I’m sure something stupider than the following statement will be uttered at some point this year. I just can’t imagine what it could be. Check this out:
[T]he decision to go back to a jersey with sleeves was again part of the effort to identify with the uniform style of the most successful Pirates teams in the organization’s history. Four of the five world championships won by the Pirates were won by players that had sleeved jerseys.
Yeah, and all of the Pirates’ championship teams wore stirrups, so I suppose you’re gonna go back to those too, right? While you’re at it, go back and see what brand of jockstrap all the players on the ’71 and ’79 World Series teams were wearing.
And people wonder why fans get cynical. I don’t have much of a problem with the Pirates ditching their vests and going back to sleeves (except for the pinstriped vest, which will still be worn for Sunday home games), but c’mon, stop coming up with asinine rationales and just say that you did it change things up a bit and increase merch sales. I’m sure most fans would rather buy a sleeved jersey instead of a vest, so you could say, “We doing it for our fans” and you wouldn’t even be lying.
Anyway, my take on the Buccos’ new uni set breaks down like this:
• New home and road jerseys: Personally, I always liked the Pirates in vests and wish they’d stuck with them, but the addition of sleeves still looks fine, and now at least we won’t have the problems with some players wearing the official patch-inclusive undersleeves and others wearing unofficial patch-free sleeves. (One tangential point of concern: Very disturbing to see Nyjer Morgan wearing solid black socks instead of stirrups. Let’s hope this was just a photo-op shortcut and not a harbinger of a change in Morgan’s hosiery habits.) Good or stupid? Good enough.
• New black alternate jersey and cap: Hate it. If you must have a black jersey, and if you really want to hearken back to your championship heritage, why not go with something like this? Plus I can’t stand that format where the insignia and the uni number don’t vertically align. Plus-plus the new alt cap so similar to the regular cap as to make no difference. Stupid.
• Keeping the pinstriped vest for Sundays: Wait, I thought the whole point of this new set was that sleeves = championships. Whatever — vests and pinstripes are a bad mix. I have a feeling this jersey will be gone for good by 2010, and they should have just gone ahead and retired it now. Stupid.
• Ditching the red vest: Addition by subtraction. Very, very good.
A team source who was present for Friday’s unveiling festivities relayed the following info to me:
Most players I spoke with liked the idea of having sleeves and said with the way each uniform can be tailored to fit, there is no loss of mobility as opposed to the free range of motion associated with the sleeveless design.
The fabric is interesting. It has a mesh texture not unlike your old-school football jerseys. It’s very stretchable and looks like it’ll breath much better than the traditional poly fabric. By the way, the fabric did not match the pants, which were traditional poly. Strange when viewed up close.
Team President Frank Connelly was very tongue-in-cheek with his introductory comments regarding the uniform change, saying (I’m paraphrasing here) “While our red vest design was extremely popular with our fans and players …” That comment got a laugh out of closer Matt Capps and others.
As you can see, there’s gonna be a lot more Cool Base fabrications this season. We’ll address the full implications of that at another time. (Additional Pirates uni info here, and there’s video of the unveiling here.)
• New letters and numbers: Overlooked in all the hubbub about the new jerseys and caps (which I’ll get to in a sec), the Rangers have introduced a new custom font that’s total shite. NOBs are gonna be illegible on the home and road jerseys, and the numerals look like they’ve got warts. All the jerseys will now use this typography. Seriously stupid.
• New home jersey: Do these Texans have an inferiority complex or what? OK, we get it, you’re from Lone Star country. Jeez. Seriously, a home jersey that doesn’t include the team name or logo is pretty weak. Stupid.
• New road jersey: Fine from the front, but you’ve got that nasty font on the back. Good tempered with a side of stupid.
• New blue alt jersey: Looks just like last year’s blue alt, right? Almost: Last year’s chest insignia had silver-gray outlining, while the new version has MLB’s favorite new design effect, beveling. Plus it’s got the same crummy typography on the back. Stupid.
• New red alt jersey and cap: Jesus H. Christ, would you people please PICK A COLOR AND STICK WITH IT?! Either your primary team color is blue or else it’s red, but it can’t be both. Just start over and use chartreuse or orange or mustard or something. Stupid.
