(Not Just) Another Game

Football-H-Y-1927

By Phil Hecken

Earlier this week I had the great pleasure of being treated to a fine evening of food and drink by none other than today’s guest author. That’s him, second from the left, seated between yours truly, UW stalwart Chance Michaels, and Paul. That man is Mr. Conn Nugent, who is not just a Harvard alum (we began our evening in the Harvard Club, moving on to Ipanema, a Brazilian restaurant where that photo was taken). Obviously, Conn, or “Connie” or the former “Broadway Connie” as he is known to you fine readers, was merely using this to butter me up for what is to follow.

But it turns out that Conn isn’t just a mere Crimson, he’s one of the finest gentlemen I have ever met, and one of the most gracious hosts I’ve ever had the occasion to be entertained by. Then of course, there’s that whole rapier wit which was on fine display all evening. (It was my first time meeting both Chance and Conn, two remarkably interesting characters whose love of uniforms brought us together, but whose gregarious nature and charming conversation on a myriad of subjects made for a splendid night on the town). To tell of Conn’s exploits in this universe would take more space than this column allows–even the highlights would be too much. But enough of my blowing smoke you know where, lets just say it isn’t every day you meet a Nobel Prize winner. We’ll save that for another time. Here’s Conn to give us a rundown on what is simply known as “The Game.”

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Another Game
By Conn Nugent

At nine o’clock in the morning on Saturday (19 November) I will board a train at New York Penn Station. Ninety-six minutes later, or so, I will disembark in New Haven, Connecticut and walk a couple of miles to the Yale Bowl, where Yale and Harvard will play a football game for the 128th time. The Bowl is a symmetrical 61,400-seat amphitheater built in 1913 (when it sat 70,900). It is a beautiful structure, and remains the best big place I know to watch a football game.

In a field near the Bowl I will rendez-vous with my classmate Don Chiofaro, linebacker, captain of Harvard in 1967, and — according to Calvin Hill — one of the hardest hitters of the era. The Chief will introduce me (re-introduce me, usually, since name retention gets a little wobbly at our age) to the loyal corps of recidivists who try never to miss a Harvard-Yale game. There will be picnic fare and drinks and heavy slagging. Shameful moments of early adulthood will be trotted out as ID markers. If I may use the word without seeming ironic, it will all be jolly.

That’s it for anything approaching social commentary. I’ve noticed that the default position for writers on Harvard-Yale games is to feed not in the rich meadow of football information but in the deep silage of cultural stereotype. “The Game” and all that. Class privilege, snobbery, fustian traditionalism, ubiquitous smarty-pants-isms, snotty halftime shows by bands dressed to signify superior distancing from State U, adorable chants along the lines of “You’ll Work For Us!” et cetera.

Shoot me. Nobody in that parking lot refers to “The Game.” And plutocrats are in disguise these days: New Haven tailgaters look like Ann Arbor tailgaters or Bloomington tailgaters. No one under 60 says “Hah-vud” (though the drink’s on me if you do). There are, indeed, tons of class and rank and income issues swirling ’round the Yale Bowl — and they’d be fun to talk about sometime — but they’re complicated. Today we keep it simple, and concentrate on the big things that really matter: uniforms, school colors, mascots.

Because Harvard and Yale — and their dapper common enemy, Princeton — were among the first American colleges to play football, the gear they were wearing in the late-19th/early-20th centuries, when football first gained a mass following, provided the template that everybody else used as their uni Square One. The basic look was vest and plus-fours in a neutral color, usually tan or gray, with some or all of the sleeves and stockings in a bold color chosen to signify the particular college. Next stop in uni evolution: school-colored jerseys, in solid or striped patterns. Then colored pants, then stripes down the pants, then colored helmets, then logos on helmets, then logos everywhere. Neither Yale nor Harvard wielded much sartorial influence after 1920. They followed trends rather than set them.

With some modest adjustments, the uniforms that Harvard and Yale will wear today are based on their garb of the mid-1960s. Harvard has lost the pants stripes, but added black outlining of numbers, a Harvard VE-RI-TAS shield on the tops of the shoulders (where they are barely glimpsed), and a block H on the sides of the helmet where TV numbers used to go. Both the Harvard helmet and the Yale helmet sport the 1960s triple-stripe motif that has proved so durable in the NFL. [Check out the Ivy League section of the invaluable Helmet Project.] Yale has kept the pants stripes, even widened them, but basically this era’s players look like the demigods of 1968. Today Yale will be wearing home blue-and-white, a classy outfit, most seem to agree. Harvard won’t be wearing their distinctive crimson jerseys, alas, but the white shirts are pretty good. [Lots more H-Y images on my Flickr page.]

