Last week I wrote about Stanford pitcher Mark Appel and his unique flaps-out stirrup stylings. As you may recall, I had hoped to interview Appel for that piece but it didn’t work out, so I had to construct an imaginary interview.
With Stanford’s season now over, Appel is pitching for Team USA this summer, and I was finally able to speak with him yesterday. Good thing, too, because it turns out that the story behind his flaps-out format isn’t quite what I had expected. Here’s how our chat went — this time for real:
Uni Watch: How’d you come up with that stirrup style?
Mark Appel: Before every game, I had my stirrups in, when I’d do my stretching and get ready for the game. But I guess my feet are so flat that they’d just come out. And I tried not to worry about it, so at some point I just said, “Okay, this is getting pretty bad, so I’m just gonna keep ’em out.” And that way I don’t have to worry about it, and they feel more like full socks, instead of stirrups.
UW: So they were just coming out on their own? It wasn’t something you did intentionally, at least at first?
MA: Right. I didn’t mean to intentionally leave them out. They just kept coming out. And I thought, “Well, I guess this could be my thing.”
UW: You decided to just go with it.
MA: That’s right.
UW: When I first saw it, I thought maybe you found it uncomfortable to have that extra loop of fabric under your foot.
MA: It can be a little uncomfortable, like there’s a little bump under there, especially because I have fairly flat feet. I personally don’t like wearing stirrups. But if a team needs me to, I have no problem with it.
UW: So it’s not like you were getting blisters or anything like that.
UW: I’m assuming the reason you and your teammates wear stirrups in the first place is that Coach Marquess requires it, right?
MA: Right, right. It’s part of the Stanford tradition.
UW: So when you went with the loops out, he was okay with that?
MA: He never said a word, actually. [Assistant] Coach Filter did come up to me one time and said, “We need to put some tape on your stirrups or find a way to keep ’em in,” but he was okay with it.
UW: Do you also wear them this way on days when you don’t pitch, when you’re just sitting in the dugout?
MA: No, I don’t. I keep ’em in. It’s only on days when I’m pitching.
UW: Had you ever worn stirrups before you arrived at Stanford, like in high school or Legion ball?
MA: No. Maybe like those socks that kind of have the stirrups, like, painted on or something.
UW: Right the two-in-ones, where it’s all one piece. But this was the first time you’ve had to deal with real stirrups.
UW: Have your teammates had anything to say about this? Like, “Hey, how come you’re wearing it that way, while the rest of us do it the normal way?”
MA: Not really. A few of them thought it was pretty funny. And when we were playing on ESPN, I got a few texts from friends from summer ball, sayng, “Dude, you gotta get your stirrups in.”
UW: Any commentary from opposing players or umpires?
MA: Not that I’ve heard. Maybe a few funny looks.
UW: So now you’re on Team USA this summer. Are you guys wearing stirrups?
MA: No, we are not.
UW: And are you wearing your pants down at your ankles, or do you go high-cuffed?
MA: We can do either way. I prefer high. So I’m just wearing regular full socks. It’s a lot easier.
Faaaaascinating. One thing that doesn’t quite come through in that transcript is that Mark sounds like a really sweet, self-effacing kid. A peach. Here’s hoping he has a good summer with Team USA.
It’s a short way from good to stupid: I had mostly positive things to say about the Preds’ new logo set yesterday, but now their new jerseys have leaked — what a disappointment. Collarbone horns (one of them underscored by a completely gratuitous wordmark), Bettman stripes, the worst Ree-box yet — ugh. And while I loved the guitar pick-shaped alternate logo, putting guitar strings on the uni numbers and piano keys on the inner collar is a classic case of “If something’s worth doing, it’s worth overdoing” (plus I have a feeling the guitar strings won’t work so well on most of the numerals other than 1). Too bad.
In other NHL news, the Thrashers-no-more will apparently get their new name, and maybe more, later today. I’m betting on the Winnipeg Teebz.
Jack … as in Mack: Wednesday’s PTI featured an interview with Marlins skipper and world-famous 1000-year-old man Jack McKeon. Reader Chris Falvey reports that the interview included an intriguing uni-related sequence, which he was nice enough to transcribe for us:
Tony Kornheiser: At your age, does it feel silly to wear the baseball uniform? Would you like to be more like Connie Mack and go out there in a suit?
Jack McKeon: Well, I thought that would be a change… change of scenery here. I tried to do that when I took over the San Diego Padres in 1988. I suggested it — why not be like Connie Mack or Burt Shotton? You know, I could get a deal with some clothing outfit that I could have some new clothes out here… and a nice straw hat and come out and be in — you know — a nice casual outfit. But they didn’t go for that idea.
“The straw hat part must have been a small joke,” says Chris, “but I’m pretty sure he was serious about the rest.” It’d be a fun stunt, but I’d rather keep McKeon in uniform — he’s one of the few Marlins to go high-cuffed.
Uni Watch News Ticker: This video game clip shows Colorado wearing a throwback helmets, like these. Not sure what, if anything, this portends for the upcoming season (as noted by Ross Shackelford). … Really love these old Spalding shorts, although the price tag is a bit ridiculous. … Gotta love this old St. Louis Browns letterhead (great find by Bruce Menard). … Here’s the kind of teeny-tiny detail that makes my day: As you know, the Phillies have blue faux-squatchee dots on their batting helmets. But Shane Victorino’s is outlined in white (genius catch by Andrew Dixon). … Remember Bethanie Mattek-Sands, the tennis player who wears eye black? She now has an eye black endorsement deal (thanks, Brinke). … As you’ve probably heard, a stadium conflict is forcing the Marlins to play a home series in Seattle this weekend. “They said on Wednesday night’s broadcast that the Marlins will probably wear black all three games, so they don’t have to bring their home pinstripes,” says Frank Mercogliano. “They’re a major league baseball team — is it that tough to take an extra set of uniforms?” … Nice little piece on stirrups in the College World Series (with thanks to Will Streit). … MSNBC’s Morning Joe crew wore Hartford Whalers caps the other day (with thanks to Dennis House). … What’s worse than bogus two-in-one stirrups? Bogus two-in-one stirrups worn with mandals (blame Don Gale). … I like baseball uniforms and I like jazz, so it makes sense that I’d like this jersey. … Well, that didn’t take long (thanks, Phil). … Well, this should make for an interesting NOB. … Who’s No. 50 in these photos? None other than recently deceased E Street saxman Clarence Clemons, who played football at Maryland State (with thanks to Calvin Farris). … The Bills are finally admitting what everyone else on the planet already knew: Nobody liked their uniforms. They’ll unveil their new set tonight. … Oh baby, check out this 1939 American Association All-Star jersey. “The Kansas City Blues earned the right to host the game by having the best record in the first half of the season, and the Blues squad faced an All-Star team made up from the rest of the league,” says Aaron Stilley (there’s an account of the game here). Aaron’s trying to figure out who wore this jersey — No. 22 — so all you research-y types, get crackin’.
Weekend plans: I’m traveling this morning and will be on the road through the end of the weekend (a combination of work and pleasure), so I won’t be providing immediate coverage of today’s Thrashers-no-more announcement or tonight’s Bills uni unveiling (which doesn’t exactly have a lot of suspense anyway). Phil will weigh in on those over the weekend, and I’ll offer my own thoughts next week. Please go easy on the Ticker contributions this weekend, as I probably won’t have time to deal with too many of them. Thanks for understanding.