By Phil Hecken
As we prepare
to begin the MLB Season begin the portion of the National Pastime that begins in the United States for Opening Day Night … there were a couple of spring training games played Friday and Saturday in two unlikely places. At least traditionally speaking.
Visually, the two teams didn’t do much, with both wearing their alternate jerseys:
Actually, the Astros jersey is technically their batting practice jersey, but it’s been designated as an official alternate this season. For those of us who haven’t been following spring training ball closely, we also got some looks at the new Rangers jersey this year — if you read Paul’s annual MLB Uniform Preview on ESPN (and I know you did), you know the Rangers slightly changed their blue jerseys (removing the beveling effect), although it’s difficult to tell at a distance. The Rangers also have slightly altered caps this year, but since they wore their batting practice caps, we didn’t get to see the same-colored squatchee. Visually, about what you’d expect from a spring training game. What made this all interesting, however, was where the game was played.
It was played in the Alamodome, which is designed to host events like football and basketball and dance line competitions and giant conventions and monster truck shows — pretty much anything that fits into its blueprint, which is decidedly NOT ideal for baseball.
But, play baseball inside this setup they did. (And it actually wasn’t the first time they did). I totally missed that 2013 series, so this new one fascinated me.
It’s actually a pretty amazing setup. Give it a look-see here (scroll ahead to about 2:30 for the cool baseball setup):
Faaaaascinating. Now, I’m reminded of one other football stadium that had baseball wedged into it (only this one lasted from 1958 to 1961). That necessitated fitting a round object (so to speak) into a rectangular hole as well:
By wedging the diamond into the Los Angeles Coliseum, it was necessary to erect a huge screen in left field, because left field was a mere 251′ down the left field line. That’s not quite the setup inside the Alamodome, but close.
Right field in Texas was listed at 285′ for last years’ game, whereas last night & yesterday’s game clocked in at 271 feet down the line. Of course, this led to several short porch homeruns (good for hitters and those who like offense, bad for pitchers’ ERAs).
You can watch several other homers to right here.
Of course, baseball wasn’t made to be played indoors on astroturf, so the games in San Antonio were more of a novelty than any possible relocation spot — still, if baseball were to expand, San Antonio is always one of a handful of cities listed as a possibility. I imagine that if a team were ever to locate (or relocate) there, some kind of retractable-roof, climate controlled stadium would need to be erected. Always food for thought.
There was another pair of preseason games played inside on astroturf — in a place that was once the home to a Major League Team…
Olympic Stadium, a/k/a Stade Olympique de Montréal, where the Montreal Expos played for decades before relocating to Washington and renaming themselves the “Nationals.” Although I never actually watched a baseball game there (I visited once in January of 1998 or 1999), I saw plenty of games there on television, since the Mets and Expos, as National League East rivals, often played to huge audiences. Well, that’s not entirely true — the Expos, when they existed, had a few good years and probably their best season ended very badly.
I watched both games (on MLB Network, interestingly) and much was said about how the 1994 Strike probably cost the Expos any shot at a much-needed outdoor stadium, which had been in the works. But the strike killed any chance of that, and the city and team never recovered. The Expos did get their outdoor stadium, only it was located a mere 584 miles south of the original plans. I hated watching baseball inside of Stade Olympique, but it was still better than the alternative.
So when it was announced the Mets and Blue Jays (now Canada’s sole representative in America’s National Pastime) would play a two-game series in the old concrete dump, I was pumped. I wasn’t expecting great baseball (although both games were very close), and surprisingly, the Blue Jays (the home team), actually eschewed their blue BP tops and wore their beautiful home whites. The Mets, despite having one of the more beautiful road gray unis, wore their BP smocks:
But the games weren’t about the Mets and Blue Jays (other than sorting out a few last minute roster moves, and possibly seeing who would be the fifth starters) — it was about baseball returning to Montreal. And the fans turned out in droves (yesterday’s attendance was 50,229 and Friday night packed in 46,121 — to put that into perspective, that’s more fans than will ever see a home game at CitiField, the capacity of which is 45,000). Most of the fans who wore team gear busted out their Expos stuff, and showed their love for their departed team, and their city:
And it was also about The Kid. On Friday night, with his wife and daughter in attendance, Gary Carter was honored. During a touching pre-game ceremony, a banner was unveiled in right field which featured Carter’s No. 8 and the words “Merci! Thank You!” You can watch a video of that tribute here.