A small but annoying exception to the Yale rule of sage uni conservatism is the regrettable introduction of a stylized-bulldog-on-a-Y logo, which has crept from the DofA website up on to the upper-sleeve of the football jersey. Move away from the laptops, Eli design consultants, and keep your hands way above the PhotoShop mouse, right where I can see ‘em. Leave the Y alone!

[May I just say a few words about today’s football game? You know, as a contest? By beating Pennsylvania last week, Harvard clinched the 2011 Ivy League championship. They are 6-0 in the Ivies, 8-1 overall. They score lots of points and are fun to watch, thanks largely to a quarterback — Collier Winters — who’s a terrific double threat. Things have been less bright for the Elis. They haven’t won an Ivy title since forever, and Harvard has beaten them nine times out of the last ten. Still, they’re above .500 this year, have a pretty good quarterback (Patrick Witt), and their seniors are dying to beat Harvard just once before they leave. Two years ago, Chiofaro and I watched an underdog Yale beat the Crimson like a drum for more than three quarters, only to have a resurgent Harvard pass attack and a dubious call from the Yale bench conspire to produce yet another heatbreaking loss for the home team. This year may be different. If you pay attention to the online gambling savants, you’ll take Yale with the points.]

So. Would it please the Court to stipulate that Petitioner has this day demonstrated a sufficient grasp of contemporary information? That he has adequately refuted the imputations of antiquarianism, nostalgia, and the kind of unmoored babblings like you got from the grandfather-poet character in The Night of the Iguana? Are we not up-to-date?

Good. Now I can tell you that the old Harvard-Yale stuff — especially when considered through the lens of the obsessive study of athletic aesthetics — is really much better than the new. This is true for uniforms, I think, but much more dramatically in the realm of illustration and graphic design. Look no further than the chronology of Harvard program covers and Yale program covers put together by the wonderful people at Historic Football Posters. Look how great they were until Chiofaro and I got to Cambridge in 1964. Look how bad programs have become. Look at the designs of today’s Harvard and Yale sports websites: uninspired, charmless. The 1940s websites were dynamite.

There are all sorts of explanations for the decline of football graphics all around the country as they went from witty cartoons to banal photographs, from hand-lettering to mechanical, and then electronic, fonts. But in the Harvard-Yale case, there’s a clear line that marks when everything went to hell: the departure of the great Boston Herald illustrator Vic Johnson from his side job as an Ivy League cartoonist. Look here, here, and here. When Vic Johnson left, Harvard-Yale lost its graphic wit and flair.

To Vic Johnson we also owe the revival of a 17th Century puritan male as the cartoon symbol of Harvard football. Johnson’s Ur-Yankee was a skinny tall guy, dressed in crimson, always topped off with a high hat. His lanky build, thin face, prominent teeth, and ready smile were based, Johnson said, on Leverett Saltonstall, the much-loved, much-parodied Massachusetts Governor and US Senator back when there were liberal Republicans. I miss him!

We all understand that the drop-off in the quality of intercollegiate sports imagery was a general phenomenon, not limited by any means to the Ivies. It’s just that Harvard, Yale, and Princeton produced the first batch of beautiful athletic graphics in this country, and I would argue that through the 1950s they stayed among the best. You don’t have to be in thrall to snooty early-20th Century Anglo-Saxon notions of superiority and refinement to argue that football graphics were best when serious fans had to consider Yale and Harvard the same way that serious fans today have to consider LSU and Ohio State. A debatable proposition, to be sure, but debatable propositions R us.

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Thank you Conn! It’s not often I’m left both speechless and reaching for the online dictionary, but today was one of those times. Enjoy the game, sir. And remember, if the score is tied at 29, well, obviously, you win.

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Blue Jays New LogoNew Jays

The Toronto Blue Jays completed what might be considered the most perfect week in uniform unveilings yesterday, what with the Marlins (B+ — full writeup here), Orioles (A- — full writeup here) and Mets (A — full writeup here) building up to yesterday’s crescendo of awesomeness…and I do mean awesomeness.

