Time for another round of Question Time, where you can ask me anything and I’ll do my best to answer. Here’s the latest installment, based on questions that were submitted a few weeks ago.
You’ve revealed that a few teams have people within their organization who know you, or know of you or the site. Has there ever been a time that someone from a pro team approached you to ask your opinion of something, uniform-related or not? Kind of a “Hey Paul, is this good or stupid, whaddya think?”
No, that has never happened with a pro team. One FBS-level college football team has run some ideas past me and asked for my feedback, however (I gave some very quick responses). And amateur/recreational teams ask my advice all the time.
Do you have a good braciole recipe?
Never made it myself — sorry.
If you were a music critic (instead of a uniform critic) and were able to vote in the Village Voice Pazz and Jop poll, what would have been your top five albums for 2012?
Actually, I used to be a music critic, and I used to vote in the Pazz & Jop poll. (In fact, they still send me a ballot every year, but I no longer fill it out because I’m not an active critic.)
I don’t keep track of release dates anymore, but here are some recent-ish albums I’ve liked: Waxahatchee’s American Weekend and Cerulean Salt; Northern Soul by Cardinal; Monomania by Deerhunter; Light Up Gold by Parquet Courts; and MCII by Mikal Cronin.
When discussing sports-related beverages, Arnold Palmer comes to mind. Do you prefer lemonade topped with iced tea, iced tea topped with lemonade, equally poured in at the same time, just lemonade, or just iced tea?
Just lemonade. Preferably yellow, but I can deal with pink.
How long have you been playing bass, and have you ever played live with a band?
I purchased my bass — a Fender Precision — in 1986. I have a good ear but very, very poor technique. I’ve occasionally played with another person in my apartment, but never with a band.
In an earlier post, you had mentioned that NBA teams were required to include a basketball in their logos. Is this actually an official requirement, or were these comments made in jest? I noticed that the TrailBlazers, Timerwolves, Bulls, Bucks, Nuggets, Warriors, Rockets, and Grizzlies don’t have a ball in their logo. So why is this a “league-wide requirement”?
It’s not a codified rule that’s spelled out on paper. But league officials have told me that they strongly prefer team logos to include a basketball, and that any team wanting not to have one would have to give a pretty good justification.
In your opinion is this whole uniform revolution just a fad, or has it become the new standard?
I don’t understand this question.
Assuming you’ve had cats before Tucker and Caitlin (which I think is the case), are you a cat person out of practicality or necessity (maybe your apartment doesn’t allow dogs?), or do you genuinely prefer cats over dogs?
I’ve had cats pretty much continuously since 1986, and I don’t see that ever changing. Basically, I can’t imagine a life without cats.
But I also love dogs — always stop to pet them, love to be around them, etc. I don’t feel a strong urge to own one, however.
As an aside, I think the whole notion of pet ownership — and the cross-species bond at the heart of it — is kind of amazing. Like, if I didn’t already know that people could have pets, and if someone then told me that we’d share our living spaces with animals and we’d love them and they’d love us back, I’d probably say, “Nah, that’s never gonna work.” That it does work feels like a miracle and a gift.
When an umpire/referee wears a special patch or another special aspect to the uniform, who is responsible for it? Does the home team’s equipment manager take care of it or does the league send special uniforms to the refs/umps?
Excellent question. I don’t know the answer to it, however. Anyone..?
When it comes to breakfast at a diner, do you go for sweet or savory? If sweet: Pancakes, French toast, or waffle? If savory: How do you like your eggs?
Always sweet. In a perfect world, I’d always order waffles, but most diners either (a) don’t offer waffles at all or (b) offer Belgian waffles, which I don’t really care for (I prefer small-tread waffles, like the ones served at Waffle House). So I often end up going for the French toast. Once a year or so I’ll opt for pancakes, and I almost always regret it, because they end up sitting like a lead weight in my stomach. And now and then I’ll go for silver dollar pancakes, which are fun.
If you had an evil twin, basically someone who is the exact opposite of you, (and for the hell of it, we’ll call him Saku Lluap), how would you describe him from a Uni Watch perspective? Does he like purple as a sports team color? Is he in favor of the use of Native American imagery?
