By Phil Hecken, with R. Scott Rogers
I get lots of uniform tweaks sent my way every week, so when I got this submission from R. Scott Rogers with this opening, “This probably doesn’t count, since it’s not an actual team, but I just finished tweaking logos & unis for my fantasy baseball team,” I wasn’t quite sure what to make of it. “Fantasy team?” I said. “Like, is this just some funzy-doodle you created in a notebook when you were ten and now you have the skills to make it look really professional looking?”
Curious, I asked Scott to elaborate. Turns out Scott is in a league of fantasy baseball players and it’s serious business. I gave up RPG and video games around college — of course, back then it was Dungeons & Dragons and Atari 2600, and before that, electronic football and Strat-o-matic, not the amazing stuff available today. When I was a little kid, I created my own baseball teams, like many of us did — but it never got past the making up team names, player names, and, of course unis — kept them all in one of those marble-covered “composition” books. They’re probably still in my folks’ attic somewhere. Occasionally I’ll think about them when Paul has an item on “refrigerator art” or some such.
So, when Scott contacted me with what was “more than a tweak,” needless to say I jumped at the chance to find out more. I wanted to capture the … the sights, the sounds… the smells of a hard-working fantasy baseball player. And I got that; I got more … a lot more. But hey, enough of my yakkin’ — whaddaya say? Here’s Scott:
I have a submission for Uni Tweaks – only I thought that my tweak might not qualify, as it’s for my fantasy baseball team, not a pro or college (or, well, real) team.
But then I got to thinking, and it occurs to me that fantasy sports unis may be the last frontier of uni watching, the Alaska to normal uni watching’s Lower Forty-Eight. It’s estimated that fantasy sports generates between $3 billion and $4 billion in annual economic activity. That places it ahead of the NHL ($2.7 billion) and the NBA ($3.3 billion) in annual revenues. And with upwards of 34 million participants, fantasy sports ranks second only to the NFL in terms of American audience size. Indeed, polls suggest that more than one quarter of all American men participate in fantasy sports.
With that participation, for many fantasy “team owners,” comes a desire for the accoutrements of reality – a team logo, maybe uni designs, or a helmet or a cap. I know it certainly does for me. The fantasy league I’m in, or rather that I was in, and then left, and am now returning to, is an APBA dice-rolling game where managers play 162 games a year using cards and dice. Not your usual roto setup where you just collect players and track stats. Anyway, point is, it’s a lot of work, week in, week out, and yet I can’t even begin to think about the upcoming draft or the logistics of my roster and who I’m going to have available for any given series during the April-November season until I have a clear idea of exactly what my team would look like if it were real. Because over the course of a year, I’ll spend enough time with this team that it will be kind of real.
Since my league plays actual games, but the managers are spread across North America, most of the time the home manager plays the games alone using detailed instructions sent each month by the visiting team’s manager. (Yes, the trust level is high.) I like to hope that sending my instructions with team-logo letterhead, and maybe a little illustration or photoshop number showing my team’s uniform in action adds a little bit of intimidation factor.
All that leads me, like many fantasy participants, to while away far too much time dreaming up logos and uniforms for my team. Some even go as far as DIY or custom-manufactured caps and jerseys. Back in 2005, when I returned from overseas and the Rhijnspoorplein Rhubarbs became the Old Town Rhubarbs, I found a custom uni maker – Hopco Sports – willing to make a Rhubarbs uni to spec, complete with chain-stitched sleeve patch. Then a sixpack or three slipped to the embroidery man at my local Lids store got me my cap logo in digitized form to make a couple of fitted Rhubarbs caps.
If I had to do it over again, and I just might, I’d probably go to Alain at Classic Old School or DIY ninja Frosty, both friends of UW. A little Googling turned up a gallery of fantasy customs, mostly football, made by the Fantasy Sports factory.
Returning to my old fantasy league after a five-year absence meant updating and tweaking my team’s logos and unis. Chiefly, this meant changing the team name from Old Town, now that I no longer live in Alexandria, Virginia. Moved down to Prince William County a couple of years back. With the Civil War Sesquicentennial coming up, I decided on the Bull Run Rhubarbs.
