The Mets’ home opener is tonight — the first nighttime home opener in the team’s history, grumble-grumble — and, like many fans, I’m not happy about the name of their new stadium. The whole taxpayer/bailout angle is annoying, but to me that’s a side issue. The bigger concern, at least from my perspective, is that any corporate stadium sponsor just doesn’t feel right in New York. As I wrote on ESPN back in December:
Up until now, New York teams had avoided the scourge of corporate naming-rights deals. Let other cities have their FedEx Forums, their Qualcomm Stadiums, their Xcel Energy Centers, their
Enron FieldsMinute Maid Parks — we had Madison Square Garden, Yankee Stadium, Giants Stadium, and Shea. No need for that corporate nonsense here. … [That’s] why I’ll miss the name Shea Stadium, a name that rolled nicely off the tongue … and was bestowed as an honor for a guy who truly deserved it, with no money changing hands. Imagine that.
For these and other reasons, I’ve done my best to avoid saying or writing the name of the Mets’ new stadium, preferring to call it “the Mets’ new stadium.” (I was gonna go with “that place where I flushed the toilet on my birthday,” but that was too unwieldy.) But local musician/minister/character the Rev. Vince Anderson and No Mas impresario Chris Isenberg have come up with a much better name for the ballpark.
There’s a beautiful simplicity to this, and I’m embarrassed that I didn’t come up with it myself. It was mostly Vince’s idea; you can read more about it here. Yes, the T-shirts will be available for sale (there’s also a blue version; I pretty much forbade Isenberg to include any black), but this project isn’t really about merch. Like so many No Mas initiatives, it’s about thinking a little harder while lobbing a few spitballs at the entrenched corporate powers that have sucked so much of the life out of sports. The shirts are available here, and you can bet I’ll be wearing one to every game I attend this season. I hope some of you will, too.
With all that in mind, here’s some video footage from the first game ever played at Shea. Enjoy.
More No Mas-ish News: Chris Isenberg isn’t just a T-shirt mogul. Among his many excellent projects is a series of live interviews with notable New York sports figures. These events, which take place at the Nike shop at 21 Mercer St. in Manhattan, are conducted in front of small, invitation-only audiences. I attended the recent installment featuring Amani Toomer, and it was very impressive.
The next such event is tomorrow at 8:30pm, when Isenberg will be interviewing David Wright. Unfortunately, I won’t be able to attend (I have a very special errand to run in the Bronx; more on that later), but Isenberg has graciously offered to make a handful of seats available to Uni Watch readers. If you want to attend, stop what you’re doing and send a quick note here right now (leave “Uni Watch” as the subject line) with your name and whether you’ll want to bring a guest. Isenberg — who says he plans to wear an “I’m Calling It Shea” T-shirt while conducting the interview — will randomly select a few names at the end of the day and I’ll announce them tomorrow.
And speaking of Shea, here’s a major announcement: Last September, Kirsten and I attended a Mets/Cubs game — my last game at Shea, as it turned out — and also spent some time admiring the pair of wonderful fiberglass structures located just north of the stadium. At the time, we thought they had been used as bus shelters during the 1964 World’s Fair, because that’s what it says on a sign at the site (see item #13).
Kirsten and I sort of developed a crush on the structures that day — so cool, yet so obscure and underappreciated — so we decided to investigate their backstory. We thought maybe we’d write an article or make some sort of display model that we could put in a gallery (Kirsten’s an architect, so she knows how to do that kinda thing), just a little something to give these overlooked structures some well-deserved attention. We figured the whole thing would take us about six weeks.
Nearly seven months and innumerable hours of research later, we’re now in the home stretch of a project that has expanded to become a museum exhibit. It’s been quite an odyssey, because information on the structures has been much harder to come by than we expected, and much of what’s publicly available has turned out to be inaccurate (they weren’t bus shelters after all, for example).
Anyway: Our exhibit is called The Candela Structures: A New York City History Mystery, and it’ll be running at the City Reliquary in Brooklyn from May 16th (there’s an opening reception that evening) through at least June 28th. I’ll have more details as the date draws nearer, but for now let’s just say I’m really excited and really exhausted — that’s the sort of project it’s been.
Brother, can you spare 37 bucks for an upper deck seat?: Page 2 is running a big package today on how the economic meltdown is affecting fans, teams, scalpers, vendors,
jillionaire athletes, and so on. My contribution is an interview with Pirates team prexy Frank Coonelly and marketing exec Lou DiPaoli, who had some interesting things to say about the challenges of selling tickets for a bad team in a bad economy. It’s available here.
Raffle Reminder: Today’s the last day to enter the SoccerPro.com raffle. Details here.
