After a nearly three-decade gap, Oregon will be returning to the college baseball fray next spring, and yesterday Nike unveiled the team’s new baseball togs. At first glance, a few things jump out — the oddly truncated pants piping (vaguely reminiscent of Korea’s WBC design), the annoying thigh logo, the guy wearing his IQ on his chest. But if we take a closer look, a few subtler details become apparent:
• Here’s the best part: According to the press release, the pinstripes on the gray uniforms “are made with the words of the Oregon fight song,” which you can sorta-kinda see here. (I’d be all in favor of doing this for the Mets’ pinstripes, as long as they included the rarely heard second verse of “Meet the Mets,” which includes the line “All the fans are true to the orange and blue” — no mention of black.)
I don’t follow college baseball (and let’s face it, neither does anyone else except MLB scouts), so for all I know maybe some of these elements have already been incorporated into other schools’ uniforms, although I kinda doubt it. But if nobody watches college baseball anyway, then does any of this even matter? Yes, and here’s why: Nike badly wants to get its hands on the MLB uniform contract when Majestic’s deal is up at the end of next year, which means some of these design concepts could be headed to a big league ballpark near you.
Meanwhile, if you take another look at Oregon’s press release, there’s a very telling choice of words lurking within the third graf:
Like uniforms for other Oregon sports programs, the Ducks new baseball uniforms are designed for performance as well as style, with the ultimate goal to remove any distractions so an athlete can perform to its full potential.
Note the choice of words at the end there — not “his potential” (or hers, as the case might be), but its potential. There’s the Nike/Oregon approach in a nutshell: the athlete as promotional robot, just a means to a marketing end. Is there any doubt that they’d replace the live athletes with androids if they could?
Personally, I’d use green and gold: On Tuesday I had a short Page 2 piece about how counterintuitive it is for red — normally a leftist-associated color — to be the unofficial “team color” of the Republican party (in case you missed it, scroll to the middle of this page). That prompted a response from Josh Starr, who said he could explain the “real history” behind the way red and blue got assigned to the two major parties. Here’s his story:
I was a polling analyst for Mark Penn and Doug Schoen in 1995, when we were brought in by Dick Morris and Bill Clinton to do the polling for Clinton’s 1996 re-election campaign.
In 1995 and 1996, there were private weekly meetings (Wednesday nights) held in the White House residence on Wendesday nights to plan the campaign. It was a small group (Clinton, Morris, Penn, Schoen, Al Gore, Leon Panetta, Bob Squier, Bill Knapp, George Stephenopolous, maybe a few others). These meetings were later detailed, I believe after the election, by The New York Times.
For each week’s meeting, I would develop maps of the status of the electoral college, as well as maps of media buys and visits by the Clinton and Dole campaigns. At the time, mapping software was making it easier to create these kinds of maps. I was known as “the Map Guy.”
When you sit down to develop an electoral map, you have to actively decide which colors to use. I did some research at the library (this was before the extensive online resources we have today) and found that the networks were inconsistent in their assignment of colors to the different parties, so that wasn’t helpful. And the parties themselves tended to use red, white, and blue — again, no help.
So I decided to assign the Democrats blue and Republicans red. I wavered between green and yellow for “toss-ups.”
After a few weeks of meetings using these maps, Mark Penn came back to my office (something he rarely did) and said something like, “Josh, they love the maps, they’re a big hit. The President loves it.” He then said the President had asked him why we chose these colors for the parties.
As I explained to Mark, there were several reasons. For one, the term “Blue Dog Democrats” was thrown around in the early and mid-’90s, so the association stuck with me. In addition, we were centrist Democrats and I never liked the association of our party with red communism. So I wanted to symbolically throw the red back at the Republicans. I also saw the Republicans as more angry/red in the face/out of control, since this was the era of the Newt Gingrich and the Contact with America. In addition, I associated red with a “red light” and stopping, while blue connotes something more positive and forward-thinking. All of these were reasons that went into my decision.
So that was the genesis of the color selection.
From these meetings, the shorthand vernacular turned to using the terms “red states” and “blue states” and spread from the private meetings to conversations with political professionals and the media. By 2000, these terms had been part of the DC language for years.
The funny thing is, I am a public opinion researcher and we never tested the branding impact of the colors red and blue — yet this is one decision that (unintentionally) has had long-lasting brand implications.
Accurate? I have no idea. But it’s pretty fascinating.
