An interesting college baseball story unfolded over the weekend. I first became aware of it on Friday afternoon, when reader Jonathon Binet pointed me toward this tweet from Baltimore Sun sportswriter Chris Korman:
Towson baseball players are wearing black tape over the name of the school during game today after getting word team had been cut.
— Chris Korman (@ChrisKorman) March 8, 2013
That was interesting, so I made a note to check the game recap and look for photos on the Towson web site the next day. But when I did that, the recap had no mention of the black tape. And if you click to enlarge the one game photo that’s provided on that page, there doesn’t appear to be any tape on the player’s chest insignia. Had the team actually gone through with this? Had they maybe changed their minds at the last minute?
I did a bit of poking around and found the photo you see at the top of this page, along with a few other shots. I also found this video report:
The team taped over their chest logos again on Saturday and Sunday, but I haven’t been able to find any photos from those games. I have, however, found a source at Towson who agreed to answer a few questions as long as I didn’t reveal his identity. Here’s some of what we discussed:
Uni Watch: Why does the Friday game photo from the Towson web site show a player without any tape?
Towson Source: That is an old picture. That player is wearing whites; we wore pinstripes on Friday. Our Media Relations department did the same thing last fall when our men’s soccer team taped over the Towson logo on their jerseys and wrote “Family” on the tape (the team cuts were originally proposed in October but not officially announced until yesterday). It was more than likely per the orders of our micromanaging AD.
UW: When the soccer team did it, was it just for one game, or a long-term thing?
TS: For the most part it was just for that one game against Delaware. Not that they weren’t angry about the cuts, but the reaction has been much stronger from the baseball side than soccer.
UW: When the soccer team did it, was there any response from university officials, or from the NCAA, or from Under Armour?
TS: As far as I know, there was no response from any of the three.
UW: What kind of tape are they using?
TS: They’re using colored duct tape. They used black for Friday’s game, and then yellow for Saturday’s and Sunday’s games, because they were wearing their black jerseys (funny that they’re still keeping it color-coordinated with school colors).
UW: So is the team going to keep doing this for the rest of the season?
TS: Sounds like it. [One result of this is that the team's equipment managers won't have to worry too much about removing all the adhesive residue when they peel off the tape and launder the jerseys, since new tape will presumably be applied anyway. — PL]
UW: From a practical standpoint, it seems like having all that tape would make the jerseys stiff and uncomfortable, no?
TS: I haven’t spoken with the players, but the part they taped over is tackle twill, so I can’t imagine it made it substantially more stiff than it already may have been.
UW: What has the coach had to say about all this?
TS: I haven’t spoken to him but I’m sure he is fine with it. In fact, I wouldn’t be surprised if he had done the same thing to his jersey, but he usually wears a jacket in the dugout.
Faaaascinating. I don’t know enough about the school’s decision to eliminate the baseball and men’s soccer programs to comment on it (except to say what I hope would be self-evident, namely that it sucks to lose two teams, but that’s way better than cutting teachers, course offerings, or anything else connected to the school’s educational mission). But as far as the blackout move, here are a few thoughts:
• On the one hand, the blackout tape seems like a fairly straightforward example of protest speech and civil disobedience, both of which are things I’m generally in favor of. And since everyone on the team did it, it’s not really a “Look at me!” move. It’s a “Look at us!” move, which is different. I like the collective aspect of it.
• On the other hand, altering a uniform like this makes me a little uneasy. Could the team have achieved the same goals through less drastic means? What if they’d simply all worn their caps backwards, so the logo didn’t show? Something else? After thinking about it for a bit, I’ve reluctantly concluded that the approach they took is probably the most effective one, at least in terms of getting their message out (would the local TV station have done a story on them if they’d simply worn their caps backwards?). But something about defacing the uniform just makes me uncomfortable. It’s one thing to do it for one game, but doing it for the entire season might be a bit much. Still, I guess drastic times call for drastic measures, and this is a drastic situation for these players.
• I’ve asked Under Armour if they have any comment about all this. Perhaps they’d like to provide the team with logo-free jerseys, or even pre-blacked-out jerseys? No response yet. Will advise.
And now for something completely different: A writer in Seattle has written a lengthy manifesto claiming that punk rock is crap. I don’t agree with all of it, and even the parts I do agree with are based on some shaky premises and extremely broad brushstrokes, but it’s a great piece of writing and a fantastic example of thought-provoking cultural criticism. Reminds me a lot of stuff that was published in The Baffler back in the mid-1990s: too smart to be ignored, dares you to engage with it on a high level of dialogue, an instant classic that people will be talking about for a long time. Highly, highly recommended.
