When it comes to invasive species, things like kudzu and the Asian carp have nothing on the baseball cap, which has expanded far, far beyond its natural habitat. I could riff on all the ways in which the baseball cap has been culturally ubiquitous around the globe, but I already did that in a live presentation two summers ago, so I’ll just point you toward the text of that speech, which is available in this PDF.
Still, there are certain people, and certain places, that you’d figure would be impervious to the baseball cap’s advance. It is hard to imagine, for example, Queen Elizabeth wearing a baseball cap. Similarly, I think it’s a pretty safe bet that nobody at a Tibetan monastery is wearing a baseball cap.
Or at least that’s what I’ve always thought. Now, however, I’d say all bets are off.
Yikes. As it turns out, this isn’t the first time Benedict has taken us out to the ballgame, although that photo looks like it was just a promotional photo-op — very different than choosing to wear a ballcap for your daily stroll. The crazy thing about this is that the Pope already has special Papal headwear, ranging from simple to elaborate. When you have that stuff in your wardrobe, why would you ever wear a Good Humor cap? Then again, this particular Pope appears to have a fondness for going off the headwear reservation.
In all seriousness: It seems to me that the informal cap (a) clashes with the formality of the Pontiff’s vestments, and (b) is undignified for a man of his stature. But I’m not Catholic, so who am I to say? How about it, all you Catholics out there — what do you think of Benedict eschewing the zucchetto and tiara for the ballcap?
And before you answer that, here’s the worst part: If you scroll down to the second photo in that article you’ll see that the Pope’s cap was an adjusta-strap model! Jeez, what’s a Pope gotta do around here to get his own custom-sized chapeau?
Meanwhile, what do you think the over/under is on New Era calling the Vatican and offering to let the Pope design his own cap? I give it three days.
National interest: Yesterday afternoon I interviewed Rawlings marketing exec Kurt Hunzeker for an ESPN column that will run later this week. He told me something really interesting that probably won’t make it into the column but is worth sharing here. He said, “In talking with a lot of our old-timers here at Rawlings, it seems we did a lot more unusual stuff with National League teams, because the National League was more progressive and more willing to take chances and try something new.”
We all know the leagues had separate administrative offices, separate umpiring crews, and so on, and we all know the N.L. was way ahead of the curve when it came to integrating minority players into the game (esp. Hispanics, where the A.L. lagged behind for years). But I’d never considered how these separate league cultures might play out in terms of uni design. So it makes sense that the Pirates were the first team to go to stretch-knits, pullover jerseys, and beltless pants. This may also explain why most of the more outré designs of the 1970s (Houston’s tequila sunrise, San Diego’s pee-‘n’-poo, Atlanta’s feather sleeve, etc.) were worn by N.L. teams.
Uni Watch News Ticker: Giants closer Brian Wilson wore his orange all-star cleats last night, much to the displeasure of Marlins skipper Edwin Rodriguez. The umps apparently said, “Don’t look at us, we don’t enforce shoe-color rules, but didn’t the umps make CC Sabathia change cleats for precisely that reason back in the first game of the season? … Brad Wray spotted a guy wearing this very homemade Heat shirt at last night’s Astros game. … Here’s how the new Pac 10 logo will look as a patch. … Some EPL fans have finally figured out that teams changing their kits every single year is a bit of a scam (with thanks to Amanda Allen). … Lance Armstrong and his RadioShack team may face disciplinary sanctions because of that black jersey stunt the other day (with thanks to Jeremy Brahm). … New court design for the Cavs, and for some reason it doesn’t include Lebron’s face with a circle-slash, although I’m sure that was considered. … Reprinted from yesterday’s comments: Good video tour of the Redskins’ equipment room. … Striped socks are great, but what if you can’t wear socks? That shot is from the Sitting Volleyball World Championships, which recently took place in Edmond, Oklahoma. To learn more about sitting volleyball, check out this Wikipedia entry and this short video clip (another public service from Jeremy Brahm).