By Phil Hecken, with James Huening
“Black For Black’s Sake” — or BFBS — it’s the second entry in the Uni Watch Glossary. It’s defined in there as “a reference to teams that gratuitously add black to their uniform design even though black was never one of their team colors.” Fittingly, the example is the New York Mets, the poster child for this seemingly endless fashion statement. We can argue when it began (quite possibly it’s more than 50 years old), or if it will ever end, or even what it really is, or even if the official Uni Watch definition is complete. My collaborator for this piece, James Huening has gone to great lengths to tackle what he feels constitutes BFBS.
We’d had the ‘parameters’ for this post in the works for some time, and have in fact planned to do a poll on BFBS, but for this initial salvo, James has given examples of what he considers BFBS teams in the three major sports, plus the NHL. His “definition” (as well as what he considers “good” BFBS teams) differs from mine — and I’m sure your definition may differ from his, mine and that found in the Uni Watch glossary. Because with BFBS, there some black (tongue pressed firmly in cheek) and white…but mostly a lot of gray…areas.
Let’s start with James’ very diligent efforts at exploring some teams he considers to be “BFBS.” Today, we’ll only look at the professional sports, but there are certainly many college teams that would be considered to have a uniform that is, quite simply, black for black’s sake. Here’s James:
Black for black’s sake? We toss that expression (or its abbreviation) around like an epithet. So that means it’s always a bad thing, right? I mean, it does smack of laziness to just throw a black jersey out there or add black accents to your uniform, whether it’s part of the existing color scheme or not.
So is BFBS by its very nature a bad thing? Let’s see. Obviously, teams that have “always” (during my lifetime) worn black are exempt:
Orioles, Raiders, etc. But there are literally dozens of teams that have either added black to their existing colors or changed their official colors completely to include black.
If you ask me, this usually is a bad thing, but not always. Now, I don’t intend to give a complete rundown of every team that’s ever started wearing black at some point in its history, but I’d like to give a few examples both good and bad changes to include black.
MLB – Good:
Mets: I suppose I risk a banning here, but I’ve never had a problem with the addition of black to the Mets’ uniforms, but ONLY because there is the historical tie-in with the Giants. Do I love everything about the way the Mets use black? No. For one thing, the black jerseys look terrible. I also don’t care for the dropshadows on the pinstriped unis. And the two-tone helmets look ridiculous. But I actually don’t mind the inclusion of black on the primary home and road jerseys.
White Sox: Why? For one thing, they were essentially the first MLB team to do it. For another, the uniforms look great compared with the bland, uninspired ones they replaced. And really, weren’t there enough teams wearing blue and red in 1990? Plus, black was in their color history. One caveat –- they wear their black jerseys way too often. It ain’t an alternate when you wear it more often than your primary, fellas.
MLB – Bad:
NBA – Good:
Magic: For one thing, they chose their colors at a time when black was starting to really take off, but before it had flooded the market, so to speak. Plus, I really like the combination of black & (light) royal blue.
NBA – Bad:
Knicks: The home unis aren’t too bad. A little black as an accent color actually looks pretty nice. The road uniforms, on the other hand, are brutal. And unlike their crosstown baseball counterparts, the Knickerbockers do not have a historical color scheme that features black to point to as inspiration. And let’s not forget the St. Paddy’s unis, either. Take the black out and replace it with blue and maybe they’re less offensive.
Celtics: Kelly green and black can look pretty good together, but for 60 or so years, the Celtics wore green and white uniforms that were simple, classy, understated and distinctive. Then they started wearing these eyesores.
NHL – Good:
Penguins: So they weren’t the first NHL team to change to a primarily black color scheme. The Canucks beat them to it. But when they did make the switch, it was well before black became trendy in sports uniforms and it aligned them, color-wise, with Pittsburgh ’s other big league teams. Too bad they switched to Vegas gold, though.