Uni Watch News Ticker: Maybe the scoop-hems on those Reebok hockey jerseys have a use after all. That’s the cover of Teeny Bikini, a 20-page chapbook of Rob Ullman‘s latest hockey-themed cheesecake sketches. You can get a copy for only $2 here. … Speaking of Rob, he’s done two more illustrations for Uni Watch readers. This one was commissioned Rick White, and this one by Trish Brickler and Ryan Johnston. … Looks like both Habs goaltenders are breaking in new “natural” pads to be worn with this season’s throwbacks (with thanks to Jonathan Deery). … Lookalike Bowl this Saturday, as Auburn hosts UT-Martin (as pointed out by Mike Pennington). … “I was Kansas’s first exhibition game to see how the NOBs would be handled for twin freshmen forwards Markieff Morris and Marcus Morris,” writes Brad Barker. “I was almost certain no first initials would be used, and I certainly did not foresee this solution.” … Reprinted from yesterday’s comments: An artist in Boston is making some truly magnificent silk-screened posters, many of which are only ten bucks. Click around the site to see more — great stuff. … Cam Ward has been trying out a new mask (with thanks to Chris Ashworth). … Yesterday I asked what this neck bumper inscription stood for. The answer comes from Chris Fleming: “Unless I am woefully out of touch, it is a reference to ‘Bad A$$ White Boy.’ Sort of a morph on the ‘Bad A$$ Yellow Boy’ tattoo over Kenyon Martin’s heart, and akin to Jason Williams’s ‘W-H-I-T-E-B-O-Y’ knuckle tattoos — an idea that Metal Mulisha’s ‘Twitch’ claims to have originated, although I would sooner douse myself in battery acid than referee that debate.” … Mike Pratt has come up with an amusing Missouri-themed T-shirt design. If you wanna score one for yourself before Mizzou and/or Jack Daniel’s serve him with a cease-and-desist, contact him here. … Beat writers rarely provide good uni-related coverage, but here’s an exception to that rule: a really good article about the Redskins’ solid-burgundy look (with thanks to Dan Steinberg). … In yesterday’s ESPN column, I mentioned that every MLB team wore the MLB 100th-anniversary patch either on their sleeves or on their vests (up high for the Indians, down low for the A’s)in 1969. But in yesterday’s comments, the pseudonymous PKK wrote, “I have never seen a picture of any Pirate with the patch. Did they wear it? And if not, why not?” This is something I’d completely missed over the years, but it turns out he was right — Okkonen shows no patch, and the same goes for all the 1969 Pirates photos I could find (additional examples here and here). I’ll see if I can get the full story behind this one. … Speaking yesterday’s ESPN column, Jerry Dior isn’t the only guy who’s never gotten credit for creating an iconic symbol (with thanks to Patrick Salvo). … Several good finds by Mako Mameli: a Texas A&M player with two sets of TV numbers (“I have never seen before and don’t know if they actually took the field with it,” he writes); Real Madrid’s Guti, whose unusual NOB is based on his first surname (Gutiérrez) and then the H is from Hernandez (his second surname), A from Aitor (his son’s name), and Z is from Zaira (his daughter’s name); and check out the lowercase letter in this NOB. … Lightning goalie Mike Smith’s has yet another new mask and says he might break out a new one every month. Details toward the end of this article (with thanks to John Muir). … A few more shots of purple-clad folks from Election Night, courtesy of Mike Hersh. … A few days ago I linked to a photo of a memorial decal on the front of a helmet, something I’d never seen before. But now Tris Wykes has come up with another example. “That’s Oscar Smith High in Chesapeake, Virginia,” he writes. “It’s in memory of RB Lonnie Andrews, who was shot and killed last summer. The same kid even has Andrews’s initials shaved into his head.” … Also from Tris: There’s nothing particularly remarkable about the Rockford Ice Hogs’ primary logo, but check out their alternate logo — I like. … The Penguins have unveiled their alternate jersey. … Look at this shot of Jim McMahon in his BYU days. Note that he’s got a blue facemask, while the running back and lineman have white (good spot by Jesse Agler). … Speaking of facemasks, Dan Wunderlich notes that several Florida players are wearing that new Revolution mask design, including Brandon Spikes, Dustin Doe, and Emmanuel Moody. … The Portland Pirates will be wearing a, uh, patriotic design for Veterans Day (with thanks to Ben Nickerson). … Tyler Hull reports that Real Madrid added a Spanish flag patch for yesterday’s Champions League match against Italy’s Juventus.