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Before we look at the uniforms individually, lets whet your whistle with a video:

Pretty sweet so far, right? It is. So lets look at the unis:

Logo: Doesn’t quite throwback to the original, but it’s a great update. A quick side-by-side shows a sleek, modern upgrade, harking back to the original, but adding a black dark navy beak and collar, which much more fairly resembles the bird for which the team is named. Also eliminated is the original outline “TORONTO,” which has been replaced by a much cleaner, slightly serifed block print. The “BLUE JAYS” returns to the original outline, but is also in a sharper, slightly-serifed font. Fantastic update.

Home Uniform: Another uniform which harkens back to the original, but with several noticeable differences. The original was a pullover with sansabelt, in the original font, with the blue jay logo centered in the middle of the jersey. The new uniform features almost identical (but belted) pants, with the arched logo on a button down shirt, and the new blue jay logo over the left chest. Original 1977 jerseys were NNOB, while the current uniform has slightly larger outlined numbers, with NOB. Original cap featured a white crown, while the new cap is solid blue. I have no quibbles with this fauxback, save for the slightly awkward placement of the wordmark due to the jersey placket. But that is a very, very minor quibble.

Road Uniform: Unlike the homes, these do not fauxback to the original 1977 uniform, which was powder blue. The Jays would move to a gray road uniform in 1989, and the new roads much more closely resemble that uniform. Here’s a side-by-side. 1989 also marked the first year the Blue Jays would wear a button down jersey, and the new jersey bears an uncanny resemblance. Only the new font and blue jay logo (also off-set) are different. The 1989’s would have NOBs as well, just like the 2012s. Another fantastic update.

Alternate Blue Jersey: Designed to be worn with the home or road pants, this jersey is pretty much a mirror image of the home jersey, swapping out the white for the blue. I’m not a fan of alternates, but as alternates go, and especially considering what it replaced, this is also a major upgrade.

Just an outstanding job by the Jays with this one! And, coming on the heels of the Marlins B+, the Orioles A-, the Mets A … this one tops them all (and that’s saying a LOT), and scores an A+. Now, this is not to say it’s the best looking uniform in the bigs, but considering from whence they came, this is the best upgrade we’ve seen in a loooooonnnng time.

Still haven’t seen enough? Then enjoy this slideshow Paul put together for me of the unveiling:


Readers? Your turn…

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Notre Dame auction update: The auction for the Notre Dame promo box is continuing. No bids were submitted yesterday, so the high bid is still $4301 and the minimum bid for today is now $4501. If nobody bids today, the minimum bid will increase to $4601 tomorrow.

Full details on how to bid, and everything else regarding the auction, can be found here.

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50 Years Ago This Week50 Years Ago…This Weekend

Back again with Rick Pearson who is here to bring us his look at the featured ABC television college football matchup from 50 years ago. As always, Rick documented the game via his “kid cards”. Here’s Rick to tell us about it.

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Nov. 18, 1961…Illinois at Wisconsin

Wk 10 61 Kid Card

Only one game a week on TV, and in my neck of the woods, we saw Wisconsin beat up on Illinois, 55-7. …This Wisconsin uni with the big ol’ “W” on the helmet, front and back, was discussed a couple weeks ago. …So let’s talk about the Fighting Illini. …Home had no white, with pants that were pretty much Athletic Gold, rather than orange. …Here’s Dick Butkus in the uni a few years later after white stripes had been added to the helmet. …And in the roads. …Yet another example of stripes (or something) added to the whites to give them a bit more color. …The wide navy stripe is the sleeve end, same as Wisconsin’s white sleeve end. …A few years later, the white pants were worn at home, too. …The orange stripe on the socks is the top of the white crew sock worn over solid navy stirrups. …The players? Neither Hearn nor Walker played pro football, though Walker was a 17th round choice of the Packers in ’63.

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Nice job, again, Rick. So tell us, what’s the deal with the stars on Butkus’ helmet? Pride stickers? (I have a feeling we’ve covered this before on here.)

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all sport uni tweaksUni Tweaks

We have another new set of tweaks today.

If you have a tweak, change or concept for any sport, send them my way.

Remember, if possible, try to keep your descriptions to ~50 words (give or take) per tweak. You guys have been great at keeping to that, and it’s much appreciated!

And so, lets begin:

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We start with Eric Davis, who has a nice set of six of the Pac-12, Pro-Combat style:

Phil –

Long time Uni-Watch reader, and periodic Uni Tweak submitter here.