NHL – Bad:
Avalanche: The black pants ruin what is otherwise a solid-looking uniform. Well, at least it was when they first moved from Quebec to Denver. The black on the pants (and home helmets) just makes them look like a youth hockey team.
NFL – Good:
NFL – Bad:
Lions: Even when the Lions had little else going for them, at least they had great uniforms. Now, they don’t even have that. Time will tell if we see the reemergence of the black alternate jerseys to make matters even worse.
Thanks Jimbo, for that pretty comprehensive look at BFBS, or at least what you feel constitutes it. Of course, I agree with a good number of your selections (although not necessarily your “good” or “bad” choices). Clearly, the New York Mets are the poster child for BFBS, but they’re far from alone.
I think I’d adhere much more strictly to the Uni Watch Glossary definition of BFBS — that is, the substitution of black for another color (usually white) for no apparent reason and when black had not been a previous color of the team. This includes the addition of black outlines or drop shadow, to supplement an existing uniform.
It also includes the introduction of an alternate uniform, created WHETHER OR NOT black was an existing color, merely for the sake of adding a black alternate. Perfect examples of this include the Carolina Hurricanes, the San Jose Sharks, Baltimore Ravens, Chicago Bulls, and Pittsburgh Pirates. Black is “indeed” a part of each of those teams color schemes, but a PRIMARY BLACK uniform does not exist. Therefore, in my opinion, this is BFBS.
The examples James gave of the Oakland A’s, New York Mets, Toronto Blue Jays and Detroit Lions — to which I would add the Kansas City Royals, who mercifully ditched the black when the fad ended, (but there are others who replace basically a white jersey with a black one) — are to me, the most egregious and insidious form of BFBS: the addition of black to a uniform where it had never existed before. Teams like the Eagles (with a black pants stripe), Hurricanes (black
hurricane tropical storm flag) and Sharks (black pants) may have already had black in their color scheme — but never FORCED a black alternate upon us –until they could.
Then, there is a third category of BFBS, which James also covered nicely, with teams adding black (although not creating a primary black uniform) like the Celtics, Knicks and Flames. None of those teams had black as any part of their colorscheme, yet they added black for no other reason, than for black’s sake.
So, in my opinion, BFBS encompasses those three categories. But is BFBS always bad? (Jimbo doesn’t think so.) I think you can make an argument that not all BFBS uniforms look bad (certainly, I think the Ravens can sometimes pull off the look, and well…ravens really are pretty much black), and, while we’re not discussing college teams and BFBS today, I have to admit that nobody pulls of BFBS like the Oregon Ducks can. I detest BFBS, but the Ducks and Ravens can make it look good, for some reason.
Other teams, though, just don’t get it. The feel that by adding black, whether because it’s “hip” or to increase sales (everyone wants a black jersey, right?), they are simply creating a uniform that didn’t need to be created. I’m quite frankly surprised the Reds didn’t logically progress to this awful thing (stopping short of their Queens counterparts), before returning to their senses a few years ago.
Finally, do teams themselves create the demand for black, or the fans, or is it a combination? Whether or not you like the Lakers colors of purple and gold, they are classic and distinctive. But, with BFBS, how soon is it before we see Kobe wearing this? You might look at that and say, “wow! that’s poppin!” (or whatever the term is these days). Remember a few years back when the NFL had black fashion jerseys? If you sat in Arrowhead on a cold December afternoon with the Chiefs mired in a seven game losing streak and they came out in this “slump buster”, how would you feel? Or, because we all know how much Rex Ryan loves black, what if the Jets opened their MNF season in the new Meadowlands in this beauty? You can laugh and say, “that will never happen,” but stranger things have happened.
OK, I’ve rambled far too long as it is, but you begin to get the point. BFBS is not only a late-90’s phemenon, but one that continues to permeate the uniform world. I’m sure there are many examples of BFBS in the pros even James and I didn’t find — so we’re hoping you can.