This is like that Seinfeld bit about the Bizarro World. Like, what’s the opposite of “good-bye” — is it “hello” or “bad-bye”?
The cop-out answer would be to say that my opposite wouldn’t care about uniforms to begin with. But for fun, let’s say that my evil twin would be pro-pajama pants, pro-purple, pro-Nike, anti-football sleeves, pro-Native American imagery, pro-logo creep, anti-stirrups, and so on.
Or we could just call him The Jeff.
Hunt-and-peck or touch typist?
I’m a very good typist. In fact, I’d say typing is the second-most important thing I learned in high school. (The most important thing came from an art teacher who told me, “If you are bored, you are boring.” Single most important sentence any teacher ever said to me.)
We are well aware of your objection to Native American derogatory team names, but why not any objection to team names that impose natural disasters on people, (i.e. hurricanes, cyclones) These names seem to support devastation and death on mankind. Shouldn’t they be reconsidered?
I’m going to assume that this question was submitted in jest. (I do think, however, that Yankees radio announcer John Sterling’s home run call for Alex Rodriguez — “An A-bomb, from A-Rod!” — is in poor taste.)
Have you ever been to the Ebbets Field Flannels shop in Seattle?
Yes. I also did an ESPN story on EFF back in 2008.
The other day I was watching The Bad News Bears in Breaking Training and thought that the Houston Toros had some really cool stirrups. So I’m wondering, do you have any favorite uniforms from (fictional) sports movies?
I don’t actually watch many sports-related movies, because I tend to think the sports sequences don’t look realistic enough. I do like the uniforms in Rollerball, however, and the futuristic football uniforms in Starship Troopers, and of course the baseball unis in The Natural.
Do you do any uniform concepts?
Nope. I’m not a designer.
You are free to put together your ultimate all-star band. Who would you pick?
Eh, all-star bands are almost always a bad idea. I’ve always been curious about how Johnny Thunders would have fit in (musically, not interpersonally) as a member of the Rolling Stones, however.
When I was in Brooklyn recently, I saw that there are several barbecue restaurants there. Which Brooklyn barbecue joint is the best?
I think the best ’cue in Brooklyn is Fette Sau, although there are at least two Manhattan ’cueries that are better (Hill Country and Mighty Quinn).
The vast majority of football chinstraps have an excessive amount of strap that covers up the team logo or provides an unintentional white stripe across a plain or painted helmet. Do you find this to be incidental, necessary, a sign of laziness by the equipment manager, or no big deal?
It bugs me a little (just as it appears to bug you). Wish they’d trim the excess, but I understand that they have bigger things to worry about.
Have you ever read The Mezzanine by Nicholson Baker? It’s a novel about an ordinary office worker spending his lunch hour contemplating, in fascinating detail, everyday items like staplers, shoestrings, drinking straws, and the switch from glass to paper milk cartons. There are numerous footnotes that dig even deeper into these mundane objects, but in a very entertaining way.
It’s not a stretch to say that my writing career might not have happened if not for The Mezzanine (which you can score for just a few bucks). It was published in 1988, but I didn’t read it until 1992, and it was a complete revelation. “Wow,” I thought, “I’m not the only one who looks at the world this way!” It helped spur me to start doing my own writing, and the following year I published the first issue of my zine, Beer Frame: The Journal of Inconspicuous Consumption, which definitely owed a certain stylistic debt to The Mezzanine. I sent a copy to Nicholson Baker, in care of his publisher. To my very pleasant surprise, he responded with a nice note (which, unfortunately, I no longer have).
If you were Commissioner for a day for each of the Big Four leagues, what rule change would you make for each of them?
MLB: Mandatory high-cuffery. NFL: Mandatory sleeves going down to at least an inch above the elbow. NBA: Mandatory high (or at least high-ish) white socks with team-colored stripes. NHL: No more Bettman stripes or scoop-hemmed jerseys.
With New York FC being started in New York, if approached would you design a uniform and logo for them?
As mentioned above, I’m not a designer. Also, I’m not a soccer guy, so I wouldn’t even feel good about consulting or advising on this project.
As vocal critic of poorly done advertising, how do you justify having a site with pop-up ads (perhaps the most annoying form of advertising) and other ugly, randomly generated ads on your page?