Decided to start using the Pro Combat template to ‘re-envision’ college football uniforms conference-by-conference. Started with the Pac 12. Here’s the first six. Like a lot of Uni Watch readers, I wasn’t keen on the Pro Combat name, so I created a new Nike brand called “Grid Tech” that would carry forward the Pro Combat theme without the misplaced allusion to actual combat.

Arizona — Let’s call these the Captain America uniforms. A silver lid and a big A (like the side of the mountain) with silver pants and TV numbers.

California — I dubbed these the White Knights because hopefully they’ll glide like Baryshnikov (or Hines) in these white-topped unis. Abstract ‘bear-claws’ decorate the compression sleeves.

USC — A Trojan mish-mash that uses the reverse helmet logo (Not sure why they use the current one … the negative space doesn’t really work.) and some psuedo-Homeric patterns for the neckline and shoulder stripes.

UCLA — Back to a more classic look with extended shoulder stripes and a new-but-old uniform number. Look closely, and you’ll see sublimated rose pattern on the compression sleeves.

Oregon State — Rollerball is alive and well. Originally thought about calling these “jailbreak” unis, but thought that would send the wrong message. Sandpaper-finish helmet (probably not safety feasible) with a raised OS and raised tapered stripes finishes the rugged look.

Colorado — I know they’re gold and black, but man does that copper give them a unique style. Old-school look with a Buffalo-horned helmet design.

I’ll have the second 6 next week.

Thanks,

Eric Davis

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Next up is Pinchinvahoe Santos, who has a 49ers concept…and a very cool way of showing it:

Phil,

Concepts

“fauxback” is a combo of 1955 home red (block shadow numerals, white pants) and 1962 away white (dual red “UCLA”-type shoulder hoops, silver helmet and pants)

Regular unis just slightly improved with non-truncated shoulder stripes, non low-cut collar, thicker pant stripes (not as thick as the 1976-95 ones) and white cleats.

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And closing down the show today is Robert Siergiej, with a couple NFL tweaks:

Phil, I’ve come up with a few NFL tweaks based on some past unis.

First up is Philadelphia, with a new home and away set. I’ve decided to go back to the Randall Cunningham era after a fashion. The jerseys restore the full eagle on the sleeves, as well as the lighter green they used to wear. I’ve thrown in some modernization, though, with a multi-striped collar, silver and black trim on the numbers, and additional silver trim on the socks. I’ve also kept the current design of the helmet wings. I also kept a set of white pants as an option.

Second is an Eagles alternate that recalls the late 70s period. This is, for the most part, a straight-up throwback to the style they wore around the time of their first Super Bowl appearance. I also included an optional undershirt (right) that completes the full striping pattern.

Now, on to the New York Giants. The late-70s unis were brought up in one of the comments a while back, so I decided to try my hand at modernizing them, I kept the stripes separated on the blue jerseys to match their white counterparts, and I’ve also added stripes on the collars that follow the pattern. I also tweaked the pants stripes to have a similar pattern as well. I’m going with the GIANTS mark on the helmet, while keeping the “ny” mark on the jersey just below the collar (even though, personally, I don’t see the appeal of a logo that should have never left the 1960s, but whatever).

And now, for some really alternative alternates, I give you: the New York Capitals — err, Americans — err, jerseys based on the mid-1930s Football Giants. And yes, that means backside stripes! The red jersey and helmet are based on the c.1934 design, and the white set is based on a c.1936 version. But, hey, if the Packers can pull out their 1929 Acme Packers unis, why can’t the Giants reference one of their own early titles?

As a bonus, I’ve included a modern version of the 1935-36 Green Bay Packers uni; the 1936 team was the first to win an NFL title wearing green. I’d love to see them use the raglan design (although the nameplate on the back would probably be jacked up, but no more than other screwed-up throwback designs). I did two versions of the helmets and pants; one with a design based on the original painted leather helmets, and one with a plain helmet and color-matched pants (which I kind of prefer – it may not be historically accurate, but I think it looks good).

Thanks!
-Rob Siergiej

Whew. Thanks fellas. Back tomorrow with more.

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Benchies HeaderBenchies

by Rick Pearson

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Some things are just plain imponderable…

11-19-11 d-why

And, as always, the full size.

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And that, folks, is a wrap. Thanks again to Conn for the tremendous H/Y writeup. Everyone have a terrific Saturday and I will see you on the morrow.