What we’d like from you, aside from a mature and intelligent discussion of the BFBS syndrome, is to list your candidates for the worst and best BFBS teams. We’ll be conducting a poll on this in the near future, and we need your suggestions. So fire away.
Every once in a while Mick gets a brilliant idea. Today is not one of those days…or is it?.
Stay tuned after today’s Benchies for an important announcement, k?
Life imitates art. Art limitates life. Art also imitates Willie Stargell’s batting stance, but that’s a different Art altogether. The point is, every once in awhile something cosmic comes along. It speaks to us, touches us, inspires us. So we build a wiffleball field that looks like Fenway Park. Or something. Just because it’s worth doing.
Indeed. Here’s your full-color Sunday Benchies.
AND NOW, an announcement about Benchies, from its creator, Rick Pearson, who has a simple “feedback request” from UW readers:
Does anyone read “Benchies”? One way to get some idea is very simple. If you read “Benchies” regularly, please send an e-mail with “YES” on the subject line to this address.
Thanks, Rick Pearson
Thanks Rick. So folks, if you read and enjoy (or even don’t like) Benchies, just let him know, ok? OK!
From The Squiddie Files: Back again with our Life Coach, Lance Smith, who has put together another genius set from the Squiddie Files — a sort of “Best Of” Squiddie (although I must confess, I honestly don’t recall seeing many of the pics you’re about to see in the comments). No matter, even if you’ve seen one or all before, they’re always worth another look-see. And boy, are these worth it. Here’s Lance:
You know how when TV shows get lazy they run a clip show? A clip show is just a bunch of clips from previous shows packed into a superfluous surrounding story line. If it’s a science fiction show, someone will have some strange disease causing them to flash back to previous episodes. So imagine you’ve been bitten by a radioactive squid and while the doctors try to save you we present My Favorite Life photos.
Why? ‘Cause I had a ticket to Thursday’s Red Sox-Twins game.
Let’s look at some photos.
1. Eddie Gaedel in St. Louis. At the moment there are only three photos of Gaedel in his one appearance for the Browns: front, back and in the dugout. I keep hoping more will turn up as they add more material to the archives.
6. Dimitry Vergun basketball star at M.I.T. Went on to be an expert on earthquake resistant buildings.
8. the St. Mary’s College Rattlers of San Antonio had some sweet stars and stripes uniforms. Helmet close up. In 1939, they travelled to San Francisco in the Blue Goose to defeat the University of San Francisco Dons 7-6.
9. Ben Agajanian talking with a coach of the Los Angeles Dons. (Nice logo!) Agajanian had four toes crushed in a work accident, but went on to kick in the NFL, AAFC and AFL. Just remember to keep your head down
10. Rollie Free prepares to set a motorcycle speed record on the Bonneville Salt Flats. In his early runs, his protective suit rips at 147 mph. Wearing only a swimsuit and pair of borrowed sneakers, Free sets a new record of 150 mph by going flat out.
15. Frankly, Gunhild Larking doesn’t know what to make of all of this.
Great job as always, Lance. I wish re-runs could be so good.
Guess The Game From The Scoreboard: More baseball today, and today we get a look at a pro scoreboard hosting non-pro teams. No, it’s not the Mets and Nationals, but that wouldn’t be a bad guess. Difficulty level on this is probably pretty low, but what the hey. Ready? Guess The Game From The Scoreboard. Date, location and final score, please, and be sure to link to your answer. And, as always, if you enjoy the game, please send me some new scoreboards! Drop me a line. Thanks!
Back again with more Uniform Tweaks, Concepts and Revisions today. Lots to get to, and if you have a tweak, change or concept for any sport, send them my way.
First up today is Gary Tyler who has a change for the Buffalo Bills:
Same design as the Packers jerseys, and could it possibly be the first team to go with two helmets???? Plus check out dem socks.