Next, I needed a slogan. Back in ’04, I decided that my team’s schtick would be to have a different motto each season. Not an ad campaign kind of thing like “Twins Territory,” but more like a rallying cry. In part to take the edge off all the losing I usually do. Since I was then on the cusp of fielding a potentially winning team, I chose “.506 or Fight!” Next, when a playoff berth was a slim-but-real possibility in 2005, it was the Irish battlecry “Fág an Ballagh!” which roughly means, “Clear the way!”
For 2011, since the dispersal and rookie drafts aren’t likely to yield a talent-rich roster for my team’s first year back, I chose the motto, “Donnybrook!” Because entertaining chaos is kind of the best I can expect from my team. (It’s also the title of a very good book about the First Battle of Bull Run, which was every bit as much a disaster for the good guys as the 2011 season will probably be for my Rhubarbs.)
Those ideas set, it was time to put together the new logos and unis. Aside from wording changes, the biggest tweaks came in switching from a standard baseball Tuscan font to the 2007 Reds custom font for uniform and logo elements, including the road script and uni numbers. I just love that Reds font; I think it ought to be to baseball in the twenty-first century what Tuscan was in the twentieth.
Now, I know there’s a lot that will look derivative in the Rhubarbs logos and unis. I’ll cop to where I
ripped off was inspired by teams whose unis I like. The home script, for example, draws definite inspiration from the Brew Crew. But the letters are all my own work, and the drop shadow is a 3D effect, not a straight down-and-to-the-right number. And yeah, the contrast front numbers are 100 percent Dodgers. Some things are just too right not to copy.
Where I stand by my originality is the road uni color, which I chose in 2002 as I prepared for the 2003 fantasy season, a full year before the Padres introduced tan into non-fantasy baseball. My league, the Lame Duck Baseball Association, has a manager in San Diego, so perhaps a copy of my series instructions with tan-uni illos found its way to the Friars front-office and inspired the team. Or not. Anyway, there’s also the important distinction that where the Padres wear, or wore, khaki, the Rhubarbs wear golden brown. Entirely different colors.
So, that’s what the 2011 Bull Run Rhubarbs will look like. Unless I change my mind and work up an entirely new team name and logo before the draft in March. Old Dominion Moonshiners? Mount Vernon Founders? Cow Branch Spirits? Oooh, wait, I have an idea for that …
Well, there you have it. Possibly more than you ever wanted to know about the world of fantasy baseball, but fascinating nonetheless. I am curious as to whether anyone else plays (or participates) in fantasy leagues. If so, is it similar to Scott’s, different … something else entirely? Do you create your own uniforms? Clearly, based on the numbers Scott quoted at the beginning of this article, it’s a huge deal. I don’t participate in any of the myriad fantasy leagues out there (about the closest I come to anything even approaching that is the Uni Watch pools), but obviously many of you do. How far to you take it and how serious is it? Obviously, if you create your own uniforms, you’re pretty serious. Got more of your own fantasy artwork or DIY? Let’s see ’em.
And those of you who do the fantasy sports thing — is this something that you feel would appeal to the Uni Watch community? I know a couple years ago a (now former) co-worker
wasted most of the workday poured a considerable amount of energy into his fantasy baseball league. It never appealed to me, but that’s only because I don’t care. But I am curious to know more. Fire away.
Occasionally, I will be featuring wonderful, high-quality black and white photographs that are just begging to be colorized.
First up was UW Colouriser favourite (he’s a Brit, you see) George Chilvers, who (as always) did a tremendous job on The Duke.
Next up was Ian Carr, who actually ran into an interesting problem. His first submission was accompanied with this, “I couldn’t find any color references for this uniform. Looked blue to me, with red stripes, so I went with it. If I turn up something, I may send another version.”
When I told Ian Mr. Morrison was playing for USC, and the colors were probably similar to todays, he agreed, and replied back with this:
Ah, of course Wikipedia had it. Just wasn’t looking in the right part of the article.
The colors of USC are cardinal and gold, which were approved by USC’s third president, the Reverend George W. White, in 1895. In 1958 the shade of gold, which was originally more of an orange color, was changed to a more yellow shade. The letterman’s awards were the first to make the change.
And after that, Ian sent in this amended version.
And we also have Doug Mooney, who did a fantastic job of colorizing Hank Gowdy.
Finally, we have Michael Ferry, who checks in with this:
Another kind of busy week here, but was able to do some work on the Hank Gowdy photo. Didn’t have enough time to work on Marion Morrison aka John Wayne.
