Internal alarm reminding me it’s time to take care of my taxes already? Check. Mark Prior on the DL? Double-check. This can only mean one thing: the start of the baseball season. Herewith, some observations from yesterday’s Opening Day action:
• The Indians didn’t wear a solid-colored jersey, but they did open the season in their new cream-colored retro-ish alts. I think they look awesome (well, on most players), but I still think a team should wear its standard uni on Opening Day (esp. since this alt isn’t a throwback — the Indians have never worn this design before, so it’s not like they’re using it to honor their history or anything like that). Also: Since the alt uni has its own alt cap, couldn’t they also have shelled out for alt batting helmets? Apparently not.
• My favorite detail of the day: If you have to wear a helmet, why not wear a fun helmet? That’s Twins first base coach Jerry White wearing the team’s 1970s design, just like the Minnesota catchers have been wearing in recent years. I’m told that the third base coach wore the same thing. (Big thanks to Michael Romero for the screen grab.)
• The Reds all wore Joe Nuxhall jerseys during yestrday’s pregame ceremonies (credit Scott Yager with that screen shot) — that’s really nice. Then they all took them off and switched to their regular jerseys, except for starter Aaron Harang, who kept wearing the Nuxy tribute during the game (plus that photo shows him drawing a little “41″ on the mound dirt). Harang apparently got permission from MLB central to do this, but I’m not down with it. It becomes more of a “Look at me!” thing, instead of a respectful tribute thing (like the one everyone else was already wearing). Also, the Reds already have a player who wears No. 41, Jeremy Affeldt; Harang normally wears No. 39. Anyone know if Affeldt wore his regular jersey while sitting in the bullpen, or if he switched numbers for the day to allow Harang to wear 41? (Meanwhile: Who’s that at lower-left with the mohawk?)
• Slowly but surely, the Royals are getting there. First, they’ve switched from nameplates to direct-sewn lettering (which should make this guy‘s jersey a lot more comfortable). And their left-sleeve logo patch, which had previously been on a white background (which sometimes extended way beyond the patch’s outlines), now sits flush against the sleeve (additional views here and here). Both of these are small but telling indicators of a team that’s no longer cutting corners and is willing to take those extra steps to make things look right. (Kudos to Larry Wiederecht, who spotted both of these details.)
• As promised, a bunch of 1958 Dodgers old-timers wore off-white throwbacks, prepared for the occasion by Ebbets Field Flannels (additional views here, and here). Too bad about the NOBs, but I understand that they wanted everyone to be able to identify the players.
• Good view here of the Cool Base road grays (thanks to Bryan for the hi-res image).
• Nice to see Kenji Johjima’s still wearing his little helmet doohickey thingie.
• True to his word. Too bad he can’t pitch for shit anymore.
• I already covered Willie Harris’s double-flappage yesterday. But photos as good as this one don’t come around very often.
• MLB.TV is messed up, so I can’t access most of the day’s game video or make screen grabs, but I have it on good authority (read: several posts in yesterday’s comments section) that Eric Gagné’s jersey came so far untucked yesterday that the umpires actually ordered him to tuck it back in. No word on whether they also ordered him to give back two months’ salary to the Red Sox after the way he pitched last August and September.
• What’s worse than an annoying corporate ad slogan that tries to turn baseball into a lifestyle brand? An annoying corporate ad slogan with one word missing.
• Not uni-related, but several teams appear to have done these elaborate intro ceremonies where the players practically came in on a red carpet. Is this a new thing, or have I just not noticed in the past? Here in New York, our teams usually just walk out of the dugout, stand along the baselines, and tip their caps as the P.A. guy announces their names, y’know?
• This is the mayor of Philadelphia. I’m just gonna leave it at that. Draw your own conclusions.
And hey, have I mentioned that the Mets are undefeated?
