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Only 364 Days Until Next Year’s Stupid Caps!

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Paul here, pinch-hitting for Phil this weekend. Yesterday was Independence Day, so MLB honored the founding fathers by floating a new line of merch having teams wear really stupid caps. As you can see above, the American League caps were particularly problematic, because red clashes with so many teams’ color schemes. The N.L. caps, which were navy, were just as stupid but not as visually jarring. (The Blue Jays skipped the stars/stripes silliness and just wore their maple leaf caps, which made no sense and looked awful besides.)

Two other star/stripes items:

• Giancarlo Stanton, as he had promised, once again wore his flag-based arm sleeve last night. He had previously worn it on Memorial Day.

• Someone on the Tigers — not sure who — wore creative socks during pregame warm-ups.

Meanwhile, all MLB players, coaches, and umpires wore patches honoring the 75th anniversary of Lou Gehrig’s “Luckiest man” speech yesterday. The standard placement was the upper-right chest, but reader Steve Dodell notes that Yankees outfielder Ichiro Suzuki wore it on the left side. (Interestingly, the Yanks had also worn the patch two days earlier, and Ichiro had it on the proper side for that game.)

And then there was Justin Upton of the Braves, who — well, here, see for yourself (click to enlarge):

Memo to MLB: Maybe you should think about sewing those patches on, instead of just using adhesive.

(Big thanks to Phil for his contributions to this section.)

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’Skins Watch: Remember the Native American activist who came face-to-face with the Indians fan wearing redface a few months ago? Here’s an article about him (the activist, not the fan), which includes details on some accusations that have been leveled against his nonprofit group (thanks, Phil). … During last Wednesday night’s Mets/Braves game, SNY cameras spotted this guy in the stands. Mets play-by-play man Gary Cohen said, “That kind of thing is generally frowned upon now — everywhere but here.”

Baseball News: Minor league teams wearing flag-based costumes yesterday included the Gwinnett Braves and Kalamazoo Growlers. … The Mets’ Frank Cashen memorial patch made its on-field debut last night. … Check this out: Walter Payton in a Cubs jersey (from Barry Brite). … For reasons that aren’t clear (at least to me), the Twins wore their road alternate at home on Thursday night. Have they been doing this all along and I just never noticed? … This is completely awesome: Baseball footage from the 1956 Olympics, where baseball was a demo sport. Look at those uniforms!! (Tremendous find from Cort McMurray.) … Was Steve Garvey wearing a green Dodgers cap, or was it just the lighting? (From Steve Hom.) … One good thing about having Bryce Harper back off the DL: these stirrups. … The Yomiuri Giants’ first victory was on July 3, 1936, so they had a pregame ceremony on Thursday featuring all their previous uniforms (from Jeremy Brahm).

NFL News: Quick quiz: When’s the last time the Packers wore white at home? Answer: They did so twice in 1989 but haven’t done it again since. Should they do it again, or is that a heretical thought? (Thanks, Phil.)

College Football News: Miami has updated the Florida outline decal on the back of its helmet, with the U now replacing the star. Here’s how it looks on the orange and green helmets (thanks, Brinke). … Hmmm, is this Under Armour’s new football design for Navy? (From Michael Korczynski.)

Hockey News: Here’s a look at what appears to be an early Blue Jackets prototype (thanks, Phil). … Check out this shot of Canadian tennis player Eugenie Bouchard in a Canadiens jersey (thanks, Brinke).

NBA News: Based on a leak from KSEE-TV anchorman George Takata, who also happens to be a huge Kings fan, the Kings will apparently have new jerseys this fall. (And in a lesser development, new caps for the Warriors.) … Interesting to see that the Celtics are selling a green shirsey with “Boston” on the front, given that their green road jerseys have “Celtics.”

Soccer News: New kit for West Ham United. … Good interview with one of Puma’s typography designers (from Pete Woychick). … Soccer players usually switch jerseys at the end of the game. But Neymar did a jersey swap at halftime of yesterday’s Brazil/Colombia match, so he got a new jersey for the second half (screen shot by Jared Buccola).