For those of you who don’t know — and you should — Carter began his career with the Expos, having several All-Star seasons there before being traded to the Mets, where he had several more. So, the decision to have the Blue Jays play the Mets in Montreal was undoubtedly due to this fact. When Carter passed away, he was honored by the Mets with a jersey patch, and also given a tribute at
Shea CitiField. This was Montreal’s chance to say “Goodbye” as well.
That about wraps up those two games played in two odd indoor carpeted stadia. Now we can move on to the regular season, which kicks off for real tonight in San Diego. I usually watch Opening Night games (even though it’s still not “real” Opening Day until Monday), but with the Padres decision to wear camo, I may skip this one. I probably won’t because despite the uniforms, it is still baseball. Back, once again. For real. And all will once again be right with the world.
Once in a while, you can get shone the light…
Lewis & Clark Uniform Design Contest
Every Sunday, we’ll have news and updates on the design contest being sponsored by Ross Clites. If you missed the introductory post on this, please click here. Last weekend, we introduced Part VII which is the second article here. You can also visit the Lewis & Clark homepage for more information and updates.
Yesterday we revealed the fifth set of concepts for the “Lookouts” (you can still submit for the Navigators [deadline 4/2] and the Pathfinders [deadline 4/9]). And today, we’ll reveal the eighth team for concepting.
If you missed yesterday’s post, which revealed the readers submissions for the “Lookouts,” you can vote for your favorite concepts (you may vote for up to three). Link here.
Here’s Ross with this week’s updates/information:
Hey O, Pios!
Next up on the LCBL docket is the Pioneers. Personally, this team has the best color palette of the lot. Unfortunately, the sky/baby/columbia/carolina/powder blue and navy combo has been overdone in recent years. There really is no primary and secondary shade of blue, so there are tons of ways to dress up the Pioneers to make the look unique.
As for the font, this is the one and only LCBL team with a traditional frontier-style font — Pointedly Mad. It certainly screams “Pioneers” so it had to be done.
I envision the American buffalo, since it has to make an appearance in anything named the Lewis & Clark Baseball League, right? Y’all know the drill at this point. Wow me (like you have so far) in an unexpected way. Same rules as always. Take care, good luck, and thanks again.
To all that entered the contest for the Governors of the LCBL, thank you for your thoughtful presentations. Big thanks to all the readers that cast votes. It made it easier for us (the league execs) to choose what we want; choosing the best out of two is more our speed. Ryan Foose and Bert Ayers squared off in the finals yet again, both with grizzly bear themes. There must be something to their rivalry, because one never finishes in the top two without the other.
The league decided to go with Ryan’s bear:
We loved the cleaner cut iteration with some slight modifications — graciously done by Ryan himself. The secondary logo really brings it all home; Missouri is where we are proud to call home.
The uniform will remain a mystery until a final reveal of all twelve at the end. But we wanted to give Uni Watch Nation a taste of the winning identity.
Thanks, Ross! One final note — Ross wanted me to inform everyone that “we will be skipping the Settlers in the alphabet. We are in a bit of time crunch and they are a 2015 expansion team.”
So, to anyone who was hoping to design a uniform/logo for that team, that won’t be included as a part of this year’s design contest.
We have another new set of tweaks, er…concepts today. After discussion with a number of readers, it’s probably more apropos to call most of the reader submissions “concepts” rather than tweaks. So that’s that.
So if you’ve concept for any sport, or just a tweak or wholesale revision, send them my way.
Please do try to keep your descriptions to ~50 words (give or take) per image — if you have three uniform concepts in one image, then obviously, you can go a little over, but no novels, OK? OK!. You guys have usually been good with keeping the descriptions pretty short, and I thank you for that.