• Ditching the alt home vest and alt road vest: Never liked the home version. Rather enjoyed the road version, but the Rangers just don’t feel like a vest-ish team, so they’re probably better off without both of these. Good.
• Changing the shoes from blue to black: You know the only reason they did this is because the blue spikes wouldn’t work with the red alt jersey. Still, whatever motives, black spikes are always the way to go (Oakland excepted, natch). Good.
• Changing the belts from blue to black: Another change that was no doubt necessitated by the introduction of the red uni set. And it’s too bad, because a blue belt would look better with all their other combos — yes, even with black spikes. Belts and shoes should always match at the office, but that rule doesn’t hold at the ballpark. Stupid.
• New batting helmet: Hahahahahahahahahaha! The great thing about this is that the Mets’ sleeve patch is no longer the worst uni element introduced this winter. I’ll have an entire ESPN column on this helmet later today (look here). Beyond stupid, more like imbecilic.
Fortunately, I was having too much fun at Saturday’s Uni Watch party to get too worked up over any of this. Speaking of which…
Party Update: Saturday’s shindig at Sheep Station was really swell — best Uni Watch party ever, I’d say. Big thanks to all who showed up (especially Ed Hahn, who came all the way from DC and took some photos that you can see here). I’ll have a full report, with lots more pictures, ether tomorrow or Wednesday.
Speaking of this week’s schedule, I’ve got three ESPN columns in the hopper (one today, a really interesting surprise topic for Wednesday, and my annual Super Bowl preview column on Friday), so I may cut back a little here on the blog — not sure yet. In any event, we’ll definitely have regular content tomorrow.
Uni Watch News Ticker: I’ve previously run photos of Richard “Batman” Wood, who got his nickname because of the logo he wore on his pads. But now Chris Markham has found a shot indicating that Wood also wore a Batman helmet decal. … Also from Chris: USFL officials wore really awful Pony-branded socks. … “Southern California” is a lot of letters to fit on a basketball jersey (with thanks to Jeremy Brahm). … According to this story, the Sixers will be switching to their 1982-83 uni design next season. But I’ve seen next season’s Sixers jersey, and I can tell you that it’s not quite as simple as an ’82-’83 throwback. Sorry, can’t tell you more, but I just wanted to say that the story as stated on that page isn’t quite accurate. … The Bobcats wore their checkerboard uniforms on Friday, forcing the Suns to wear white on the road. … Color vs. color: Marquette vs. DePaul on Saturday. “I had it on in the background and it took me about five minutes to look up and realize that the team in blue wasn’t Marquette — and I’m from Milwaukee,” says Karl Vierthaler. … Last Monday I linked to this article about Nile Kinnick’s old football gear. But the web version of the article didn’t include this great photo of the jersey’s inner tag (big thanks to Brad Eenhuis for mailing me the newspaper version). … Similarly, yesterday’s New York Times featured this article about the 1959 all-star benefit game for Bill Dobbyn, but the web version doesn’t include this great photo that ran in the print version. … A high school goalie in New Hampshire is trying to trick shooters by having a new pattern printed on his pads (with thanks to Justine DeCotis). … According to this column, one of the first things Eric Mangini did after being hired by the Browns was “to tear down a huge mural of the team’s Hall of Famers, a list that includes Jim Brown, Otto Graham, Paul Brown, Dante Lavelli, Marion Motley, Lou Groza and Leroy Kelly. … That wall is now painted white.” What a moron. … UNC’s women’s hoops team wore pink uniforms yesterday, in memory of Kay Yow. … And officials working the Longwood/Va.Tech game wore pink whistles (with thanks to Clark Ruhland). … Yesterday’s post included this shot of the 1950 NHL all-star jersey design, which, as Dan Richardson points out, appears to have been the inspiration for the New Westminster Salmonbellies lacrosse team’s jersey design. … “Our local high school is Georgetown-Ridge Farm