By Phil Hecken, Rick Pearson & Mike Engle
[Please note: A majority of this post was composed before Paul posted a ticker link to the red caps this past Wednesday, and there were several opinions rendered in the "Comments" section. I apologize if some of what follows is "old news," but a tremendous amount of work had already gone into this article, and I asked my co-authors to 'tweak' their thoughts following Wednesday's column. Please feel free to add new thoughts, tweak your old ones, or ignore this section altogether. -- PH]
I’m rejoined this fine day by Ricko and Mike, and today we are here to
bitch about discuss this year’s newest twist on “patriotism” (or whatever it is they’re selling it as), via the wearing of the new red “Stars and Stripes” caps, which will be worn by MLB teams on Memorial Day. I had originally thought they’d be worn over the Fourth of July, which would be bad enough as a one-shot deal, but no, MLB plans on having its teams wear the red caps three times: Memorial Day, the Fourth of July, and 11 September. (Lest we completely forget the true meaning of Memorial Day.) But at least MLB did have the good sense to remove Chief Wahoo from the Indians cap, replacing it with the “Block C.” As you all know (or should by now) last year the teams wore “old glory (?) blue,” and this year they’re sporting blood of our soldiers red.
Wearing the caps once is a gimmick. But wearing them at least three separate dates (with possibly more, should teams wish) –that’s more than enough times to make a complete mockery of the gimmick. That they would have the teams wear the caps on Memorial Day is even more appalling, especially to me, since this isn’t a day of celebration of independence or even the end of a major conflict, or the memory of a tragic event, but it is a day to honor the fallen soldiers throughout the United States who died while in military service (it was actually begun to honor Civil War soldiers, but became a somber day to remember the war dead from all conflicts). “Memorial Day,” while technically a holiday, isn’t (or shouldn’t be) about barbeques and beer or even baseball, but that’s what it’s become — but I digress.
Last year, MLB pulled a similar stunt, only they “began” it on over the 4th of July weekend, claiming they were giving a portion of the proceeds from every cap sold to Welcome Back Veterans. Paul wrote about it (scroll down to the ticker) then. I’m not sure we ever did get an accounting of how much green MLB pocketed. But at least the 4th of July is a national holiday of celebration, not a somber day of mourning and remembrance. That MLB is pushing this latest merchandizing ploy on this day is offensive, at least to me. And I don’t care that it’s another excuse for MLB to say “Look at us and how much good we do.” Spare me. Aside from the 29 owners not named Steinbrenner, MLB has at times in the past claimed to be hemorrhaging money, but they never miss a beat when it comes to “generating” money for charitable causes — but how much do they keep for themselves? I’d be willing to bet they’re not giving 100% of the profits from these caps to Veterans’ organizations.
But let’s skip the civics outrage, for now, and focus on the aesthetics of this. How will these red caps actually look with the 30 MLB clubs who’ll be wearing the regular uniforms with them? I doubt any club will look “better,” though some clubs who normally wear red caps probably won’t look much different. For the rest, however, it may be a similar nightmare to what those non-blue based teams faced last season, only in red.
There’s still some talk about giving teams the option to wear the blue caps — not amongst MLB, but among Uni Watchers. Clearly, for some teams, the blue cap would be a much better option. Another possibility, which we will explore a bit is the possibility of MLB introducing still another Stars and Stripes cap, next season. A white one. Here’s what a White Cap would look like. We’re not saying this is a good (or welcome option), but at least giving teams the option of either blue, red or white caps, caps which might actually compliment, rather than clash with, their uniform scheme, is infinitely more palatable than what we’re being presented with for Monday.
Still, what could be more appropriate than having your favorite team sport this and even this to “pay tribute to our fallen soliders” as MLB is putting it. Well, thankfully, they’re not actually wearing the fashion jerseys … at least not on Memorial Day. (But, if they’re hot enough sellers, I wouldn’t be surprised to see them broken out for the July 4th games.) I can’t sugarcoat my outrage at this mockery of the baseball gods enough. Thankfully, I’m joined by two different generations of Uni Watchers who may feel differently than I do. But then again, they may not. — Phil
We’ll begin with the youngest member of the “My Three Sons” trio, Mike Engle.
