Fascinating little tableau during last night’s Reds/Giants game, one that raises lots of interesting questions.
Here’s the deal: In the top of the 3rd, Reds pitcher Johnny Cueto reached first base on a fielder’s choice. It was a cool night in San Francisco (59 degrees at game time), so they brought out a jacket for him — except it wasn’t a jacket. It was a hoodie! But first base ump Tim Tschida wasn’t having any of that. Before the next pitch could be thrown, he told the Reds that Cueto couldn’t wear the sweatshirt on the bases. So Cueto removed the hoodie and put on a dugout jacket instead, and apparently everyone had a nice laugh about it.
Everyone, that is, except Reds broadcaster Thom Brennaman, who took Tschida to task for excessive nit-pickery. Here’s how Brennaman and his broadcast partner, Chris Welsh, assessed the situation (transcript courtesy of reader Mark Dormer):
Chris Welsh: They’re going to tell Johnny Cueto that he’s not allowed to wear that hoodie [pause] and he’s got to put a regular team jacket on.
Thom Brennaman: That is ridiculous!
Welsh: No, that’s part of the uniform code.
Brennaman: I know, but that’s ridiculous.
Welsh: It’s been like it forever.
Brennaman: There are some rules that are just … you wonder who thought of it. And more importantly, who can’t open their eyes to consider changing it.
Welsh: I don’t have a problem with that, though.
Brennaman: No, I’m not saying it’s a big deal, but c’mon. The guy’s got a sweatshirt on. Who cares?
Welsh: Yeah, but it’s got a hood on it. What if the thing’s flapping and now you throw the ball and it hits the hood that wouldn’t normally be there on a jacket. I can see why you have rules on uniforms.
Welsh’s point about the hood flapping and possibly becoming an obstruction seems fair. But the bigger question — the one Welsh and Brennaman didn’t address — is the distinction between a jacket, which at least carries the vague sense of relative formality, and a hoodie, which is basically casual Friday writ large.
I know there are some fans (and broadcasters, for that matter) who think pitchers should never wear jackets on the bases, because it looks wussy or undignified or whatever. Personally, I think the jacket option is sort of quaint — one of those endearing little quirks that add texture to the fabric of baseball. But whatever your feelings about the jacket, wearing a sweatshirt is downright slobbish, no? Hell, when we complain about pajama pants, we’re basically saying they look like sweatpants. Adding a sweatshirt to the mix just makes things worse.
Sweatshirts are a fairly recent MLB phenomenon. I first recall seeing players wearing them (mostly during pregame warm-ups but sometimes in the dugouts during games) about five or six years ago during the stretch drive in September and the postseason. At the time, I thought, “Okay, so it’s just the latest merchandising scam, but those look kinda nice, and the weather is getting colder now, so why not?”
Over the past couple of years, the sweatshirts have become more common. Terry Francona was famously told to stop wearing his back in 2007, and the same edict was issued to Joe Maddon last year. But the sweatshirt is apparently hard to suppress: Francona’s still wearing one this season, and so is Maddon.
Of course, it’s one thing to wear a sweatshirt in the dugout. As Cueto discovered last night, it’s another to wear one on the field. That’s even more true of managers and coaches, whose air of gravitas is severely compromised if they step out of the dugout wearing a hoodie. I don’t know if Maddon won this argument, but he didn’t exactly have the sartorial high ground.
Lately I’ve noticed more and more sweatshirts showing up. Fortunately, we can count on those staunch guardians of tradition, the New York Yankees, to maintain the game’s visual propriety — or can we? If you think its weird to see a Yankees coach looking like he’s dressed to go take the dog for a walk, it’s even weirder when Rothschild goes to the mound for a sweatshirt-clad visit with one of his pitchers. I’m fairly certain that would not have been tolerated if the Boss were still alive.
I doubt Tim Tschida was thinking about any of that when he put the kibosh on Cueto’s hoodie last night, but it’s all good food for thought. What do you folks think about all this? Sweatshirts — yea or nay?