Grab Bag: Love the block-shadowed, vertically arched lettering on this vintage basketball jersey. … Texas Gov. Rick Perry has stopped wearing cowboy boots. … Fashion designer Vivienne Westwood has come up with new flight attendants’ uniforms for Virgin Atlantic (from Tommy Turner). … Roger Federer thinks Wimbledon’s all-white clothing rule is too strict. Further info here (thanks, Brinke). … And here’s a slideshow of past Wimbledon-in-white attire. … The Santa Barbara Fire Dept. wore camouflage for July 4th, presumably so the fire couldn’t see them (from Jack Martinez). … The CEV — that’s short for Confédération Européenne de Volleyball — and Mizuno have introduced a new volleyball for the 2015 CEV Champions League (from Jeremy Brahm). … People posted all sorts of fun July 4th-related items on Facebook yesterday. My favorite, by a mile, was this one.

From Sea to Shining Sea

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Each year on this date I try to find and present a photo or illustration that captures America in a nutshell (here are the ones from 2013, 2012, 2011, 2010, 2009, and 2008). When I came across the photo of this gent cooking meat on a gun-shaped grill, I knew I’d found this year’s entry.

(Gun-shaped grills and smokers, it turns out, are a thing — look here and here.)

Anyway: The comments are open, so feel free to chat amongst yourselves. Everyone have a great holiday. And if you happen to be in the company of a Britisher today, kindly pass along my annual Independence Day rallying cry: In your face, Redcoats!

It Wasn’t Broke but They Fixed It Anyway, Part 739

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When I was 10 or 11 years old, I made the all-star team of my local youth football league, and I remember being really excited about how the game would look. “It’ll be so neat to see the players from all the different teams wearing their regular uniforms,” I told my father. “Just like in the baseball All-Star Game!”

That’s one of the things I’ve always loved about the MLB All-Star Game. The players wear their regular uniforms, creating a crazy quilt of colors and designs. It’s so much better than the one-off all-star uniforms trotted out each year by the NFL, NBA, and NHL, which are always terrible. (Remember when the NBA briefly experimented with having the all-stars wear their regular team uniforms in the late 1990s? Wish they’d stuck with that.)

But now MLB is chipping away at the game’s unique look. When the all-stars take the field on July 15 at Target Field in Minneapolis, they’ll all be wearing caps modeled after the Twins’ late-1970s batting helmets (see above). The party line is that this is a way of honoring the host team, but we all know it’s just about foisting yet another line of merch.

And how do they look? A mixed bag. Some of the designs are pretty nice (A’s, Angels, Mariners, Blue Jays), others are awful (Rockies, Braves, Phillies, Yankees). Most would be okay as BP caps, although that assumes that there’s anything okay about BP caps to begin with, which there isn’t.

Here’s a closer look at all 30 designs (if you can’t see the slideshow below, click here):

But leaving aside the merits of the individual designs, I think forcing all the game caps into the same template is a huge mistake. In recent years, MLB has used the host team as inspiration for the Home Run Derby jerseys and caps, and that’s fine — a nice nod to the home club. But templating the game caps is different. For one thing, it makes everything feel too generic, too undifferentiated. For another, it creates contextual problems — for example, why would you want to impose a 1970s template on teams like the Marlins, D-backs, Rockies, and Rays, which didn’t even exist in the 1970s?

And yeah, I realize the All-Star Game is just an exhibition, but not all exhibitions are created equal. Think about the other Big Four all-star games — the players dress like clowns and generally play like clowns. There’s no defense and it’s just a showboater’s showcase. The MLB All-Star Game is still, for the most part, a competitive enterprise. Part of that is because the game of baseball still boils down to the one-on-one match-up of batter vs. pitcher, and people in one-on-one match-ups tend to stay competitive, even in exhibitions. But part of it is also, I would argue, because MLB’s all-stars are wearing their regular team uniforms instead of ridiculous costumes. If you start to dress them in a way that sends the subliminal message that the game shouldn’t be taken seriously (which I think is the message being sent by these caps), then they may very well receive and act upon that message.