OMFG: My latest “One-Man Focus Group” column is about something I originally mentioned here on Uni Watch: John Fogerty and his flannel shirt.
Uni Watch News Ticker: Last Thursday I appeared as a guest speaker at an NYU graduate journalism class, which is sort of funny, since I don’t have a journalism degree myself (or as I told the class, “The first thing you need to know is that I’m a self-taught dilettante compared to all of you”). One of the students showed up wearing a rugby jersey, which I found amusing. During the Q&A period, most of the students asked me questions about my work, my career, the industry, etc., but one guy asked, “So what do you think of Golden State’s jerseys with the sleeves?” Pretty sure that’s not what the professor had in mind, but it was still pretty funny. … Boise State football will be able to wear solid-blue on blue turf after all, but its uni numbers will have to be “in distinct contrast with the color of the jersey.” … Here’s more about the legal action to strip the Redskins of their exclusive trademark protection. … In a related item, what’s a Washington-associated team name that would probably be very controversial today? Hint: It’s not “Redskins” (rare non-Notre Dame submission from Warren Junium). … Wedding Garter Follow-Up, Part One: Stephan Niewdach’s wife, Lisa, surprised him on their wedding day with this Jets garter. … Wedding Garter Follow-Up, Part Two: “These are the Seahawks garters my wife wore from our wedding last June,” says Jamey LaFleur. “There was one to wear and one to throw (although we just kept them both and did away with the garter toss). The photo also shows my Seahawks cufflinks that I wore with my tux.” … Wedding Garter Follow-Up, Part Three: No photo, Keith Owen’s wife thought it would be fun to surprise him with a Mets garter on their wedding day. “You mentioned that you don’t normally go to weddings that do all of that traditional nonsense, and we felt the same way when we got married, so while she wore the garter, we did not do the whole ‘take it off and throw it to the guys’ thing,” he says. “Not sure where it is now, but i’m sure its packed away somewhere in the house.” … Stew Curran is a uniform designer who worked for Nike and Umbro for almost 10 years. Now he’s teaching an online class on sports uniform design. If you want to learn more about him, just to get a sense of his design style and abilities, check out his personal site. … A Vermont newspaper tried to support the home team a few days ago by running a rather tasteless promotional poster. After a mild storm of reaction, the paper is standing its ground. On a side note, I’m pleased that they used an apostrophe properly. … Did you know Nike made tweezers and nail clippers? Me neither, until now. Just tweeze it! (From Ryan Connelly.) … Matt Snyder notes that Butler is one of the few college hoops teams to have uni numbers on the shorts. Does any other school do this? … A Nebraska high school basketball team was forced to wear another school’s uniforms after neglecting to bring their road unis to a road game. “What’s interesting is that they weren’t allowed to wear Nebraska’s practice jerseys because the Adidas logos on them violate some high school rules,” says David Ashby. “They had the three stripes running down the side and that’s considered ‘too big’ of a logo. Another funny thing is that they had a bus bringing their proper uniforms and it got lost.” … Here’s a weird one: a corkscrew featuring a rugby player’s legs (from Scott Sidor). … Did the WNBA release a new logo when I wasn’t looking? They appear to have put a new logo on the official league ball (from Kevin Brown). … New uniforms for Northwestern women’s lacrosse. … Worst product placement ever (from Scott M.X. Turner). … This isn’t quite the same thing as Ted Turner’s old “Channel 17″ gambit, but it’s still amusing. That’s Zach Phillips, a non-roster invitee at Marlins camp. Anyone know if he always wears 66? (From Sean Abruzzo.) … “Here is a Little League team portrait from my hometown of Wayne, West Virginia, from the early 1970s,” says Brice Wallace. “Not only are the uniforms a mishmash of gray and white, but check out the tall fellow in the middle of the back row. Mark Trogdon was so much bigger than the other players, they had no Little League jersey for him, so they had to get a jersey from the Wayne Babe Ruth League (it’s supposed to say “Wayne” across the front), and even that jersey didn’t seem like it was big enough.” … In case you missed Phil’s entry about it yesterday, here’s an excellent article about how Indiana opted not to wear the Fruit Stripe uniforms. Recommended. … UMass football coach Charley Molnar tweeted a photo that shows some new uniforms. It’s not clear if they’ll be worn on-field, however (from Joe Bonafilia). … “As you may know, the Garmin/Slipstream cycling team has had an argyle component on their jerseys for quite a few years,” says Alex Kerman. “In Friday’s stage in Paris-Nice, I