By Phil Hecken
Last year, I took a decidedly cynical view of the “alternate cap” gimmick employed by MLB. My feelings on the matter haven’t changed over the past year, but rather than harp on the real meaning of Memorial Day, how it came to be, and what today really stands for, I’ve decided to simply take a look at the 13 games on the MLB docket, and to judge the teams on their uniforms alone. I thought the Memorial Day Holiday would give us our first look at the Stars & Stripes Caps, Mark III, but four teams decided to introduce their caps to the fans yesterday. I’ll have more on those games below.
So, rather than “suck the fun” out of the alternate cap day, I’ll simply look at the uniforms and all the myriad possibilities teams will have, whether they wear the standard home whites and road grays, or should they choose to wear
a softball top an alternate jersey, from a purely aesthetic viewpoint. Let’s look at today’s matchups, and how the teams might look, on the field. In the games below, the home team is listed first.
New York Yankees vs. Cleveland Indians: Aesthetically, this one might not be too bad, with both teams sporting the “blue” brim version, and Cleveland, mercifully, using their “alternate ‘C'” rather than Chief Wahoo. Cleveland has two options here, their full gray or their blue alternate. I’m not sure the “blue” cap will necessarily match the blue jersey, but, hey, it’s a holiday, why not wear the alt? Possible Matchups: Grade A
Atlanta Braves vs. Philadelphia Phillies: Another matchup with aestheticly pleasing potential. Of course, the Phillies are limited in their options, having only a home alternate, but the Braves could whip out their Red Alt or their (road) Blue Alt, an unlikey scenario, but because of the blue bill, a slim possibility (the Braves will likely pair their blue top with the S&S cap for a future road game, assuming they have one on their schedule). Nevertheless, this game has potential to look OK, especially the game is white versus gray. Possible Matchups: Grade B+
Florida Marlins vs. Milwaukee Brewers: One cannot help but think, sartorially speaking, this one won’t look good. Florida’s colors are black and teal, so, despite the blue brimmed cap, there will be a color mis-match. The Marlins, could, of course, break out the Black Alternate, but why would they do that? More likely is the Brewers going with their own Blue Alternate, which may be a fairly close color match. Either way, one team is not going to look good. Possible Matchups: Grade C
Pittsburgh Pirates vs. Chicago Cubs: Someone needs to explain to me why the Cubs are sporting a red brim. Is it because they once sported a blue cap with a red brim? Because, giving them a red brim doesn’t make sense. They don’t wear a red alternate, and there’s at least as much blue on their uniform as there is red. Whatever. This game is rife with possibilities, however, as the Bucs could opt to go with their Black Alternate (which, since their colors are black and gold, won’t look any worse with a red brim). In a way, it’s too bad they don’t sport the red vest anymore. That could actually work with the red brimmed cap. The Cubs, on the other hand, could opt to go with their Blue Alternate, which might actually make more sense with the S&S cap AND give a real “red,
white gray, and blue” feel to their outfit. Sorry, MLB…this one’s a dud. Possible Matchups: Grade C+ — bonus points to the Pittsburghers if they go with the old red vest
Houston Astros vs. Washington Nationals: Oh so many delicious possiblities in this one. Houston has two home uniforms, a pinstriped version and a solid white number. In addition, they have a brick red alternate. The Nationals, on the other hand, sport a red alt and a very patriotic blue alt, which seems destined to be paired with the S&S cap. Those of you who enjoy a bit of variety in your uniform choices, this is YOUR game. And depending on what gets worn and your affinity for alternates, this could be one of the “best” or worst looking games of the day. Possible Matchups: Grade B or, in the ultimate “red white & blue” pairing, Grade A+ (drop that to an “F” if softball tops aren’t your thing)
Kansas City Royals vs. Los Angeles of Anaheim: OK, another one with some potential. The Royals do sport a Dark Royal Alt and a Powder Blue Alt. They already wore their S&S cap with the dark top up in Boston yesterday, so that now becomes a likely candidate. The Angels, like Boston, sport a Red Alt, although the colors may not quite jive. Even if the two teams stick with white and gray, this might look OK; if the red brim on the Angels S&S cap comes close enough to their solid jersey, that could look good as well. Possible Matchups: Grade B+ … subtract points of the Royals go powder, but bet on them in the royal blue again
