I know for a fact that several MLB broadcasters read Uni Watch. One of them, who I won’t name here, occasionally trades e-mails with me during games. To my knowledge, however, neither my ESPN column nor this site has ever been mentioned during an MLB broadcast.
Until yesterday, that is. Apparently someone informed Cubbies play-by-play man Len Kasper (that’s him on the left in the photo shown above) that I’d run a transcript of his recent uni-centric banter with color man Bob Brenly (on the right), and at least one of them was rather amused by the whole thing. Here’s how it went down during the bottom of the 6th in yesterday’s Cubs/Astros game:
Kasper: Hey, Bob, we have a follow-up from our weekend conversation about Doug Mientkiewicz and his uniform, and the buttons. The Astros have the same setup as the Pirates, and pretty much every team in baseball. You see how it’s unevenly spaced — they have the two buttons at the top, but then they leave space for the “Houston.” That’s called pro buttoning — there’s actually a name for it. The folks at UniWatchBlog.com put up a transcript of our conversation…
Brenly [chuckling]: Oh, geez…
Kasper: … about Doug Mientkiewicz. So that’s the pro button style. And the Cubs’ home pinstripes, and the blue alternate tops, which they are wearing [today], are the only ones in baseball that are not of the pro button style. You see, it’s evenly spaced, because they don’t have a team name across the middle. There was a big article on ESPN.com about uniform styles back in late May. So thanks to the folks at UniWatchBlog.com for noticing. I didn’t know that, that it had a name — pro button.
Brenly [sounding mildly impatient with the topic]: Why should you know that?
Kasper: And what can happen with the pro button style is billowing, meaning the uniform goes out a little bit because there’s a big space between the second and third buttons. I don’t know if billowing was a problem for you when you played, but it’s an epidemic around the game today.
Brenly [very sarcastically]: Oh, what are we gonna do? [Camera shows close-up of Astros jersey.]
Kasper: Now, they — do they have a little Velcro in there, keeping the “Houston” together? Some teams have that, too. [Hitter strikes out, briefly necessitating some actual game commentary.] Called strike three. [Now back to important matters.] There’s all kinds of stuff like this on the internet.
Brenly [with an exasperated chuckle of barely concealed disgust]: Okay.
Kasper [on a roll now]: Everything you need to know about baseball uniforms. The Phillies had the zippers, right? [Director inexplicably chooses to show a dachsund outside the stadium.] That dog’s not that interested.
Brenly [with an air of what he clearly hopes will be finality]: All I know is I was happy every day I got to the ballpark and there was one hanging in my locker. They could’ve taken all the buttons off of it. Could’ve had one big button right in the middle, I didn’t care, as long as there was one hanging in my locker.
Kasper [apparently skimming through the aforementioned ESPN column]: I guess the Washington Nationals’ red alternate uniforms also do not have the pro button style. So we’ll have to ask Doug Mientkiewicz if he’s a fan of that particular style.
And that’s where that particular bit of discourse ended. The funny thing is, Brenly’s the one who first brought up Mienkiewicz’s buttons last weekend, and he’s also the one who suggested that the Pirates’ jerseys could use some Velcro. But I guess he just wasn’t in the mood yesterday.
Anyway: I assume someone will bring today’s entry to Kasper’s attention. So hey, Len, get in touch — I’ve got a Uni Watch membership card with your name on it. And there’s one for you too, Bob, but only if you stop being so uni-grouchy.
Raffle Reminder: Remember, there’s soccer raffle currently underway. If you haven’t already entered, look here.
Uni Watch News Ticker: Looks like the new OKC team’s new name is out of the bag. … The USA women’s soccer team usually wears the national soccer crest on their chest (here’s a clearer view) and shorts. But in yesterday’s Olympic opener against Norway, they were crest-free on both their jerseys and shorts, so the only visible mark on the uniforms was, well, guess. … The 2008 World Series logo and 2009 All-Star Game logo have been released. The ASG design clearly wins, since it has two “TM” marks and two circle-R marks (plus a sternum-level Majestic logo if you want a T-shirt), while the World Series logo has two circle-Rs but only one TM. So the ASG legal team wins home-field advantage in this year’s “Whose Lawyers Are Bigger Douchebags?” sweepstakes. … While we’re at it, Ryan C. Johnston was at Busch Stadium the day the ASG logo was unveiled and took some pics of the ceremonies, which I’ve gathered into this slideshow. Seems like a bit much for a logo for an exhibition game, no? … Tom Shieber notes that Robinson Cano’s memorial armband for Bobby Murcer was missing on Monday night. … Shieber also reports that he’s made a change to the “Dressed to the Nines” exhibit: “On the section devoted to ‘Names and Numbers,’ I’ve changed the table detailing retired numbers to include (as best as I can determine) the exact date when each number was retired. There are still a few question marks and entries in which the date is ‘unknown,’ but happily I’ve managed to track down the vast majority. Additions, corrections, suggestions are most welcome.” … Did the Durham Bulls once wear satin jerseys or BP tops? To see why I ask, look here and here (with thanks to Jay Sandora). … In addition to those new Syracuse jerseys, there