UW stalwart Mike Engle is back with the crayolas…and this Kings of LA tweak:
In my steadfast insistence on not going bankrupt thanks to Uni Watch by buying Photoshop, I’m back with a NHL tweak, with good old paper and colored pencils. Too bad my scales are way off for these, though. Before my Olympic round, I drew a hockey template, scanned it to my computer, and now print a copy when needed, but I must have had the wrong zoom while printing this time, so things are a little squished.
Without further ado, my next patients are the Los Angeles Kings. They get a new purple jersey and a similar white jersey WITHOUT black, because the Kings fail to realize that too much black and too much purple at once yields too much fail. It’s basically a throwback mashup while sticking to purple and gold, the original Lakers-inspired colors. (So all the text inside the crest that is in lead pencil should be purple, not graphite. Sorry.) A Marcel Dionne base, the Gretzky logo recolored, and what’s that on the sleeve patch? Yes, the return of the Burger King! (Note: I redid the crown in the chevron to match the crown on the king’s head.) As for the white jersey, sorry for so many pencil guidelines. I was going to stick to the same template, but I decided at the last minute that purple sleeves on the white jersey wouldn’t look so nice.
Now for those of you wondering why I didn’t make a gold jersey, it’s because I align closer to Ricko than The Jeff. White vs color works better for my eyes. And as much as I hate gold Lakers vs orange Suns in the NBA, I would despise gold Kings vs orange Flyers even more. If I would have made a gold jersey, it probably would have been an exact reversal of the purple. If said gold jersey became a third, I’d understand and concede, though I’d rather see the real Gretzky silver and black set as the third set. For my redesigns, I’d like to see these sets accompanied by white gloves. No team has primarily white gloves, so as a nod to Michael Jackson and LA’s entertainment tradition, I figure that no other team is better qualified to wear white gloves. (Yes, wise guys, all players would have to wear TWO white gloves, not just one: equipment rules are equipment rules.) Finally, league permitting, in honor of the Staples Center, pending NHL approval, the Kings could have a special jersey with this template in Clippers’ colors for April Fools’ Day. I think I’m kidding.
And in the three-spot, we have James Comfort who has some NFL redesigns:
Fresh off my loss in the NFL Jersey contest – OK, maybe not fresh since it was, what, a month ago – I’m back with some uni tweaks that could actually be viable NFL uniforms. Not, you know, pure fantasy. But I digress…
The Lions seem stuck as a team when it comes to unis. What do they want: silver or black? I couldn’t decide myself. So I did both. First, if Detroit removed black: Home. Road. Next, if they removed silver and went all out new school: Home. Road.
And finally, Washington. At first I tried to think of a conceivable new name, since I do believe they won’t be the Redskins by the end of the decade, probably sooner. But my imagination failed me. Instead I borrowed a DC logo and made their gorgeous colors into a good uni. Home. Road.
I think we should have an NFL Pants contest next. That’d be fun.
And finally, William Milberger checks in with a ‘tweak’ that may be a most depressing reality:
I got a tip from a pretty reliable source that there’s going to be new alternates for the Cleveland Browns.
Here’s the link for the Browns new alternates this year.
That’s all for the tweak show today. Check back next time for more.
Now playing left field, Jerry Garcia… In case you missed yesterday’s doubleheader between the Cardinals and the Mets, I offer you proof that Tim McCarver has really begun mailing it in. I’d say any announcer is entitled to his share of mistakes after 20 innings of baseball, but here’s how Tim began the game. At least he didn’t refer to Chris Carpenter as Karen.
And what was up with the Indians caps yesterday? They were sporting some sort of tan cap, which was apparently not sweat resistant. If you scroll all the way down to the bottom of this article, it tells us: “Indians players wore brown hats made of recycled material Saturday. The Indians are among several other area companies stressing environmental actions and awareness.” So, they created a new cap to stress the importance of recycling? Wonder if they’ll ever wear them again…
Everyone have a great Sunday.
It’s like, how much more black could this be? and the answer is none. None more black. — Nigel Tufnel