noticed that race leader Andrew Talansky had some argyle-patterned kinesio tape on his knee as well.” I really like that! … “I noticed a subtle inconsistency in the uniforms of the Spanish team in the WBC,” says Michael Harris. “Each team features its nation’s flag embroidered on the left side of the cap, as well as on the right sleeve of the jersey. But on the Spanish unis, the flag on the cap is the nation’s civil flag — a simple horizontal tricolor featuring the national colors of red and gold — however, the flag on the jersey sleeve is the more ornate state flag, which adds the national coat of arms.” … While looking for those WBC cap and jersey images, I stumbled across this — yikes! … UConn basketball wore warm-up hoodies on Saturday. “Apparently they’re part of some Nike plan,” says Gregory Koch. … Pretty interesting video on the decaling of the Mizzou helmet (from Ryan Stone). … Remember the Reds’ memorial patch for Joe Nuxhall? Apparently they made it available as a car decal (from Joseph Owen). … It’s a little hard to see, but the trainer or the Chinese Taipei WBC team has been wearing a fanny pack with a Cardinals logo. “They said he worked for St. Louis, but it’s surprising they couldn’t get him one branded for Chinese Taipei,” says b>Tyler Johnson. … Three lacrosse refs, three different number fonts. That’s from Saturday’s Dartmouth-Robert Morris game. “Just disgusting,” says Tris Wykes. … Worth following: a Twitter feed called Stirrups Now!. … Robert Griffin III was wearing a black version of Baylor basketball’s Fruit Stripe jersey on Saturday (from Cork Gaines). … Nice Northwestern-striped stirrups for — of course — the Northwestern softball team (from Matthew Sampson). … “My high school, Christ Presbyterian Academy in Nashville, had its girls’ basketball team playing in the state tournament semifinals, and at the beginning of the second quarter a ref gave us a technical for no apparent reason,” says Archie Troxel. “We later found out that he had noticed a Nike swoosh on our jerseys, which violated a rule similar to the one that used to exist in the NCAA saying that you can’t have manufacturers’ marks on the jerseys. The interesting part of the whole story is that we’d had those jerseys for three years without getting in trouble, even playing in the state championship game last year without a single official noticing. For the final, we sewed American flags over the swooshes so we wouldn’t get in further trouble.” … Drake is an Adidas school, but Ben Simons has been wearing Nike KD IVs. “He must have made them on NIKEiD so he could blue out the swoosh and be allowed to wear them,” says Riley Ubben. … New football uniforms for UCF. … The Fruit Stripe/Zubaz thing has spread to boxing. That’s Tavoris Cloud, from Saturday’s IBF light heavyweight title bout against Bernard Hopkins (who wore purple gloves, ugh). … “Manny Ramirez recently signed on to the EDA Rhinos in Taiwan, part of the Chinese Professional Baseball League,” says Elliot Teichman. “They have a slightly adorable logo.” … Interesting photo essay on the people who produce the clothing for the Pope (from Pete Woychick). … Last week I mentioned that Giants outfielder Cole Gillespe was wearing a bat knob-style decal on the back of his batting helmet, in addition to the standard NOB found on all Giants helmets, but I didn’t have a photo. Now, thanks to Josh Miller, I do. … Check it out: 0 guarding 0, from Saturday’s Pitt/DePaul game (from Steve Johnston). … Check out these shiny/reflective jumpsuits from the 1954 Masters. “Must have been some kind of rainwear,” says Britt Jackson. … Lots of very cool Minnesota throwback hockey jerseys here (from Anthony Nuccio). … “Is this the newest Adidas shoe for the tourney?” asks Phil. “Nope. It’s just Google’s newest ‘talking’ shoe.” Nice story plus slideshow from a San Francisco vintage “base ball” game here (from David Goodfriend). … Here’s a crummy photo of this really cool old cart/table thingie that I bought at an architectural salvage shop yesterday. Gonna be delivered today. It’s destined to be my new coffee table. … Bill Parcells showed up at yesterday’s Mets/Cards game and was presented with an autographed Mets jersey in honor of his induction to the Pro Football Hall of Fame. … A United States Senator thinks the NRA shouldn’t be sponsoring a NASCAR race. … This is pretty messed up: At Saturday’s Michigan/Indiana game in Ann Arbor, ushers told fans wearing Indiana shirts they’d either have change into maize Michigan shirts or leave. “Absolutely ridiculous,” says Ryan Mandel. “Sports are about the competition between two teams, and forcing fans of one team to change into the colors and logos of the other is asinine.” Agreed. … A while back I Ticker-linked to a photo showing Lou Brock wearing some sort of helmet decal in the 1975 MLB All-Star Game. Now Jon Helfenstein of the mighty Fleer Sticker Project has documented many additional instances of the Cards wearing this decal in ’75.