Meanwhile, if you’re, say, a Mets fan, is this really the cap you want to see David Wright wearing (or Jon Niese, or whomever) when he represents the team? Is this really the cap anyone wants to see Derek Jeter wearing in his final ASG? And if they’re coming up with new caps for the ASG, can new jerseys be far behind?

All in all, disappointing.

A few other thoughts:

1a. The Orioles’ ASG cap is almost the same as their regular game cap, but the front panels have slightly different shapes (click to enlarge):

I’m pretty sure some of the other ASG caps are very similar to their respective teams’ BP caps (Tigers? Padres?), but I just can’t make myself look up BP cap designs to check.

1b. Another distinction between those two Orioles caps is that the squatchees don’t match. The regular season cap follows the basic protocol that if an MLB cap has a contrast-colored brim, the squatchee color usually matches the brim, not the crown. But that’s not the case with these ASG caps.

2. The Bosox design is similar to that alternate cap they had back in 1974:

3. Will there be Twins-themed batting helmets to match the caps? I’m trying to find out — stay tuned.

4. Next year’s MLB ASG is in Cincinnati. What aspect of the Reds’ headwear history will they base the template on — the 1990s pinstripes, perhaps?

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Putting the “White” in “White Sox”: Mike gets credit for this one, as he originally had it slated for today’s Ticker, but I thought it was too good for Ticker status. So: It was cold and drizzly last night in Chicago, so the White Sox gave out white hooded ponchos for the game against the Angels — a nice gesture that had the inadvertent effect of making U.S. Cellular Field look like the site of a Klan rally. Yikes.

When I posted that photo on Twitter this morning, one person wrote, “I just keep cringing when I think that, at some point, there were three strikeouts and some very unfortunate signage.”

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ESPN update: It took a while, but my ESPN column on uni-related news that took place while I was away on vacation is finally up.

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Motown classics: Got a note yesterday from reader Steve Vibert, as follows:

I wrote you a few months ago about my baseball teammate, Tony Cocchi. As you know, he’s a huge memorabilia collector and investor.

He knows I love the Detroit Tigers, so after our game on Saturday, he showed me a few of his Tigers jerseys, one of which was a Charlie Gehringer 1939 road. Of course, I had to try it on…so I did. He also had a restored Al Kaline 1969 road and an original Kaline 1974 road. I attached several images of them:

It was a dream come true that I could get my all-time favorite Detroit Tiger road uniforms in one place, lined up before me for a photograph. It was an awesome treat, and I thank Tony for putting it all together for me!

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Mike’s Question of the Week

By Mike Chamernik

In fourth grade, I did a book report on Willie Stargell (his 1974 biography was in our library, for some reason), so I dressed up as Pops for my presentation. I carried a mini baseball bat and wore baseball pants, a Pirates shirt, and a Pirates cap. Everyone in my class was impressed. I didn’t go all-out in my costume, but the fact that I had Pirates gear as a kid in Illinois is semi-remarkable. I’m telling you, I’ve always loved sports merchandise.

So here’s this week’s question: Have you ever dressed up as a pro athlete or anyone sports related for Halloween, a costume party, a game you attended, or any type of function? If so, what did you do?

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Tick-Tock: Today’s Ticker was compiled and edited by Mike Chamernik.

