Uniforms don’t exist in a vacuum. They fit into many contexts, not the least of which is the history and heritage of the teams they represent. So even though I’m generally a traditionalist, sometimes a traditional design just doesn’t make sense for a given team. Case in point: the new Padres set, which was unveiled yesterday. Let’s take a look, one element at a time:
• The new home uniform: Unobjectionable but unremarkable. I’m generally a fan of collar/placket piping, but for this team? Nuh-uh. Doesn’t fit. Ditto for the block numbers on the back. C’mon, if any team deserves to have a custom font, it’s this one. And I love the Swinging Friar, but reducing him to a one-color design robs him of all his oomph (plus I’m not too fond of the team script appearing on the end of his bat). And besides, the Friar is playful, just like the Pads’ uniforms used to be — and like this one is definitely not. So is it good or is it stupid? Stupid.
• The new road uniform: Third road uniform in three years for the Padres, and clearly the most snooze-inducing of the bunch. Give me an accent color here, or some piping on the belt tunnels, or something to remind me that this team once had an imaginative design program. The new sleeve patch helps, but it’s too little, too late. Stupid.
• The new softball alternate: Sure, why not? I never particularly liked the old one. Good.
The new block numbering on the digi-camo jersey: Nobody cares.
• The new logos: I like that secondary mark. But come on — a one-color circular “Baseball Club” design for your primary? Jeez, why not go NNOB and get it over with? Stupid.
Bottom line: It’s take more than some placket piping and a bulls-eye logo to make everyone forget these. And the thing is, the Padres shouldn’t want us to forget those old looks. They should be able to embrace their quirky heritage. That’s part of what makes them the Padres! If they want to update their look, fine. Nobody’s saying they have to stick with brown, or stick with lowercase letters. But they should definitely stick to something unconventional, because that’s what they’re about. They don’t play in some old-school northeastern city, and they shouldn’t try to dress as though they do.
Some of you might be saying, with some justification, “Damned if they do, damned if they don’t.” And it’s true that the Padres’ urine-colored road uniforms were an innovation — just one that that I didn’t happen to care for. Ditto for the camouflage (remember, the Pads pioneered that now-ubiquitous trend). But a road uni that consists of nothing but gray, blue, and a really boring type treatment? This team can do better than that.
(Special thanks to Brady Phelps, who compiled most of the above-linked images on this page.)
Party reminder: Remember, Uni Watch party this Saturday, 2pm, at Sheep Station. See you there.
College hoops update: So many new college basketball uniforms have come to my attention in the past 48 hours that Tuesday’s ESPN column is already out of date. So I have an update posted on ESPN today.
Uni Watch News Ticker: The NFL’s pink-out even extended to the concourse signage at Giants Stadium (from Dan Pesce). … The Islanders will finally unveil that really ugly third jersey on the evening of Nov. 16. … And it looks like the Blue Jays will be unveiling their new look two days after that. … Toledo’s massive NOB lettering poses problems for lineman Mike VanDerMeulen (big thanks to Brian Thompson). … Quite a uniform Charlie Sheen was searing for his latest movie. Someone needs to teach him proper blousing protocol, though (from Zane Tuck). … The Leicester Tigers have a new kit for the Heineken Cup (from Josh Jacobs). … Perth Glory are celebrating their 15th anniversary this weekend and they’ve released a photo of some of their more famous players wearing some of the club’s different kits from over the years (from Michael Orr). … Also from Michael: “On Tuesday a Seattle photographer posted this photo of a shoot he was doing with Seattle Sounders winger Steve Zakuani. Didn’t take long for the image to come down, as it appears to be the Sounders’ new 3rd kit for the 2012 season, but I got a screen shot before they took it down.” … Here’s an article about a football recruit who’s committed to Syracuse. Key quote, from the kid’s high school coach: “[Syracuse is] getting someone that truly wants to become a football player, not one who wants to go Division I and get all of the Pro Combat Nike uniforms and all of that. This is a kid that wants to learn and excel in a sport” (from Rick DiRubbo). … New style guide for Central Connecticut State. … The football team at Lakeridge High in Oregon uses a helmet design poached from the old Boston/N.Orelans/Portland Breakers of the USFL — or at least that’s how it seems at first glance. But according to the last graf on this page, the Breakers actually donated their gear to the Lakeridge High after the team went belly-up. No poaching needed! (Great story from Jason Urick.) … It now turns out that the UK soccer teams will be permitted to wear poppies after all. … A big politics web site claims that another politics web site has ripped off its logo. … The Sabres will wear camouflage warm-ups on Friday (from Timothy Tryjankowski). … But hey, the Sharks already wore camo warm-ups last Saturday (from Andrew Gegenheimer). … Very interesting note from Samuel Lam who covers the Niners: “Apparently since last week, Nike has sent in jerseys for the players to try on for next season. The players are supposed to wear their pads before trying them on. The jerseys used were blank, white, generic jerseys but are very tight-looking (almost no sleeves really).” … Niners coach Jim Harbaugh has already established a signature style (thanks Brinke). … If you go to this page and search on the word “teal,” you’ll find news about the Mariners adding a green-brimmed cap for 2012 (from Daniel Moraine).