I don’t know about you, but when someone else says, “Maryland,” I immediately think, “Brooklyn!” And having lived in Brooklyn for over 25 years now, I can say with some authority that nothing says Brooklyn like Maryland.
Confused? Me too, after seeing the basketball uniform that the Terps will be wearing on Nov. 9, when they’re playing against Kentucky at the new arena down the road from my house. According to a quote from Under Armour designer Adam Clement, “We worked with the school to do something that showed the appreciation for sports in Brooklyn.”
“Sports in Brooklyn” apparently means “Dodgers,” because the resulting uniform has a baseball-ish script and faux-flannel fabric (presumably something similar to the Legend Gray fabric I wrote about in this 2010 column).
So: a basketball uniform meant to look like a wool flannel baseball uniform. Doesn’t make much sense, but I like it, at least conceptually. Not fond of the square collar format, though, and the Maryland flag pattern on the collar clashes badly with the rest of the design.
Now that the gauntlet has been thrown down, what will Kentucky wear for this game — repurposed Brooklyn Cyclones uniforms? Or maybe they’ll come out onto the court brandishing stickball bats? At the very least, I expect to see them chowing down on Junior’s cheesecake during timeouts. Let no
bogus nostalgic cliché aspect of Brooklyn culture be left unsaluted!
(As an aside, this is a true story: Yesterday morning, a few hours before the Maryland uniforms were released, some friends and I were trying to organize an outing to this Maryland-style crab house in Brooklyn. So it all evens out.)
Meanwhile, there are also new uniforms on tap for Northwestern, Auburn, and Texas Tech. You can see them by scrolling down past the Maryland uniforms on this page.
Cupspiracy update: The Gatorade hits keep on coming. Our first comment comes from a reader who asked that I not use his name:
I used to work as an intern for the Cubs, and about once a month we had to go to the clubhouse when a new water shipment came in and pull off all the labels off the Aquafina water bottles, because Gatorade was the official sponsor and had the dugout rights. There was a glass-front refrigerator right in the front of the clubhouse and it was full of bottles of water without the labels, and we always got asked questions about it when giving tours. There was something kind of cool though about the way the fridge looked with just clear water bottles in it, very pure. The ironic thing is Aquafina are Gatorade are both part of Pepsi, but we had to do it anyway.
Next we have an NHL public address announcer who prefers to stay anonymous:
Between periods of one of our playoff games, an NHL official came down into the penalty box area (I sit between the boxes at ice level) and straightened the water bottle holsters that are suction cupped to the glass. The holsters have big Gatorade logos on them. The NHL person said that NBC requested this. Not sure how true that is.
Next up is an anonymous MLB beat reporter:
Right before we started one of the pregame interviews for the Division Series, one of the pitchers came in to be interviewed. He sees the Gatorade bottle and says, “How much do you think I’d get fined if the first thing I did was take a swig, spit it, out and say, ‘This sucks’?” Pretty funny.
And we conclude today’s cupspiracy tales with a note from reader Peter Greenberg, who has a story that isn’t about Gatorade, but it’s definitely related:
I have a friend who worked PR for the local NBA team, and one of the broadcasters was a fan of Pepsi. But Coke either had the facility contract or the team contract, so he had to remove the labels from this Hall of Famer’s soda bottles before they made it courtside.
Many of you have probably had your fill of this topic by now and have already moved on to the Ticker, which is fine. But for those who want to discuss this subject, I’m imposing a new rule: Comments that include the term “It’s just business” will be deleted, and comments whose arguments essentially reduce to “It’s just business” may be deleted as well. Yes, we know it’s business — duh. But business practices are not self-justifying, and the mere existence of a transaction or contract does not inherently make that transaction honorable or above critique.
This doesn’t mean you can’t disagree with me, but it does mean you have to do better than “It’s just business.” That’s not an argument; it’s a non-argument, a way to avoid the issue, a way to shut down the discussion without engaging it. If you want to defend the practice of telling a grown man pour his water into a Gatorade cup (and all the other nonsense), you’ll have to defend it on the merits, not by saying, “It’s what they signed a contract to do, so they get to do it” or “They invested millions in this sponsorship, so of course they’re gonna get their money’s worth.” That kind of existential rationalization won’t fly here.
You might start by asking yourself why so many people — including the reporters who tweeted the bits about the cup shenanigans involving Raúl Ibañez and Davey Johnson — instinctively have a negative reaction to said shenanigans. If it was “just business,” this wouldn’t even be a story, because nobody would care and we’d all just move on. But many people intuitively understand that these practices don’t pass the smell test.
And here’s something else to ponder: When I wrote a short piece about all of this for Business Week two days ago, it quickly became one of the most-read and most-emailed stories on their site. Is that because their business-savvy readership viewed Gatorade’s shenanigans as “just business”? Or is it because their readers — readers who you’d expect to be more accepting of corporate bullshit than the average person — recognized that Gatorade had crossed a line?
