For a couple of years now, webmaster John Ekdahl has been telling me — and I’ve been telling some of you — that we’re going to give the site a major design overhaul. Big changes, a completely different look, a serious makeover.
This is not that redesign.
It is, however, a good first step and, we hope, a major upgrade in the site’s security, functionality, and public face. We still need to tinker with a few things, but overall we think we’re in pretty good shape. Here are some highlights:
• As many of you are aware, we’ve had trouble over the past 10 days or so with viruses, malware, and the like. It turns out that it wasn’t just us — this same problem affected scores of sites that use WordPress (our blogging software) and are hosted by Rackspace (our web host provider). John has taken the appropriate steps to remove this problem, plus he’s also upgraded the site’s architecture in all sorts of ways that I don’t understand but that he assures me should improve our security.
• The new logo you see at the top of the page was designed by Scott Turner over a year ago (I bet he’ll be surprised to see it there today). It’s sort of been creeping into some of our ancillary designs, like the Uni Watch Twitter page, and I’m really happy to finally have it here on the home page. I love the magnifying glass theme, which sums up Uni Watch so perfectly. Meanwhile, an echo of the old stirrup logo can be found hanging at the beginning of each new entry (that was Ek’s idea).
• Another thing about the new logo: It’s clickable. So if you’re on any other page within the site and want to get back to the home page, you can simply click on the header logo. Of course, you could also click on the “Home” tab, which leads us to…
• We finally have normal-sized (and normally positioned) navigation tabs. You’ll see we’ve added a tab for our ongoing research projects, like Tim Brulia’s “White at Home in the NFL” listing.
• The “Categories” listing, which used to take up, like, a mile of space in the right-hand rail, is now a housed in a pop-up menu. Much better.
• Just below that, you’ll see that the site’s archives are also accessible in a pop-up menu.
• The “Links” listing (or what other sites call a blogroll, but I’ve never liked that term) is now called “Uni Watch Recommends.” Unfortunately, we can’t put it in a pop-up menu, so for now it’s just one huge collapsible list. But we’ll try to organize it into several sublists — baseball, football, etc. — soon.
• The center text column is now about 10% wider than it was before. John chose to do this because so many people have bigger, wider monitors now. It does mean that some of the site’s previous entries may look a little funny (a photo that used to fill the entire width of the text column will no longer do so, for example), but I’m not going to worry about that for now.
• You know how annoying it gets when you get a huge, nested thread of quoted comments? The new commenting functionality should help avoid that, because now you can reply to a specific comment within a thread. In other words, you don’t have to reply to the entire thread — just to the most recent comment in that thread. Or at least that’s the idea. I’m eager to see how that works.
Those are the biggies. Go ahead and poke around, get used to the new set-up, etc. I’m sure there will be some initial hiccups, plus there may be some little things we’ve overlooked, so if you spot a technical or functional problem with the new design, please tell me, and thanks in advance for your patience with any glitches that crop up. And if anyone is still getting virus warnings, definitely tell me, and please send along a screen shot of the warning message while you’re at it.
Okay, then — onward, upward, and all that.
Mr. Met Paternity Update: Got a note on Tuesday evening from a kid from the Mets’ PR office, proudly telling me that he’d solved the mystery of Mr. Met’s creator. After consulting with an old AP beat writer, he said, he’d determined that Mr. Met’s creator was the sports cartoonist Willard Mullin, who illustrated most of the Mets’ early yearbook covers. Ta-da!
But as I immediately pointed out to him, Mullin always signed his work, and his style was nothing like the style of Mr. Met. After checking with a few other sources, the PR guy said, “It appears my Mets historians agree with you. Back to square one.” So if not for my own familiarity with the subject, the Mets PR office would now be telling the world the wrong story about Mr. Met’s origins. Great job, guys, just great.
Meanwhile, that same night I got a note from reader Steven Presser, who’d been trying to find the answer by looking through his large collection of rare Mets publications:
In 1965, the Mets produced a coloring book, which appears to have been illustrated by whoever created the Mets mascot. [I disagree — these look like they’re patterned after the original style but not by the original artist. — PL] I was sure that this coloring book would have credited the illustrator, but no credits were given anywhere.
Another publication I have is a Mets Sing-Along book published in 1967. While this book is illustrated throughout, the drawings appear to be by someone other than Mr. Met’s originator (since when does Mr. Met have nostrils?). Of course, these pics are credited, to someone named Doc Calhoun.
So no answers yet, but at least we’ve gotten to see some cool old publications.