Baseball News: Mets reliever Carlos Torres wore a Day-Glo undershirt two nights ago. … Nationals reliever Drew Storen designed an elevated bench that allows the bullpen to see the field better at Nationals Park (from Marty Langley). … The Harrisburg Senators wore flag desecration uniforms last night, and the Binghamton Mets will do likewise this Friday (from Mike Wissman and Phil, respectively). … A pitching arm sleeve is being developed in hopes of lessening the frequency of arm injuries (from Jason Hillyer). … The Yankees jumped the gun on the Lou Gehrig “Luckiest man” speech 75-anniversary patch by wearing it yesterday. All MLB teams will wear it tomorrow. … On Friday the Mets will add a Frank Cashen memorial patch. It will just feature his initials, but Phil came up with a much better design. … Here’s one of the all-time great sleeve patches. It’s from this vintage U. of Iowa jersey. … Check this out: American flag camo jerseys. So patriotic. … Michael Krashes went to see a Cape Cod League game and saw that everyone on the Harwich Mariners wore stirrups. … Syracuse Chiefs fans who get a tattoo of the team logo are rewarded with free tickets for life (from Kevin Kleinhans). … Also from Kevin: Red Sox color man Jerry Remy lost his tooth mid-broadcast and tried to reinsert it into his mouth.

NFL News: Look at this cool Jaguars winter coat that Jared Pike has owned since 1994. “My grandparents lived in Jacksonville, so when the Jaguars came into existence, I became a fan and got my hands on every piece of apparel or merchandise with the logo,” he says. “When I found this ski-style winter coat, I was overjoyed — partly because I was a fan, and partly because I love the irony that no one actually living in Florida would ever need a coat like this.” … Here’s the inaugural season logo for Levi’s Stadium (from Phil). … Hmmm, do the Buccaneers’ practice jerseys have numbers on the numbers? (From Kevin Kleinhans.)

College Football News: Louisville will wear all-black uniforms for its season opener against Miami (from Phil). … Here’s a nice gallery of Oklahoma uniforms from over the years (from Phil). … Mississippi State will wear maroon tops and helmets with white pants for its season opener against Southern Miss (from Phil). … NFL.com rated the best uniforms in college football (from Chris Flinn). … Ohio State has a 125th season logo. “I thought it was pretty interesting because it includes the helmet stripe which Nike has made Ohio State Football’s identity and numbers from the 1940s uniforms, which Nike used for the 2nd Pro Combats Ohio State wore against That Team Up North in 2007,” says Ryan Robey. “Interesting logo to celebrate the 125th season.”

Hockey News: While searching for a new Twitter banner background, I came across a bunch of pics of the rapper-producer Lil Jon posing with the Stanley Cup. … New number assignments for the Canadiens (from Mike Engle).

NBA News: Are the Sixers tweaking their logo? It reminds me of what the Clippers did a few years ago. … The Bucks’ retired number banner for Bob Lanier lists the wrong first season for his tenure with the team (from Tom Farley).

Soccer News: This year’s World Cup has been great, though it’s been missing vuvuzelas. Luckily, you can enjoy Uni Watch (or any site) with the rhythmic hum of the melodic plastic horn in the background. … Portugal’s Sporting Lisbon has new jerseys, switching from Puma to Macron (from Joey Bertao). … New kits for Fulham FC (from Phil). … New kits for Liverpool, Queens Park Rangers, FC St. Pauli and Benfica (from Phil). … The Chicago Fire will wear American flag-patterned numbers (from Phil). … Here’s an article on how goalie gloves have gotten huge over the years (from Yusuke Toyoda). … Also from Yusuke: Luis Suarez was banned from even entering the stadium but Uruguay still laid out his uniform before Saturday’s game against Colombia.

Grab Bag: The maple leaf is a popular element in Canadian sports logos. … Jerry Kulig went to the Vatican and saw some guards in fantastic uniforms. … Folks in Ireland are making Game of Thrones thrones out of old hurleys (from Michael Clary). … Mike Hall was watching The Leftovers and noticed the police chief’s flag patch is facing the wrong direction. … The Melbourne Rebels wore some loud jumpers against the Queensland Reds last weekend (from Eric Bangeman).

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Uni Watch Hit Parade: Paul here. The current Eels album, The Cautionary Tales of Mark Oliver Everett, is uneven and won’t go down as one of their best efforts. But it has several excellent songs, one of which — an austere, doomy lament called “Agatha Chang” — sounds like an instant classic. Dig:

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Happy Independence Day to all who’ll be observing the holiday tomorrow. If you have to work, thanks for keeping the world spinning along while the rest of us enjoy the day off. The site will be open throughout the weekend, but content will be light. Enjoy your weekends!