And when one of Bloomberg TV’s producers saw the Business Week piece and asked me to come in and tape an interview segment about it (I’m told it’ll go live on their site tomorrow), is that because the producer viewed all of this as “just business”? Or is it because the producer — a guy whose job is to find newsworthy topics for a business-savvy audience — recognized that Gatorade had crossed a line?
“It’s just business” tell us why Gatorade is doing this, but we already know why they’re doing it. The point I’m raising — and therefore the point that’s open to discussion — is whether it’s ethical, honorable, and recpectable for them to be doing it. Let’s please stick to that. Thanks.
PermaRec update: A century-old Western Union telegram form found in an old library book is the focus of the latest entry on the Permanent Record Blog.
ESPN reminder: In case you missed it yesterday, my latest ESPN column is about a start-up company that will rent you a jersey.
Uni Watch News Ticker: The very last sentence of the very first Uni Watch column, published in the Village Voice in 1999, was “Can the postgame interview cap be far behind?” Now a little birdie tells me that the Mets (and presumably all MLB teams) may have ” “locker room/interview cap” next season. Moral of the story: Be careful what you (rhetorically) ask for. … A British gas company has chosen an unfortunate location for its sponsorship of a UK diver. … The goalie for the Chicago Wolves has a pretty cool-looking new set of pads (from Chris O’Connor). … Now that’s how to modify an NOB (from Brady Phelps). … How do you know when a football glove is too sticky? When it can do this (from Matt Mitchell). … A third-grader in Omaha is dressing as a different historical figure each day. It’s a great story, plus there’s a uni-related punchline at the end (thanks, Kirsten). … While I was taping a Bloomberg TV segment yesterday, I stopped in to chat with my Business Week editor, Keenan Mayo. Turns out he’s a lifelong Braves fan, and he told me something I’d never heard before: He said the current version of the Braves’ chest insignia was designed by a student at the Virginia Military Institute, and that he cleverly included the initials “VMI” in the tomahawk handle. Interestingly, he said he first heard it from a Braves minor leaguer. I had never heard this before, but hey, I don’t hang out very often with Braves minor leaguers, so I Googled it and came up with a few mentions of it on message boards, including one that labeled it an “urban legend” and “malarkey.” I suspect those descriptions are accurate (sorry, Keenan), but I’m wondering if any Uni Watch readers have heard and/or told this story over the years. Anyone..? … UCLA will be wearing a solid-navy fauxback-ish jersey on Nov. 24 (from Jeff Legaspi). … Nicholas Lund has noticed that some U.S. military units have logos that draw heavily on sports logos. The VMGR-352 Marine Refueling Squad, for example, has a Raiders-esque logo design. And the logo for the 4th Squadron of the 6th Cavalry borrows heavily from the Mavericks. … Whoa, never seen Roger Staubach wearing this type of facemask before! Okay, so it’s just for an ad, and they probably used the same helmet for both photos, but still (nice find by Brendan Slattery). … Southern Miss is letting fans vote on the school’s new marching band uniforms (from Brent Becker). … Here’s something truly awesome: an NOB that’s script and subscript! That’s Dwight Jones of Cincinnati, circa early 1980s. It’s from this slideshow of Cincinnati’s top 50 basketball players (awesome find by Mark Fightmaster). … Want to see what’s under a girl’s clothes? Now you can, thanks to Nike. If you can read the text without cringing, you’re stronger (or more jaded) than I am. … Hey, look what the Wilmington Blue Rocks sell in their team store (from Nicholas Schiavo). … Here’s more info on Michigan wearing those Michigan State helmets during practice. … Tom Hirt was getting a tour of the Oracle Arena and spotted this NBA uni-guidelines poster. My favorite rule: “Left and right sneaker must match.” … Cash-strapped soccer teams in Greece are turning to some unusual sponsorship partners. Don’t they know they can rake in the cash if they just eat their Greek yogurt out of a Gatorade cup? (From David Jacobs.) … When Matt Carpenter hit that big home run for the Cardinals yesterday, he did it bare-handed. Also of note: Neither he nor teammate Chris Carpenter has FiOB. … Here’s a slideshow of the Chargers’ powder blue game jerseys. If you look at the close-ups of the tagging, you’ll see that they’re using at least four tailoring cuts: lineman, linebacker, skill, and QB-K. This contradicts the claim from last month that Nike was only offering three cuts. Makes more sense, too, since the implication from that earlier claim was that linemen were being forced to wear the linebacker cut (good spot by Radovan Marinkovic). … Someone has put together a good analysis indicating that Ichiro wears a special low-profile cap (from G. Girard).