I’ve never run a “Letters to the Editor” or “Mailbag” section, in part because the comments section sort of serves that function already. But we know from our site analytics that most of you don’t read the comments (which is fine), so you probably didn’t see this post from reader Parish Glover on Monday:
Has Uni Watch lost its focus? This is one of the few blogs I check on a daily basis, but it seems like lately (past few months) the content has become intensely focused on a small handful of obscure fetishes while ignoring actual happenings in the world of sports uniforms. I realize that there are going to be slow days so it helps to have some fallback items, but it’s turning into navel-gazing.
Our lead story today is a bunch of 60-year-old photos [“There’s No Service Like Wire Service, Vol. 14”], while buried in the Ticker are new logos for teams in the NBA and MLS. Where are the priorities? The Timbers logo is worthy of some real discussion, particularly since it’s a revision of an existing logo. Why isn’t Uni Watch asking “Is it good or is it stupid?”
There’s a throwaway comment about the listing of opponents and dates on World Cup jerseys, which goes wholly uninvestigated. This should be the sort of thing that UW goes crazy over. First, it’s not a new phenomenon, so why not take a look at its history in both international competition and important club matches? Some countries puts flags on the shirts, some embroider the name of the opponent, some do nothing. Why aren’t we taking a look at who does what? Are there trends among manufacturers or regions?
Instead we get (essentially)… new logo for the Timbers … Nate Robinson wore a bracelet … fascinating development at the World Cup … here’s a picture of Raquel Welch from the ’70s
All of those are presented with an equal sense of importance. None of them have been given as much space as I would get if I sent in a poorly drawn sketch of a red Dallas Cowboys jersey idea I had when I was drunk. I feel like the amount of thought going into the posts is steadily decreasing. Am I alone in this? I’m interested in the topics the site purports to cover, but the disconnect between what I’m looking for and what I’m getting is getting to the point that I’m wondering if I should stop caring.
My first reaction to this is that it’s hilarious for a Uni Watch reader to complain about the site being overrun by “obscure fetishes.” This is like a fish complaining about water being wet, no?
My second reaction is that this critique, like much of the reader feedback I receive from time to time, essentially boils down to “Your version of Uni Watch doesn’t match up with what I want Uni Watch to be.” Some people love the historical content, others hate it; some people love the DIY stuff, others hate it; some people like it when I geek out over something like Stephen Strasburg’s perfectly bloused pants, others roll their eyes. So when Parish suggests that I’m ignoring “the topics the site purports to cover,” he’s really just trying to substitute his editorial priorities for mine, since the site has never purported to cover anything but athletics aesthetics — a very broad subject area that includes 60-year-old photos every bit as much as it includes brand-new logo revisions.
But I also think his larger point has plenty of merit and is good food for thought. In fact, a few months ago I was chatting with longtime reader Giancarlo, and I mentioned to him that I was worried that the Ticker had grown so big that I was basically listing information without providing any analysis of that information. And although I haven’t told this to anyone, lately I’ve been looking at some of Phil’s weekend entries and thinking to myself, “Damn, he put a lot of work into that one. I need to raise my game to keep up.”
So, yes: I plead guilty. There are times when breaking news ends up being reduced to a sentence or two in the Ticker, and there are also times when seemingly arcane historical details end up being fussed over endlessly. Some of this is a reflection of my tastes and priorities (which, again, may not always match Parish’s, or yours), but some of it is also the simple reality of there being only so many hours in a day. Parish is right — the bit about the opponents and dates on World Cup jerseys would be a great Uni Watch topic, except that I haven’t had time to investigate it fully, plus I don’t really care that much about soccer, plus-plus I really love running those old wire service photos, blah-blah-blah. Is that laziness? Maybe. Navel-gazing? I’ll let you be the judge.
Looking back, I think there’s no question that the Ticker used to have more of a “voice” and a point of view, whereas now it’s more of a list. Part of that is because my overall point of view is already well-established and I don’t feel the need to re-state it so often. Part of it is also that I trust you folks to pick and choose what’s important to you and come to your own conclusions. Part of it is that I’m busy with some non-Uni Watch projects that have cut into my time. And part of it is that I’m now flooded with so much uni-related information every day that I’m often treading water just to keep up with all of it and have no time for commentary or analysis. It’s tricky, because I’ve created a bit of a monster here — the more info I give you people, the more you give back. I love that, but it becomes an endless feedback loop. So I try to strike a quantity/quality balance and hope for the best.
There’s another issue at work here, which I was mentioning to Phil the other night: I feel like our standards of uni-newsworthiness have shifted a bit. Three years ago, something like the new Maple Leafs sweater would’ve been surefire lead-entry material. Now I feel like it’s not such a big deal, in part because so many other media sources now provide coverage of uni unveilings (hell, the Icethetics blog has better contacts in the hockey world that I do and is clearly the go-to source for something like a Maple Leafs unveiling). It used to be necessary for Uni Watch to provide that sort of coverage; now I feel like it’s less necessary. The whole world now talks about a new design when it’s unveiled, so there’s less need for me to talk about it. Of course, unveilings are still important, and I don’t mean to suggest that I’m never going to cover them again (indeed, I covered the new Jazz and Magic logos just the other day), but they’re no longer the Obvious Big Thing to Write About, at least to me. So I try to focus on things that are more unique, things that nobody else is doing. Maybe that means I’m delving into “obscure fetishes” after all.