Mike Engle: These red hats…one intended consequence (
raise awareness ad proceeds to American veterans rip off spendthrift fans and make shitloads of money) and a bunch of unintended consequences. Aesthetically, we get some interesting things that were unthinkable a generation three years ago. The Chicago White Sox could pull off a TBTC vibe (please be at home, so the powder blues don’t come back), the Los Angeles Dodgers can “finally” match their front uniform numbers with something, the Texas Rangers Texases can throw back to the first week of the season, when they decided to wear the red hats with blue everything else, “Red Wings Appreciation Day” at Ilitch’s Other Playground…fuck, I’m exhausted from all this sugarcoating. Shoot me when the Mets roll out another alternate.
I have to say, my least favorite part of these Memorial Day and 4th of July shenanigans is the total distortion of tradition, for the USA and baseball. As much as we at Uni Watch hate camouflage uniforms “because the 1776 soldiers definitely didn’t wear camo for our freedom,” they sure as hell didn’t wear red either. Those were the other guys…the British “Redcoats”–the very team America was supposed to hate many years ago. (This is the part where I feel the Cubs fans’ pain. Sorry you have to look like the Cardinals.)
As for baseball, as a seven-and-a-half year-old I first set foot in a big league stadium 4 July, 1996, so it’s a bit of an anniversary for me. I saw the Brewers play the Yankees at The Stadium. Greg Vaughn scored first, but Paul O’Neill and Derek Jeter homered, Pettitte won, Wetteland saved … 4-1 Yankee win (this is all from memory by the way)…it was a beautiful day, and a Yankee fan was born. And guess what? It was standard uniforms. Gray vs white. Regular hats. No special flag patches. They even sung “Take Me Out to the Ball Game.”
This whole Stars and Stripes program is a colossal failure, no matter what color it is. The Star Spangled Batterman logo (on the backs of all hats) is a really cool touch, and I wouldn’t mind seeing that stay, but I DESPISE the way the logos are “colored in” to the point of illegibility and ABHOR an across-the-board hat color. It just doesn’t work. Last year, the hats were a particular shade of dark blue. (“Old Glory Blue?”) Those hats failed partly because the Old Glory Blue didn’t match any uniform. For any given team, the hue either greatly clashed or didn’t quite match. (Notice how Johnny Damon’s hat is much too light to be a proper Yankees hat.) This year’s red hats should actually match some teams’ uniforms, but they still fail because they’re Redcoat Red.
Listen, Selig, I’m only 20 years old, and if baseball already doesn’t look like the game I know, love, and recognize, I think we have a bit of a problem.
Now, about white hats … those could actually look really cool with team color brims. (All-white hats? Not sure about that.) The Oakland A’s would pull it off the best because they wear white shoes. Would look like shit over pinstripes though.
Bottom line, I’d say keep the Star Spangled batterman logo, slap it on the regular everyday hats, and call it a day.
Need I say more?
For Ricko’s part, he’s decided to address the red caps a la David Letterman, with his own “Top 10 List”:
TOP TEN REASONS MLB RED HATS ARE COOL FOR MEMORIAL DAY, ETC:
10. MLB will sell a lot of red hats because last year the hats were blue, and because P.T. Barnum was right.
9. You just know someone’s gonna walk into a ballpark and ask, “What’s this…’MLB’s Salute to Crabs’?”
8. The Red States deserve recognition while we’re stuck with a Blue State President.
7. It will look like, for once, there are plenty of guys ready to get passengers’ luggage to check-in.
6. Thinking it’s the Red Wings out there, some fans may throw octopi onto the diamond, a major league first.
5. Look, Citi Field is in the red!
4. Elmer Fudd, fashion-forward at last.
3. Attending a game with members of her Red Hat Society group and overcome with nostalgia, elderly Morganna will run onto the field searching for George Brett to kiss, her knees wreaking havoc with what once were her biggest attractions.
2. Canadian fans, who are easily confused, will be confused.
1. Hey, it works for Sally Struthers.
My thought on the possibility of white hats for next year?
Seriously, if they simply MUST do this “thing”, then have gray hats for the road teams. It would look better with opposing teams in differing hats and (wash my mouth out for noting this cuz it might give MLB ideas) they’d sell more hats. Hey, I gotta have the home and road version of my team’s hat, don’t I?
Uni Watch Stirrup Poll: As many of you who read the comments know, James Huening (“JTH”) has a son who plays in the little league. An unfortunate dilemma has made its way into the sartorial splendor that should be every boy’s little league uniform: his cap is blue and his jersey (t-shirt) is forest green. So JTH, being the wonderful father he is, is facing a quandry: does he outfit his son in blue stirrups, so as to match the cap, or green, so as to compliment the shirt? I suggested he put it to a vote of the UW faithful, and (although the quality of the camera phone isn’t great), he has presented us with a “side by side” photo of the two possible outfits — one with the green stirrups (on the left) and one with the blue. What say, UW? Green or blue? Please vote for the better combination in the “Comments” section below.
