By Phil Hecken
Ah. Freebies at the ballpark. It’s been a while since I went to a baseball game with the expressed purpose of getting some swag, and if my (admittedly faulty) memory serves me, I never really got anything “worth” using — except twice. Usually it was a crappy poster (that ended up getting destroyed or severly mutilated before the seventh inning stretch), a crummy “batting helmet” that wasn’t quite as good as those they sold (and I would inevitably make my pop buy) at the souvenir stand, a “mini” bat, or various and sundry other gimmicks.
But when I was a little kid, fresh out of the Pacific league, I got a Mets batting glove. Yeah, I was in the big time now. I wore that (and I think I went back a year later and got a right handed glove, since, ya know, all the good hitters wore two batting gloves) for about two years until finally some of the older kids laughed hard enough at me that I talked my dad into taking me to Herman’s Sporting Goods to buy a “real” batting glove. Of course, even the smallest size was too big for my 10-year-old hands. But I got a real glove and that was that.
The other giveaway that was any good, and I’m kicking myself to this day for not saving it, was a Mercury Mets give away cap that was given out at the 1999 TATC game of the Mets vs. the Pirates. I’m about 99.2% sure they gave away a cap that night.
Anyway, most of the other ballpark giveaways I either didn’t care about, didn’t know about, or didn’t purposely attend to receive. But there are people who LOVE the ballpark swag, and the teams keep putting it out.
I’m joined today by Joe Mueller, a 17-year old from Saint Looey, who had approached me when I was soliciting articles from the UW readership. Joe offered to put together what would be, in his opinion, a “best of” the 2013 MLB giveaways, and that he has done. So without further ado, please allow me to turn this over to Joe, as he discusses the …
Best Major League Promotions for 2013
By Joe Mueller
For me a seventeen year old kid from St. Louis, Missouri there is nothing better than going to a St. Louis Cardinals game and it being a promotional night. I especially love when it is a jersey that is being given away or a bobblehead. Don’t get me wrong I love watching the game and I love the uniforms, especially the Cardinals’ but there is something about promotions. Although I’m a National League kind of guy I decided to start with promotions from the American League. Why? Well, I just flipped a coin. I’ll pick out my favorite promotions from each team and describe why, again I’m 17 and I tend to lean towards flashy uniforms, not.
Best of the American League Promotions
Angels: This hat caught me hook line a sinker. Since being called up last year Mike Trout has taken baseball storm. Why not reward him with a fishy hat? It’s not so often that a player has a name with an animal name.
Astros: Although the Astros aren’t the best team in baseball they are up there for best dressed team in baseball. The orange piping really pops with the blue lettering. I almost always go for a jersey giveaway day. Although it’s not usually the same fabric and materials that are worn by the players they still hold up really well and it’s another jersey to add to the collection that won’t cost an arm and a leg.
Athletics: I think that the A’s have one of the best uniforms in baseball, especially when they decide to wear the green or yellow. I also love it when teams use throwbacks. This bobblehead is the best of both worlds. I love the green stirrups with the yellow socks. The A’s got the small details correct with the one batting glove and green wrist bands.
Blue Jays: I always find it to be a hit or miss when a team decides to do a fully geared catcher bobblehead. This is a hit. The red striping on the catchers gear is great because it shows the Blue Jays attention to detail. Also the bat knobs make for the great picture.
Indians: As you may have read the Indians went throwback to 1902 Bronchos jerseys. They also gave away the same jerseys. I would have to agree with what Frank Jones said about them. It’s also better than anything with the stupid logo.
Mariners: Griffey Jr. is one of my favorite players of all time. The Mariners even put on the backward hat that Griffey Jr. would always wear, along with the long sleeves he usually wore. Unfortunately I can’t tell if the brim of the hat is green or blue so I can’t date the jersey and tell if it is from his first or second time in Seattle. I also wish they made the Mariners put him during the middle of his swing instead of the end.
Orioles: Chris Davis has been a beast this year. This shirt captures his swing and power. Even though the jersey on the shirt is all black with accents of orange it still looks good with Davis’ swing. It will be a collectible if Davis can hit 60+ home runs and would be great to commemorate the season he is having. The ‘O’ on the front on the other hand is just, bleh.