High School in Illinois,” writes Joel Hackler. “For our non-major sports, the high school co-ops with another local town, Chrisman. Our mascot is the Buffalo and our colors are purple and gold, while Chrisman is the Cardinals and their colors are red and black. Since we co-op for track and cross country, our coach decided to create a new uniform. As you can see, they stick out. The logo on the front includes ‘CHS’ (for Chrisman high school) and ‘GRF’ (Georgetown-Ridge Farm). It’s hard to see, but the two sets of letters are connected with a white chain symbolizing that the two schools are connected.” That’s Joel at far left in the photo, running in the 4×100 relay. … If you go to this page and scroll down about halfway down the menu on the right, you’ll find an excellent video on how a football helmet is manufactured (with thanks to David Soline). … Badly botched NOB during Saturday’s NBA D-League game between the Anaheim Arsenal and L.A. D-Fenders: Ryan Forehan-Kelly was missing an “e” and a hyphen (good catch by Daniel Peterson). … Kari Lehtonen isn’t the first Thrashers goalie to have a Batman-themed mask. Pasi Nurminen wore Batman and the Joker on his mask in 2003-04 (thanks, Teebz). … If you start at this page from a 1967 issue of Baseball Digest and start scrolling down, you’ll see some unusual (and, I think, very unofficial) MLB team logos (with thanks to Gordon Reid). … Tris Wykes sent along some interesting scans, including Doug Flutie with his mouthguard tucked into his sock, Duane and Brent Sutter in a 1986 photo they probably regret, Bobby Orr wearing No. 27, and Chris Chelios wearing lace-up gloves and rubber bumpers on his helmet. … Kyle Oen — the man behind the awesome Vintage Minnesota Hockey site — reports a hockey/baseball crossover promotion in the offing: “This coming summer we have agreed to do a St. Paul Saints baseball jersey that celebrates the 50th Anniversary of the Minnesota Fighting Saints hockey team.” No images yet. … U.S. Pond Hockey Championships report from Jeff Barak, who writes: “Here’s a Men’s Senior team wearing old IHL Minnesota Moose jerseys. This team won the “Golden Shovel” a couple of years back as division champions. Next we have the Pond Scum, showing some of the unique numbering treatments you sometimes see (I recall a team last year that had fractions, decimals, roman numerals and even π on one of their jerseys). And then there’s District 5, wearing their plaid lumberjack flannels. I did see a few other teams wearing Ottawa 67’s barberpole-style jerseys, 1980 U.S. Olympic jerseys, AHL Iowa Stars, and some with the 1932 Boston Bruins striping pattern, plus more than one tweed jacket, but unfortunately no photos — the combination of 13º weather and a -7º wind-chill made for an unhappy five-year-old son and sucked the life out of my camera batteries.” … Reprinted from last night’s comments: In 1985, Bill Bidwill had the Cardinals wear solid-red hose (no whites), and the players protested. … Here’s something you don’t often see: the towel literally being thrown in at the conclusion of Saturday’s Mosley/Margarito bout. … Dayton wore throwbacks yesterday (with thanks to John Cristiano). … Teal vs. maroon on Saturday, as Coastal Carolina played Winthrop (with thanks to Mike Miller). … Also from Mike: “What’s wrong with this photo? That’s UW-Milwaukee wearing gold vs. Valparaiso in white. Nothing unusual, right? Except that the game is in Milwaukee (check the Brewers ads). Valpo has gold road uniforms and Milwaukee has gold home uniforms, so Valpo had to wear white on the road.” … Adam Telischak was attending the NFL Experience in Tampa sent along some shots of vintage NFL sweatshirts and this program. One thing I hadn’t noticed before: Brownie the elf has five fingers — unusual (and unacceptable!) for a cartoon character. … Lots of NHL all-star pics here. … This is pretty funny (with thanks to Ken Ocker). … Coupla Super Bowl screen grabs from Doug Keklak: First, when Jim O’Brien kicked the game-winning field goal in SB V, his chin strap was unbuckled. Anyone know if he always did this? Also, why did Jim Otto have a first initial in SB II? Was there another Otto on the Raiders? … Rafael Nadal has been wearing some brutal color combos down in Oz.