Uni Watch doesn’t have pop-ups; it has pop-unders (i.e., the ads don’t obscure your browser, or at least they shouldn’t). Personally, I don’t find pop-unders so annoying. If you do, I’m sorry. Have you considered a pop-up blocker?
Hypothetically, if all Native American tribes were to come out and announce that they have no issue with Chief Wahoo, would you still have issues with it?
This is like asking me if I’d be okay with two plus two equaling five, as long as every mathematician gave it the thumbs-up.
Have you ever designed your own sports uniform? Any photos/illustrations as proof?
Again, I’m not a designer. Sorry.
Uni watch is my first stop every morning after email. Which sites do you find yourself checking in on daily?
I have relatively few daily stops. In no particular order: ESPN; the New York Times; my friend Ken Davidoff’s baseball blog; Romenesko; Poynter’s MediaWire; Gawker; Adam Rubin’s Mets blog; Mets Police; Can’t Stop the Bleeding; Chris Creamer’s site; Gothamist; probably a few more I’m forgetting.
There are also tons of sites that I probably should read daily but only check out a few times a week. That list is pretty huge.
Everyone seems to be into indie-rock and whatever was popular when they were 18, but do you harbor a not-so-secret fascination with, I don’t know, 1920s country music, medieval choral singing, French pop of the 1960s, Tibetan throat singing, or anything out of the so-called mainstream?
I am particularly fond of 1920s-’40s Delta blues; 1940s-’60s Chicago blues; 1920s-’50s country, western swing, and bluegrass; 1950s-’60s R&B; and most forms of jazz from Dixieland through bebop.
Your feelings on the flag-desecration uniforms worn by college and pro clubs are well known (and I’m in agreement), but how do you feel about national teams (like the USA Eagles) incorporating elements of the national flag into their uniforms?
I have less of a problem with that, although it still feels like a lazy attempt at rah-rah patriotism. And for those who say they don’t like politics mixed in with their sports, consider this: Wrapping oneself in the flag is an inherently political act. Wouldn’t it be better if teams avoided this approach altogether?
I think you’ve covered this before, but what kind of bike do you ride?
I ride a Trek 7.5 FX.
I am a true blue Detroit Tigers fan. Am I really going to have to wait until the end of time to see the Tigers wear a blue alternate jersey?
How did you first stumble across Ebbets Field Flannels?
Hmmm. I’m not sure! I think maybe one of their catalogs showed up in the mail in the early 1990s..? Not positive.
What’s your feeling on the ’70s/’80s trend of powder blue road uniforms?
It’s one of those things that seemed sacrilegious at the time but now seems sort of quaint, and nicely representative of a particular era. It’s hard to imagine the ’70s without powder blues, right?
You like to bash on Native American mascots, In particular the Cleveland Indians, who you gave a 15 seed in your uniform bracketology. Have you ever been to a Cleveland Indians game, or even Cleveland (aside from a flight layover)?
First of all, I don’t “bash on” Native American mascots. “Bashing” is what the strong do to the weak, what the powerful do to the vulnerable, what the haves do to the have-nots. I couldn’t “bash” an MLB team, or any aspect thereof, if I wanted to.
Secondly, I didn’t seed the Indians 15th in ESPN’s recent “Battle of the Uniforms.” If you go back and check the bylines, you’ll see that my colleague Jim Caple did that. (He did the American League seedings; I did the N.L. seedings.)
I have spent a decent amount of time in Cleveland over the years — not as much as I’ve spent in, say, Milwaukee, but more than I’ve spent in Boston, L.A., and lots of other cities.
If you’re suggesting that only someone intimately familiar with Cleveland should be allowed to have an opinion on Chief Wahoo, I respectfully disagree.
Something that always bothers me in sports merchandising is team caps that are far removed from a team’s colors, like red Yankees caps. I always associate those colors with their rivals, the Red Sox. I’m a Dolphins fan and if I ever saw a blue and red Phins hat (that would cover Bills and Pats), I’d wonder who the hell came up with it. Colors are important. Why is it acceptable for this using-the-whole-spectrum idea to exist?