San Francisco Giants vs. Colorado Rockies: Two teams with neither red nor blue in their colorscheme spell potential color clashing disaster. While the Giants have an Orange Alt, and of course, the Rockies have a gorgeous Black Vest (with black sleeves, no less), they may as well have a red billed cap. Not one of the four possible combinations for either team will look good when paired on the field of play. Possible Matchups: Grade D-
St. Louis Cardinals vs. Cincinnati Reds: This one will probably look pretty good. The Cardinals have no alt, and the red bill should match their predominately red scheme quite well, and the Reds have a (shockingly) Red Alt, which may or may not be worn. Either way you slice it, a very red, white and gray matchup will ensue. Possible Matchups: Grade A-
Toronto Blue Jays vs. Tampa Bay Rays: Rays vs. Jays presents all sorts of possibilities, some of them good, some not. If they stick with the standard white versus gray, it won’t be too bad, but the Jays could break out their Black Alt, (but since it’s not a holiday in Canada and they wore their white top yesterday, it’s doubtful), or really mix things up by tossing in their Powder Blue throwback (since that has more red in it than either the white or black top) … or … they could really mix things up by wearing their Canada Day Alt, to maximize the redness of the moment. The Rays, no strangers to alternates themselves, also have a Powder Blue Alt as well as a Dark Blue Alt, which might emphasize the blue brim. Hmmmm. So many possiblities. Possible Matchups: Grade B/B+; serious bonus points if the Jays whip out the Canada Day alt, which they chose not to wear yesterday
Los Angeles Dodgers vs. Arizona Diamondbacks: The Dodgers will probably look good in this one, especially since we know what they’ll be wearing, but what about their opponents? The standard gray will pick up the red brim nicely, or…they may go with their Red Alt…or…the rarely worn Black Alt. Although the brick red won’t quite mesh with the S&S red, it might not look bad with the gray outfit. Possible Matchups: Grade B/B+
San Diego Padres vs. New York Mets: This certainly won’t be the best matchup of the day (evening), but it won’t be the worst either. The Pods might be wise to wear their solid white uni, if only because the Blue Alt contains too much “sand”. Won’t be too bad, but better with the white. Of course, the Mets possess their own beautiful Black Alt which would be a very unfortunate choice. Probably going to be a white versus gray game, but you never know. Possible Matchups: Grade B-
Seattle Mariners vs. Minnesota Twins: Closing out the day with these two won’t be horrible. The M’s will probably look pretty decent in their blue bills, although I’m not so sure how will it will look if worn with the Blue Alt. Probably a lot closer than that graphic depicts. The Twins also possess a Blue Alt, so it’s more than a slight possibility one of the two will be sporting it. We’ll see. White versus gray might be the best of all, but I’d be curious to see how well the blue bill matches either team’s alt. Possible matchups: Grade B
As mentioned in the opening, four teams (the Toronto Blue Jays versus the Baltimore Orioles, and the Boston Red Sox versus the Kansas City Royals) already broke out the S&S caps. How’d they dress and how did the uniforms look with the caps?
O’s vs. Jays: Not surprisingly, a team whose colors are orange and black didn’t look too great wearing gray tops with a white cap & blue brim. Why blue? Because red would have been worse? Their opponents, the hometown Blue Jays celebrated America’s Day of Remembrance with their own red-billed cap and white jersey. Unfortunately, with a beautiful day in TO and the roof open, it was so bright the “Canadian Flag motif” on the Jays caps was almost impossible to see. It didn’t help when players covered it with sunglasses either. White jersey vs. gray jersey. Grade: C
BoSox vs. Royals: This had the potential to be a decent matchup, and it didn’t diappoint. The hometown Red Sox went with their red alternate, and it looked very good with the white pants and white cap with red brim. The Royals, who possess a dark royal alternate, wore it with their gray road pants. While not a perfect color match, it still looked pretty sharp, all things considered. With a bright sun over Fenway, the navy brim didn’t look too out of place with the royal top. Now, I’m not going to go advocating color vs. color (tops) anytime soon, but this one wasn’t bad once a year. The only problem is, it’ll probably happen more than once. Still, good stuff. Grade: A-
How will the rest of the teams playing today look? That remains to be seen, of course, as we got a teaser yesterday as to what a good and a bad matchup could look like. What do you guys think? Who will have the best looking game today? The worst?
The baseball is all fun and games, of course, but still — don’t forget why we in the States have a three day holiday on the last weekend in May.