Rangers: I haven’t seen many team give away batting helmets, maybe one of two besides the Rangers. (Royals, White Sox) The helmet is modeled after the newer batting helmets but my bet would be that it can not be used in a league game.
Rays: The Rays have been a nice surprise over the last few years, unless they knocked you out of the playoffs or “stole” your playoff position. The Rays gave away this beaut the same day they wore the fauxbacks. I love the contrast between the blues but it does look like those Padres uniforms… Maybe if they play each other next year they can both wear their respective throwbacks.
Red Sox: “We’re too cool to have a promotion”
Royals: Maybe it’s my favoritism towards Missouri things, maybe it’s my sympathy towards the Royals, or maybe it’s because I just like the jerseys. I may be the only one that likes powdered blue uniforms but I’m fine with that. I think the jersey looks sharp. My complaints are that it looks cheap and screen printed onto a generic powdered blue jersey and that the letters aren’t outlined in navy blue to give it pop.
Tigers: The Tigers have some good promotions but I don’t think that one stands out over another. I would go with the Miguel Cabrera bobblehead but there are not photos available so it’s hard to judge. The Verlander bobblehead is nice and all but they cover up the logo.
EDIT: — Here’s a photo of the Miguel Cabrera bobblehead. (h/t Jorge Pa)
White Sox: I can already hear the boos and nasty comments for picking this jersey. I know that people hate the jersey, but I personally love it. I wish the White Sox went back to these but in silver and black. I just think they look sharp, but hey I’m only 17 so what do I know.
Yankees: Yogi is famous for his quotes and ball play. Being born and raised in St. Louis there is a connection with Yogi, even though he is known for playing with the Yankees. I love the retro glove and chest protector. The things that I’m not sure on are the leg protectors. Were they that color? Anyone?
Best of the National League Promotions
Braves: I’ve had many debates about the powdered blue uniforms and how they look like pajamas but I disagree. I love these uniforms right down to the stirrups. The details of the cleats and the one batting glove is a nice touch.
Brewers: Again the powdered blues are great. I’m not a big fan of the yellow fronted cap because it reminds me of a softball cap but the stirrups make up for it. If I’m not mistaken the Brewers did a Harvey Kuenn bobblehead a few years ago but he was in the pinstripe uniform. Also special mention for the Polish sausage bobblehead.
Cardinals: Being from St. Louis I felt like this was the toughest one to choose. I also think that it’s one of the best if not the best. For those that aren’t familiar with the Cardinals this is a 1940′s Red Schoendienst Jersey. I think the Cardinals did a great job replicating the jersey black bat and NNOB.
Cubs: Do you have to buy seperate tickets to receive these? Yes. Are they worth it? Yes. Are the before my time? Yes. I don’t know what it is, maybe it’s my 17 year oldness but I like them. Side note: Brewers, A’s, and Tigers also gave them out.
Diamondbacks: To commemorate Aaron Hill’s two cycles (bi-cycle) last year the Diamondbacks gave him his own bobblehead. Let’s just say it’s spot on. The dirt stains are almost identical. The arm band and jersey are correct but the cool flow helmet is way to small and the strap on the right batting glove is supposed to be red and not white.
Dodgers: Whats better than a vintage Sandy Koufax boblehead with a vintage jersey, shoes and stirrups? Not a lot. I also love the detail in the dirt when you can tell he came set before he pitched. Also I would like to mention this wonderful bobblehead of Rick Monday when he played with the Cubs. Great to see something in baseball that’s not flag desecration. Story Here. Does anyone know anything about the patch on his left?
Giants: It’s not often you see a promotion that really stuns you, but this one is it. For those that don’t remember in Game 7 of the NLCS it started to rain and Scutaro looked up to the sky. The Giants took this concept and made it into a rain globe. Yes a rain glove, not a snow globe. It works the same though. Although I don’t like picking items that you have to buy a special ticket for I chose this one because I love it. For those wondering it was for social media night. I would try and get one if you have the money to spend because it is quite pricey.
Marlins: This has me on the fence whether I like it or not, but since this is the best promotion the Marlins have I’m going with it. I mean I loved the Florida Marlins logo and jersey and think the jerseys and logo that came with the move to Miami are a downgrade. I don’t know how I feel about this. I’m just glad they cut the ‘M’ on the helmet in half so it wouldn’t read ‘MF’. Also the Marlins don’t have matte helmets.
