The Best-Laid Plans of Mice, Men, and Self-Aggrandizing Corporations...

nikenfl.jpg

Well, that was a pretty bizarre afternoon. Here’s a blow-by-blow of how it played out here at Uni Watch HQ:

First came the Jags unveiling, which started at 1:30pm and took about half an hour. As soon as it was over, I summarized my thoughts in this ESPN piece. I don’t particularly like having to write super-fast assessments like that, but that’s how the media world works now, so that’s what I did. So far, so good.

That ESPN piece included a link to this slideshow of photos, which had been taken at Nike HQ by a Jacksonville TV station a few weeks before the unveiling. The station posted the slideshow once the uniforms were revealed. As you can see, it has 89 photos; yesterday it was even longer, with over 100 photos (I’ll explain why it got shorter in a sec). So I didn’t have time to click through the entire thing before writing my ESPN piece. After I submitted my piece to my editor, however, I began clicking through it.

As I was doing that, I got an email from reader Preston Feiler. He had apparently been clicking through that exact same photo gallery from the Jacksonville TV station, and he’d spotted a photo I hadn’t yet gotten to — a photo that showed the new Dolphins uniforms, which were supposed to be unveiled on Thursday evening. So I emailed my ESPN editor, told him I had a confirmed leak of the new Miami uni, and said I’d write a new piece for him in a few minutes. Which is what I did.

About 30 seconds after I sent in the piece about the new Dolphins leak, I got another email from Preston Feiler, who’d spotted another leak in that photo gallery from the Jacksonville TV station. This time it was a photo that showed the new Jags, Dolphins, and Vikings designs (the Vikes, like the Dolphins, weren’t supposed to unveil until Thursday). So I called my ESPN editor and told him not to run the Dolphins piece after all because I was going to write a new piece that included a mention of the Vikings. Which is what I did.

Then I did something I’ve only done once or twice before: I posted a second blog entry in a single day. The events seemed to warrant it.

Then I got a beer, watched the whole thing blow up on Twitter, and answered the barrage of emails and phone calls that started coming in.

At some point along the line, about 15 photos disappeared from that Jacksonville TV station’s slideshow. I haven’t had time to check, but I’m assuming the two leak photos are among those that were excised. Too late now, of course — you can’t put the genie back in the bottle.

So that’s the backstory. What about the uniforms? Here are some thoughts:

Jags: Not great but could’ve been worse. Some of the worst-sounding stuff I’d been told last week (player names on the front, a side-panel design extending down into the pants, Falcons-style sleeves) turned out to be wrong. And while I certainly wouldn’t call this a great uniform, it’s probably better than what they were already wearing. Well, except for the helmet. Maybe we can just clone Thurman Thomas 53 times and use that as the roster? Also: I like these shoelaces. Yes, the shoelaces! (Again, I had more expansive thoughts on this uni yesterday on ESPN. Also, there’s an interview with Nike exec Todd Van Horne, who talks about the design process behind this uni set, here.)

Dolphins: Pretty much what we were expecting — the new logo, the white facemask, etc. Pants striping and helmet striping both seem like subtle downgrades, although the average fan won’t even notice. Orange swoosh looks good, especially on the white jersey (not as good as it would look if it didn’t exist at all, but still…). Disappointing to not to see any aqua pants in the mix, but maybe they’ll show up at the unveiling tomorrow.

Vikes: Normal pants design = Hooray! Lack of jersey side panels = Hooray! Number font = Nuh-uh. Leotard effect of purple pants with purple-topped socks = Blow me. (Also: If you look closely at the photo, it appears that the “2” on purple jersey may not have the extraneous serifs like the “2” on the white jersey, although it’s hard to be sure. Hmmmm.)

The funny thing about all this is that just yesterday I had written about how it would be good for leagues to do all their unveilings in a designated week. But I didn’t ask for three of them in one day. That was kinda frantic.

Meanwhile, so much for Minnesota’s and Miami’s carefully orchestrated unveilings, eh? Not sure how they’ll respond to the leaks, if at all, although I’m assuming they’ll just carry on with their unveilings tomorrow evening as originally planned. But they’ve lost the element of surprise and the sense of drama. Maybe that means they’ll dispense with the over-dramatic music and overheated verbiage that usually characterize these types of events. Hope so — but I doubt it.