Boomer Sooner!

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Oklahoma released a new set of alternate uniforms yesterday. According to the press release, these uni will “occasionally supplement” the team’s standard home and road looks, which remain unchanged. The new designs “won’t be something we do constantly, but it will be a nice change-up,” said Coach Bob Stoops. That sounds like a refreshingly restrained approach.

Quick assessment: The collars, number font, and red “horns” on the white jersey are all miserable, and the “wood grain” details on the jersey and helmet are the standard Nike gimmickry. I do like the white helmet, though. In short: Not awful, but why would anyone choose these over the home and road primaries? (Lots of additional photos and info here.)

Meanwhile: New ESPN column today — my take on several of the uni-centric news stories that broke while I was away on vacation. Link coming soon.

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Collector’s Corner

By Brinke Guthrie

There’s an obscure typeface-related reason why this 1971 Detroit Lions media guide leads off this week’s CC. That font is called Peignot, and it was developed in 1937 by artist A.M Cassandre. It’s used in The Mary Tyler Moore Show’s classic opening sequence, along with the Beatles movie Help!, the ABC Movie of the Week from 1969-1975, the movie Love Story, and others. I showed my wife, Cindi, the Lions guide and said “What does that typeface remind you of?” Without hesitating, she said, “Mary Tyler Moore.” I’m very proud.

Moving along to other finds:

• Now this is one trippy Wilson NFL football. That’s what happens when you get the Peter Max treatment.

• You too can be a KC Royal Rooter with this 1970s mesh tee — as long as you’re a kids size M, that is.

• Here’s a great Atlanta Falcons helmet medallion from 1970, still in the packaging. Has an adhesive strip on the back. And only $12.50? Too bad they ended the listing.

• This 1950s Green Bay Packers watch needs a little TLC on the case, but otherwise looks good.

• Here’s a late-1960s (judging from the ’Skins spear helmet) NFL hand warmer — just the thing for those December games at the Met and Lambeau Field.

• Classic-looking 1970 San Diego Chargers poster. There’s a similar visual vibe on the cover of this 1970 Detroit Lions media guide.

• Before the Internet, if you wanted NFL info, you got it in MAGAZINES and BOOKS- like Frank Gifford’s 1967 NFL/CBS Football Guide.

• Here’s a “Challenge Football” game game 1972. Is that your guy Kenny Willard on the cover there, PL? [Sure looks like it! — PL]

• This 1970s Yankees bullpen buggy is still sealed in the package, and can be yours for under $50. (I’m not sure the Yankees actually used a bullpen buggy during this period, but they did use did use this famous bullpen car.)

Seen something on eBay or Etsy that you think would make good Collector’s Corner fodder? Send your submissions here.

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Let it bleed: I began donating blood after the Sept. 11 attacks in 2001 and have kept at it ever since. Here in NYC, they let you donate every two months (I don’t know what the rules are elsewhere), and I always make a new appointment as soon as I’m eligible for one. As long as you’re okay with needles, which I am, it’s a very easy way to be a good person — doesn’t take much time, doesn’t cost anything, and you get free Lorna Doones at the end.

Now I’ve apparently hit some kind of milestone, as you can see from my new donor card, which arrived unexpectedly in yesterday’s mail. There’s something hilarious about it — “The Gallon Club,” it sounds vaguely pornographic. Frankly, after nearly 13 years of bi-monthly donations, I kinda thought I would’ve hit a gallon a long time ago, but whatever — I was never keeping score, even if the people at the Blood Center were.

Do you donate blood? If you don’t, please consider it. Like I said, it’s a very easy way to be a good person, and it really does make a difference in people’s lives.

