By Phil Hecken
About a month and half ago I took a look at monochrome in baseball as teams had undertaken that particular fashion statement, and followed that up last weekend with a look at monochrome in other lands, with a hint of what MLB teams of today might do were they to try to bring the look back for a third wave.
As we’ve seen, obviously monochrome has worked in the past (or at least I believe it has) and I think it could work again, but with the way the players wear their uniforms today, I would shudder at the thought of how awful it might look. Therefore, in order to examine a return to monochrome (for a few teams at least), there should be at least a few “rules” as to how the uniforms should be worn.
First and foremost, and perhaps the biggest obstacle, would the the requirement that the players sport hosiery — stirrups preferably, but at least highly visible socks. As we know, at one time, hosiery was every bit of an important element in a team’s uniform scheme as were sleeves and caps — often times moreso — as the legwear oftentimes served as a visual identifier. The Red Sox, White Sox and Browns, as well as the Red Stockings (and others) even derived their nicknames from the color of their hosiery. So, for any monochrome to work, teams will have to require some sockage.
If you don’t agree, lets take a look at some teams in monochrome mocks who don’t show sock (forgive the poor quality of some of these, as I created them a while ago): Braves, Astros, Orioles, Royals, and the Blue Jays (thanks, I think, to Ricko for that one). We’ve also seen how crappy it looks on foreign teams: Cuba, Korea (although I think that one actually has stirrups) and Taiwan. Clearly, some kind of hosiery is needed.
The other rules are more flexible, and perhaps not as “ironclad” as would the “sock rule” be. But for the most part, teams who might wear monochrome would look better (usually) if the stirrup/sock, sleeve and caps are of a constrasting color from the uniform. We’ll see how that works below; also, and again, not an ironclad rule, but the socks should usually be DARKER than the uniform (which, if a team is wearing navy blue or black, is nigh on impossible). For those teams who cannot wear a darker or contrasting sock color, stripes on the stirrups would almost be mandatory (not that that’s a bad thing regardless).
Finally, personally I’m not a fan of teams who sport two-tone caps (in most instances) with a brim and crown of different colors. For teams who go monochrome, however, oftentimes sporting the dual-color cap is a much better look. Not always, but sometimes.
For this exercise, I’m NOT proposing to drastically alter any team’s uniform — in fact, in most cases, it will simply be adding colored pants to an existing colored alternate top (thereby turning a softball outfit into an actual uniform); no logos or scripts will be changed. The only modifications to be looked at may be the addition of stripes, particularly to the pants and socks, and the possible addition of a two-tone cap. Perhaps in a future post we’ll examine a full-scale introduction of a brand new monochrome alternate, but for the time being, all changes will be made within the existing structure of a team’s current uniform.
Additionally, while I will examine the possibility (however remote or impossible that may be) of every team exploring an alternate all-solid color uni, I am not advocating for it — as you’ll see, there are many teams for whom this fashion statement would not only look awful, but would be an obvious impossiblity — teams who don’t even have an alternate — for example, the Yankees and Tigers — it would be doubtful to think a monochrome uniform would make any sense. For other teams, it would be an obvious reach and completely ridiculous, but for a few teams, I think it could work, and might be worth future exploration.
OK, enough of my yakkin’ — let’s get to the uniforms!
Today I’ll explore half of the American League, and base any “recommendations” on several criteria, including whether or not the team currently wears an alternate top, whether the team has worn monochrome in the past, and just how good (or bad) such a uniform might actually look.
One final rule — IF (and that’s a big if) any team were to adopt a monochrome alternate, and it might actually work, it should ONLY be worn very sparingly, at night (for the most part) and ONLY on the road. A dark uniform in baseball has ALWAYS been indicative of the uniform worn by the visiting team (except of course, in those wild and crazy days in the 70s, some of which spilled over into the 80s, where teams wore white pants everywhere). That look, however colorful (dark jersey over white pants) is the softball look many of us disdain so much.
Last weekend, Ricko saw a few of my mocks and offered his own take on some of the teams who might go mono. Below, where noted, are some of Ricko’s own takes — says Mr. Pearson, “please note on my stuff that I KNOW they’re crude. I always primarily try to get a “feel” for how a uni would look from a distance, not up close and under inspection, but when watching, say, a DP being turned, either on TV or from the second deck. If it looks bad under those circumstances, it doesn’t matter how cool it looks in a perfect digital photo on the Internet.”