As a bonus, James has also provided us with two additional pics from the children in his son’s league, just to give us an idea of the fashion trends of the younguns in today’s leagues. We’ll call this first photo “Good … bad … worst, as you’ll note the youth on the left is wearing pajamas, while the youth on the right favors the “Greg Maddux” fake stirrups. The boy in the center, of course, properly stirruped, is JTH’s son. And, whilst the socks on our next youth might be “dorky,” I love ‘em. They might not be cool when you’re in high school, but how great are these socks?
Guess The Game from the scoreboard: This past week, a new “game” was introduced in the comments and it was pretty well received. Basically it’s a pretty simple game. We post a picture of a MLB scoreboard, and from the clues (all on the scoreboard), readers try to guess the game. If it’s easy, all we’ll post is the scoreboard. If it’s difficult, additional clues may be posted along with the pic. See if you can figure out which game (day, date and location) is pictured, and how you came about your conclusion. We’ll reveal the correct answer during the day, so check back often.
Today’s scoreboard comes from Lance Smith. Difficulty: Moderate-easy; Clues: None
Next weekend, I plan to run a (possibly two day, depending upon the response) article highlighting the “uniform record” of the team you’ve been tracking. A number of you (I’d conservatively say 20) have already contacted me to indicate you’re tracking your team and there may be others out there who are also doing this. I think I “flagged” everyone’s email who has contacted me, but just to be on the safe side, I’d ask that you all please contact me again this early this week (say, Monday-Tuesday, if possible) — I will be sending out an as-yet-to-be-determined “questionnaire” on your tracking technique, team record wearing such-and-such uniform, etc., and I’d hope you could take a moment to answer. I’ll try to include everyone’s responses in next weekend’s “2 month track”. If you aren’t aware of the tracking of which I speak, I direct you to the third section of last Sunday’s post, which explains it. Anyone who has been keeping that uni-record, please send me an e-mail so I can post your efforts as we begin the third month of the MLB campaign. I’m sure there will be some interesting trends emerging, and we can “see” if teams start “shifting” to certain uniform combinations because of their successes (or away from them because of their failures) … or whether the decision to wear a uniform is completely random, based on a day or days of the week, starting pitcher (for those tracking that stat) and so on. Looking forward to everyone’s results.
This and That: We start off this section with two bits of information from the aforementioned JTH, who notes Randy Brown’s Bulls championship rings sold for $53,833 … also from James: “and you probably saw something about this already, but here’s another reason to hate ND and the Yanks. Can you believe the balls on these bastards to call it a potential ‘midseason bowl game?’” … Dude — you are wearing way too much shit and you tuck your shirt into your underwear — please don’t do that … Reprinted from yesterday’s comments (credit to Beardface): looks like there might be a rebranding in the near future of the Charlotte Bobcats … Seriously? … LeBron James, Kobe Bryant and the core of the Olympic basketball champions could be back in USA uniforms next summer for the world championships … You probably won’t be seeing this t-shirt on No Mas — but there is now apparently a market for one … President Obama hates kindergartners! Seriously — while he was getting this nifty Steelers jersey, Barry had a group of 100 kids, who were 10 minutes late, turned away … I think we can all safely admit this sweater is just wrong — read all aboot that and more here … Ron Artest is probably not recommending a barber to Kobe, dontcha know … You know that hilarious video (of the Henrik Zetterberg impersonator) Teebz posted in the comments yesterday? Here’s the backstory … Apparently the porn ‘stache is back as a fashion statement — ¡Viva Zavada! … I don’t normally pay much attention to miniature golf course design … and apparently neither did the designer of this particular hole … Good to see so many teams wearing their softball jerseys for the beginning of the interplague series on Friday — it’s really time to end this ridiculous experiment and let the leagues play ONLY intraleague games, or maybe have ONE interleague series per season … Even in what could have been good interplague matchups, it just ain’t happening … Just curious — why would “Yahoo Tech” even carry an article on Google’s new logos? … “Whaddaya mean, these hands aren’t touched by god?
Have a good Saturday. Don’t forget to vote for JTH’s boy’s stirrups!