Like the colorizations, I’m going to run these as inline pics — click on each one to enlarge.
And so, lets begin:
We begin today with Mark Lilley, who has a logo for the Broncos:
I’ve never liked the Broncos seldom-used alternate logo. The wild horse looks more afraid, like it’s recoiling from a snake or a mouse. The current styling has too much human qualities and musculature, and just isn’t very accurate, and it’s simply not very intimidating to opponents. So I created a concept that is more aggressive and reminiscent of the old-school Broncos logo with the D, with the front legs up and a stance that says Time to Ride!
Next up is Robbie Anthony with a new look for Dartmouth Football:
Attached is my concept idea for a new Dartmouth College football uniform. The design keeps our current helmet, I am a senior at Dartmouth and just finished playing WR here, and updates both the top and pants. The back’s slogan is the New Hampshire motto, “Live Free or Die”. There are a few teams on campus that wear the block D on the chest so these uniforms are a combination of Dartmouth’s illustrious history with a modern concept.
Go Big Green,
And we close today with Bryant Grosso who has some possible badges for a future Miami MLS team:
Now that the MLS-to-Miami-With-Beckham ball is definitely rolling, I thought I would send over one of my designs for the New Team’s Name and badge. Due to Miami truly being an international city, I came up with Inter Miami FC as the name. I thought of going with a circular design instead of the traditional shield styling. I am sending over the badge/crest in 2 color ways (pink/black) and (grey/black/light blue) I am hoping your readers like them – always willing to receive feedback… Thank You!
And that’s it for today. Back with more next time.
Uni Watch News Ticker:
Baseball News: A reader who goes by “Fuse” asks if there is “Anyway [sic] to convince the Indians to ditch the block C and go back to this?” Only if they bring this back too, right? … Here’s a (sort of) action shot of KU’s throwback unis from Friday night’s game (h/t @RockChalkTalk). … The Port Authority Police have some, um, interesting baseball uniforms (thanks to Micholas Schiavo), one of which he describes as “Bad News Bears-like.” … Also from Nick, check out the nice stirrups on the NC State Wolfpack. … Speaking of stirrups, check out the hosiery on Vanderbilt baseball. Interesting that Vandy is a Nike school, but those stirrup stripes remind me of another uni manufacturer. … John FitzGerald looked at the Durham Bulls uniforms (white & gray). “They are the Rays Triple-A so I thought it was interesting that it looks like they have the old Rangers font‘.” … Very disappointing logo juxtaposition on this Cleveland cap seen for sale (from David A. Arnott). … From the 1972 book “Pitching” by Bob Shaw, Don Conrad sends us this wonderful scan on how to properly roll your stirrups. … “I was working on my blog about the 1972 Topps set and found this fantastic shot of Cesar Cedeno,” writes Jonathan Daniel. “Love the uni, the stirrups, the logo in the on deck circle, the fact that he had his glove in the on deck circle, pretty much everything about it.” … Ooooooh, check out this 100 year old Arkansas Razorback baseball photo (h/t @pal3327).
Football News: “Vernon Davis posted a training video on Facebook sporting a black Niner helmet,” writes Jason Charles Franklin. The “screenshot is rough, but the video is available on his page.” You can see that here. … John Benson saw this Uni Watch post from 2011, “and thought it was a neat idea for a template so I made this.” … On Friday night, lucky Buccaneers “Season Pass” holders got a sneak peek at the team’s new uniforms. No word on whether there were several less Season Pass members afterwards. … At a charity hoops game yesterday, Anquan Boldin wore his jersey backwards (h/t Eric Garment). … Remember that NFL in OKC design contest? Well, now now there’s a winner (for the complete original entry for the winner, click here). Big thanks to Justin C. Cliburn for tipping us off to the contest. … “Michigan State kicker wears shorts during game in 1960″ read the subject line of an e-mail from Chuck Nolan. It turns out he was referring to this article from the Boston Herald about a soccer player doing kickoffs (and wearing shorts?). Interesting.