For me, the background is really the most challenging element. Maybe I’ll be able to budget some time with the upcoming holidays for future projects. As always, though, it’s a treat to see the changes, and hope folks like the effort.
Outstanding job, as always, gentlemen.
For the next tweak, I found a TREMENDOUS photo — three of them actually — of Art Herring, in his satin Dodgers uniform. Here are the three:
WOW. I found those on an (unfortunately) closed Mears Lot Auction, and the listing included the following description: “Art Herring is pictured.
Measures 8″ x 10″. First generation photo, with the following notations on reverse: George Dorrill photographer stamp, 1940s. (00561)
Designated as a Type 1 photo, this image was developed directly from the original photographers negative within approximately two years of the depicted person/event. Photographers included in the collection include Charles Conlon, George Burke, George Brace, William C. Greene, Alex P. Silverberg, and George Dorrill. Some are identified; many are not but were provided by these world class photographers. Unlike standard wire photos, these images were often hand developed by the photographer and sent to the Sporting News magazine. Therefore, the result is an actual first generation Type 1 photographers print -again, not be confused with the more commonly found wire photo image. First major collection to enter the market of exclusive Type 1 Photo Prints.”
Clearly, those are the satin uniform worn by the Brooklyn Dodgers, the blue road version. I wrote about the satin uniform *craze* (ok, it wasn’t really a craze, but a few teams did wear them) back in August, so you can find color photos and descriptions in there. I’ve never actually seen a color photo of the uniform in action, however, so this colorization has tremendous potential. Hopefully many of you fine colorizers out there will rise up to this challenge and tackle one (or more) of these.
Finally, in recognition of the sad passing of the “greatest pitcher of the greatest generation,” perhaps one of you colorizers will tackle this amazing picture of Bob Feller. I’m not 100% sure which year this is from, but the Indians wore a uniform resembling that one from 1934 thru 1938, and it looks like either 1936 or 1938. Since Feller was a rook in 1936, the uni is obviously not from before then. Fire away.
Thanks again to all colorizers. If you have a submission for any of the above photos, send it to me and I’ll run it next time we have a section on colorization. Also, if you find a photo which is just screaming out to be colorized, send that in too (try to find hi res — like at least 1000 x 1000 pixels) shots — as those make for the best colorizations.
Lots and lots of tweaks keep pouring in, so obviously this is a popular feature. A bunch new to get to today. If you have a tweak, change or concept for any sport, send them my way.
Remember, if possible, try to keep your descriptions to ~50 words (give or take) per tweak. You guys have been great a keeping to that, and it’s much appreciated!
Now, on to today’s tweaks:
Starting off the show is Arthur Denny, who has a concept for the NHL All Star Uni:
After reading the description of the NHL All-Star jersey design, I gave it a shot. I know the stripes won’t blow tons of people away, but I like them/think they look better than the 2008 stripes.
Next us is Johnny Bruno, who has a look at the Brew Crew and Fathers:
A few months back I sent in my thoughts on what the Marlins should do for when they become the Miami Marlins. I also got around to tweaking the Brewers and the Padres.
For the Brewers I changed the colors a little bit and put Milwaukee on the away uni’s as it should be. I also made another alternate.
For the Padres I went for a retro theme where I used the current logos (with some tweaking) and the old colors.
And in the three hole today is Terry Duroncelet, who has several new tweaks:
Hey Phil. Been kind of a slow month for me, but I managed to get some work done.
Football Giants: Gave them one pant with a bule belt and madatory compression shirts. I normally don’t use compression shirts for sleeve stripe-less jerseys (like the Jints’ blue), but the Giants (as a team), are the worst offenders of NPS (Naked Pit Syndrome).
Indians: I already sent in an Indians tweak before, but I decided to send in a new one with the updated road uniform.
Seahawks: Made more use of the nuclear green and gave them a pair of Northwestern-Striped socks (being situated in the Pacific Nothwest)
And closing out the show today is Stephen Brookman, who has a set of Broncos concepts. Jim Vilk will love at least one of them:
Here are some Denver Broncos tweaks I made using the old 70s and 80s color scheme, and a white helmet. I hope you enjoy them!
That it for the tweak show. Check back tomorrow for more.
