Those little gold All-Star stars began appearing on MLB jerseys on Monday, and last night we got our first look at the stars on the caps (they didn’t use the cap stars on Monday because everyone was wearing the flag-desecration caps). So now that we’ve seen the full program in action, here are a few observations:
• The jersey stars are outlined in team colors — red for the Red Sox, blue for the Blue Jays (tough to see, but it’s there), and so on. So they coordinate nicely with the jerseys. If you had to place them on the good/stupid continuum, they’d definitely lean toward stupid, because they’re so unnecessary, but they don’t actually look that bad. I’m okay with them.
• The cap stars, however, are not outlined, so right away you have a consistency problem. In addition, the lack of outlining makes the cap stars appear larger. Then you have problems of relative scale: a cap is a lot smaller than a jersey (duh), and the MLB logo on the cap is smaller than the one on the jersey as well, all of which makes the cap logos seem waaaaay too big, and gaudy besides.
• When MLB added the silhouetted batter logo to jerseys in 2000, one of my first thoughts was, “Man, they already have that logo on the cap, and the jersey collar is just a few inches from the cap, so now you have two of those logos stacked right next to each other.” It’s bugged me ever since. That same problem is now compounded with these two sets of stars that are in such close proximity to each other. So now you have four stars and two MLB logos all clustered in a small visual zone. What a mess. (One possible solution: Scrap the stars on the caps and put them somewhere more appropriate.)
• And wait, what’s this? That’s right: The caps also have that annoying All-Star Game patch, which is normally worn only in the ASG itself. The inclusion of this patch had not been announced in advance — we’d only been told about the stars. It’s hard to express how awful this is. For starters, it’s the very definition of overkill (“Okay, so we’re gonna put these gold stars on the back of the cap, but just in case you don’t know what those are for, we’re gonna put the All-Star logo on the cap too”). It’s also a naked merchandising move. And like all cap patches, it makes the cap feel lopsided and unbalanced. Morons.
• The stars are apparently being worn by the all-star coaches as well, which seems like a bit much.
• Guess who isn’t interested in playing these particular reindeer games? The Yankees. No jersey stars, no cap stars. Keep in mind that the Yanks are also the only team that has never used Coolflo batting helmets, has never used Cool Base jerseys, doesn’t have Majestic logo creep (although that’s due to a contractual restriction, not a matter of policy), and, of course, doesn’t have NOBs. Just goes to show how easy it is to keep things simple — you just have to choose to do so.
Meanwhile, here’s an intriguing sub-plot: A little birdie tells me that Clayton Kershaw of the Dodgers removed the stars from his cap prior to last night’s game and used a blue marker to cover up some adhesive residue. (That’s some impressive attention to detail, but couldn’t he just have gotten a regular star-free cap instead?) He also asked a clubbie if his jersey stars could be removed. Kershaw is scheduled to start tomorrow night — stay tuned.
Culinary Corner: I threw an Independence Day cookout party on Monday. There was lots of good food, including grilled clams, smoked marrowbones and jerk chicken (here’s a close-up of the ’bones), and grilled lamb ribs (the toast was to spread the marrow on), plus several other things that nobody got photos of.
But the star of the show was a batch of smoked beef short ribs that ranked up there with anything I have ever cooked (and weren’t quite as blackened or carbonized as that photo suggests — more brown than black). I kept them in the smoker for three hours at about 275º and seasoned them with an absolute killer dry rub from Fette Sau, a Brooklyn barbecue restaurant. It’s the first time I’ve used this rub, and I’ll definitely be using it a lot in the future. Here’s the recipe:
1/3 cup garlic powder
1-1/2 Tbsp ground cumin
2-1/3 cups dark brown sugar
1 Tbsp cayenne pepper
1/4 cup ground cinnamon
2 cups ground coffee (espresso grind)
2 cups kosher salt
1/2 cup ground black pepper
I was suspicious of using so much cinnamon, but it works. And the ground coffee is a key element here — adds flavor and rough texture. And while I used this rub for beef, it should work just as well for pork or lamb (not sure I’d use it for chicken, but I already have a good rub for that). Highly, highly recommended.
(Special thanks to my friend and fellow carnivore Friederike Paetzold for the photos.)