New Era started making red Yankees caps after Spike Lee personally requested on in 1996. It turned out to be a hit, and New Era was off to colored-cap races. Basically, this is what happens when sports merchandising becomes more about lifestyle marketing and less about sports. Which is just one of many reasons I look upon sports merchandising with a generally jaundiced eye.
Mars One. Interested? Why or why not?
In theory, definitely. In practical terms, I’m probably too old.
What do you think is the best looking baseball uniform ever worn in professional baseball?
“Professional baseball” includes all levels of the minors, the Negro Leagues, etc., and there are probably some great-looking uniforms out there that I’ve never seen. If we restrict it to MLB, I’m sticking with my go-to choice: mid- to late-1960s St. Louis Cardinals.
Understandably, you spend most of your time looking at the professional and collegiate leagues of the “big four” sports, with occasional nods to soccer and tennis. But what is your take on the aesthetics of modern kits from my favorite sport, rugby?
I have nothing against rugby, but I don’t follow it. When I see photos of it, however, my usual reaction is, “Pretty good-looking sport.”
I don’t know how many basketball arenas you have been to, but what are some of your favorite features of various venues you have attended? What would you like to see in any new basketball arena being built?
The vast, vast majority of the basketball games I’ve attended over the years have been at one arena (Madison Square Garden), so I don’t have enough experience to comment on this — sorry.
Have you ever listened to Eric B and Rakim and said, “This Rakim guy… He is quite the poet”?
For better or worse (probably a bit of both), rap doesn’t speak to me at all.
What’s new with the former weekend bench coaches/interns? Do they still contribute/comment/keep in touch, do they retain a different color in the comment section after their departure, did they depart on good terms, etc.? I guess this could be summarized as, “Former Bench Coaches: Where Are They Now?”
My first intern, Vince Grzegorek, is now the editor-in-chief of Cleveland Scene, the alt-weekly in Cleveland. He and I keep in touch pretty regularly, and we tend to see each other roughly once a year (mostly recently a few months ago here in Brooklyn). I don’t know if he still reads Uni Watch frequently, or at all. That doesn’t really affect our friendship one way or the other.
Bench coach Bryan Redemske lives in Omaha, where he contributes items to the Omaha World Herald. He usually writes something for Uni Watch about the College World Series and will be doing so again this year. He and I have never met, but we still keep in touch, although not as often as Vince and I do. Again, I have no idea how often he reads Uni Watch these days, and it doesn’t really matter to me either way.
Intern Nina Dubin never really made much of a mark here (although she did design this T-shirt). That’s mostly my fault, as I never found a good set of things for her to do. She kind of drifted out of touch, and I have no idea what she’s up to now.
Suppose you had the opportunity to travel back in time and live through any single year of the 20th century, with no obligations, as a sort of time tourist. Which year would you choose? And during your stay what would you be most curious to observe?
I have always wished I could have seen the New York Dolls. Put me down for that, please.
Looking back on your career, anything you’d do differently, knowing what you know now?
I would have read The Mezzanine sooner.
Seriously: On the micro level, there’s an endless list of things I wish I could go back and change: sentences I’d write differently, opinions I’d express more clearly, some stuff that was probably better off left unsaid. But on the macro level, I wouldn’t change much, except that there have been too many times when I’ve bitten off more than I could chew, work-wise. Saying “No” to a prospective assignment or project has never been my strong suit, so I often end up overburdened and stressed out. This is something I continue to work on.
Have you ever been to Germany? Do you plan to come over here in the future?
Never been, but would love to. Save some beer and sausages for me!
My wife and I will be in NYC for a few days in July. While she’s been there a time or two for business, it’ll be my first trip. Do you have any food recommendation for us while we’re in the city?
Dude, do you know how many food options there are in NYC? Gimme a little help in terms of your preferences regarding type of cuisine, price range, fancy vs. casual, etc.
Ever consider owning/riding a Vespa in NYC?
Scooters look cool, but I’ve never felt a strong urge to own one.
The leading English muffin has two distinct sides. Do they have names?
I don’t mean to sound glib, but I suspect the names are just “the top” and “the bottom.”
That’s it for this round. We’ll do Question Time again in a coupla months.