Uni Watch Stirrups Club Update
By Comrade Robert Marshall
I wanted this month’s stirrup offering to correspond with the start of the Stanley Cup Finals, but I needed to settle a couple items with Twin City Knitting first. So instead we’ll say that this notice corresponds with the three climactic games of the Stanley Cup Finals, which is even better.
Best of all, these year’s Cup finalists provide us with classic hosiery to celebrate. Needless to say, the Revolution is ecstatic about this match-up, and we’re proud to offer both of these designs.
Our third and final stirrup this time around is our annual Fourth of July offering. We’re going with the 1935 Washington Senators. Now that’s a right proper look for the nation’s birthday if I ever did see one (for those of you who like to colorize photos and can surly do a better job of it then I did, here is the full-size photo of Henry Coppola). TCK will need to do us a favor in order to get it here in time, but they owe us.
Speaking of which, if you had any problem with last month’s stirrups, please read the details regarding that, as well as some requests for feedback, on the Stirrup Revolution’s web site, which of course is also where you can order this month’s slate of new designs and our extensive à la carte selection of past offerings. Please note that the deadline for ordering is Tuesday, June 14.
From each according his stirrup,
To each according his strype.
Bollocks: Every now and then — maybe twice a week — I find myself using a word like fuck or shit here on the site. Most of you are unfazed, because you understand that real people sometimes use such words in the course of their communications, but sometimes somebody complains about it in the comments, and I invariably end up receiving an e-mail or two telling me to clean up my act and reminding me that “profanity is the sign of a lazy writer.”
As I usually tell such complainants (by now I have standard response that I simply copy and paste), this “lazy” thing is a fiction promulgated by junior high English teachers who want to keep 13-year-olds from getting all juvenile and puerile on their creative writing assignments. And it’s fine when applied to 13-year-olds. But like so many useful fictions that we tell children (the Tooth Fairy is real, Mittens is up in kitty heaven, everyone will like you if you just be yourself, everyone has an equal shot at the American dream, eating vegetables is good for you, etc.), this one evaporates once you spend more than 10 seconds thinking about it. As just about any important writer could tell you, from Shakespeare to Stephen King, there is nothing inherently lazy about the use of fuck or shit, just as there is nothing inherently commendable about words like sweet or lovely. It all depends on how they’re used and, especially, the thought processes behind them. You want lazy? Try referring to certain uniform designs as “an abomination” or “craptacular,” as so many denizens of the uni-verse habitually do. Or better yet, just keep parroting the conveniently pat notion that the use of profanity is lazy, without bothering to think through the larger parameters of how we all communicate. That’s way lazier than me calling Nike “a fucking plague on this Earth,” or whatever.
Anyway: As you may be aware, the hot phenomenon in the publishing biz at the moment is a children’s book, sort of, called Go the Fuck to Sleep. It’s been the top-selling book on Amazon for the past few weeks, even though it won’t be officially published until Monday (think about that). The current issue of New York magazine features a piece that uses Go the Fuck to Sleep as a springboard for a meditation on the word fuck, and on the nature of vulgarities in general. It’s one of the best and most entertaining examinations of the subject I’ve seen in a long time. Don’t miss.
