Yesterday I mentioned that the Mets and White Sox would be debuting a new uniform element — one that has never previously appeared on an MLB diamond — in their respective Grapefruit League openers on Monday.
Several readers who were watching the White Sox game came close to spotting the detail in question. But nobody nailed it until an hour into the Mets game, when Jeff Ciprioni posted the following comment: “It looks like the squatchee on the Mets’ helmet is raised a little bit? Like it’s glued on?”
Winner, winner, chicken dinner! That’s right — the Mets and Chisox are wearing real 3-D helmet squatchees, instead of the flat vinyl dots that are typically used to simulate the squatchees. Here are some close-ups (click to enlarge):
It’s minor miracle that Jeff managed to see the squatchees. I knew about them in advance but had a hard time seeing them myself. As you can see in these screen shots I made, the 3-D aspect doesn’t exactly jump off the screen:
The problem, I think, is that the squatchees aren’t raised enough. You can see the difference between a cap squatchee (very prominent) and the new helmet squatchee (much more subtle) in this shot:
The idea for the helmet squatchees came from Mets equipment manager Kevin Kierst, who asked Pro Helmet Decals honcho David Sulecki if he could make them. “I said, ‘Sure, I don’t think that would be a problem,’” recalls Sulecki. “Then I hung up the phone and thought to myself, ‘How the hell am I going to do that?’ I called a friend of mine who’s been in the printing business for many years and he steered me in the right direction for a polyurethane doming process.”
Sulecki thought other teams might be interested, so he sent samples to all MLB teams and a few NCAA programs. The White Sox and the University of Tennessee are the only takers so far. “Steve Vucinich from the A’s called and asked if there was any benefit to using them or are they just for aesthetic purposes,” says Sulecki. “I told him Kevin made a good point in saying that the buttons could possibly help against abrasions to the top of the helmet if the helmet’s turned over.” (Vucinich was apparently unmoved by this argument, because he tells me that he has no immediate plans to use the squatchees.)
Practical utility notwithstanding, I like the helmet squatchees, although I’d like them even more if they were a smidge higher. The flat decals have always looked cheap and bogus to me, but putting a “real” button (which isn’t actually a button, but you know what I mean) on the helmet lends a nice feeling of substance. Sudden thought: Will catchers wear them on their catching helmets? The center strap of the mask might end up dislodging the squatchee.
Someone out there is probably saying, “This is stupid — it’s a solution to a non-problem.” A reasonable point, but consider this: Cap squatchees don’t serve any function to begin with — they’re just decorative. So if you don’t have any problem with those, why would you have a problem with a helmet squatchee? It really comes down to how much you want the helmet to resemble the cap. Remember, the first helmets, which were worn by the Pirates, were flocked, to mimic the fuzzy look of a wool cap. Obviously, helmet design has parted ways with cap design in many important ways since then (earflaps, Cool Flo vents, etc.), but the helmet is still essentially an armored cap. And since caps have squatchees, why not helmets?
But there’s no point in doing it if nobody except Jeff Ciprioni can see them. Make them higher! I mentioned that to Sulecki during last night’s game, and he responded, “I’ll ask Kevin to see if he’d want them higher. Like you, this is the first time I’ve seen them on TV. They’re something new, so we’re still experimenting with them. Maybe something like this?”
Meanwhile, a few other notes from yesterday’s spring training action:
• Nats prospect Steve Lombardozzi has one doozy of an NOB. Good thing he has the skinniest uni number out there. What would they do if he wore, say, No. 38?
• Mets pitcher Miguel Batista was wearing blue undersleeves — literally. Not sure I’ve ever seen that on a pitcher before. Then again, I wouldn’t have known if he hadn’t raised his arms like that, so maybe it’s more common than we realize.
• The Phillies’ broadcasters were wearing spring training polo shirts.
• David Robertson of the Yankees has always gone high-cuffed, but yesterday he was wearing stirrups, instead of his usual solid socks.
• No photo, but I’m told that Yanks catcher Francisco Cervelli was wearing stirrups as well.
(My thanks to all contributors, including Aaron Kusch, Michael Romero, Tyler Johnson, Dave Battafarano, and of course Phil.)
Stands for Noxious Bullshit Advertising: The other big uni news from yesterday is that the NBA is considering adding jersey ads and may vote on the issue as soon as next month.
A few gazillion people sent me that link yesterday, mostly accompanied by all sorts of “The end is nigh!” doomsaying. But if you actually read the story, there’s no there there. Look, it’s right in the lede graf: “The sticky issue will be debated, if not voted on, at the next board of governors meeting in April.”
In other words, they’re gonna talk about it. No duh — they’ve been talking about it for years now. This article is just the latest in a long series of trial balloons that have been put out there to see how much push-back there is. You can tell as much from the key quote in the story, which comes from Golden State president and COO Rick Welts: “I am not suggesting this is an easy issue, but I feel like it is inevitable.”
That’s crap, and Welts knows it. If it were inevitable, he wouldn’t need to give a quote like that — they’d just vote on it and we’d be seeing MasterCard ad patches on Dwyane Wade’s ass by Christmas. But it isn’t that simple — Welts is worried about backlash, so he’s trying to create the air of inevitability by saying it’s inevitable. Like, if he says it enough times and nobody objects, then it starts to become true, a self-fulfilling prophecy.