By Brinke Guthrie
See the A’s go in Seven-0! That’s a mighty fine slogan, so this Oakland A’s program leads off Collectors Corner this week. [Note the gold batting helmets. Also note the apostrophe catastrophe, which wasn’t something you normally saw back in 1970. — PL]
Other items of note this week include the following:
• Ever seen one of these? A 1960s Packers football-shaped beer stein.
• Musta been a lot of Cub Power back in the 1960s — this pennant says so! We are #1!
• Bruins fans will love this — a signed record album of the 1969-1970 season, Goal: Bruins! Autograped by then-GM Milt Schmidt.
• From Paul, here’s an old hockey jersey with “Air Traffic Control MSP” on the front, which stands for Minneapolis/St. Paul.
This jersey must have been for the airport’s hockey team.
• This is a new one. A New York football Giants flower planter. Put a geranium in the cranium!
• A grab-bag of items from reader Mike Clary today, beginning with a Miami Heat jersey with “Wade 3” on the back, but a “6” on the front — oops. Also: a star-spangled Washington Bullets warm-up from 1982; a truly wretched Portland SeaDogs jersey from 2006; and a New York Titans sideline parka from Stall & Dean.
• And we conclude with a really weird one: a set of 1993 NHL/Muppets pins, submitted by reader Cory Gibson-Bath.
Seen something on eBay or Etsy that you think would make good Collector’s Corner fodder? Send your submissions here.
Uni Watch News Ticker: The NBA will allow advertising on the court apron for the 2013-14 season. Interestingly, the article states that this “is in lieu of putting corporate logos on jerseys, a proposal that has somewhat stalled,” but I’m not sure what to make of that, since the last thing we heard about jersey ads was that they’re slated for 2014-15, not 2013-14. … Apparently playing military dress-up on Memorial Day wasn’t enough for the Orioles, because they’ll be wearing G.I. Joe caps and jerseys this Friday, for “Military Appreciation Day.” They’re also giving away T-shirts with a G.I. Joe version of the Oriole bird. Why not get it over with and wear camo every day? (From Avi Miller.) … We’ve known for a few weeks now that that there would be slight changes to the Penn State football uni this season. Here’s more info on that (from Larry Bodnovich). … A chrome Pats helmet and a white 49ers helmet — both clearly for display, not for on-field use — are floating around in this thread (from Pinch Santos). … Coupla MLB games were engulfed in fog last night, which led to something unusual: an “F” on the Wrigley Field scoreboard. “Never seen that in my 53 years,” says Bob Gassell. … Oh baby, look at this completely awesome Wheaties ad featuring Stan the Man (welcome back, Ricko). … Fascinating article on Nike’s deal with the U. of Minnesota (from Brett Stone). … Arturo Vega, who designed the Ramones’ logo, has passed away. … Here’s one of the more amusing repurposings of the MLB logo. That’s a barber shop in Springfield, Illinois (from Kevin Eckhoff). … Speaking of poached logos, here’s one way to avoid a copyright suit. That Canon ad, with an obviously Photoshopped Cubs cap, ran the other day in the Houston Chronicle (from Daniel Woolston). … And while we’re at it, here’s a creative use of the Marlins’ logo (from Michael Miller). … Really good piece on horse racing jockey silks (thanks, Phil). … Kurt Stachnik has tracked the Brewers’ record by uniform — no mean feat, given that the team has already won 11 different uni combos this season. … New logo for the Mall of America (thanks, Brinke). … One of my 2010 ESPN columns is referenced in this short piece about the sad state of baseball pants (thanks, Phil). … We’ve seen lots of uni-themed weddings over the years, but this Seahawks-themed ceremony definitely ranks among the best. … Baseball writer Rob Neyer thinks someone should do a real throwback game — no batting helmets, players leave their gloves on the field, only two or three umpires, etc. “I think he didn’t go far enough,” says Robert Silverman. “The sportswriters should be forced to crank out their copy on vintage Underwoods.” Yeah, but how can they tweet on one of those things? … New uniforms for the Japanese national track team (from Jeremy Brahm). … The Canadian Soccer Association has suspended a Quebec soccer organization that wouldn’t let turban-clad Sikh children play. … This is pretty funny: a flowchart showing how to buy a Bears jersey in a post-Urlacher world. … Inaugural uni set for the Victoria HarbourCats (that’s a summer collegiate team).