NBA News: There was an interesting article on Kobe Bryant’s “controversial comments about Trayvon Martin posted yesterday. Most of the points aren’t germane to Uni Watch and instead speak to the larger question of race and professional basketball’s response to the shooting, but did include a call by Project Islamic H.O.P.E. that “African American youth should no longer buy Bryant’s jerseys or shoes and should boycott all products he endorses.” Interesting — I don’t know the value of sales of Bryant’s jerseys or shoes, but I’d imagine any successful boycott would be a pretty big hit to the pocketbook for Kobe and Nike. … Ryan Collins, another NBA player to express misgivings about the NBA sleeved jerseys, isn’t “buying” them: “You don’t really go to a party with a jersey anymore. Back then, it was the thing to do if you’re ‘that guy.’ ‘That guy’ means like you [say], ‘Look at that guy with the jersey.’ You don’t want to be that guy.”
Hockey News: The Lake Erie Monsters have a jersey bracket on their website, so fans can pick their favorite specialty jersey (thanks to Tom Pachuta). … The Boston College hockey team will honor the Boston Fire Department with a helmet sticker (more information here). … The Minnesota Golden Gophers were truly Golden Gophers yesterday as they played Robert Morris in the NCAA semis. … Interesting custom Gilmour-Clark Maple Leafs jersey created by Super Star Sports. Doug Gilmour was, of course, Number 93 with the Leafs and Wendell Clark wore Number 17. So, together, they make 110 (or at least I think that’s what the creator was going for).
Soccer News: I’m not exactly sure what the “MLS Muppets Supporters’ Group” is, but their leadership group recently gathered for a group photo (with thanks, I think, to Mark Coale).
College Hoops News: Jersey mistakes aren’t new — in fact Chris Flinn “saw this Kentucky jersey typo just now. Seen it before? (Probably)” That comes from this website. What is it about Kentcuky? … Tyler Haney writes, “I’m a railfan, and I’ve found some shots of a couple of short line railroads who over the past month have painted some locomotives for some of the March Madness teams.The Kansas and Oklahoma Railroad painted a unit for Wichita State, while the Paducah and Louisville has painted two locos: one for Kentucky, the other for Louisville.” … Bit of a uni snafu last night as one Wildcat was missing the “A” from his collar – should look like this (nice grab by Shannon Michael).
Grab Bag: Aussie Rules Football fan Leo Strawn, Jr. was up early yesterday and sent this: “It’s about 6:15 a.m. on Saturday morning, and there’s two AFL (Aussie Rules) color on color games currently being played down under. Fremantle v Gold Coast, and Sydney v Collingwood.” … As part of Second Annual NASCAR Race To Green Initiative, the cars featured light green window stripes to bring attention to the environment, says David Firestone. “They also had the unintended effect of making the manufacturer logos, and white lettering all but invisible.” … Scott Crawford says, “Not really uni-related, but I think you will ‘enjoy’ this” article about misuses of quotation marks. … “A couple weeks ago someone mentioned the new trend in football to have the enlarged logo (Boise st, Miss St, Tex Tech),” says Jared Buccola “Here’s two examples of it in this weekends NCAA Lacrosse games: Johns Hopkins and Syracuse.”
And that’s all for today folks. Enjoy this fine last Sunday in March (out like a Lion is more like it) and get ready for some Baseball! The holiest of holy days is tomorrow (I still haven’t decided if I’m going to play hooky…I am getting a bit of a tickle in my throat). So we’ve got that going for us.
Thanks to Ross for the next uniform/logo to concept, and of course, the concepters. And won’t you join me in wishing a (one day) early birthday to two of Uni Watch’s finest (if flighty) commenters, Jason Bernard and Matt Powers, who’ll both be celebrating their big days on Monday. Happy early b-day fellas.
Follow me on Twitter @PhilHecken.
“Reds will presumably wear white jerseys for their home opening day game, even though every other home day game they wear the red tops. So it’s not like the Padres couldn’t have an exception to their jersey ‘rule’ on opening day.”