Interesting scene last night in Atlanta, as the Braves marked the 40th anniversary of Hank Aaron’s 715th home run by wearing throwbacks of the uniform he was wearing that night. As usual, the cut was wrong and nobody could be bothered to go high-cuffed, but there were still plenty of uni-notable aspects to the game:
• This was the Braves’ home opener. How often has a team worn throwbacks for its first home game? I suspect there have been other instances of this, but I’m drawing a blank. Anyone..?
• As you probably know, the Braves are wearing a sleeve patch this season to mark the 40th anniversary of Aaron’s 715th homer. But the patch wouldn’t have been era-appropriate, of course, so it wasn’t worn with last night’s throwbacks. In other words, the Braves will end up wearing that patch for every game except on the anniversary of the event that the patch commemorates — weird. (The patch design was on the bases, however.)
• The Braves’ jerseys were NNOB (yay!) but had the MLB logo (boo!).
• The Majestic logo is usually centered on the outer left sleeve, but they had to move it off-center because of the feather icon. (A better solution, of course, would have been to skip the maker’s mark altogether.)
• If you look again at that last photo, you’ll see that the Braves wore their regular navy undersleeves, instead of springing for a new set in royal.
• On the plus side, the Braves went the extra mile with throwback batting helmets. Jason Heyward even had a color-matching faceguard — a nice touch, since they could have just used the navy faceguard from his regular helmet.
• The pregame ceremonies included a really nice bit where 715 fans were on the field holding signs for each of Aaron’s home runs.
• The pregame ceremonies also featured a sequence in which Aaron was presented with a No. 44 jersey from each Atlanta-area pro and college team. From left to right in that photo: Atlanta Falcons, Atlanta Hawks, Atlanta Dream, University of Georgia, Georgia Tech, Georgia State, Kennesaw State, Emory University, Morehouse College, and Clark Atlanta University. (Some folks — including me — initially thought the Falcons jersey might be a new design — no sleeve stripes! But as several people pointed out, it’s just the same old jersey with the sleeves folded over to obscure the sleeve stripes, like this. Too bad.)
But the oddest thing about this whole thing, at least to me, is that the Braves didn’t announce that they’d be wearing throwbacks until a few hours before gametime. That fits into a trend: The season is barely a week old and this is already the fourth uniform “surprise” that’s taken place with little or no advance warning. Here are the other three:
• April 2: The White Sox added a memorial patch for owner Jerry Reinsdorf’s son. Oddly, they did this for the second game of the season, not for the season opener.
• April 4: The Red Sox wore gold-trimmed jerseys and caps on the day of their ring ceremony. This wasn’t a huge surprise, but the team didn’t announce it until the afternoon of the game — a very different approach than the one taken by other World Series winners in recent years, each of which has announced the gold-trimmed jerseys well in advance.
• April 7: The Twins and A’s wore “Stand up to cancer” patches for Minnesota’s home opener, as a gesture of support for Twins GM Terry Ryan. Both teams also wore S↑2C BP caps prior to the game. I didn’t hear anything about this until after the fact. Granted, that might just mean I didn’t have my ear to the street, but this was the Twins’ home opener — you’d think they would’ve made more of a fuss.
I’m not complaining about the lack of advance notice, mind you. On the contrary, I welcome the spontaneity and the sense of surprise. I’m just puzzled, because MLB’s (and everyone else’s) approach in recent years has been to promote these things in a heavily scripted, pre-planned manner. And you have to give them this much: Waiting until the last minute to announce something can’t possibly be good for jersey sales. So when we say everything about the uni-verse is merch-driven these days, it’s worth remembering that some promotions apparently aren’t merch-driven — including last night’s throwbacks in Atlanta.
(Big thanks to Michael Rich for the photo of all the 44 jerseys, and to Phil for screen shots.)
NASCAR reminder: Our friends at NASCAR will be updating their “Paint Scheme Preview” page, which has the rundown of all the new card designs for this Sunday, at about 11am Eastern today. Worth checking out.
’Skins Watch: An Indians fan has taken a new approach to de-Chiefing. … As many of you are aware, last Friday’s encounter between Native American protester Robert Roche and face-painted Indians fan Pedro Rodriguez was remarkably similar to this 2002 cartoon. The guy who drew that cartoon has some thoughts about the bizarre coincidence (from David Wilson).