Rome France… I got an interesting E-mail from Don Cristobal del Pastillo, who posts as the pseudonymous “SQL” occasionally, after reading yesterday’s wonderful piece on his whiffleball field of dreams by Jim Vilk. You may recall, SQL displayed his graphic talents last summer with two columns suggesting certain MLB teams might want to try colored sanitaries under stirrups. I really enjoyed those efforts, and I’d still like to see a team or two (besides the A’s) try that look. As you may also remember, Don is French, which makes his interest in American sports more of a challenge than the average Uni Watcher here in the States.
Anyway, I hadn’t heard from SQL in a while, but yesterday he reemerged with the following message:
I thought you might be interested (and other Uni Watch readers too, hopefully) in this little piece I wrote. It’s a (very) short column about the logo design attempts that I’ve made through my many years as a fantasy leaguer. I guess it could fall under the DIY category, except that I wasn’t trying to copy any existing stuff…
Anyway, I hope you’ll find that of any interest…
My interest piqued, I took a peek. It turns out Don is not just a very talented graphic designer, his sketches are pretty good too. What follows, then, is a pretty neat look at the life of a French Fantasy Basketball league Commissioner. Great stuff. Enjoy:
By Don Cristobal del Pastillo
As far back as I can remember, I always wanted to be a
That’s why when a friend of mine came back from a school trip to the US with Fantasy Baseball in his luggage I delved into the thing with reckless abandon. From an organisational standpoint, it was quite a challenge to gather stats and roster updates on a regular basis in early 90’s France but it didn’t stop us, quite the opposite. Each USA today issue we could get our hands upon was dissected and analyzed like an area 51 resident and soon enough we were hooked on the stuff like it was heroin dipped in spaghetti sauce.
One of the thing that seduced me the most about American sports, compared to the Old World ones, were the infinitely more inventive names and logos of the different clubs and franchises. That’s why I decided right away that our made-up teams needed a visual identity on par with the ones of their real life counterparts. That’s how I made my first steps in the time consuming art of designing logos for fake sports franchises, a hobby that to this day, remains one of the few that survived the waning of my teenage years.
Right from the start, my drawing style proved to be a total misfit for the job, too busy, too cartoony, and apart from a few notable exceptions, the final results often ended up breaking each and every rule of what a true sport logo should be.
That didn’t stop me from trying though.
Years passed and my high school friends and I eventually drifted apart, which led to the untimely demise of our fantasy league experiment, but deep inside the beast was still alive and waiting for an opportunity to rise up and devour my free time again.
Long story short, the Rotisserie League spent the best part of the next decade stored away in frozen carbonite only to make a triumphant return in 2004, only this time, it was centered around basketball, an athletic activity much easier to market to my fellow countrymen (whose grasp of the infield fly rule remains borderline at this point of history). Fantasy life in the new century proved to be much easier with, thanks to generalised computer use, unlimited access to stats, news and tools.
But as much as computers revolutionized the league’s everyday life through spreadsheets and message boards, they had an even deeper impact on my designing style which made the leap from pen and paper to fulltime digital and never looked back.
Sure, even with the help of advanced tools such as illustrator and paint shop pro my creative juices proved to be too chunky to fit into the mold of academic logo design, and my first tries ranged from pretty basic to pretty lame, but with each new attempt I began to refine my style to the point where I’m quite pleased with most of my latest creations.
You’ll find below a few examples of what I’ve come up with to illustrate the team concepts that my fellow leaguers have entrusted me with over the years (as the Commissionner of the league and the only member with what could pass for photoshop skills, it’s one of my duties to design the logo for every team at the start of the season). As a whole our team names and visual identities rely mostly on weak puns, incomprehensible private jokes and dubious acronyms, with a few actual basketball related names thrown into the mix here and there.
I’m fully aware that from an artistic and aesthetic standpoint these feeble tries are tantamount to a toilet wall graffiti, but to me they were and still are the perfect opportunity to combine two of my all time passions: sports and graphic design. The two same passions, mind you, that drawn me to Uni Watch in the first place, which is why I wanted to share this little piece of my personal history with you.
Thanks for sharing that SQL. And while your self-deprecating humor about your talents makes me chuckle, your abilities and talents are far from “feeble.” Great job with those — and I thought your bulldog sketch was pretty outstanding.
What’s better than hitting the links as part of your Memorial Day? Nothing, right? Here’s Rick:
Ah, Memorial Day, A day to get out and about. And, holiday or not, there just are SOME activities with which one simply does let the weather interfere, does one. As my dad always said, “It never rains on a…”
Enjoy your special, Memorial Day Benchies.