Uni Watch News Ticker: A little birdie tells me that the Yankees will go to NOBs next season, to coincide with the opening of the new stadium and to make the point that Hank and Hal are running the team now. … I couldn’t really tell ya myself, but Nicholas Bean says that this is actually Justin Timberlake, shooting a scene for his upcoming movie, On the Road. “Timberlake’s character, a Corpus Christi Hooks player named Carlton Garrett, was wearing the home whites, complete with ‘Garrett’ nameplate, but the other Hooks did not have nameplates,” writes Nicholas. “Oh, and Timberlake runs like a girl. Seriously.” … Interesting piece here about the rebranding of a high school sports program. … “The Red Wings celebrated Gordie Howe’s 80th birthday on Sunday with a pregame ceremony,” writes Scott Alexander. “They gave him a framed No. 17 jersey, which he wore his rookie season before switching to No. 9.” Nice touch, except his rookie version didn’t have NOB lettering or CCM logos. … Speaking of CCM, sort of, here’s a note from John Muir: “Anaheim Ducks back-up goalie Jonas Hiller has been wearing the old Koho 580 pads since his debut last season. But his pads have either had the Koho logo blacked in or been unbranded, because Koho no longer exists as a company (it was in the CCM family, since bought by Reebok). But according to this December ’07 thread from GoalieStore.com, Hiller, GoalieMonkey.com, and Koho recently signed a deal for a limited production run of their new 700-series, which will look like this and this. Not sure what it will amount to, but I was surprised to see Koho as an independent entity again.” … The NFL Network was showing Super Bowl XXII yesterday morning, and Jesse Alger noticed something unusual: a post-game interview featuring John Elway wearing a bathrobe with a Super Bowl logo. … Interesting skiing attire here (with thanks to Matt Englander). … “Was re-watching the 2004 World Series video yesterday and noticed something very strange,” writes Alan Chewning. “They were showing an old clip of the Cardinals’ 1967 WS post-game field celebration and as everyone is converging on the infield, one of the umpires runs up to one of the players and takes the cap off his head and keeps on running. And he already had someone else’s in his hand! Early eBayer? Memorabilia maven? Thief? What’s up with that?” Actually, this story sounds oddly familiar to me — did we discuss it once before? If anyone knows more, please fill us in. … Remember that pig butchery course I mentioned I’d be taking last week? Look, there I am in the front row. Additional pics, not recommended for vegetarians, here. … Yesterday I linked to this photo, which appears to show a catcher wearing either a front-facing helmet or a brimless helmet in 1969, which would mark the earliest instance of either of those phenomena, at least in my experience. Paul Hirsch to the rescue: “The catcher there is Tom Haller, who was the first catcher to wear a helmet behind the plate. While with the Giants in 1967 or so, Haller saw John Roseboro get hit on a backswing in a game at Candlestick and started wearing a sawed-off brimless helmet shortly thereafter. I grew up in L.A., and Vin Scully made a big deal of this, much like he made a big deal about coaches wearing helmets before the Coolbaugh incident last season.” … As a semi-serious bowler (170 average, keep my ball and shoes in the trunk of my car so I can bowl at a moment’s notice, etc.), I was pretty disturbed to see this. … While looking for pics of goateed umpires, I came across this shot of Ken Kaiser. Although he’s wearing the 1997 Jackie Robinson patch, the photo is actually from spring training 1998 — interesting. Also, note the logo creep on his pants! … Okay, if you want to say, “Uniform? What uniform?!,” in this case I’ll allow it. … Michael Kemezis has started a new hockey sweater blog. … Longtime Kentucky basketball equipment manager Bill Keightley, who worked in the UK equipment room since 1962, passed away last night. “Words can’t really express what he meant to the Kentucky program and its coaches, players, and fans,” writes Micah Roberts. “I will always remember his stubborn refusal to allow U.S. flag patches on UK’s uniforms except in times of war. Mr. Keightley was a former Marine and he felt that using the flag as a common decoration on a uniform was wholly inappropriate. Not only have I lost a member of my UK family, I feel like I have lost one of the folks who loved the uniforms as much as I did.” There are some good anecdotes about Keightley here, and there’s a video clip available here.