Baseball News: Some early-season glitches for the Yankee Stadium scoreboard: Jacoby Ellsbury’s name misspelled on Monday, wrong uni number for Francisco Cervelli yesterday (from Ilana Hardesty and Wesley Batista, respectively). … I suppose some folks might think Don Zimmer is sorta cuddly like a teddy bear, but that doesn’t mean his face belongs on a teddy bear. Yikes! (From John Sheehan.) … Alan Tompas found a video of a TV news report on the Yankees preparing for their “home” opener at Shea Stadium in 1974, when Yankee Stadium was undergoing renovations. … Throwbacks on tap for the Seibu Lions. “Those are their 1979-95 road uniforms, but they will be wearing them as their home uniforms during their Lions Classic Series in June,” explains Jeremy Brahm. … Reprinted from yesterday’s comments: A Mets blogger says the team has too many uniforms (and he’s right, of course). … Do the Asros have too many retired numbers? Should they put some of them back into circulation? At least one observer thinks so (from Elan Tavor). … This is pretty great: a scientific explanation of how a Wiffle Ball works (from Dave Rakowski). … “I have always been a stirrups fan — I’ve worn them for years as a coach at Marlboro (NJ) High School,” says Robert Anderson. “This year, the varsity team wanted stirrups and we decided (okay, maybe I suggested) to go with stripes.” … Ooooh, this is good: Jay Winkler got a tour of Comerica Park the other day and saw a chart listing all the press passes and other passes that can get you into the ballpark. Never seen that one before — good stuff! … Angels catcher Chris Ianetta was missing his left-sleeve team logo patch last night (thanks, Phil).
NFL News: Nike is raising the prices of its NFL jerseys. The first graf of that story says, “The cost of being an NFL fan just got more expensive,” but that’s inaccurate — the cost of being a fan hasn’t changed at all. The only thing that’s gotten more expensive is wasting money on a polyester shirt. Despite what the merch-industrial complex tries to tell you, being a fan and being a consumer are two different things.
College Football News: You know those new Ridell SpeedFlex helmets that so many colleges have been tweeting photos of? I have one of those helmets sitting on my desk right here (blue shell, no stripes or decals), and yesterday I spoke with Riddell’s VP for Product Development and picked his brain about the new design. Details to follow in an ESPN column next week. … Yesterday’s Ticker mentioned that Miami appeared to be hinting at a BFBS move. But Roberto Zanzi says this refers only to the cleats and socks, which were black back in the Sean Taylor era. … Mississippi State will unveil some sort of uni update tomorrow (thanks, Phil). … Utah may be making changes to the lyrics of its fight song (from Cort McMurray).
Hockey News: Here’s a shot of original Yes drummer Bill Bruford wearing what appears to be a pair of Boston Bruins overalls. “His stint with the band was from 1968-1972, so it’s from that era,” says Pat Karasek.
NBA News: Back in 1979, the Trail Blazers were playing the Hawks in Atlanta, and the Blazers had to wear Hawks practice uniforms for first half of the game because their luggage was late. They changed into their own uniforms for the second half. Too bad the accompanying photo isn’t better, but it’s still a great story (big thanks to Todd Radom).
Grab Bag: Good article on the color Mafia (from Tommy Turner). … What’s worse than purple or camo? Purple and camo. That’s the Idaho Mustangs, a semi-pro team that plays in the Rocky Mountain Football League (from Derek Self). … The North American Association of Uniform Manufacturers & Distributors has named the Ohio State Highway Patrol as America’s best-dressed public safety agency (from Jason Hillyer). … The U. of Maryland is marking its move to the Big 10 with — of course — a marketing campaign. It’s called Think B1G. Full details on all the hokum here, and there’s a good backstory, complete with descriptions of “talking points,” here (from Andrew Cosentino). … Somewhere in Mexico City is a building with my name on it — literally. Never seen that before (big thanks to Omar Jalife).
I’ll be off the grid for most of today, because my brother and I are taking our Mom out for her 90th (!) birthday. See you tomorrow.