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“The best compliment you can pay to a uniform – and I’d say this about both the Jays and the Mets – they instantly make you forget that they used to wear something else.” — Mike Styczen

Funk in the Trunks

joe-frazier-jerry-quarry-001351707.jpg

After Joe Frazier’s recent death, I mentioned Frazier’s flashy trunks in the first Ali fight and his orange gloves with green thumbs in his first bout with George Foreman.

That prompted a wonderful response from boxing researcher/historian Sunni Khalid, who provided a primer on Frazier’s stylings in the squared circle, along with some notes on related issues. I’ve decided to run it today as a guest-written entry. Enjoy.

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Funk in the Trunks

By Sunni Khalid

For the first Ali fight, Joe was originally going to wear solid green trunks with black stripes. But his contract was owned by the Cloverlay syndicate, and they asked Everlast to come up with a design for the trunks, which ended up being the distinctive green-and-gold brocade.

For the 1973 fight against Foreman, Joe chose the gold gloves with green thumbs because the fight took place in Jamaica and he wanted his gloves to match the national colors. It was the first heavyweight title fight to feature multi-colored gloves. He had originally intended to wear the same green-and-gold brocade trunks that he’d worn in his first fight against Ali but was asked by closed-circuit TV producers to change. So he wore white trunks -– the first time he had done so in seven years -– with gold trim.

Similarly, for the Thrilla In Manila, Joe’s combination of blue and white trunks and white Adidas ring boots with red stripes was in honor of the Philippine flag. Cornermen Eddie Futch, Georgie Benton, Milt Bailey, and Hedgemon Lewis, all wore short-sleeved, dark-blue Filipino barongs, also in honor of the Philippines. This endeared Joe to many fans there.

Joe wore a range of other colors over the years: red trunks against Buster Mathis; purple trunks against Terry Daniels [and green trunks for the program cover photo — PL]; pink trunks (!) against Joe Bugner; and peach trunks in the second Quarry fight.

Also, starting with his first fight, Joe popularized the use of longer trunks. He started wearing trunks that had the hem at the mid-thigh before gradually dropping them to just above the knee. He also was the first fighter to use the so-called fashion-slit on the side, which was done to accommodate his large thighs.

Joe was heavyweight champ when Philadelphia was essentially the boxing capital of the world. Many of the top fighters from that era, like Bobby “Boogaloo” Watts, Bennie Briscoe, Willie “The Worm” Monroe, Gypsy Joe Harris (who used to enter the ring with bells on his boots!), and others, were also colorful in the ring, introducing trunks in velvet, as opposed to satin, with colors and color combinations ranging across the spectrum.

As for Ali, the red-and-white velvet trunks he wore for that first fight against Frazier were not his first choice. He was originally going to wear white trunks with silver stripes. Once TV producers saw the trunks at the Everlast factory, they asked Ali to pick another combination, because the bright trunks would have caused troublesome glare. Ali ended up wearing those trunks in his next fight, against Jimmy Ellis.

Interestingly enough, Ali’s second wife, Khalilah, thought it was a bad omen for Ali to wear red. She may have been right, because Ali wore red only three times: against Henry Cooper in ’63 (he was knocked down), against Oscar Bonavena in ’70 (a very difficult fight), and, of course, when suffering his first professional loss at the hands of Joe Frazier in 1971.

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Great stuff, Sunni. Thanks so much for all the great info from the golden age of heavyweights.

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bluejays1977.gif

Blue Jay Way: The Jays will unveil their 2012 uniforms today at noon. As you may recall, we already know what the logo will look like, but I haven’t seen the uniforms, so I’m as curious as everyone else. The event will be live-streamed here.

I’ll provide some quick reaction at 2pm (not 1:15pm, as I had originally posted here), when I’ll be appearing on TSN Radio 1050 in Toronto (you can stream the live audio here). Phil will have full coverage tomorrow, and I’ll add my own thoughts on Monday.

Meanwhile, an absolutely epic examination of the first 20 years of Blue Jays uni history can be found here.

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Notre Dame auction update: The auction for the Notre Dame promo box is continuing. No bids were submitted yesterday, so the high bid is still $4301 and the minimum bid for today is now $4501. If nobody bids today, the minimum bid will increase to $4601 tomorrow.

Full details on how to bid, and everything else regarding the auction, can be found here.

