While I was in Scotland a few weeks ago, this article ran in the New York Times. It included the following quote from Derek Jeter, recalling his early days in the Yankees’ minor league system: “There were always a lot of rules. No facial hair. We had to have our pants bloused.”
That last bit was puzzling to a guy named Michael Malone, whose e-mail was waiting for me when I got home. “What the heck are ‘bloused’ pants?” he asked. “Is he talking about uniform pants or dress pants?”
Here’s what I wrote back:
Blousing refers to the proper method of wearing one’s baseball pants high-cuffed. It’s not enough to have the pants bunched up at the knee; the proper way is to have the elastic cuff tucked under and out of sight, which causes a slight bulge at the point where the fabric breaks underneath. This is blousing.
The next time someone asks me this question, I’ll just show them photos of Stephen Strasburg.
As impressive as Strasburg’s pitching was last night, his pants were even better. You want blousing? That, people, is picture-perfect blousing, at least in the double-knit era. So much better than letting the elastic show. Great tailoring, too, with no excess fabric or bagginess. Look how the pant leg looks like a cylinder, just slightly wider than the shin — thing of beauty.
And my god, what a pleasure to see a high-cuffer who doesn’t go too high. Strasburg’s cuff point, at mid-calf, is exactly — exactly — where it should be, and a welcome break from all the high-cuffers who cover their kneecap but nothing more (a look that should be reserved for football pants).
As it stands now, Strasburg has only one pants peer: Jim Thome, whose nicely bloused mid-calf pant legs have made him Captain Cuff for the better part of two decades now. But Thome is now long in the tooth (plus he’s only a DH these days, which means we never get to see him without one of his cuffs butting up against his shinguard), and I’ve been worried that there might not be anyone to inherit his cuff crown. Even my great hosiery hope, Corey Wimberly, has been noticeably weak when it came to cuffing acumen — all that bunching and wrinkling, tsk-tsk. But with Strasburg now on the scene, I can finally sleep at night, secure in the knowledge that the baton of pants protocol has been handed off to a new generation.
Of course, there’s one thing that would make Strasburg’s look even better, and you know what that would be. Credit equipment manager L.I. Phil with outfitting Straburg in those virtual stirrups. In fact, Phil was a busy boy last night, depicting Strasburg in low-cut stirrups (which Phil prefers) and in slightly higher-cut hose (which I favor). You can see the full fruits of his labors here.
And there’ll probably be a lot more where that came from, because it looks like Strasburg is the real deal, which means we’ll be seeing a lot more of him and his cuffs. Even better, given his rock star status, it may mean that others follow his lead. Let’s hope so.
By Brinke Guthrie
That’s my Indy Car phase. Louisville, late ’60s. Got the racing jacket from a model kit offer, I believe. It came with a “Hurst” patch, and I collected many additional patches when attending the yearly Indy time trials. Schwinn Spyder™ from Sears.
Now then, in eBay action:
• Here’s a different sort of collectible: an NFL business card.
• This one’s for Paul: a 1970s Madison Square Garden tote bag. [That’s pretty damn cool, but the players really should be wearing higher socks. — PL]
• These old Rawlings football kits were great. For the record, No. 22 on the Vikes in those days was Paul Krause.
• Your guide to Monday Night Football, 1973 edition.
*From the politically incorrect file: Okay, so African-American bobbles used to be rare, but do you really need to refer to it as “blackface”? A mere $800, too. Can’t imagine it not selling.
• Here’s a nice Esso NHL sticker collection.
• Can’t put my finger on it, but there’s something curious about this CuBs pennant.
• I remember these albums. But why does this Niners version have a Giants player on the front?
• This ram horn looks anemic. Must have been a baby ram (which is actually called a lamb, but I don’t think you’ll see any teams calling themselves that, what with the whole slaughter metaphor and all).
• Here’s another one of those 3-D helmet plaques. Look how small the helmet is for his head!
And now back to Paul for today’s Ticker.
Uni Watch News Ticker: Here’s a sensational account of a visit to an old sporting goods shop in Nashville (big thanks to Todd Radom). … The Chicago Tribune ran something really mature in yesterday’s editions. … Anyone in the vicinity of Evanston, Illinois, will probably wanna check out this awesome-looking film program that will be screening at Northwestern tomorrow night (with thanks to Chris Falvey). … Super-duper-cool die-cut baseball book available here. … This might be Rob Ullman’s best illo yet. To see more of his recent work, scroll down through his blog. He’s also selling some of his sketches and decals on Etsy. … Tris Wykes was covering a Quebec Senior Indoor Lacrosse League game (and you thought I had a specialized beat) and noticed something interesting: “The game was at a hockey rink — they just ran around on the concrete floor with the boards and glass up. Partway through the game, I noticed this black gunky stuff in the goalie’s crease, so I asked a rink attendant about it. He said the floor is a bit too slick for running and cutting and stopping at full speed, so they spray a sugar-water concoction on it before games to provide a little stickiness. On top of this, the goalies often pour soda on either their crease or sneaker bottoms or both. One visiting goalie poured bleach over the bottom of his shoes so the rubber became soggy and sticky as it sort of melted. One goalie told me he doesn’t add anything to his shoes or crease, but he sweats so much that it combines with the sugar-water already on the floor and creates the black gunk.” … Longtime reader Bill Scheft had a book review published in last Sunday’s New York Times. It’s very smartly written, especially Bill’s description of baseball authors as “[the] writers entrusted to feed our baseball-history tapeworm.” … Karl Anderson notes that Joe Mauer has switched to that A.J. Pierzynski-style catching helmet. … Not sure if this was covered while I was away, but Luis Durango (who I believe is now back in the minors) was wearing a double-flapped throwback helmet a while back. Like most, but not all, double-flappers, he’s a switch-hitter (with thanks to Patrick Karraker). … Andrew McCutchen was apparently mic’d up for last night’s game, because the audio rig fell out of his back pocket (screen shot courtesy of Ryan Connelly). … Check out the tremendous sleeve patches on this old varsity sweater (with thanks to Robert Saietta). … “Stopped by my friend Barry Herem’s place a few days ago and took some pics of this batting helmet he recently designed,” writes Michael Princip. “It’s an example of Formline art, the graphic design system invented among the aboriginal peoples of West Coast Canada and Southeastern Alaska. It’s a highly disciplined two-dimensional style originally painted, carved in wood, and woven with wool. Formline art is now being applied in numerous ways to any surface, curved or flat.” You can see more of Harem’s artwork on his web site and at this gallery (which is right around the corner from Ebbets Field Flannels, don’tcha know). … If you haven’t already read the piece about Pete Rose’s apparently corked bat, I recommend it. I am not trying to kick-start the debate on Rose — just think it’s an unusually well-presented article. And after you’re done with it, there’s an intelligent follow-up analysis here.