Mets: Did I just go with David Wright, the guy who sticks his tongue out and wears an orange undershirt? Yes, yes I did. Why? Well because the Mets got everything Wright. The promotion was given away during the day, so that means high socks and eye black for Wright. They also nailed the shinguard, gloves, armband, along with the jersey. Also for those beer drinkers in New York, Paul, here you go. (Available Sept. 27th)
Nationals: Am I crazy about the Nationals white jersey? No, but it’s fine for the bobblehead. The glove and pitching hand look a little messed up and blue at the end of the sleeve is too big. It’s the best Nationals one but on the lower end of the best in the Majors.
Padres: I’m a fan of Chase Headley but not a fan of the jerseys. I like the touch of the silver bat signifying his silver slugger but not the uniform. I can’t tell if it’s camo or blue or beige but I’ll just pretend like it’s blue. This promotion is still better than the Padres giving out their bland road jersey as a promotion.
Reds: Maybe I’m crazy but this somehow is cool to me. A pillow in Joey Votto jersey form. Yes it is missing a few ‘buttons’ but it’s still cool. Now you can sleep jerseys. I bet they are working on the eat and breath part.
With that I’d like to give a big thank-you to Phil and Paul for having me on Uni-Watch! I hope I can come back and share my thoughts on more promotions or uniforms from a 17 year old’s perspective. If you’d like to read more of my work, all about baseball, I’m over at the 12-6 Curve doing pop UP: Uniforms and Promotions. If you’d like to talk with me, insult my choices, have questions or anything more my email is firstname.lastname@example.org. Yes, I did also design the logo for the 12-6 curve.
Thanks, Joe. That was a LOT of fun. Hope everyone enjoyed that and let’s hear it for the effort involved in this one!
Power Rankings Update
Today’s installment of the Uni Watch Power Rankings takes a look at the NHL — here you go.
Tomorrow we’ll present the master chart of all 122 Big Four teams. There’s a new team in the top spot and a new one in the bottom too.
Meanwhile, I’ll be discussing the Power Rankings this morning on two radio stations:
• At 10:04am Eastern I’ll be appearing on the San Diego station KLSD Xtra Sports 1360. The live audio will be available here.
• At 10:45am Eastern I’ll be interviewed on the San Francisco station KGMZ 95.7 The Game. You can hear the live audio here.
Also: I’ll be doing a live web chat on ESPN tomorrow, 2pm Eastern. I’ll stay on for at least an hour, and maybe a little longer.
Finally: RIP, Marian. I never saw a classier act. — Paul
By Rob Holecko
Well it’s time for the final week of preseason games for the UWFFL. We will be off next week and then the games will start for real on Saturday, September 7 with Week 1 of the season. Here are last week’s results:
Atlanta 285, Nashville 256
N.Y. Sharks 228, N.Y. Garbologists 76
Harrisburg 152, Tampa 114
Rapid City 138, San Diego 98
Seattle 169, Portland 66
San Francisco 156, East Bay 68
Texas 213, Los Angeles 43
Roanoke 44, Columbus 25
Youngstown 39, Kansas City 23
This week we have another rivalry game, the “Texas Two Step Football Classic”, as two teams based in Austin, the Texas Timberwolves and the Austin Fire Eaters, will face off. Both teams are wearing a patch commemorating this battle for Austin supremacy in place of their league patches on the right side, and on their left side they have sponsor patches.
In other games, along with the debuts of the Birmingham Vulcans, Raleigh Aeronauts, Washington Huskers, Promontory Golden Spikes (based in Salt Lake City, Utah), Vancouver Seawolves, Carolina Kronik and the Oakland-Alameda Ad Dragons, we also have a few other unique teams making their first appearance. The Connecticut Convicts used to compete in the original fantasy football league that the UWFFL is descended from, winning the TBFFL Bowl in 2001. In honor of their only meeting this year with a former rival UWFFL opponent here in the preseason, they are wearing 2001 throwbacks against Miami.
Another expansion team that may be familiar to you is the Hartford Whalers. This week, in their debut, they are wearing a silver alternate. Says team owner Jordan Lazinsk, “This uniform incorporates the navy and silver that became synonymous with the NHL Whalers in the ’90s while still maintaining the simplistic look the Whalers have on their home and road uniforms.”
