, however, for going with baggy shorts over the standard ones. But no matter what he did, topping Howard Dean’s 2003 RAGBRAI ride was a given. And get a load of the calves on that guy!
Mitt Romney’s supporters were wearing little “mitts” that were actually gloves. And now his campaign is “suspended”? There’s a connection there somewhere.
Though he’s currently getting blasted, Mike Huckabee is a viable Uni Watch candidate. Once a very large man, Huckabee is now a smaller man who runs. A lot. Like, every day, in almost every town. Aside from playing bass with pretty much anybody who will let him plug in, Huckabee favors photo ops that feature him running. Here he is finishing up in Des Moines (at Gray’s Lake, where I once contemplated dropping out of a marathon, only to realize I’d still have to walk to the car anyway — might as well get a medal while I’m at it). South Carolina outfitted him here. You have to admire the guy’s routine, and also his adherence to basic running style. What’s basic running style, you ask? Bring your shorts, your shoes, and a comfy shirt, and go. Huckabee has it.
Hillary Clinton … um, pass. And pick a damn hat while you’re at it. At least get a little more bend in that bill.
Barack Obama seems to be kind of like Edwards — always well put-together, never lacking a certain class. Obama’s game is basketball, though he has been known to take some cuts now and again. He seems to be a fine Uni Watch candidate given the evidence at hand. Some stripes on the socks would be nice, but the rest of the uni is hard to argue with. He did fine throwing out a first pitch at a White Sox game in 2005, though a harsh rebuke is due to the club. Replica gear? Give out the good stuff! Here’s a gallery of a one-on-one game with an SI writer in scenic Spencer, Iowa, in late December. It would be nice to get a feel for his socks — to see if his stance on tall socks or stripes has changed — but the Zorro look is sleek. And I bet he can still dunk. [Also, based on the Chisox photo, note that Obama is a southpaw, as were four of the last six presidents. Hmmmm. — PL]
Finally, there’s John McCain. He’s getting up there, with a skin cancer history and some lingering issues due to injuries sustained during a 5.5-year vacation in Vietnam in the late 1960s. McCain hasn’t done much to distinguish his uni-based credentials of late. He does have a uniform history, however, as a naval pilot. And Navy pilots look cool.
So here’s where we stand: We have a flip-flopper, a guy who can’t go out in the sun, a guy who wears running shorts an awful lot, and a guy who may or may not be able dunk on other world leaders.
Uni Watch News Ticker: Paul here. Two nice Shorpy finds by Bob Andrews: First, there’s sooooo much to like in this photo of the 1925 Hine Junior High School girls’ basketball team, and check out the 1921 Gallaudet hoops uniform (I’m assuming the two “B”s stand for “basket ball”). … Kevin Brotzman reports that his recently launched NumerOlogy site, which is devoted to Orioles uni number history, recently got a communiqué from former O’s pitcher Dick Hall, whose grandson had showed him the site. “Dick informed me that one of the games played in the O’s bullpen during blowouts involved picking a uniform number and attempting to list all the players around the league who wore the number at that time. Apparently Milt Pappas had the best head for numbers.” … UCLA and USC will both wear home uniforms, just like in the old days, for their annual football matchup this year. For details, including how the schools plan to get around the penalty for the road team not wearing white, start reading at the fifth paragraph of this story (with thanks to Art Kerdmanee). … MLB’s two most famous batting helmet modifications are probably Brooksie’s shortened brim and Yaz’s enlarged earhole (along with improvised masks, natch, but that’s a whole separate category). Now Paul Wiederecht has spotted a new one: Check out Glenn Beckert’s earflap, the front edge of which appears to have been scooped out to provide better visibility. … Interesting find by Bob Kemp, who writes: “Check out this picture, which was from Gene Smithson’s time as the coach at Illinois State. The shorts and the jersey’s side panel have the letters ‘MTXE’ — that’s for ‘Mental Toughness, Extra Effort.’ Smithson later brought this slogan to Wichita State, but I’m not sure if he put the letters on the uni. Have any other teams had these sorts of slogans on them, and is it possible that teams can still do that, or is it a violation of NCAA rules?” Good questions — anyone..? … Hobart College’s hockey team will be wearing camou uniforms tonight, as part of a fundraiser for the Wounded Warrior Project. … I believe this is Uni Watch’s first-ever motocross item, courtesy of Mike Lindsey “The Motocross Supercross was in San Diego last weekend, and Chad Reed wore a Chargers replica MX helmet, complete with his number on the back. Reed has won five of the last six races held in San Diego and apparently loves the city.” … Good catch by Bryan, who spotted Erik Bedard wearing someone else’s glove. … Second item on this page tells the amusing story of Esteban Loaiza’s career-long quest to wear No. 25 (with thanks to Eric Borer). … I know Nike will go to great lengths to get the swoosh as much exposure as possible, but this is a bit much (gold star for Ken Singer). … Speaking of Nike, two years ago the Swooshkateers told me that they didn’t put a black helmet into Oregon’s mix-and-match uni system “out of respect for Oregon State.” I guess their respect has run dry, because a black helmet is now supposedly on the way (good spot by Dave Anderson). … Mother lode of great old Cubs and Chisox spring training pics here (thanks, Bryan). … Earl Pettis of Rutgers was missing an “S” last night (big thanks to Tim Nichols). … Jeremy Brahm reports that the French LNB (Ligue Nationale de Basket) uses a black basketball. … Also from Jeremy: There’s something weird about receiving a gold medal while wearing a rifle, no? … Odd photo here of Dodgers prospect Clayton Kershaw wearing a USA uni and a Dodgers cap (as forwarded by Brian McCrodden). … The Kansas hoops team will wear 1988 throwbacks against Colorado tomorrow (with thanks to Jeff Mazzapica).