Enough with the rules, here we go:
Baltimore Orioles:. The O’s might actually be a candidate for monochrome. They’ve worn it in the past, they currently have TWO alternates (black and orange, although the orange is their BP jersey), and they have great stirrups they can pair with a mono uni. But should they wear a black alternate or an orange one? And, should they keep the classic stirrups or adapt them to better fit the uni scheme? The original monochrome orange had solid black stirrups and wide sleeve stripes (which might explain why it was only worn a handful of times). Frankly, I think an all black with classic stirrups and the (already present) two-tone bill would work. They could also go with three-striped stirrups and orange sanis, but that might be overkill.
Ricko’s take: Notes on Orioles.
We saw them in mono orange. Photos been posted here many times.
Went to black, drawing from this. Here then is Ricko’s Orioles (three versions). Then did a stirrup version. Added one with the classic Brooks Robinson socks and, because of the white stripes on the stirrups, I figured it could use a white outline on the lettering and numerals.
The Verdict: With a history of monochrome (albeit orange), two current alternates, great stirrups and a two-tone cap, I’d say the Orioles would be a candidate for monochrome in the future.
Boston Red Sox: While the Red Sox have no history of monochrome, they currently sport two alternate colored tops. For a team which such a rich uniform tradition, it’s kind of surprising they’d have two softball jerseys, but the merchandising gods must be at work. While they do have some great stirrups in their history, it’s hard to picture them being a candidate for monochrome. Be that as it may, lets take a look at how they might fare. Although they have a red alternate, it’s hard to see them wearing a full-on red uniform, even when paired with their current cap and the throwback stirrups. On the contrary, it’s even harder to picture the Red Sox in all navy, (with red stirrups) in any capacity, even with classic or slightly modified stirrups.
The Verdict: Nope. They shouldn’t even wear blue or red tops, let alone a full-blown color monochrome uniform.
Chicago White Sox: Another prime candidate. They don’t have a two-tone cap, but that’s ok. But they do long history dating back to the turn of last century and lasting for more than a decade of wearing monochrome. They were also one of the teams who brought the look back in the mid-70s and 80s. Plus, they seem to wear their current black alternate top more often than either of their “official” tops. The only real question with the Chisox, then, is what color socks or sock stripes or stirrups should they go with? They are, after all, called the White Sox, but that really isn’t a great look. Still, neither is a solid black stirrup (and those pants definitely need some kind of stripe — perhaps one echoing the sleeve stripe?) Any way you slice it, I’d say that, for the American League, the Chisox would be one of three or maybe four candidates for whom the return to monochrome could work. Failing that, perhaps a much more gray, perhaps a charcoal gray might be an option.
Ricko’s take: Did mess around with the White Sox. Used a tube sock as in ’76-’81, removed current “diamond sox” from left sleeves, moved it to outside of socks as in the Dick Allen red pins era. Then did a super-minimalist version with the striping on jersey and pants removed. Undersleeves probably would be white, as they were with navy jerseys from ’76-’81.
The Verdict: Hell yes. The White Sox have such a history with monochrome, it seems logical that they’d come full circle and reintroduce it. Maybe even bring back that “old school” font as well. They wear the black alternate so often, they might as well just make it a permanent addition to their wardrobe and pair it with black pants for road use.
Cleveland Indians: Yet another decent candidate, especially since the Indians do have a history of wearing dark monochrome both in the distant past in the their more recent lineage. Those 70’s bloodclots were something, weren’t they? They also possess a two-tone cap. But, unlike the 70’s they no longer wear a red top, so they’d most likely need to wear blue monochrome if they were to return to it. The only questions would be what type of socks and should they ditch Chief Wahoo? Personally, I like that last one the best, but I could see how red based socks and sleeves would provide more contrast. But a return to red? No way Jose.
Ricko’s take: Tried the late ’60s Indians socks with that mono navy.
The Verdict: If no other teams (or maybe one) were to go mono, I’d say the Indians could probably pull it off. Clearly they have it as a past look and if properly done, it might just work. If one or two other teams sported a mono-navy look, then the Indians wouldn’t be unique and just blend in, but if they were to go it alone, they’d certainly not be the worst dressed team in baseball.
Detroit Tigers: OK, before I even show you these mocks, I’m going to say “it’ll never happen.” (Although for a very brief period, even the traditional Tigers did wear monochrome.) But that doesn’t mean we can’t see how they might look in mono-navy, right? Actually, it might not look that bad. Way too much navy on that mockup tho, so they would definitely need to bring forth more of that beautiful orange, including adding a two-tone cap and stirrups like they wore from 1950 thru 1953. I don’t see this look ever happening, but it’s not entirely unwearable.
The Verdict: No. Not because they couldn’t but because they would never (I know, “never say never”) consider it. Their home white and dark navy is a classic, with the Old English D, and that should never be messed with, but for the roads, I think adding a bit more orange (as shown in the brim and stirrups) might be worth strong consideration, even if only for pairing with the gray roads.