Uni Watch News Ticker: The flag-desecration jersey that Derek Jeter wore during his minor league rehab stint was the source of some amusement for Yanks GM Brian Cashman. … My favorite contribution of recent days comes from Logan Light, who notes that his iPhone charger can receive football plays radioed in from the sideline. … Some jersey confusion at the Tour de France (with thanks to Steve King). … Also at the Tour de France: corporate advertising in crop fields (with thanks to Chad Todd). … Paul Hovey notes that Cody Ross was wearing Miguel Tejada’s helmet the other day. … New soccer kit for Everton. “The home kit is about what you’d expect,” says Doug Mulliken. “The keeper kit? Fucking kill me now.” Additional info here. … Some uni-related changes to EA Sports’s NHL 12 video game. Key passage: “Another new feature we’ve added to the game is Retired Jersey Numbers in all game modes. So this means if you create a player with the number 9 (or a player is traded and is number 9) and put him on Montreal, the game will choose another number for him unless the user assigns one for him manually. We will be retiring numbers from all of the leagues in the game and not just the NHL. If retired jerseys are not your thing, you have the option to turn them off before you create the league. … [Also,] players should retain their jersey numbers during the course of a season (no more Tomas Plekanec losing his #14 midway through the year)” (big thanks to Dustin Burns). … The Indians wore their cream-colored uniforms on Monday, but third baseman Lonnie Chisenhall played the first inning in his white pants. “He changed for the second inning,” says James Hoppes. … Ken Singer reports that the Vail Lacrosse Tourament featured one of history’s most garish uniforms. The tourney also had a Denver Nuggets vs. Bad News Bears match-up. And yes, the Bears were sponsored by Chico’s Bail Bonds. … Twins outfielder Michael Cuddyer has taken some awesome stadium photos (Chad Todd again). … I think we’ve seen this before, but once more can’t hurt: Here’s the Elvis Presley Enterprises football team. That’s the King himself in the top row, second from the left (with thanks to Alan Kreit). … Joe Alvernaz found a site featuring all the jerseys for the upcoming Rugby World Cup. … “I was watching Antiques Roadshow on Sunday,” says Jon Solomonson. “Lou Groza’s son was there to get an appraisal on some of his dad’s stuff.” … Here’s the logo that the International Baseball Federation has created for getting baseball back into the Olympics.” … Jeff Hunter got an e-mail from Auburn A.D. Jay Jacobs, confirming that the school is not planning any football uniform changes for the upcoming season. That runs counter to what I was told last winter by equipment manager Dana Marquez, but apparently they’ve changed their minds. … Buncha really nice auction items from Mike Hersh, including a Lou Gehrig promotional tour jersey, a 1920 White Sox jersey, and a 1908 Red Sox jersey. … Here’s a better view of the Islanders’ 40th-season patch (thanks, RyCo). … The new Champions League ball is reaaaalllly ugly (with thanks to Kenny Loo). … As school districts face budget crunches, some of them are considering selling out to corporate advertising. Key passage: “Lake School Board members suggested officials research the Orange school district model that allows advertising on things like graduation schedules, online lunch menus, and middle-school team uniforms.” … Here’s an unusual sight: Dick Butkus wearing No. 78 (and dig that leather chinstrap!). “Must have been for practice or something,” says Jamison Nash. … “While watching the US/Columbia Women’s World Cup match on Saturday, I noticed that Heather O’Reilly’s NOB does not have an apostrophe,” says Adam Yarnevich. “I was curious if this was just a Nike thing (not adding apostrophes to names), or if it was a mistake.” Anyone..? … If you look down toward the lower-right portion of the Dayton Gems’ web site, you’ll see the fan vote they’re conducting for next season’s Beer League Night design (with thanks to Matt Brevet). … Ben Traxel found some old baseball photos from Cape Girardeau, Missouri, including one that shows the field on fire, with people still in the stands. What could that possibly have been about? … The newly married Duke and Duchess received Cambridge hockey sweaters the other day. Insert gender-based pecking order jokes here (with thanks to Bill Blevins). … Jimmy Couto found an amusing Lions hat at a shop in Michigan. … While looking for something else, I came across this shot of Bob Feller in a beige undershirt. Odd. … The Times had a story the other day about Reds farmhand Josh Holden. It includes this passage: “On the final day of spring training, Holden showed up to the Reds’ complex and noticed that one of the clubhouse attendants was wearing a black shirt, a baseball ritual that signals players are going to be cut.” Never heard that one before. But once you reach a certain point of spring training, there are cuts pretty much every day (and always on the last day), no? … New soccer kits for FC Porto (with thanks to Kenny Loo). … New logo for the West Coast Conference. “It’s pretty ugly,” says Ryan Goldstein, and I’m inclined to agree. … Bryan Molloy, who coined the term “sweatback” a while back, says the new Boston College jersey design reminds him of a certain movie character. He suggests that we call the design BC-3PO. … Another hint of that black Maryland football helmet has shown up, this time on a poster. Jarren Ginsburg helpfully provided a close-up of the helmet. … Check out the Technicolor sneakers that Kevin Durant has been wearing at his two-day basketball camp in Austin. Confession: I like them (big thanks to Matt Mitchell).
Confidential to Unit 1E: Hope you and yours are okay. If there’s anything I can do, just say the word.