will also be a new helmet, with white outlining on the “S” and the return of the white center stripe. Good analysis of the school’s overall changes here. … Interesting note from decal guru Chris Willis regarding the thin plastic film on this helmet: “There’s actually a decal across the front of the helmet that works the same way the plastic on a new phone/ipod/electronics item does. It’s called a Gouge-Gard, and it’s marketed by Creative Football Concepts out of New Jersey. It’s a clear decal that’s cut so that it will conform to the shape of the helmet and it is used mostly for training camp and preseason to protect the front of the helmet from getting gouged up too quickly, especially if it’s a painted helmet. The equipment guys have enough to do during camp.” … According to this page, there are rumors (and I stress that there’s nothing more solid than that) that Nike wants USC to wear black jerseys against Ohio State (with thanks to Glenn Tanner). … “At first glance,” says Greg Riffenburgh, “this Adidas template doesn’t look so bad. A little weird, maybe, but there have definitely been worse. Then I saw this. And this.” … Reprinted from yesterday’s comments: Jaw-droppingly great photo of Paul Hornung. … Another great old Otis Shepard program cover for the Cubs here (with thanks to Andrew Tanker). … I’m all in favor of high cuffs, but not if they’re so high that your stirrups’ laundry tag is exposed. … Good article here about Michigan’s transition from Nike to Adidas (with thanks to Greg DiLeo). … Here’s something you don’t often see: a gallery of Nebraska media guides from 1964-1990 (nice find by Brian Hansen). … The WHA’s Chicago Cougars’ home jersey looked like this, but for years Matt Mallonee thought it looked like this (closer views here and here). Here’s why: “This sweater has been in my family for quite some time, first with my uncle then my dad. My dad said they used to go to games at the old Barn when he was a kid, and at some point they bought this sweater. He was sure it was what the players wore, and I had no reason to doubt him. However, one day I got curious and looked the Cougars up. Well, he was only 11 or 12 at the time, so I can forgive him. In actuality, the cougar on the sweater is wearing the team’s actual design!” Man, that is a fantastic design. Anyone know more about this item? … The Reebok logo on the Steelers’ pants has always looked like this, but Brinke Guthrie notes that it now apparently looks like this, which is not what I’d call an improvement, unless you’re a Reebok shareholder. … Michigan State has added a pants stripe. … Who knew Rudy Giuliani played hockey? … As most of you know, I tend to prefer fun logo mascots over snarly ones. But not everyone agrees (with thanks to Matt Monsour). … Check out this shot of Nolan Ryan. He always batted right-handed, so why is he wearing a lefty batting helmet in that photo? Maybe it’s a double-flapper? … FNOB alert from Matt Englander: “Matt Elliott had FNOB as a member of the Michigan Wolverines in the early ’90s (that shot is from the 1990 UM vs. OSU game). I am guessing he had to do so because Jumbo Elliott was also on the squad at that time. He was later selected at the very end of the 1992 NFL draft, a true Mr. Irrelevant who achieved relevancy by wearing his entire name on the back of his jersey.” … Remember that “10 Worst Philly Uniforms” list? Here’s its 10 best counterpart (with thanks to Pete Salveson). … Amusing Yet Appalling Dept.: Here’s a story about a guy obsessed with finding a “Patriots 19-0” T-shirt (with thanks to Daniel Ostroff-Moskowitz). … Rare non-Wisconsin-related report from Nicole Haase, who writes: “So I’m watching Project Runway tonight, and the challenge is to create an outfit for the team to wear for the opening ceremony. They go to a place called the Armory and meet with Apolo Anton Ohno, who’s tells them this is the challenge and then invites them to go look at a museum there that has a history of Americans in the Olympics. Looks like your kind of place — the little that they showed in the episode made me want to go there, like, NOW. I actually turned on my laptop just to send this to you, so I did a quick google search and didn’t come up with anything, but hopefully you know what this place is, because if you haven’t been there, it seems to me you have to go. And hopefully they have maybe this new place (which is right here in NYC, but I haven’t gotten around to checking it out yet)? … “I’ve always been a big hat collector,” writes Tim Stoops. “Imagine the tribbles in Star Trek, only with hats, and you have my room. So in March I started taking daily pictures of each one and posting them on Flickr. I’m up 147.” … Nevada’s helmets have apparently changed from this to this. I assume there’s a corresponding uniform change, but I haven’t seen pics of that yet (with thanks to Mike Etheridge). … There are two new books about branding that tie in with a lot of my gripes about logo creep. The first is Steve Heller’s Iron Fists: Branding in the 20th-Century Totalitarian State, which finds parallels between Hitler’s, Mao’s, Mussolini’s, and Stalin’s propaganda machines and modern marketing/branding applications (and no, I’m not comparing Phil Knight to Hitler, so calm down). I just got a copy of this and hope to write about it soon, but for now there’s an insightful review and some great artwork here. The second book is Lucas Conley’s OBD: Obsessive Branding Disorder. Lots of reviews here, and you can see Conley doing a good interview with Stephen Colbert below (with thanks to Joe Alviani for tipping me wise to the video clip):