Kansas City Royals: An interesting candidate. They already have two different alternate tops (powder blue and royal blue) and a couple different caps. In last year’s “Old Timer Game,” venerable George Brett even gave a hint that a return to monochrome baby blue might be in the offing. I know some of you don’t consider “powder blue” to be in the same category as “monochrome,” but it is. So, should the Royals go back to wearing it? While I didn’t like a number of the powder blue uniforms of the 1960s-late 1980s, I did love the Royals’. Might be worth a shot. But what about a monochome royal uniform? That’s an awful lot of blue, but other than powder blue or white, there really aren’t a lot of choices for the Royals to go with for socks/sleeves/caps. I actually kind of like the all mono-royal, but it’s too much. But if any team should wear all royal, well, it’s the Royals. Maybe it’s best if they just consider a return to the powder blues for the road, like they used to wear. It’s still a great look.
The Verdict: Powder — yes. Royal — no. Although, anything is better than a few years ago when they lost their senses and thought BFBS was a good idea.
Los Angeles Angels (of Anaheim): No past history of monochrome, no current two-toned bill, and a solid sock color throughout their history — none of which bodes well for a ‘monochrome alternate’. About the only thing going for them would be the fact that they currently wear a red althernate jersey. But so do eight other teams. And if there is going to be one candidate for an all red uniform, the Angels won’t be it. Nevertheless, lets see how they might look. Well, if they changed nothing but the pants color, they’d look awful. That’s waaaaayyy too much red. However, surprisingly, if you actually swapped in some blue, especially for the uniform numbers, socks and brim, it doesn’t look as bad as you might think. In fact, adding those features to the current uniform (minus the colored pants) might not be a bad idea, especially since the Angels have traditionally been a blue and red team. How might they look in all red but with some stirrup stripes? Not much better. Like I said above, if any team is a candidate for the all-red, the Angels are NOT that team. But there may be one — perhaps you’d like to take a guess who that might be.
The Verdict: Of the seven teams we’ve looked at so far, I’d have to say the Angels would be the LEAST likely (and would look the worst) of any of them. That being said, I wouldn’t mind seeing them add a bit more blue to their current uniform, just not red pants.
Whew. Well, there you have the first volley in our look at monochrome in baseball. Let me reiterate that I’m not necessarily advocating any team go to the look, but for those teams who insist upon wearing their softball tops, have monochrome in their past, and could possibly pull it off, it’s certainly worth exploring. What do you all think?
Next time, we’ll finish up with the American League, and there are definitely a few teams in the second batch who might be candidates for monochrome, including one who recently wore it for a throwback game earlier this season and have a history of wearing it in their past. I’m sure you can figure out which team that is.
What say you all? I know many of us who grew up with the polyester double-knits and lots of color may be more inclined to accept the monochrome than others, and I am certainly not implying that more than a few teams should even consider it. But as long as teams keep pushing the (boring) alternate top envelope, why not see about making those tops into actual uniforms.
The floor is yours.
You can’t steal first. But sometimes it sure feels that way. Here’s Rick:
Hustle. Hustle. Hustle. Hustle. Hustle. Hustle. Hustle. Hustle. Hustle. Hustle. Hustle. Or so said every single baseball coach worth a damn that any of us has had since we were six.
Here’s your Saturday Benchies.
Back again with more Uniform Tweaks, Concepts and Revisions today. Lots to get to, and if you have a tweak, change or concept for any sport, send them my way. Still finding the tweaks have slowed to a trickle, so if you have something you’d like to show, give me a shout.
Starting off today we have Brian Shane, who is adding on to his own tweak, as it were:
In the two-hole today is Matt Foster, who has a new concept for the Magic:
My name is Matt Foster and I have a design for an Orlando Magic alternate jersey. Seeing as how the Magic have only been around since 1989 but have changed their uniforms many times I tried to include many of the ideas from the former jerseys into this design. The black color is contrast to the Magic’s away blue jerseys and also the black with the white pinstripes is a look back at the original away jersey. The overall design of the jersey is taken from their current jerseys, as is the font of “Orlando” and the numbers and name on the back. The color of the side panels of the jersey feature the “stars” design from the jerseys of the T-Mac era, and the collar is reminiscent of the 2003-2008 jerseys. Thank you
Rounding out the tweak show today is Paul Lee, who adds a history lesson along with his submissions:
I’ve previously submitted this Lakers tweak, and since then, I’ve seen the Lakers replica away jersey change numbers from white to gold, and the Lakers authentic shooting shirt numbers go from purple to gold, and the player name on the championship jersey go from purple to gold, as well.
