My annual NBA season-preview column is up on ESPN today, which would normally mean no main entry over here. But I’m planning to give the site the day off tomorrow, so we’ll treat today as a normal day.
Now then: Meteorological disturbances notwithstanding, the Phillies are poised to win their first championship in 28 years, so Phillies fans like reader Jeff Cook should be happy. But Jeff isn’t happy at all. Here’s why:
As a Phillies fan and a visual communicator (art director, designer, illustrator) who’s designed with type for over 25 years, I’ve always been bothered by the poor execution of the current Phillies logo. This is a $500 million organization with a logo that looks like it was drawn by a sixth grader.
Take a look at the current logo [that version is from MLB’s official art files, so it’s totally certified and all that — PL]. The letterforms are bulbous and balloon-like, creating a juvenile look. There’s no elegance, no thick-and-thin variation in the strokes of the letters, no natural flow of the stroke from one letter into the next (particularly from the “i” into the “e”). There are uncomfortable and inconsistent sizes to the letters across the word: The ascender on the “h” reaches higher than the “l”s, the “i”s are shorter than the other lowercase characters, and the “P” is too large in scale to the rest of the word.
Moreover, the verticals on the “l”s are thin at the loop and thick below, the foot on the “P” is awkward and abrupt, and the shape of the “e” simply defies description. This is to say nothing of that bar with the blip on the end that underlines the logo (what is its purpose anyway?), or the fact that the stars aren’t even symmetrical — they’re horizontally scaled! Also, the second star doesn’t sit centered above the “i” (hey, maybe that’s why the designer scaled it — “Oops, the star is crashing into the L, so I’ll just scale it!”).
So I took some time to redraw the logo in an attempt to give it the sophistication you’d expect from a major professional sports franchise. My primary aim was to raise the level of execution without changing the character of the logo. This was very important — I wanted this exercise to be purely about execution, not about proposing a new concept. I wanted to start with the plain script, but I’ll complete the exercise with a new version of the full Liberty Bell logo. I’ll send that along when finished.
If you look at the the original and redrawn logos together, two things become apparent: First, Jeff’s version is definitely better. Second, the official version looks a lot like what you’d get if you took a crisper version (like Jeff’s) and xeroxed it, and then xeroxed the xerox, and then xeroxed that, and so on. That happens to be exactly what’s happened at so many companies over the years — if someone needs a logo to create new letterhead, they just xerox it from the old letterhead, or from some other second-hand source. Eventually you’re dealing with a fourth- or fifth-generation logo with all its nuances and edges blurred into an indistinct mush.
I don’t know if that’s what happened with the Phillies’ logo, of course, but it wouldn’t surprise me. And I bet they’re not the only ones.
Uni Watch News Ticker: Regarding those orange thingies in JaMarcus Russell’s earholes, which I mentioned in yesterday’s Ticker: Those are the speakers for his radio headset. “The orange speakers must be in the coach/defense helmets,” says Joe Skiba. “Since the new speakers were made to hold up better with contact, we have decided to put them in our quarterback helmets as well.” … Drill, baby, drill (with thanks to Rob Bartlett). … Norm Duke won the PBA World Championship on Sunday while wearing a genuinely hideous shirt. Scott Johnson reports that the shirt is the work of the PBA’s official outfitter, Gemini Sport Marketing, whose designs are a far cry from the gorgeous bowling shirts of generations past. … Shame on me for not mentioning in yesterday’s entry that the Browns added a “GH” memorial decal on Sunday, in honor of Gene Hickerson. … This site has all sorts of info about the Old Oaken Bucket Game between Purdue and Indiana, including this photo from the very first game in the series (with thanks to David Farrell). … Good spot by Jacob Reed, who noticed that Pat Thomas’s left-sleeve Reebok logo was peeling off on Sunday. … In case you missed it yesterday, Joe Blanton’s cap caused a minor controversy, but I don’t see anything coming of it. … Rugby note from Caleb Borchers, who reports that the Blue Bulls, a South African rugby team, recently put the players’ first names on the back of their jerseys, as seen in this photo of John Mametsa. “It may look like last names on the back,” he writes, “but that’s what happens when you have players with first names like Rayno.” … Also from Caleb: Really interesting article here about the way Adidas markets the All Blacks, worth reading even if (like myself) you don’t know jack about rugby. … “This is a press pass from Sunday’s Panthers/Cardinals game,” writes Michael Orr. “Check out the Arizona helmet — why are there wordmarks on there? I’ve never seen an NFL press pass before [me neither — PL], so for all I know it’s always like that, but I just thought it looked weird.” … The Islanders unveiled their alternate uniform yesterday. As expected, it’s a 1970s throwback, which is fine — except for the miserable rear sock striping. Here’s a big photo gallery from the unveiling, courtesy of Tom Liodice. … It’s no longer enough to have a corporate-sponsored backdrop for your press conferences — now you need a rotating series of corporate-sponsored backdrops, as seen in this Jim Zorn Q&A session. … Lots of chatter about the Bobcats’ road uniforms in the comments that follow this article, prompting the beat reporter who covers the team for the Charlotte Observer to quip, “Guys: I can truly not believe you care what color they wear on the road.” Loser. … Good video report on the Majestic factory here (with thanks to Tim Burke). … Not a good idea. … I was having a hard time deciding what was the lamest thing about this World Series — the defense, the umpiring, or that goddamn Chevy Chase commercial (is it on an endless loop or what?) — but last night sealed it: Switching to local fucking news during a World Series rain delay is flat-out the most pathetic thing I’ve ever seen. Rain delays are when announcers earn their money, because they have to improvise, they have to entertain, they have to work. How about an interview with a groundskeeper? How about getting a few of the players to talk about what it was like to play under those conditions? How about a review of past bad-weather postseason games (like Game 4 of the ’77 National League playoffs, when Tommy John pitched the Dodgers into the Series in a driving rain — in Philadelphia, by coincidence)? How about sticking around and covering the freaking story instead of handing it off to Joan and Bob telling us whose cat got lost up a goddamn tree? A national disgrace.