Uni Watch News Ticker: Lots to get to today. Kicking off is Rick “Ricko” Pearson, who sends along this gorgeous photo of Portland manager Oscar Vitt wearing a uni with great stirrups and a really nice beaver patch. … Paul Stave sent in this article with the caption, “When mascots are outlawed, only outlaws will have mascots.” Brilliant. … With the first of several ticker submissions, Jeremy Brahm notes There is a new women’s pro bowling association called the Ladies Bowling Organization of Japan (LBO) and here is their logo. … Previously noted in the comments but also spotted by Chad Pieken: It’s the Jordan statue at the UC dressed up in ‘Hawks gear for the finals. Take a look at his makeshift skates — Says Chad, “I’m sure Reebok did this as a little ‘F.U.’ to Nike just for laughs.” … Brinke’s Corner on Friday tapped the memory banks of Steve Heller, who saw the NHL puffy sticker link got me thinking so he searched. “Remember these?” asks Steve. “I had a set when I was a kid…and wish I still did.” … Grant Goldman and James Poisso found this interesting head injury and protection column on Yahoo Sports. … More from Jeremy, on volleyball: Take a look at the French women, with a singular French flag pit stain. Also, Israel is back to wearing a blue flag. … Alex Higley, who also has multiple submissions, grabbed this great shot of Henley Ramierez’ incredibly mucked up helmet (bonus: “Los” Marlins jersey). … Stirrup-liciousness: Dan Richardson of the New Westminster Salmonbellies, checks in with this: “As promised here’s pictures of our Western Lacrosse Association home opener with our new 2010 Retro Jerseys/Shorts along with our Home Stirrups. The New Westminster Salmonbellies have been in existence since 1889 and have won Canadian Lacrosse’s version of the Stanley Cup , called the Mann Cup a record 24 times. See salmonbellies.com. We’re currently 4-0 in our 2010 season that is just under way.” Vive la revolution! … More from Alex — two pictures of a Padres jersey that he’s never seen before. If you look at the second pic, there appears to be a signature that’s not Gwynn’s — anyone know more? … UW favorite Rob Ullman is back with more genius illo’s for the Stanley Cup finals matchup. … A’s fan and tracker Brandon Davis keeps us up to date with more eagle-eyed uni watching: “More and more A’s seem to be wearing gray underbrims. Ben Sheets has worn one for his last few road starts and Coco Crisp (back on the DL) has been wearing one. This is kind of odd but I also noticed that Andrew Bailey put his belt on backwards. I happened to be looking at his bobblehead and compared the sculpt to the box. I noticed that the belt was facing differently on the bobblehead (I later realized it was a recycled Justin Duchscherer sculpt). So I looked at other photos of Bailey and noticed that he always has his belt going the other direction. Looking at photos, it turns out he’s been doing this for several years. I don’t know if it’s a comfort thing or just preference.” … Terry Duroncelet was watching the Va Tech v. Clemson game and got this great screen grab. … Back with more is Alex, who noticed that Todd Helton must get cold during games. He came up to bat in the fifth inning wearing short sleeves and in the seventh inning, he had on long sleeves. Alex notes that “Todd is kind of famous for changing his uniform during the game and did just that Saturday night.” … Frank Parish echoes the thoughts of many on UW with this observation: “Matt Cain continues to not wear the Giants’ striped socks. This wouldn’t be so bad if it weren’t for the fact that sometimes Juan Uribe wears his pants up, which results in two players on the field with drastically different hosiery stylings.” … Nice post by Mike Rucki of “On Frozen Blog,” who, with the announcement of the Capitals being in the 2011 Winter Classic, vs. Pens at Heinz Field, he finally published an article about the return of the otherwise-lost throwbacks, the Caps ‘stars-down-the-arms’ sweaters. … Check out the second half of this blog post (thanks to Jerry Gardner, Jr.): Is a full YMCA rebranding coming? … Scott Milner and Timothy Graham both were on top of the Va Tech “Tequila Sunrise” throwbacks being sported against Clemson during the ACC tourney this past weekend … Might be a little hard to see in this cell phone screen grab, but Joe Mauer has a “7M” logo on his chest protector (great catch by Dustin Kalis). … Nice Memorial Day theme in other lands. JK Chaney writes, “with it being Memorial Day here, every year Celtic FC wears special Jersey’s to honor National Famine Memorial Day in Ireland which honors those who died in the Great Hunger IE Potato Famine. Photo of the jerseys from this year (it was printed on the away kits this year so not quite as sharp as when placed