Uni Watch News Ticker: Question: When the Maple Leafs unveiled their new jerseys the other day, at least one person mentioned in the comments that they had a new NOB font. That would be a major development — their recent NOB font has been awful — but I haven’t seen any rear-view photos of the new design. If anyone has access to such images, please fill me in. … Johan Santana was using a baseball-patterned bowling ball at a charity bowling event the other day. … The Orioles have added retired numbers to the left field upper deck. “They’re a welcome addition, as the only place retired numbers had previously been acknowledged was in the plaza outside the warehouse with the Babe Ruth statue,” says Ken Levin. … Here’s a brutally negative assessment of the Warriors’ new logo. … William Yurasko notes that the cover photo on the new Henry Aaron book shows Aaron wearing a cap with a logo patch, not an embroidered logo. … Not sure if this is a Photoshop job or what, but Warren Humphrey sent along this odd shot of an old Hawks/Sixers game with one player wearing some sort of helmet. Anyone know more? … Rob Ullman — who I’m finally gonna get to meet in early July, after digging his work for several years now — has done his first soccer pin-up illo. … I’ve noted several times that Victor Martinez uses a first baseman’s mitt when catching Tim Wakefield’s knuckler. Here’s an article about that, along with a companion piece about R.A. Dickey’s catcher’s mitts. … Here’s a decent piece about Bethanie Mattek-Sands and her on-court look. … A pair of European soccer fans are trying to make the world’s biggest soccer shirt (with thanks to David Pealing). … New logo for Italy’s Serie A soccer league (with thanks to Jeremy Brahm). … Nearly 10 minutes’ worth of sensational deadball-era video video footage available here (awesome find by Marc Swanson). … Guess who collects throwback jerseys? Rex Ryan. … Someone on the Chris Creamer site spotted this image on a sneaker site — could that be the 2011 NBA All-Star uni? As several other folks pointed out, it matches the font from the logo, which had already been released. … Remember that Sharks anniversary patch we got a glimpse of a while back? Here’s a much better version. According to this article (which credit’s the patch’s designer — wish more teams would do that), the patch will be worn “on the left sleeve underneath the player’s number and above the stripe.” That led someone on the Chris Creamer board to do this mock-up, which looks awfully busy, no? Has there ever been an NHL patch positioned in that spot? Meanwhile, you can see the rest of the team’s anniversary branding here. Another Chris Creamer participant says the second one from the right will be the center-ice logo next season. … Andy Malonis and I bouth want to know what’s up with those fuzzy pants John Wooden was wearing in that SI cover photo? … Kudos to Josh Neisler‘s sister, who made him a birthday cake based on a Mark Price Cavs jersey. … Also from Josh: “Check out this nifty Chelsea FC classic kit archive. Conveniently, you just float over each kit and a larger image appears.” … Terence Kearns is taking suggestions for how he should customize a Mets jersey. … Two weeks ago I noted that Edwin Rosario was wearing an undershirt with the MLB logo on the front neckline. Now Eric Swartzwelder has spotted Jamie Moyer wearing the same thing. I’m fairly certain these guys are not wearing their undershirts backwards. Instead, this marks the return of an undershirt design that several players wore last year, including Mark Teixeira. … Back in the 1950s, SI used little action figures — or “manikins,” as they called them — to help preview upcoming games. Larry Bodnovich has gathered a bunch of these images into this gallery. … The good news: The Grafton Lake Sox, a Massachusetts summer-league team for players 16 to 19 years old, have an awesome sock design. The bad news: Those are bogus two-in-ones, not real stirrups (with thanks to the team’s GM, Joe Kuras). … Mariners infielder Jack Wilson, who recently had a rehab stint with the Tacoma Rainiers, was still wearing a Rainiers logo on his batting helmet when he rejoined the big club on Tuesday (good spot by Adam Lawrence). … Everyone’s saying John Axford looks like Rollie Fingers, although I suspect they’d look nothing like each other if you shaved off both their ’staches. … Ever wonder what the grooves on a record would look like under an electron microscope? Me neither, but it’s pretty damn amazing (thanks, Kirsten). … Latest player to
make the case for abolishing button-front jerseys lose a grounder in his jersey: Brooks Conrad (video capture courtesy of Matthew Robins). … Brilliant catch by Grant Goldman, who noticed that new Yanks call-up Colin Curtis has been wearing a road jersey with a blue/white/red MLB logo, instead of the blue/white/silver design being used this year. And since he’s wearing No. 27, that means they gave him one of Joe Girardi’s jerseys from last year. … Months ago I ran this photo of the Reds’ experimental “air-conditioned” cap. Now it looks like one of them is up for auction (good find by Bruce Menard). … Decent video survey of Islanders jersey history here. And if you look closely, you’ll see what appears to be their new road jersey. … Here’s an analysis of which soccer kit colors win most often. … Ebbets Field Flannels is looking for investors. … Two more from Grant Goldman, who noticed that the laundry tags on Dontrelle Willis’s socks were showing last night and that Blaine Boyer was wearing a camo under-undershirt.