Ah, but lots of people do object, including many of you who are reading this. And that’s why it’s important not to let these trial balloons fly overhead unmolested — they need to be shot down. Set up a “No NBA Uniform Ads!” Facebook page, send out lots of tweets to @NBA or your favorite team (or @Warriors, if you want to send a message to Welts), with the hashtag #nouniformads, and so on. Do it today. Stop reading this and do it right now.
It’s worth noting, incidentally, that the article doesn’t even pretend to offer the usual nonsense about how uniform ad revenue “could help defray increasing expenses” or “could help a team hold the line on ticket prices” or any of that rot. Instead, it just says, “Jersey ads are one of the last pieces of inventory that club marketers haven’t been able to sell.” Take a second to think about how gross that statement is. It basically translates to, “We’ve already pimped out all our sisters and cousins, plus a few aunts, and even Mom. But now we’re finally gonna pimp out Grandma.” Congratulations.
This is simple greed, the end. Don’t let the fuckers get away with it.
By Brinke Guthrie
CC is all baseball this week, as spring training swings into full action in Arizona and Florida. We’ll kick things off with this 1977 “Tequila Sunrise” Houston Astros scorecard cover. If only the illustrator had included the rainbow-striped stirrups.
In other eBay finds:
• To all those stirrups fans here, and you know who you are, check this early-1970s Pirates look. [Wow, that's gorgeous. My-t-pricey, though. — PL]
• Here’s a super “Salada” coin set for the 1962 Mets.
• Where do the Red Sox hang out? On WJAR 920, every game.
• Here’s a great Jim Beam decanter for MLB’s 100th anniversary in 1969.
• Check out the Pete Rose caricature on this 1970s T-shirt.
• You too can look like a blood clot with this throwback 1974 Indians jersey.
• Mama Mia, will you look at this 1968-1969 era set of MLB pins, courtesy of reader Mike Hersh.
• Staying with MLB logos, there’s a lot of ’em on this 1970s kids’ leather belt.
• Even more logos all over this late 1970s MLB/Japan tour poster.
• You’re a big leaguer (says so on the side) with this 1950s St. Louis Cardinals/Chevy dealer glass.
• And from reader Nick Schiavo, here’s a Binghamton Mets jersey with a Binghamton Senators hockey theme.
Seen something on eBay or Etsy (or anywhere else) that you think would make good Collector’s Corner fodder? Send your submissions here.
I wrote a short ESPN piece yesterday about the NBA’s Noche Latina jerseys.
Also, there’s a new entry over on Permanent Record.
Uni Watch News Ticker: Handballs don’t bounce as well in cold weather, so players in a New York neighborhood have come up with a novel solution: boiling the balls before using them. They call the resulting game “steamball.” … Ryan Connelly has removed the Reebok logo creep from his latest Invaders jersey project. … Man, the Chargers used to have some massive uni numbers. Rocky Lum found that photo on an AFL blog I hadn’t seen before. Lots of good imagery on that site, and the guy who runs it appears to have a lot of interesting projects going on. Recommended. … Can’t believe it’s taken me until now to link to a photo of Beren Academy, the Jewish high school basketball team from Texas that wears Yarmulkes on the court. Also of note: Beren Academy’s opponent in the recent state championship finals, Abilene Christian, follows the common Texas sports trope of wearing the state flag on their jersey (from Brad Blunt). … Fun one from Andrew Levitt: “While babysitting, I noticed that early in the 1999 movie Elmo In Grouchland, Elmo has two copies of the same Tiger Woods photo in his bedroom — one on a poster and one in a photo-frame. Considering the year of the movie, it was easy to figure out that the photo was from the 1996 U.S. Amateur.” … Love the chain-stitched uni number on Teddy Ballgame’s stirrup. Nice Schiavo shot that photo during a recent visit to Cooperstown. … Josh Jacobs notes that Michigan is an Adidas school for most sports, yet they wear Reebok for hockey — but Adidas sells this Michigan hockey T-shirt. Granted, Reebok and Adidas are the same company, but you never see this kind of cross-branding in the NBA (Adidas) or the NHL (Reebok). … Rich Rutherford was watching the Portland news on KGW the other night and spotted a particularly egregious typo. … My Page 2 colleague Jim Caple’s recent ranking of MLB uniforms has resulted in a backlash from Padres fans. … Some Sens fans miss the old black alts (from Chris Flinn). … Here’s another weird Pirates cap. My first thought was “mesh panel,” but the shape of the see-thru area is so odd. Anyone know more? (Thanks, Brinke.) … Tim E. O’Brien was looking through an online archive and spotted some uni-noteworthy White Sox photos. … Edward Lindsey Hall III reports that Samme Givens of Drexel has an “Sa. Givens” NOB, even though there’s no other Givens on the Drexel roster. … Love the hoop-striped socks being worn by Sweden’s AIK. Meanwhile, note that their opponents, the Portland Timbers, are wearing at least three different shoe colors — not good (from Phil Amaya). … Buncha interesting stuff from Erik Morris, as follows: (1) Erik attends Johnson University, which just changed its name form Johnson Bible College. You can see an old-school “JBC” crest — among lots of other uni-notable details — in this old football photo, which Erik says is hanging in one of the school’s buildings. (2) At a flea market, Erik recently came across this Braves jacket. If you click on the last thumbnail you’ll see that the inner lining actually has a little description of the team’s mid-century uni history. (3) Another flea market find: these cool MLB mugs.