Just when I thought I was gonna have the biggest (or only) Royals story of the month, they had to go and fire Trey Hillman yesterday. Just my bad luck. Oh, and Trey’s. But hey, whaddaya gonna do.
Anyway, bad timing notwithstanding, here we go: Last week I got a note from reader Brian Hansen, who’d noticed something odd going on in Kansas City:
It appears that a number of Royals are wearing special baserunning gloves this year. At first, I thought it was the XProtex sliding glove, but their product looks more like a traditional batting glove. This thing the Royals are wearing looks more like an oven mitt — four fingers grouped together and then the thumb separated. It doesn’t look like the hand is even able to move when it’s being worn.
I believe Scott Podsednik was the only one wearing this contraption at the beginning of the season (you can see it coming out of his back pocket here), but it has been spreading. Here are some shots of Chris Getz wearing it. It’s only worn on one hand, too — always the left hand, as far as I have seen.
This was all news to me, so I called the Royals, who arranged for me to do a phone interview with Podsednik. Here’s how it went:
Uni Watch: Tell me about this sliding glove.
Scott Podsednik: It’s basically just a hard cast that I had fitted to my hand during the ’08 season. I had an injury to my thumb in ’03, and I started wearing a hard plastic piece to protect my thumb, for sliding head-first. I wore that and had no problems with it until ’08, when I ended up breaking my pinkie finger sliding into second base. Then I got with a hand therapist and she came up with this cast to protect all my fingers, including the thumb. She came up with it, it has worked perfectly, and I haven’t had any problems since.
UW: So you were wearing it last season as well?
SP: Yes. I wore it beginning in, I think, September of ’08.
UW: Wow, I’m supposed to notice stuff like that, but I totally missed the boat on it until now. So it’s actually a hard cast?
SP: Yeah. Like if you break your finger or wrist, the way they cast your hand is basically from this same material. They wrap the entire hand in it, and then they cut pieces off of it until we got it to the point where I could take it off and on.
UW: So it’s plaster..?
SP: I think it’s fiberglass, something like that.
UW: Now, some of your teammates are also wearing it, right?
SP: Yeah, Willie Bloomquist, Chris Getz. Alex Gordon broke his thumb during spring training, and the Royals wanted to be proactive and take some initiative and keep the fingers healthy when sliding head-first, so some of the players went ahead and had them made for their hands. I think so far it’s been working out pretty good for ’em.
UW: So these are all custom-made, custom-fitted for the individual — they’re not mass-produced.
SP: That’s right.
UW: Did your teammates go to the same hand specialist you went to?
SP: No, I think they just dealt with the hand therapists here in Kansas City, or maybe the trainers.
UW: Do you wear the cast on both hands?
SP: No, just on my left. That’s the hand that goes in toward the base. I usually don’t have any problems with my right hand, knock on wood.
UW: So when you get on base, do you have it in your pocket, or does the first base coach have it waiting for you..?
SP: I just keep mine in my left pocket. I think the other guys have the first base coach holding onto it, but I’ve found it easier to keep it in my pocket. It’s pretty light, so I just throw it in the back pocket and hope I reach base.
UW: And when you take it out and put it on, do you ever get any comments from the first baseman?
SP: When I started wearing it, it kinda caught some guys off-guard and they got a little chuckle out of it. But I’ve been wearing it for a while now, so I think everyone’s familiar with it by now.
UW: Are you aware of players on any other teams wearing this?
SP: No. A lot of guys wear sliding guards to protect their wrists. I’d say about 80% of the base stealers wear something like that. But I haven’t noticed any other teams wearing the cast.
UW: You think it’s the wave of the future? Will more players be doing this?
SP: I have no idea. With the injury to Alex Gordon during spring training, that’s what got the Royals thinking more about this. So if guys on other teams start having problems, breaking some digits, I’m sure teams will probably look into this a little more. Injuries usually set the tone for things like this.
Faaaascinating stuff. Big kudos to Brian Hansen for spotting what the rest of us all missed.
ESPN reminder: In case you missed it yesterday, my latest ESPN column is here.
