Now then: As you’re probably aware, Hines Ward announced his retirement on Tuesday, and at least a dozen readers got in touch to point out that the Steelers logos on the backdrop behind him had capital letters (instead of the team’s usual initial cap), plus the thickness of the gray circles was inconsistent. The most common assessment from these readers: “This must be a sneak peek at the team’s new Nike-fied logo, which they’ll unveil for real in April.”
That’s a good theory, but it’s not correct. If you do a Google image search on “Steelers press conference,” you’ll find that the Steelers were using this same backdrop, with these same logo variations, as recently as last month and as long ago as 2007, plus a whole lot of times in between. It’s just their standard press conference backdrop.
This raises a few questions:
• Why did nobody notice the backdrop logos for the past five years but then suddenly lots of people noticed them two days ago?
• Why would the Steelers be foolish enough to use a bastardized version of their logo on their press conference backdrop? And assuming someone in the organization has noticed it by now, why do they keep using it?
• Why do we need press conference backdrops, which almost always look annoying, to begin with? (The answer, as you probably know, is that it’s another way to sell sponsorship rights. In other words, douchebaggery.)
All this distracts from the real uni-notable element of Ward’s retirement announcement, which is that he wore a niecktie with
a Steelers colorway Steelers colors. Nice! The formality of the occasion was apparently lost, however, on head coach Mike Tomlin, who wore a Steelers T-shirt over an oversized long-sleeved tee. Classy.
A well-established (and really annoying) tradition: Paragraph 1.11(h) of the MLB rulebook states, “No part of the uniform shall include patches or designs relating to commercial advertisements.” But that inconvenient clause has been suspended, or maybe just ignored, whenever MLB has opened its season with a pair of games in Japan. In each of those instances (Mets/Cubs 2000; Yanks/Rays 2004; A’s/Bosox 2008), the teams have worn advertising patches and helmet decals.
I’ve been assuming that the same thing would happen with next week’s season-opening series between the Mariners and A’s, and now it’s been confirmed: Both teams will wear helmet decals featuring the logo of a Japanese gaming software company called Gloops; the Gloops logo will also be worn by the A’s as a sleeve patch; and the Mariners will wear a Boeing sleeve patch. Further info here and here. (I love how the MLB story says Gloops “will sponsor Oakland’s jersey patch.” Sure, because they couldn’t afford a patch without an underwriting sponsor, right?)
I’ve never once heard a good explanation as to why these regular-season games, which are not exhibitions, are festooned with uniform advertising. Some of you are probably saying, “Because the games are in Japan, and Japanese baseball has uniform ads.” Come on, I said a good explanation. It’s not like they’re using a Japanese ball (which, as you probably know, is subtly different from an MLB ball), so why should any of the other rules, including rules regarding uniforms, be different?
Oh wait — let me guess.
Live chat reminder: I’ll be doing an ESPN.com live chat tomorrow, 3pm Eastern. Details here.
Uni Watch News Ticker: As you probably know by now, Peyton Manning’s press conference jersey turned out to be an orange Reebok. As for his uni number, I suppose I generally feel retired numbers should stay retired, but it’s not something I feel that strongly about. If Frank Tripucka is okay with it, that so am I. At least one person disagrees, however. … Here’s one of the best auction items I’ve seen in a long time: a set of game-worn WFL ref uniforms (big thanks to Bruce Menard). … Oh wow, check out what the inside of an adding machine looks like (thanks, RyCo). … Graham Bakay found an old 1953 film about the CFL’s Edmonton Eskimos. “Some great comments from their 28-year-old (!) head coach, who says it’s not fair to make the players practice in pads since they play two games a week,” says Graham. “Also, they use a night ball, which I didn’t realize had been used in the CFL.” … “The Australian F1 GP took place on Sunday,” writes Omar Jalife, “and the kerbs were changed from red and white in 2011 to green and gold this year.” … A little tough to see, but March Madness zebras are apparently using NCAA-branded whistles. Sigh. … Yankees fans apparently don’t drink enough. “I really love that sign,” says Kirsten. … There are torn jerseys and then there are torn jerseys. That’s a player from Mingo Valley Christian in Tulsa (from Paul Watson). … Guess we’re gonna start seeing a lot of bootleg Adidas merch in my neighborhood. … New throwbacks apparently on tap for Illinois football. Luis Aranda made those screen shots from this video. … NASCAR is going to be making some outreach to the Hispanic community. No word on whether this means drivers will wear “El NASCARO” race suits, but anything’s possible. … New mascot for Houston. “To the best of my knowledge, this will be the first instance of a school having a mascot that will never ever see a sporting event, or even the campus for that matter,” says Andy McNeel. … New uniforms for the Phoenix Monsoon (from Kenn Tomasch). … Lots of buzz regarding what some folks are calling the baseball glove of the future. … Here’s a really great idea: selling off the names of your roads and bridges to any clown with a PayPal account. Simpler than actually legislating, right? … Holy freakin’ bejeesus, check out the stirrups Notre Dame was wearing a few weeks ago (from William Streit). … Further evidence that corporate douchebaggery is out of hand: A sponsorship conflict almost led to the cancellation of a soccer match in Zimbabwe. … Hey, Deadspin, celebrating old media guides with gorgeous illustrations is usually our job, not yours. But there’s enough good stuff to go around, so why not. … New 100th-anniversary logo for Grand Central Terminal. … The Arizona Rattlers are holding a “Name the Mascot” contest (from HHH). … Latest of the many reasons to love Joe Maddon: When he recently got to meet Joe Namath, he paid subtle tribute
by getting shit-faced and kissing him by wearing white sneakers (from Dan Cichalski). … Here’s a site devoted to North Dakota hockey jerseys (from Seth Scheving). … Here’s the story of how the visual identity for the Pensacola Blue Wahoos — a new minor league baseball team — was developed. … The Suns and Heat went color en color the other night. … A new logo for the Triple-A championship, and it’s a huge mess. … New logos for the Rockford Riverhawks (from Jim Stone). … Nice slideshow of St. Louis Cardinals jerseys here (from Marcus Clowers). … Bizarre situation in Tuesday night’s Mets/Nats Grapefruit League game: The Nats’ two middle infielders in the bottom of the 7th were Andres Blanco (a non-roster invitee) and Josh Johnson (a minor leaguer who’d been taken along to Port St. Lucie for the game), and both of them were wearing No. 13. With one out, the Mets had a runner on first — Ronny Cedeño, who also wears No. 13. At that point, Rob Johnson hit into a 4-6-3 double play — in other words, a ground ball to No. 13, who flipped to No. 13, thereby forcing out No. 13. Unfortunately, no single camera angle captured all three uni numbers, but you can see two of the numbers and all three players in this shot (big thanks to Dan Cichalski). … This year’s Cubs season tickets look really nice (from Ryan Bohannon).