Maybe the Lakers are going to make those changes next year. I actually had Old School Classics whip me up a white alternate jersey with both gold player names and numbers. What do you think?
A bit of history…
Starting with the last Jordan title in 1997-98, only six teams have won the NBA title (Bulls, Spurs, Lakers, Pistons, Heat, Celtics), and all were Nike teams. Let me elaborate: after the 1996-97 season, Champion lost their exclusive right to manufacture the official jerseys for all (then 29) NBA teams. Nike, Champion and Starter divvied up the teams into three groups, with Nike and Champion each getting ten teams, and Starter getting nine. (Puma later took over the Starter teams two years later.) It appears that Nike may have cherry-picked the better teams to make jerseys for, since no non-Nike teams have won after Champion lost their exclusive deal. (Note: Champion is apparently still the exclusive licensee for all NBA jerseys—in Europe. That deal, however, will expire in 2010. Beginning in October 2010, adidas will become the official provider in Europe, as well, as they are here in the United States.)
Out of those five teams that won titles after 1998, three (Lakers, Pistons, Heat) wore the Nike-designed jersey introduced in 1999-2000. (Note: When Reebok became the exclusive licensee, they kept the Nike-design fairly intact, swapping fabrics for certain teams and updating the jocktags. Ditto for adidas.)
Interestingly enough, the years that the Pistons (2004) and the Heat (2006) won, they played against teams that also wore that same Nike-design (Lakers and Mavericks, respectively). So, out of the five teams that adopted the Nike-design (Lakers, Pistons, Heat, Mavericks and Raptors), only the Raptors have failed to make it to the NBA Finals altogether, and of those who have made it to the Finals, only the Mavs failed to finish up the job. Doing the math now…4 out of 5 Nike V-neck teams made it to the Finals, and 3 out of those 4 teams won the whole thing. Maybe every team should start wearing those threads.
To recap: There were ten “Nike teams.” All ten have already—or since—won the NBA title. Half of the original ten Nike teams have won the NBA title (since the 1999-2000 season), and half have not. The Mavericks at least managed to get there, though, and the Chicago Bulls and the Portland Trail Blazers are making progress. No Champion nor Starter/Puma teams have won a title since the Rockets successfully defended their title in 1995. (I think every team wore Champion back then.)
Anyway, here’s how I would “tweak” the jerseys for the Bulls, the Celtics and the Spurs (basically keeping their jersey elements and transporting them to the then-Nike-designed jersey) as well as a color tweak to the Miami home and alternate jerseys. With the exception of the 76ers (1983) and the Houston Rockets (1994, 1995), this would cover all the teams that won the NBA title since 1980, i.e., the last 28 out of 31 NBA champions.
That will do it for the tweak show today. Still coming in slowly, so keep them coming. More tomorrow.
Back at the beginning of the 2010 season, I announced the 2010 Uni Tracking that a number of us do. Last year, I devoted about four full weekend columns to it, and that was probably a bit much for most of us to take in one dose, so this year, I’ll occasionally post the updated tracking of certain teams as the trackers send them in. So, if you’ve been doing your due diligence with your team, send me your mid-season tracking reports, and I’ll post them as a “sub article” on the weekends. OK? OK!
We have up today Alex Puncochar, who is tracking the Minnesota Twins. Here’s Alex:
The Twins are a more traditional team. By that, I mean they don’t overuse their alternate uniforms throughout the season. They spread out the usage of the navy blue alts and the 1960s throwbacks, so we get a good dose of pinstripes during a given year.
My elaborate chart tracks each and every game of the 2010 season. I made sure to include the score, winning and losing pitchers (and the saving pitcher if necessary), and, most importantly, the uniform that they wore for the game. I used the basis of the template that Alex Poterack created, and I’d like to thank him for the inspiration :).
In addition, I also made a chart of each pitcher’s record while wearing each uniform. If Ron Gardenhire had access to this, he’d use it to make certain pitcher’s wear certain uniforms to guarantee them a win.
Next up is Eric Smallman, who check in with his Seattle Marinier update:
Here are the latest gory details for the team with the 26th-best (or fifth-worst, depending how you look at it) record in MLB, the Seattle Mariners.
– Eric Smallman
Thanks Alex & Eric. Now that we’re just past the mid-way point in the season, it’s a great time to send in your mid-season updates. Keep up the great work, fellow trackers!