+ + + + +

Uni Watch News Ticker: Still more Beantown gestures: Red Sox pitcher Felix Doubront is wearing Boston’s area code, 617, on his cap; the Flyers added a Boston ribbon patch for last night’s game against the Bruins; and a bat manufacturer has made “Boston Strong” bats (from Andy Chalifour, Chris Flinn, and Kurt Esposito, respectively). … The AHL’s Connecticut Whale are changing their name back to the Hartford Wolf Pack. Apparently there’s some rule that prevents them from using a team name that ends in “s” (from Brian Williams). … It’s standard for catchers to use a special glove when a knuckleballer is on the mound. But here’s something different: When Red Sox knuckleballer Steven Wright came into last night’s game, he brought a special catcher’s glove with him for Jarrod Saltalamacchia. The bullpen catcher must have been using that glove while Wright was warming up (from Andy Chalifour and Rob Holecko). … Interesting move by NASCAR driver Juan Pablo Montoya, whose car will be sponsored by Depends (from Chris Cruz). … With the temperatures at Coors Field in the md-20s last night, some Braves coaches resorted to wearing MLB parkas (from Matthew Hiett). … Yesterday afternoon was super-hectic (see above) and I was busy emceeing an event in the evening, all of which makes for a very short Ticker today. Sorry ’bout that, but I trust you’ll find a way to persevere.

Craziest Uni Day Ever

Original.jpg

Click to enlarge

I don’t usually do a second post in one day, but this has been a crazy afternoon.

First, the Jags unveiled their new uniforms. You can read my initial take on that in this ESPN piece.

But then things got crazy — confirmed leaks of the new Vikings and Dolphins uniforms, as you can see above, plus a tighter view of the Miami design.

I’ll have more to say about all this tomorrow. — Paul

A Big Week for the NFL

If slideshow has problems, click here

The NFL Draft begins this Thursday, which means two things: a new set of draft caps, which you can see above, and a new set of uniform unveilings. The Jaguars will reveal their new uni set today at 1:30pm Eastern, with the Vikings and Dolphins following on Thursday evening.

Pegging the uniform unveilings to the draft makes sense: The unveilings will help generate excitement for the draft, and the draft in turn will help showcase the uniforms, because the Jacksonville, Minnesota, and Miami draft picks hold up the new jersey designs in their obligatory photo-ops.

NFL teams have been doing their uni unveilings during the lead-up to the draft for several years now, to the point where many of us have been conditioned to expect a series of new uniform releases each April. It really shows how the league has managed to standardize almost every aspect of its operations. They haven’t yet branded the notion of an “NFL Uniform Unveiling Week,” complete with its own logo, but would anyone be surprised if that happened?

Compare that to the other Big Four leagues, whose new uniforms tend to dribble out at random points in the off-season, with no set schedule. There’s nothing wrong with that per se, but it doesn’t do much to build a critical mass of enthusiasm for your league.

Of course, the NFL has an advantage in this regard, because the draft is a high-visibility event that coordinates well with the unveilings. The NBA, NHL, and MLB don’t have any off-season events of that magnitude. Then again, why is it necessary to have the uniform unveilings tied to an event? What if MLB simply decided to have all of its off-season uni unveilings in, say, the first week of December? It would generate some buzz during an otherwise sleepy period for the sport. The NHL and NBA could do something similar. After a few seasons, fans would learn to expect the unveilings to take place during these designated times, which would be good for the leagues and good for the uni-verse — at least in theory. (In practice, the coordinated events might turn out to be too scripted, too corporate, too stupid, etc.)

Anyway: Once I get a look at the Jags’ new attire this afternoon, I’ll summarize my thoughts in an ESPN piece about it and post the link here, in the comments, and on Twitter, so stay tuned, okay? Okay. Here you go. Also: The Vikes and Dolphins uniforms have both leaked!

+ + + + +

$(KGrHqF,!iUFEc9er(+yBRN39VUzZQ~~60_57.JPG

$T2eC16R,!yME9s5qG+bhBRN391J5+w~~60_57.JPG

Click photos to enlarge

Collector’s Corner

By Brinke Guthrie

As you can see above, we may have found the ultimate Uni Watch item, sitting squarely at the intersection of two of Paul’s favorite things: sports logos and meat. Now, we’ve seen those 1960s Hormel NFL helmet trays before, but never a full set of them, all in one auction. The Browns one even has the “CB” logo!

Here’s the rest of this week’s Collector’s Corner haul:

• This 1970s 49ers helmet plaque, complete with requisite single-bar facemask, would be perfect for Uni Watch HQ.

• We’ve all seen the 1970s NFL helmet magnets like this one for the Bills. Haven’t seen them packaged on that display card before, though.

• I like the sleeve striping on this 1980s Cleveland Indians jacket.

• Speaking of MLB jackets, this Chicago Cubs jacket is just … I can’t think of a word for how bad this design is. [I beg to differ. Love it! — PL]

• A longstanding Collector’s Corner rule: If it’s 1970s and made by Sand Knit, it’s most likely cool. Case in point: this New Jersey Nets pullover top.

• That same seller has four 1970s NFL mini-helmet buggies up for sale.