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’Skins Watch: I keep seeing all these articles analyzing whether a ’Skins renaming would or wouldn’t result in a financial windfall based on new merch sales. Personally, I don’t care, because there should never be a price on doing the right thing — a sentiment anyone should be able to embrace, no matter which side of the debate you’re on or how you define what “the right thing” is. … Interesting piece by the son of former Washington Bullets owner Abe Pollin, who has some advice for Daniel Snyder on how to handle the renaming of a franchise (thanks, Phil). … Reprinted from yesterday’s comments: Teen-aged members of the Spokane Tribe in Washington State attend a high school whose teams are called the Redskins, and they’re totally fine with that.

Baseball News: Yesterday was Canada Day, so the Blue Jays wore red BP-style jerseys. Not a good look, especially for players who went high-cuffed. Lots of additional photos here. … Check this out: Paul Derringer and Bucky Walters from the 1939 Reds wearing two different jersey logos. Turns out both logos are shown in Dressed to the Nines, but it’s odd to see both of them being worn at the same time (from Tom Shieber). … I think we’ve seen this before, but once more won’t hurt: Sandy Koufax at a 1984 old-timers’ game. Still had perfect stirrups! (Thanks, Phil.) … Yankees 2B Brian Roberts’s shoes sure look more than 50% white (from David Feigenbaum). … Bryce Harper and Ryan Zimmerman of the Nats: both wearing sliding mitts in the same photo (from Jonathan Daniel). … You probably know that Lou Whitaker forgot to bring his jersey to the 1985 All-Star Game and had to use an off-the-rack replica with a Magic Markered number. He talks about that in this interview (from Todd Shepard). … Check out the cap the A’s are giving away for Jewish Heritage Night (from Richard Paloma). … Flag-desecration unis for the Tri-City ValleyCats (from Dick Holbrook). … Speaking of the flag-desecration thing, Johnny Gomes of the Red Sox decided to “support” the USA soccer team by wearing this costume (thanks, Phil). … Cubs starter Edwin Jackson — who, as I mentioned yesterday, is concerned that his road uniform is shrinking in the laundry — went high-cuffed last night. He’s usually a pajamist (from Matt Shepardson).

NFL News: The NFL has confirmed that unorthodox, “intimidating” facemask styles pose a safety risk, which means bad news for Khalil Mack and maybe Justin Tuck. … Schutt’s football helmet camera, which many NFL and NCAA teams use, is now available for retail sale.

College Football News: Latest school to go with a matte helmet shell: Iowa State. Additional views here (thanks, Phil). … New uniforms for Knox College (from Jackson White). … New helmet design for Johns Hopkins (from Robert Turning).

NBA News: Why did Magic draft pick Aaron Gordon pick double-zero as his uni number? Here’s why (from Erik Morris). … Mental Floss’s latest uni-related quiz is about signature sneakers (from Jason Hillyer). … The Sixers’ new practice jerseys have “Phila” on the chest.

Soccer News: Good piece on Nike’s World Cup jersey fonts (thanks, Brinke). … For yesterday’s Belgium/USA match, the Belgian jerseys featured the American flag (screen shot by Leo Strawn Jr.). … Totally awesome World Cup illustrations in this newsgame — don’t miss (from Comrade Robert Marshall). … The rest of these are from Yusuke Toyoda: Menswear design Paul Smith designed a soccer ball, but with one catch: You can’t kick it. … Belgium’s Vicent Kompany wore the standard FIFA-issued captain’s armband yesterday. He had previously worn one with a Belgium flag pattern. … Romelu Lukaku exchanged jerseys with Tim Howard after last night’s game, and Howard wore Lukaku’s jersey (inside-out) for post-match appearances.

Grab Bag: Here’s a company that makes generic but good-looking basketball shorts (from Michael Goldemberg). … New York City’s annual Gay Pride Parade, which took place on Sunday, featured Boy Scouts wearing rainbow neckerchiefs. … My friend Robin Edgerton found this linen cap with built-in sunglasses at an estate sale. … New uniforms for the Wisconsin marching band (from Nicole Haase). … This is pretty cool: Style guides and other logo-related resources for a variety of brands (nice one, Brinke). … Also from Brinke: Nick Kyrgios’s performance at Wimbledon may result in a sponsorship windfall.