Finally, also making their UWFFL debut is another league-inspired entry, the Swisshelm Express. This team is based on and inspired by Ryan Connelly’s helmet project that was featured here in Uni Watch back in May.
Uni Watch News Ticker: “Gilles Villeneuve (in knit cap) awaits the start of the 1978 Canadian Grand Prix. Photos courtesy the Archives de la Ville de Montreal.” (thanks to Chris Bisbee). … See the images taken at a Fred Meyer store (Northwest department store chain) TV display in Springfield, Oregon. “Can you name the two schools in the top right image?” asks Alex Allen. “I’m pretty sure it is Western Oregon (in silver and red) and Willamette (in maroon and gold) from quite a few years back. I’ve seen this image used in Fred Meyer print ads.” … Another question for the readers comes from Jack Thornton: “Noticed this today watching an NHL 14 video that the TD Garden Logo appears and then disappears during the Bruins clips. I think the first footage in Boston is at 0:19, and the TD Garden signage is there, but then at 1:15 the logo is replaced by ‘Boston Bruins’ in a script font. Any ideas why this might be? Licencing problem, or just a mistake by EA?” … It looks like Mississippi State will reveal new unis today. … “I should really hate this,” states Ryan Connelly “but…” … The ‘skins’ Pierre Garcon donates football uniforms to Roosevelt, Jefferson and Springbrook (thanks to TommyTheCPA). … Syracuse’s vaunted #44 was retired in 2005, but now, Floyd Little would love to see it take the field again. … “Jersey Rip Celebration,” read the subject of an e-mail from Mark Emge. “Noticed this article from a game earlier in the week.” … New Wisconsin helmet? Wisconsin hasn’t unveiled any uniform changes for this year, but it seems that there is a new helmet in Gary Anderson’s office.Red, with a white motion W, and single stripe down the middle. It’s on the table in the office in the picture (thanks to Scott Kelly). … Joe Haden Browns helmet (as spotted by Gordon Cromer), who notes, “Eye shield throwback logo creep…pretty cool.” … It’s bad enough when other blogs/news sources misspell Paul’s last name. But when a blog hosted by ESPN does it? C’mon, man (and I made a screen grab just in case they fixed it by the time you read it). … Are the Padres about to get new uniforms? A thread on the Creamer boards seems to think it’s possible (thanks Paul). … Ohio State hockey unveiled these alternate jerseys yesterday, “as voted on by current and former players”. Says submitter Andrew McCarthy, “I’ve been a fan of the way their look has gone the last few years, but these are maybe a bit much.” … Zombie apocalypse to be featured on Mason’s mask (from Jeffrey Downe). … AWESOME “misprint” in yesterday’s SI.com. Shea it is so (big thanks to Paul Kamras). … Apparently there are new home and new road unis for the Towson Tigers (h/t to Andrew Constant). … Sometime I think you folks see too much in the tea leaves…or in this case — the “Nike Potato”, which, according to Mike Latona, “I came across this as I was cleaning a bag of potatoes today. The mark of the beast on a baby red.” … Couple of interesting Uni Watch mentions in this article about the Phillies “finally being good at something!: Uniform rankings and aesthetics.” … More great CFL stuff from Leo Strawn: “I ran across a video clip from this page, and in the video they are talking about the 1959 CFL season. Sadly, it’s just a clip and not the entire video, but it does show (prior to cut-off) the Hamilton Tiger-Cats, and as you can see in the screen grabs, they have an unusual, tapered stripe that doesn’t cover the entire helmet front-to-back, the kind of stripe we’ve become accustomed to in the U.S. over the past 15 years or so. Inspired by tiger stripes, perhaps?” … Matthew Walthert writes, “My alma mater, Carleton University, is reviving its football program this year, after 15 seasons without fielding a team. Here is an article on the re-branding process they went through to come up with a new logo and uniforms.” … Here is a nice closeup of the Minnesota matte helmets (thanks to Jarrod Leder). … In yesterday’s ticker I had several stills of the new Baylor unis, and today we’re blessed with a behind-the-scenes video (h/t Josh Lassiter). … “This is the mascot of the Red Valley – Cove High School, a tiny school in New Mexico,” remarks Cort McMurray. “The student body is something