• Very nice-looking NFL Starter parka. Never seen the old “Pro Line” badge on the chest like that, or seen “Staff” on the chest for that matter. And here’s an NFL shield pullover from DeLong. (While we’re on DeLong — a favorite of mine — how about a cool New York Giants varsity jacket?)

• From reader Stuart Alford: an awesome Baltimore Clippers corduroy jacket with Brooks Robinson tagging!

• And we wrap up this week with an interesting poster showing the evolution of NFL uniforms.

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 jersey Reggie Jackson supposedly wore while hitting three home runs in Game 6 of the 1977 World Series was recently put up for auction, but now it has been pulled. The article doesn’t say why, but I’m assuming it’s because of research by Peter Nash that cast doubt on the jersey’s authenticity. … “Here’s a short promotional video pimping K-State football tickets,” says Dale Allison. “It features some helmet detailing that Uni Watch readers will like.” … Michael Waltrip used Boston Marathon bib-style numbers on his car on Sunday (from Tom Van de Kieft). … New white jersey for the newly relocated and renamed Iowa Wild (from A.J. Frey). … If you’re gonna wrap a player’s injured hamstring, you may as well do it with tape that says, “Fragile.” That’s a player from the Stade Francais Rugby Team (from Wesley Eustis). … Rangers skipper Ron Washington was caught smoking in the dugout the other day (from Mike Engle). … Very unusual baseball pants for Grand Valley State. Unusual striping on the softball team’s pants, too (from Bryan Kimball). … Here’s the latest on the voting for Sparky’s new look at ASU (from Nathan White). … Michigan State football wore a Boston decal for their spring game. … The Yankees began wearing pinstripes 98 years ago yesterday. … Someone got married in Blackhawks jerseys with fun NOBs (thanks, Phil). … The plaque at AT+T Park that marked Barry Bonds’s 756th home run has disappeared (thanks, Brinke). … Rich Aleman spotted a car with a Wisconsin sports logo mash-up window decal. … Here’s another story about that 1919 footage of plantation workers playing baseball in Georgia. Jake Wallace explains the best part: “They were able to determine what year the footage is from by comparing the stirrup striping on the players in the film with still images they had collected.” … The Dodgers have a player at triple-A with one doozy of a hyphenated NOB (from Frank Frank Mercogliano). … RIP, Christina. Nobody ever looked better in a Catholic schoolgirl uniform, fishnets, and a face smeared with lipstick.

Plackets and Jackets

Scan.jpeg

Click to enlarge

Time to look at another uniform catalog that I acquired from the collection of the late Mike Hersh. As you can see above, this one is a 1965 catalog from a Canadian company called Schachter’s. It’s fairly conventional in most respects, but a few things about it caught my eye.

The first and most notable thing is that almost every page of baseball and softball uniforms shows at least one mock-up of a jersey with a contrast-colored placket. This isn’t something you tend to see very often, either in catalogs or on the diamond, but it was clearly a Schacter’s specialty. Here, take a look (for all of these, you can click to enlarge):

IMG_2750.jpg

IMG_2751.jpg

IMG_2752.jpg

IMG_2753.jpg

IMG_2754.jpg

IMG_2755.jpg

IMG_2756.jpg

IMG_2757.jpg

IMG_2758.jpg

IMG_2759.jpg

IMG_2760.jpg

IMG_2761.jpg

IMG_2762.jpg

Weird, right? Some of those contrasting plackets look good, some not so good (and one of them is actually two-tone!). Maybe this was just a Schacter’s thing, and/or a way to show as many color and style options as possible, but I’m also wondering if this was a particularly popular style in Canada during the 1960s. Anyone know?

The other unusual thing about this catalog is that it features an unusual number of varsity-style jackets — 10 pages’ worth. Check it out:

IMG_2737.JPG

IMG_2739.JPG

IMG_2740.jpg

IMG_2741.jpg

IMG_2742.jpg

IMG_2743.jpg

IMG_2744.JPG

IMG_2745.JPG

IMG_2747.jpg

IMG_2748.jpg

That’s a lot of jackets! But it kinda makes sense for a company based in Canada, eh?

I also liked this page featuring beanies and something called “wikkies” — little felt pennants on a bamboo cane. Never heard of that before. Dig:

IMG_2749.jpg

Finally, it’s worth noting that the catalog came with an order form (which includes template for ordering the beanies!) and an envelope in which to mail it. I’m not sure why, but I always get extra-excited when an old catalog still has these elements tucked inside:

IMG_2763.JPG

IMG_2764.JPG

Scan 1.jpeg

———

That’s it for this catalog. More selections from Mike Hersh’s collection coming soon.

+ + + + +

OMFG: My latest One-Man Focus Group column is about Budweiser’s new indented (or is it just dented?) can design, and I don’t mind saying I think it’s a pretty good piece. Check it out here.