Uni Watch News Ticker: Scott Mason found lots of good photos in this book. Check them out here. … “The entire Toledo Mudhens team is wearing stirrups,” reports Nile Smith. “And all of the Indianapolis Indians were high-cuffed, but no stirrups. There are also two McCutchens on the team this year, but Andrew (the good one) has a big gap between his first initial and last name.” … Lee Stokes is another reader who created an imaginary football league and came up with his own team names, logos, and uniforms. Here’s a bunch of artwork from his North American Football League, “a dice-based football league I played from about 1982-2000. The NAFL was 90% done before computers (or at least before I had consistent access), so all games, stats, records, etc. were hand-printed, and helmets and uniforms were hand-drawn and colored in.” … This item from Friday’s Ticker prompted Dave Cousineau send along this shot of himself, circa 1985. “Those were our unis for the Par-Troy West (Parsippany-Troy Hills, NJ) Little League team (senior league, frosh yr. of high school),” he says. … Several people have commented on this photo — note how the “S” is folded out of sight. … I’m late on this, but quite a few readers noted that the Mets logo patch was missing from Mike Pelfrey’s left sleeve last Wednesday. … Josh Hamilton was wearing an Elmer Fudd cap on Friday (with thanks to Alan Borock). … Now here‘s an odd jersey. “I found it at a local yard sale recently and have no idea of what the context of it might be,” says Craig Bates. … The Wizards are scrapping their gold alts (with thanks to Matthew Windsor). … Interesting logo-anti-creep item here. Read the item description (with thanks to Colin). … A New York photographer is collecting images of logos that include the World Trade Center towers. Details here (with hanks to Sam McCullough). … Mario Fontana notes that Jed Lowrie, who wears No. 12, marks his batting gloves with roman numerals. … Speaking of batting gloves, Mike Meech notes that Ryan Howard’s gloves are customized with his jumpman-esque personal logo. … Contrary to what I wrote last Thursday, the 1961 Steelers were not the first NFL team to have a cheerleading squad. As several readers informed me, that distinction belongs to the Colts, as seen in this 1958 shot. … Now I’ve seen everything: sportswear-branded yamulkes. … David Sonny notes that one of the Cubs’ base coach helmets has a seriously off-center logo. … As our resident sporting goods scholar, Terry Proctor comes off as a combination of wise old Yoda and street-savvy retailer. But it turns out he was a nerd making uniform doodles in junior high, just like everyone else. “I found these drawings in a loose-leaf notebook that I used from 1959-65,” he says. “It was in a box of junk that my late mother saved and was stored in the attic of my childhood home. It just got forgotten over the years when I moved.” Great stuff. … Scott Davis says the Red Sox navy alts will be worn for all Friday road games. Is this the first time a team has designated a jersey for a certain day of the week on the road? … In a related item, lots of folks are upset about the Red Sox wearing blue socks on the road, so someone on the Chris Creamer board did a bit of Photoshopping. As several people have said, the navy version is a more chromatically consistent, but the red version just feels better for the Red Sox. … Patrick Karraker notes an oddity in Steve Sullivan’s NOB: The lettering is italic, except for the V. … Nice to see the Yanks and Mets doing business with such reputable firms. … Kristopher Hunt thinks the Red Sox’s new alt cap would look better if the logo was outlined in white, like on the sleeve here. I think he’s right. … Nomar’s played for three teams whose color schemes include red — the Bosox, Cubs, and Dodgers. And he appears to be using batting gloves from one of those stops in his career (good spot by Harrison Bobbins). … If you watch this 1966 NFL footage, you’ll see a Cowboys practice with three different helmets and what appears to be an old Pro Bowl helmet (with thanks to Paul Wiederecht). … Also from Paul: During the 1988 NLCS, Kirk Gibson had a sleeve-borne shout-out to teammate Jay Howell, who was suspended for the series. … New football uniforms supposedly in the pipeline at University of New Mexico. “I don’t think there will be great changes, but I am told that the numbering font will be changed to fit the font used in all signage, lettering, and numbering throughout the department,” says John C. Barnes. … Asdrubal Cabrera of the Indians broke his belt while sliding on Saturday. Ed Hahn got us some screen shots. … Wanna see something bizarre? Check out the last few sentence of this story (with thanks to Chris Flinn). … Reprinted from Saturday’s comments: Baby it’s cold outside. … This photo from UGA’s spring game shows all three of the team’s jerseys at once (nice find by Michael Hardman). … Cubs catcher Koyie Hill was hit on the toe by a pitch on Friday, so on Saturday his cleat had been cut open to reduce the pressure on the sensitive spot (big thanks to Paul Mazzarella). … Paul Williams and Winky Wright both wore blue trunks on Saturday night. … Looks like the Twins may have new uniforms next season (with thanks to Jeff Barak). … Nice to see Tiger Woods whoring himself out to Nike even more than usual (with thanks to Greg Riffenburgh). … Wes Epple saw this awesome poster at a Pittsburgh-area gas station last weekend. … Bobby Cox was wearing the Braves’ regular cap yesterday, instead of the Sunday alternate cap. Mike Rich says this happened last year, too. … Chris Murphy took lots of photos of the changes to Kaufman Stadium in KC. Check out his reportage here. … Reprinted from yesterday’s comments: Chief Wahoo — Indiana non-grata? … Tough to see, but the A’s debuted their black socks with their black jerseys yesterday (thanks, Phil). … Speaking of A’s hosiery, in case you missed it in Sunday’s post, it turns out Corey Wimberly isn’t the only one with excellent taste in stirrups. That’s pitcher Josh Outman, and I’m penciling him in right now for the A.L. Cy Young award. … No photo, but Dustin Kline says umpire Jim Joyce was wearing a Wilson mask supported by a Nike strap in yesterday’s O’s/Rays game. … Interesting Japanese baseball note from Jeremy Brahm, who notes that players sometimes had their names on their helmet brims back in the 1970s.