on the Home Green & White Hoops) These are availabe for sale by auction here. … More from Jeremy: The Seibu Lions are doing throwbacks from the 1970s for this year’s Lions Classic. They are going back to the Taiheiyo Club Lions … Hugh McBride thought this article (on the effort to create teams, nicknames, logos & unis for non-Madden football video games) would be of interest to the UW crew. … More from Brandon — Kurt Suzuki had a green road catcher’s helmet Saturday night. He’s been wearing a gold brim all season up to this point. … New NHL patches? Steve May writes, “A friend of mine just posted the following pic on twitter–showing patches for the Blue Jackets 10th season, the Sharks 20th and the Canucks 40th. As a Canuck fan, I like the Canuck one, understated and clear, and keeps the original logo in mind. The others–too busy.” … Alex, who may have set a record for Ticker submissions, simply asks, “What the hell is up with this helmet?” … Scott Schoonover writes, “did anyone else notcie that Shannon Brown didn’t have any white lining on the inside of the R in LAKERS on his jersey?” He didn’t have a screen grab, but anyone else notice this? … Good catch from Brian Smith, who directs our attention to this article on the Chicago Blackhawks crest. … Chris Hilf sent an E-mail with the title, “They don’t like the balls.” Curious, I opened it to find “Soccer balls, that is.” … Matthew Moschella saw this Giants logo script on infants’ clothing and states, “The script is similar to the team’s traditional script, though slightly modified. But the G is completely different and the underline is new. Have you seen anything with this before?” … One can never have enough pictures of Jamie Moyer’s logo’ed stirrups, can one? (thanks to Alex, again). … And still more from Alex: “Love the jersey the guy on Girardi’s right is wearing.” (That looks like a plaid cotton button down to me, but I think he means the pullover on the right of the photo). … J. Daniel Howland was watching the tigers-A’s game Sunday, and catcher Gerald Laird looked like he was wearing number 12 as he went for a pop up in the 8th inning, but “his number has always been 8 with Detroit.” Can anyone verify? … Jack Crabbe spotted Fred Couples’ caddy, at the Senior PGA Championship, rocking NBA logo socks and a NY Giants wind jacket. Interesting that there are no sponsor logos on him, notes Jack. … Possible big news on the Penguins unis for next year’s Winter Classic comes from Joe Gerard, who notes that “the Pittsburgh Penguins have retired their 1968-1972 throwbacks worn in recent seasons. With the team hosting the 2011 NHL Winter Classic, the team plans to wear a new third jersey that won’t be worn until the Winter Classic. People on the official Facebook page for the Penguins are posting ideas for the new third jersey (which the Pens have NOT yet finalized yet), including the 1980-1992 black jersey that the team won their first two Stanley Cup championships with. The team does have light blue practice jerseys, and considering that the powder blue throwbacks were popular from a marketing standpoint (though they did seem to lose almost every time they wore them), a light blue version of the current design could work out as well. About the only thing assured is that there won’t be anything with the 1992-2001 “flying penguin” logo. As long as Mario Lemieux is the team’s owner, it won’t be coming back.” … Still more volleyball news/photos from Jeremy, from the European Volleyball Qualification this weekend: Azerbaijan women using European 7s on the far right; In play; When the Israeli women wore blue, they had blue flags as well; Check out the libero versus the rest of the team; One Spanish woman with an almost e-mail name abbreviation, Maria Isabel Fernandez Conde; Slovenia with a 12 or 19? Actually 12; One of the Portuguese women wears glasses on the court; Bosnia & Herzegovina men’s team going name below the number; Italian men with Rollerball like fonts; The Swedish men have more pronounced flags on their uniforms.
That’s going to do it for this day. Thanks to every reader for allowing me to bring you Uni Watch this past week, while Paul was across the pond. Twas both a pleasure and a privilege. Hope you enjoyed it. I know I did.
In Flanders Fields the poppies blow
Between the crosses row on row,
That mark our place; and in the sky
The larks, still bravely singing, fly
Scarce heard amid the guns below.
We are the Dead. Short days ago
We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow,
Loved and were loved, and now we lie
In Flanders fields.
Take up our quarrel with the foe:
To you from failing hands we throw
The torch; be yours to hold it high.
If ye break faith with us who die
We shall not sleep, though poppies grow
In Flanders fields.