Uni Watch News Ticker: Where is the puck that scored the title-winning goal in last year’s Stanley Cup Final(s)? Nobody knows — and therein lies a tale. … The Padres and Nats will be wearing throwbacks when they play each other this Saturday — San Diego will be dressed as the 1936 PCL Padres, and the Nats will be dressed as the ’36 Senators. … Dan O’Connor spotted a car in full Celtic FC regalia. … I had previously reported that UNC baseball would wear pink socks with powder blue uniforms in memory of their coach’s mother, who recenetly died from breast cancer. Here’s how it looked on the field (with thanks to Gerry Dincher). … New kits for Chelsea FC and Real Madrid (with thanks to Kenny Loo). … Looks like college football zebras will be wearing a cap patch this fall (with thanks to Mark Kluczynki). … What does a woman wear under her uniform? A uniform slip, natch (thanks, Kirsten). … New logo for Monday Night Football (with thanks to Ray Barrington). … Here’s another shot of John “I’m a PC” Hodgman in old-school football gear. Not sure what this photo series is about, though (big thanks to Art Ryel-Lindsey). … Notre Dame and Michigan will officially unveil their throwbacks tonight, and one guy isn’t waiting until then to weigh in. “The author is the preeminent Wolverine blogger, Brian Cook,” says Keith Friedman. “I thought it was a spot-on piece about merchandising in sports.” Agreed. … Gross. That’s one the balls the Indians are using for their batting practice, which as I noted last week is now being sponsored by the world’s biggest environmental criminals (with thanks to Chris Flinn). … A new ball has been used in Japanese baseball this year, and it appears to be a pitcher’s best friend (with thanks to Jeremy Brahm). … Many of you know the story of the minor league ballplayer Johnny Neves, who in 1951 wore a backwards No. 7 as his uni number because his surname is “Seven” spelled backwards. Now Blake Meyer has found an old wire photo of Neves. The interesting thing is the notation on the back, where an editor cautioned against flipping the image, which was probably a common occurrence with Neves pics. … In a vaguely related item, Mike Evangelista noticed a beer league team in Houston with an odd quirk: All their two-digit uni numbers had a normal first numeral and a backwards second numeral. “I’m not sure why they did it, but I wouldn’t be surprised if it had something to do with their name, ‘Beer Time,’ and overindulging,” says Mike. “You can’t make it out in the picture, but the numbers had shadowing to make them look blurry, and the coloring inside the number looks like a beer with a head at the top.” … I’m fairly certain all of you are familiar with this Norman Rockwell illustration. But Bob Gassel has pointed out an odd thing about it that I’d never noticed before: If you look at the two managers in the background, the Brooklyn skipper is happy and the Pittsburgh manager looks annoyed. But if you look at the scoreboard, Pittsburgh is winning, it’s an official game, and it’s starting to rain. Shouldn’t the Brooklyn manager be the one who’s upset? … Interesting note from David Teigland, who writes: “I’m sure by now you’ve seen the story about the Israeli basketball player who may have to sit out a tournament because she can’t wear a T-shirt to cover her shoulders [actually, no, I hadn’t — PL]. Completely by happenstance, I was perusing the excellent Remember the ABA site today and saw this page about Willie Wise of the Utah Stars, which included this note: ‘Only Utah Star who [didn’t] wear flag patch on shorts, owing to Jehovah’s Witness faith.” I’d forgotten about that. Given how many flags show up on today’s uniforms, imagine the “patriotic” fuss that would come up if a team had a Jehoavah’s Witness who refused to wear a flag patch or decal. … There’s a new book out about Stan Musial. One of the reviews of it included the old line from Ted Lyons, who said Musial’s batting stance “looks like a small boy looking around a corner to see if the cops are coming.” That reminded me of two great descriptions I once read — one about Sid Fernandez’s pitching motion (“like a man jumping out of a closet”) and another about Mickey Tettleton’s batting stance (“he of the ‘waiting for the M-15 bus’ batting stance”). Unfortunately, I don’t recall the exact sources for either of those. … Let’s hear it for Cody Ross, who broke out the striped socks last night (screen shot by Laren Richardson). … Here’s a NCAA football video game promotional clip that not only shows a new South Carolina uniform but also talks about it (big thanks to Joel Mathwig). … Kyle Beaudoin and his brother, both big Bruins fans, designed a T-shirt for the Stanley Cup Final(s). While they were at it, they also imagined a Shawn Thornton video game (“Note that Glass Jaw Joe has been redrawn to be a Canadien,” says Kyle) and, in a particularly clever move, redid the “America Runs on Dunkin'” logo to represent a pivotal moment in Red Sox history. Nicely done. … I donate blood every two months. After they’ve taken what they need and they remove the needle from my vein, they put a gauze patch over the needle wound and secure it in place by wrapping my arm with that rubberized medical tape that looks sort of like crêpe paper. Usually the tape is blue, but yesterday the technician started wrapping my arm with purple tape. Before he could get too far, I said, “I know this is gonna sound crazy, but do you have another color? Like, any other color?” He looked in a closet and said, “We have blue. Or hey, how about green?” Perfecto. A narrow escape.