+ + + + +

In case you missed it, I ran an unusual entry on Friday: an interview with Uni Watch’s most prominent troll. This entry received quite a bit of very positive response — in the comments, via email, on Facebook, on Twitter, and in the media-crit world. To everyone who weighed in with favorable comments, thank you. And for those of you who missed it and want to see what all the fuss was about, look here.

+ + + + +

Uni Watch News Ticker: NFL unveiling notes: The Jags’ unveiling will be tomorrow, 1:30pm; the Vikings’ will be Thursday, 6:15pm; and the Dolphins’ will be Thursday, 7pm (all times Eastern). I assume all three events will be streamed on the teams’ respective websites, although I don’t yet know that for a fact. … An anonymous reader who runs a sporting goods shop reports that he’s received a shipment of new Chargers jerseys with two changes from last season: (1) no more neck roll, and (2) two-color NOB lettering. Remains to be seen if these changes will appear on the field. … New football uniforms for West Virginia football. Phil had extensive coverage of that, and of lots of “Boston Strong” developments, in yesterday’s post. … Really good, long article about the current state of electric football (from Jeff Ash). … Brad Hovland received an email from the Vikings that included a “Metrodome Final Season” logo. Don’t know yet if that will be a jersey patch this fall, but I expect we’ll find out at the Vikes’ uni unveiling this Thursday. … The L.A. Kings wore Dodgers-themed warm-up jerseys last Thursday. … Pirates pitcher Jeff Locke has “Lockeness” on his glove — as in the Loch Ness Monster..? (From Kevin Poss.) … Robert Telleria notes that ESPN showed a Broncos helmet with a new striping pattern. Not sure what that’s about. … Ozzy Osbourne was once booked by police while wearing a St. Louis Blues jersey (from Jim Walaitis). … “I’m an employee of Bridgestone Golf, so I would appreciate it if my name is left out of this,” says an anonymous reader. “But I awoke this morning to an email about how to interact with idiots who connect the Boston bombing with our company, because of the one suspect who was wearing a Bridgestone cap. Apparently this has happened enough for all employees to be prepped. Just crazy.” … New uni number assignments for the 49ers (from Terry O’Donohue). … FAU is mulling lots of helmet options for this fall (from Dieter Kurtenbach). … The A’s will give away a Reggie Jackson bobblehead on Saturday. But as Richard Paloma points out, the NOB style is wrong — it should be straight, not arched. … The logos for the 2014 FIVB Men’s and Women’s World Volleyball Championships have been released (from Jeremy Brahm). … Some new lacrosse helmets have hit the field. … Keith Yandle of the Coyotes wore a tribute to Boston bombings victim Martin Richard in pregame warm-ups the other night (from Dustin Burns). … “Braves utility man Ramiro Pena was wearing a wristband with a logo that I (and the Braves broadcasters) had never seen before,” says Britton Thomas. “Joe Simpson commented that he had to keep doing a double take, because he thought it was a Cincinnati Reds logo.” I’ve never seen it either. Anyone know more? … Johnny Gomes of the Red Sox used a “Boston Strong” bat yesterday (from Warren Junium). … The Astros wore their BP jerseys for yesterday’s game against the Indians. … No photo, but Jay Abbott reports on an interesting minor league game from yesterday: “Oklahoma City and Albuquerque not only wore Negro League throwbacks, but they wore lots of them. I’ve seen the home team wearing whites of the New York Cuban Giants, KC Monarchs, and others, while the road team is wearing the Baltimore Black Sox, Homestead Grays, etc. I’ve never seen anything like this and it’s absolutely stunning.” … Ron Slover found a 1966 Pitt football program whose cover design mentions the team’s new uniforms. … The TCU and Baylor baseball teams wore red wristbands during last weekend’s three-game series. Mark Rybczyk explains why: “It was to honor the town of West, Texas, and those who died during the fertilizer plant explosion. Red represents Czech Heritage of the town, which is located halfway between the TCU and Baylor campuses. TCU had to turn the armbands inside out because they are sponsored by Easton and not TPX.” … Here’s a soda display of the MLB logo (thanks, Phil). … … Wisconsin’s spring football game featured new jerseys. Not sure yet if they’ll be wearing that this fall (from Joel Mathwig). … Construction plans for the Falcons’ new stadium call for the destruction of two historically important black churches. … World cycling champion Philippe Gilbert has taken the championship stripes thing a step further: He’s wearing the stripes as a tattoo (from Bernie Langer). … Interesting article on high-tech electronic sports goggles, which can apparently distract the user. … Mets and Nats went color-on-color yesterday. … I’m going to be busy working on an ESPN project in Manhattan for much of today. If you can go light on Ticker contributions, I’d appreciate it. See you tomorrow.