Buy my unwanted crap reminder: Stoop sale at my house, tomorrow, 10:30am. 671 DeGraw St., Park Slope. I’ll be selling along with my upstairs and downstairs neighbors. Tucker and Caitlin will not be for sale (unless they get a little too rambunctious tonight), but lots of other stuff will be.
By Brinke Guthrie
Bobbleheads — we all have ’em. I only go to one Giants home game per year (cost), and I always make sure it’s a bobble day. Made the tough call last year to go to Jon Miller night instead of Lincecum night, but I already have my seats for this year’s Lincecum night.
Anyway, there are loads of bobbles on eBay, along with lots of other cool stuff:
• Hmmn, this Chicago Bears bobble doesn’t quite say “Monsters Of The Midway,”, does it?
• Here’s something the seller is calling a “1960s era” Texas Rangers bobblehead. Of course, the Rangers didn’t exist in the 1960s, but why let facts get in the way of an eBay auction?
• Speaking of dubious listings, who wants to tell this seller that this isn’t the New York Giants logo?
• Ooooh, a huge lot of NFL pencils.
• How much do you think the Oakland Oaks paid for this design? [Personally, I've always loved that logo. -- PL]
• Do you … Wahoo? Gives you that nice Christmas feel, doesn’t he?
• Interesting use of negative space on this All-Star Game program cover.
• Want to dress like a 1970s A’s coach? Here you go.
• Football figure cereal premiums? That’s a new one.
• I think a family of four could move into Jim Marshall’s facemask.
• And finally, from the 1970s, NBA jogger disco roller skates. Shake your groove thing!
Uni Watch News Ticker: Thanks, Brinke. Okay, Paul here again. Yesterday I mentioned a hosiery revolt on the Wilmington Blue Rocks, with the players deciding to move away from their striped stirrups. Here’s what they’ve switched to: navy stirrups. “I think they need more navy in the cap or sleeves to make this really work,” says Jason Levine. But at least they’re actual stirrups. The Rocks made a big deal of their new unis this season and I hear at least one team official is none too happy about the stirrup switch. Our beat reporter, Buddy Hurlock, reports that the front office has allowed the stirrup change but will no longer let the starting pitcher pick that day’s uniform.” I don’t get this — since when do players get to change a component of the official uniform, including a change in team colors? Just tell them to wear the uni that’s issued to them, the end. … We’ve all seen McNOBs, but here’s a rarity: a MacNOB (both photos from Mako Mameli, who also added to our collection of Reggie Roby wristwatch shots). … Neil Berger notes that one of the rioters in Montreal the other night appears to have been wearing a Nationals cap. … Very nice meeting of the Uni Watch minds in Seattle the other day, as Michael Princip and his wife, Stephanie, stopped in at the new Ebbets Field Flannels store, where Scott Turner now works (that’s Scott on the left, Michael on the right). “We fell in love with store watch-hound, Paco,” says Michael. “I spotted some Continental Football League items that were of particular interest: First, the super-slick Portland Loggers scrimmage shirt. Love the orange, sleeve stripes, and the Johnny Canuck-type logo. The orange tone and the ‘PL’ helmet logo reminded me of the Browns’ old ‘CB’ logo. Also noticed a 1969 Jersey Jays football jersey, which answered a question about an eBay auction where I’d seen the same exact logo. I’ll be going back to pick up this Seattle Rainiers cap. Love that Orioles cap, too.” … Nicklas lidstrom threw out the first pitch at Comerica yesterday, so the Tigers gave him a jersey — and put a captain’s “C” on it (with thanks to Jeff Cohen). … “Rugby Pioneers is a great blog about the history of rugby in the 1800s,” writes Hadyn Green. “That particular post caught my eye because one of the players is wearing headgear that looks very similar to what players wear now. Earlier entries have featured some wonderful French uniforms.” … More rugby news, this time from Tris Wykes: “As you may know, getting just the right rolled-sweatpants look has long been a fashion requirement for lacrosse goalies. So I was struck by Hartford High (Vt.) backstop Sam Polas, who uses athletic tape to make sure his rolled cuffs don’t sag.”