The 2010-2011 football BCS bowls begin today. We’ve got three (count ’em) games on tap. There’s the New Mexico Bowl, the Humanitarian Bowl and the New Orleans Bowl, which should whet your appetites for the bigger games to follow in the next month. Hopefully, you’ve signed up for the Uni Watch Bowl Pool. I and Tod Hess have put together a college football bowl pool. If you’re interested in joining, you can register here (I believe you can sign up right until gametime to be eligible for all the bowls). Our Group ID# is 6828 and the Password is bfbs (all lowercase). Last week Tod & I did a review of the bowls and teams playing,so go here and here.
If you haven’t already seen it, we’re not the only ones who feel confident in judging teams based on uniform. Paul’s espn.com colleague, Pat Forde, has decided to rate the uni-matchups in each game. Settle down there, Pat — this is serious business. He’s either completely joking (which is entirely possible) OR he’s completely wrong. Let’s take a quick look at his picks for today’s bowl games, as selected by uniform:
New Mexico Bowl: “Uniform Edge: To the Miners for the blue-and-orange color scheme. Nothing wrong with BYU’s traditional blue-and-white look and ‘Y’ helmet, but they’re fairly bland.”
OK, that’s not a bad assessment, but BYU’s not bland so much as traditional, and there is no way the Miners get a uniform edge. Those are awful. And they look like something Nike might make the Broncos wear in 2012. Tod & I both took BYU.
How did Pat rate the other games? Next up…the
Humanitarian Bowl: “Uniform Edge: Whole lot of red involved here. Slight edge to Northern Illinois for the red-and-black scheme and black helmets over Fresno’s red-intensive look.”
Both teams won’t be wearing red, Pat, but other than that, not a bad analysis. And I agree this one is a tough call based on uni-superiority, as both Northern Illinois and Fresno State‘s uniforms pretty much suck. Nevertheless, both Tod & I are taking Fresno.
Lets see how Pat picked the final bowl today, which is the
New Orleans Bowl: “Uniform Edge: Troy‘s maroon is mildly more aesthetically pleasing than Ohio’s green with white helmets.”
So three games, three completely different views of the unis. Now, Mr. Forde didn’t necessarily pick the winner of the game based on the uni — he simply played the uni’s against each other and decided which team had the edge. We’ll see if he should have based his pick on the uni.
Now, if you didn’t read the article and you just read his uni “edge” for those three games, you’re might be saying, “He’s right.” Sure he is. Go back and reread some of the other games. Or, just see below some of his “matchups:”
Maaco Bowl: “Both teams can crush you with their monochromatic looks — Boise’s all-blue and Utah’s all-red. When in doubt, take blue over red. Advantage Boise.”
What? And he didn’t even know Boise would be wearing their new toy combat uni — he was picking their file folder/lumbar “BRONCOS”/TNDL/buttstripes uni. That’s possibly the worst uni in college football. Check out some of his other “uniform edges:”
San Diego Bowl: “Navy has a classic look, from the no-logo gold helmet on down. San Diego State might have been the first to go all-black. The Dash gives a slight nod to the trendsetting Aztecs.”
Alamo Bowl: (Arizona vs Oklahoma State) “Poor helmet logo dooms Arizona to defeat.”
Armed Forces Bowl: (Army vs. SMU) “Uniform Edge: If the Cadets wear their camo, they win in a walkover.”
MotherSunBowlVilker: (Notre Dame vs. Miama) “Tough call. Love the timelessness of Notre Dame’s look, but impressed by most of the modern iterations of the Miami unis. Slight edge to the Hurricanes.”
Outback Bowl: (Penn State vs. Florida) “Please. Florida wins by default unless it shows up in those horrific white helmets.”
Capital One Bowl: (Alabama vs. Michigan State) “Numbers on the helmets have always struck The Dash as bottom-level creativity. Points to Michigan State for the Spartan logo.”
Just. Stop. Now.
And I will. Too bad Mr. Forde didn’t pick his teams based on the uni, rather than just taking a few shots at the uni matchups. I didn’t think anyone make worse uni-matchup picks than the Mothervilker…until now.
And that’s about all we have for today. Everyone enjoy the bowls, and if you haven’t yet signed up, there’s still time. Have a great Satruday.
Everything got a bit smaller — including the crotch piece. Or at least that’s my take. Alain would know for sure. — Paul Lukas (as nominated by James Huening)