I don’t agree with everything Parish wrote, but I do think he’s raised a lot of good issues, and I bet lots of you out there have similarly thoughtful feedback that’s worth hearing. So let’s do this: If you have thoughts about the general state of Uni Watch, positive or negative, please send them here (not in today’s comments, please). I’d prefer that you sign your real name, but anonymous or pseudonymous notes are alright. I’ll compile the most interesting submissions into a future entry.
Mind you, I won’t necessarily act on every suggestion you folks make. But I’m interested in hearing what you have to say, and I think it will be good for everyone to hear what other readers are thinking as well.
Okay, so this entry definitely qualifies as navel-gazing. But hopefully that’s just a one-time thing.
In case you missed it yesterday: The Warriors unveiled their new logo, which had already been leaked ages ago, yesterday afternoon. I covered it over on ESPN. (Also, if you go to the team’s home page, scroll down to the little video player, and click on “History of the Warriors’ Logo,” you’ll get a really nice video clip — recommended.)
Giveaway Results: The winner of the Africa Unity jersey is Adam Hancock. Thanks to all who entered — more giveaways coming soon.
Stirrup Club Reminder: Robert Marshall is now taking orders for the next round of Uni Watch Stirrup Club designs. Details here.
Brad Mielke’s World Cup Report
The USA’s victory — whoops, I mean draw — against England has led to a more visible American presence here in South Africa. Americans are wearing their jerseys and flags around Cape Town (poncho, too — it’s been a bit rainy out here) and congratulating each other on the streets. Meanwhile, English fans are pouring into Cape Town for Friday’s match against Algeria, and their presence is just a wee bit subdued.
Here are some of the highlights in the recent days of American and English fans:
• The return of the American sombrero.
• Dudes that insist on painting other dudes’ faces.
• The oldest tradition of them all: patriotic head-shaving.
Brinke Guthrie’s Collector’s Corner
Photo is from Christmas ’68, I think. Those are football PJs, of course.
Our latest eBay finds:
• A complete set of NFL drink coasters from the ’60s, and still in the box.
• Remember the NFL book series from the 1960s? Here’s a nice set of them.
• Great vintage Dolphins poster.
• Those colors and typography sure date this program cover to the early ’70s, don’t they?
• Why get an inflatable doll of a naked girl when you can get this L.A. Angels inflatable doll?
• I’d forgotten that the Houston Rockets were once in San Diego.
• And today’s Mets item for Lukas is …: a Mets kite. Did the Mets seriously have Kite Day? [Never seen that before. Interesting how it inverts the usual “Lets Go Mets!” chant, too. I’ll see what I can find out about it. — PL]
Uni Watch News Ticker: The Yomiuri Giants had been holding a contest to let kids design the team’s uniform for a game. Jeremy Brahm reports that hey’ve now announced the winner. Whatever you think of the results, the idea of letting fans design a uni for just one game isn’t a bad promotion — I’m surprised it doesn’t happen more often over here. … Speaking of which, the Grand Rapids Griffins are holding a jersey design contest for their New Year’s Eve game. … Reprinted from yesterday’s comments: Blue Jays pitcher Ricky Romero was missing the logo on his batting helmet on Wednesday. … Here’s a good page devoted to Colorado State football uniform history, with a corresponding page for basketball (good finds by Michael Thomas). … The West Michigan White Caps wore Led Zeppelin jerseys. No photos from the game yet (with thanks to Jacob Kubuske). … Jimbo Huening was at the Blackhawks Store in Chicago the other day and spotted a cap that was missing the team’s logo. “I might have bought it if it was marked down, but it wasn’t,” he says. … I haven’t found Mr. Met’s designer yet, but Brian Werling sent me a really sensational video clip about the guy who designed the Albuquerque Dukes’ logo and uniforms. Priceless stuff — don’t miss. … We all know NFL sleeves are disappearing anyway, so why not go all the way? (With thanks to Ryan Connelly.) … Mike Korczynski notes that Pedro Alvarez is wearing his cap over his ears. I remember John Maine doing this a year or two ago but can’t recall anyone else doing it. … Rare sight last night in Cleveland, as Jose Reyes went high-cuffed. … I don’t even know how to describe this next item — here, just go to this page and scroll down (and then blame MJ Kurs-Lasky). … Arkansas football fanatic Paul Watson notes that the Razorbacks had a lot of seriously scratched and scuffed helmets last season. “I’ve never noticed this much scratching on players’ helmets in previous years,” he says. Hmmmmm.