The 2010 World Cup closed down last weekend, after a pretty darn good month of soccer. I admit I watched more football in the past month than I’d seen in the past four years — but hey, it was the World Cup. Other than those infernal vuvuzelas, I very much enjoyed it. So, to close down the coverage of this quadrennial event, we have our final “Five and One” featuring Jim Vilk and Mike Engle, who bring you their overall five best, and one worst, uniform matchups for the 2010 World Cup.
We’ll start the show with francophile and ex-pat Mike Engle, with his rundown:
5) Denmark v Japan: The best of the red v blue “foosball” games. I remember this game just barely missed out on a 5&1 spot because it was in a tough week. I’m making up for that final cut by giving those red shirts their due. A collared shirt with a groovy pattern? Damn straight, I’d wear that.
4) France v South Africa: The South African design team either “stuck to the Springboks’ colors” or severely punted by not giving the host nation (with a beautiful flag to boot) anything more exciting. But they allowed the French to mimic their tri-colore flag while keeping the contrast, so it is still a good uniform matchup.
3) Brazil v Ivory Coast: As a francophone who once attended a green-and-orange-clad high school in New Orleans, I’d wear the Ivory Coast shirt because I like stripes. As a newbie soccer fan, I probably wouldn’t hop on the bandwagon too quickly by wearing the Brazil jersey. But still, a good match-up.
2) Ghana v Serbia: As much as I loved Serbia for beating Germany, they looked too red that game. They look better in the royal shorts, and they contrasted flawlessly against Ghana in their all-whites with black stars.
1) Paraguay v New Zealand: The. Best-Looking. Game. Period. The contrasting colors are high-lighted by a “stripes v solids” factor. Paraguay looks great here, and New Zealand looks correct in all-black. A very easy pick for best-of-the-best.
And the game of shame:
Uruguay v Germany (third place): If the Netherlands can suddenly acquire orange shorts in the middle of the tournament, Germany could have requested gold-striped black shorts after seeing how shitty the mismatch looked the first time. Didn’t look any better. GERMAN FAIL! Meanwhile, to borrow a line from Greg Anthony for Uruguay: “That doesn’t look like North Carolina. That looks like some girl named Caroline.” (Greg Anthony isn’t a fan of the Denver Nuggets’ uniforms.) All in all, after all those tournament games, both teams looked wrong enough to clinch the “game of shame” status.
Thank you Michael. And thanks for joining up (and volunteering) with Jim over the past month. And now, the one, the only, Mr. 5 & 1 Himself, Jim Vilk:
Honorable Mention to the finalists, Netherlands/Spain: The Dutch played like prison inmates, while Spain played as brilliantly as they looked.
Another Honorable mention to South Africa/Uruguay: Hosts were gracious and well-dressed, and plucky Uruguay’s swirly socks looked much better in white.
5) Cameroon/Netherlands: My color palette special of the tourney.
4) Serbia/Australia: OK, a co-color palette special…
3. Germany/Spain: Spain looked great in any of their combos — a worthy champion, indeed.
2. Slovenia/England: Both jerseys very high up on my “I’d wear that” list.
1. Paraguay/New Zealand: Paraguay had my favorite uni of the tournament, which really stood out next to those All-Blacks.
And the game of shame:
Mexico/France: Fish gills vs. radioactive armpits?
With the World Cup over, there’s nothing left to do but swap shirts. Thanks, South Africa, for a great month of football!
Indeed, thanks to the host nation
and death to the pricks who provided all of those goddam vuvuzelas for a great tourney, and again, to Mike & Jim. College Football season starts up soon, so I’ll give Senor Vilk the rest of the summer off to rest up for those college football matchups we all look forward to.
Remembering Shep & Stein: As expected, the Yankees and their fans paid homage to The Boss and PA Announcer Bob Sheppard at the Stadium last evening. El Capitain led a pre-game tribute and Mo Rivera laid a pair of roses at home plate.
But the uni-related news was that the Yankees, as reported by Paul on Tuesday evening, was that the Yankees would be sporting two memorial patches, one for Bob Sheppard, who Reggie Jackson once called “The Voice of God” and the other for George Steinbrenner. The Boss’ patch was worn atop the interlocking NY and Shep’s was worn on the left sleeve. Both were large, and I’m not so sure I like the placement on the front of the jersey, but that’s not my call. Considering they could have put it on the other sleeve or above the Shep patch, I guess the intent was to keep the Boss close to the heart.
It was a good night for the Yankees, though, as they came back from a couple deficits to defeat the rival Rays. What started out as a somber evening ended with the standard shaving cream facial. That never gets old.
OK boys and girls, that’s another one for the books. Everyone have a good Saturday.
Winning is the most important thing in my life, after breathing. Breathing first, winning next. — George M. Steinbrenner III