like 98% Native, and most of them are related to guys who worked in the now-closed uranium mines nearby. I love it because the guy is clearly a Native, but he’s a clearly a miner, too: it’s a great image, a tough, proud image.” … Rather unique look for Arsenal on Wednesday. I’ll let Denis Hurley explain: “Many soccer teams have alternate shorts to wear when playing a team with the same colour, but some, like Arsenal, prefer to keep the same home look and wear the away kit in such instances. On Wednesday, however, they played Fenerbahce in a Champions League qualifier. As Fener have white shorts, Arsenal couldn’t wear theirs, but the Turkish team have yellow and blue home jerseys, the same colour as Arsenal’s away kit, and the backs were solid navy, which would clash with Arsenal’s purple and black third. As a result, Arsenal wore navy shorts, the first time – as far as I can see – in over 30 years they have worn anything other than white shorts with the home jersey. The last time was against Everton in 1982-93. On that occasion, the shorts were from the green and navy away kit, hence the mismatching green trim on those shorts.” … This ebay auction has a hat with a Suns logo that Michael Hlebasko has never seen and isn’t on the Chris Creamer page for the Suns. Anyone know anything about it? … Yesterday Tyson Camp sent me a picture of a DDNOB from Michigan: Mark Hammerstein. “Today I found his brother (presumably) on the same team: Mike Hammerstein,” says Tyson. “The Hammerstein brothers will forever haunt me.” … “Denver Boone…offensive?” asks Travis Christopherson “Heavens to Fess Parker!” (also sent in by Mark Malfara, who called it “Political correctness run amok.”). … Here is a food cart with the Phillies logo — but the thing is it’s in Springfield, Massachusetts! (good spot by Daniel Daponde). … Looks like the TCU Horned Frogs will have new unis, which they’ll unveil Friday. … Some good, non-douchebaggery news from Gregory Koch: “UConn Transportation Refuses to Use Corporate Names for Bus Stops.” even though UConn’s campus bus system is adding a new bus stop in front of a Moe’s Southwest Grill and 7-Eleven in the new downtown shopping complex, they will NOT use corporate names, and will instead name the stop after a nearby dorm (Buckley). … Meanwhile, even though the NBA has (so far) declined to put ads on game jerseys, that isn’t stopping the Bobcats from putting ads on their practice togs. … Remember those gun-metal grey unis the BC Lions wore last weekend? Well, they won’t be wearing them again. … Golden Tate has a framed Panthers Jimmy Clausen jersey at (what Dan Cichalski presumes) is his Seattle home. … Here’s a nice action shot of the new Oregon State University Gill Coliseum floor with new bright orange jerseys (thanks to Eric Fisk. … It’s been mentioned in the comments, and Paul may have tickerized this in Spring training, but Travis d’Arnaud has an upside down “P” to form the little “d” in his NOB (sent in by Benjamin Hochberg). … Looks like the Dayton Flyers have some new uniforms from Nike for 2013 (h/t Andy Bentley).
And that’s all for this fine Thursday. Big thanks to Joe Mueller for that fun piece (even if it was a bitch and half to code!), and to Rob for running the UWFFL stuff. Looking forward to Paul’s NHL rankings later today — it’s funny, with the MLB & NBA articles, I found myself in agreement with Paul about 85% of the time, but on the NFL? Wow, other than the top two (thought I would have flipped the Pack and Bears), I had some major disagreements. But hey, that’s why it’s fun! If the Blackhawks don’t win the NHL (I’ll allow for a Canadiens upset), then we’re gonna have issues!
I’ll conclude (YAY!) my weekday run tomorrow, with one last fantastic lede from Morris Levin and then it’s Johnny Ek for one last weekend, and Paul back in the saddle on Monday. But I’m not done yet, so I’ll see you guys and gals tomorrow with much, much more.
Follow me on Twitter @PhilHecken.
“If you’re Medicare-eligible, you might think about Uni Watch retirement. The sad evolution for this once lively site into Camp Curmudgeon — a forum for elderly bilious time-wasters who faint at the sight of stretch fabric — betokens a larger demographic trend in which Boomer Narcissism drowns out the creative voices of younger generations, even though the little shitheads can’t tell you who fought in the Second World War.”