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Uni Watch News Ticker: Yesterday I mentioned that the Mariners had announced a 35th-anniversary patch. What I didn’t mention is that they also unveiled a teal-brimmed cap, which will be paired with the teal alternate jersey for Monday and Friday home games. Also: The insignia on the navy alternate jersey will now say, “Seattle,” which makes sense, since they only wear it on the road. … So many great mascot illos on this absolutely sensational program cover (wonderful find by Mike Hersh). … Chris Falvey found a site with some spectacular rare footage of the 1917 World Series. This clip is from Game 1 at Comiskey, and this one is from is from Games 3 and 4 at the Polo Grounds. Tons of other good stuff on that site, too. … NSFW: Breast cancer is not a pink ribbon (thanks, Kirsten). … Mmmm, stripe-a-licious (from Frank Bitzer). … Looks like Rex Grossman has been wearing either no-show socks or maybe no socks at all, just like Clinton Portis used to do (good spot by Jesse Agler). … That photo, incidentally, really shows how the NFL’s sock regulations have no connection to reality, because today’s players don’t wear football socks. Look at Grossman: burgundy calf-warmers over white tights. … Now here’s a good local sponsor. It’s from this jersey. … From this Pitt chat: “Question: Did Pitt do away with the blue pants? Answer: No they still have them, but from what I understand, unlike Adidas uniforms, which were sharp, the blue in the blue pants in these Nike uniforms doesn’t match the blue in the blue shirts, if that makes any sense. The colors are just a little bit off” (from Jeff Flynn). … Interesting look for Virginia Tech last night: orange jerseys with maroon helmets.

Now Just Fire Wayne Hagin Already and We'll Be All Set

Duda Wright Davis in 2012 Uniforms.JPG

Click to enlarge

For a time, life was Good. Or at least it seemed Good, because for the most part it looked Good. So even when fate threw various obstacles in our path — which, in retrospect, happened more often than not — at least the tableau unfolding before us was generally pleasing to the eye.

But then the Dark Plague began its devastating infestation. The first symptom was the appearance of blackened pustules on the chest. These soon spread to the extremities, and before long the malignancy had proliferated throughout the body. So began the dire times we have experienced, lo these past dozen years.

Despite our best efforts to fight the Dark Plague, it has proven to be a resilient enemy. And so even in those fleeting moments when life was Good, it usually did not look Good, and consequently it did not feel Good. Although there have always been those of us who refused to give up hope, deep down we wondered if we would ever live to see the day when the Dark Plague finally succumbed to the forces of Good.

My friends, that day is finally at hand.

Any way you slice it, the news coming out of Shea yesterday (which was 50 years to the day after they unveiled their first logo, incidentally) was a win-win. Or maybe a win-win-win-win-win-win. Here’s rundown of the developments, nearly all of them positive:

• The black drop shadow has been removed from the white, pinstriped, and gray jerseys. You can see high-res versions of those jerseys here, here, and here.

• The black/blue hybrid cap (which had been the official road cap but was also frequently worn at home) has been eliminated. The blue cap will now be worn with the white, pinstriped, and gray jerseys.

• The black undersleeves and socks, which were always worn on the road and sometimes at home, have been eliminated. The white, pinstriped, and gray jerseys will now be paired with blue accessories.

• The herringbone-patterned glacier twill lettering fabric has been eliminated. The new jerseys are using conventional tackle twill. (Here’s how it looks on the script.)

• Although all of these changes are being introduced to coincide with the team’s 50th anniversary, they are not one-year changes. I have confirmed through a team source that the plan is to retain all of the above-listed changes for the long term. I repeat: There are no plans to bring back any of the black elements.

• The team has a new anniversary logo, which is being worn as a sleeve patch on the jerseys. Interestingly, there’s a slight discrepancy between the logo and the patch: Note the color of the baseball stitching on the left side. The version on the left is how it’s shown in the style guide. Weird.

• The anniversary logo is also being worn as a rear cap patch. Can’t say I’m 100% in love with this, but it’s better than putting a patch on the side of the cap (I hate that look — always makes the cap feel unbalanced), and I think this execution is much better than the giant patch the Yankees used a few years ago.

Disappointments? I count three, all fairly minor: (1) The black alternate jersey and solid-black cap have not been eliminated — yet. They’ll be used sparingly on the road in 2012, and then scrapped altogether in 2013. (2) I was hoping they’d go back to a blue squatchee for 2012, but they’re sticking with orange. (3) I was also hoping they’d restore the little “NY” to the skyline logo, but no dice. In the grand scheme of things, however, I can live with all of these.

And there you have it. After a dozen years of campaigning for most of these moves, I don’t mind saying that the long-awaited ditching of the black — VB Day — tastes pretty sweet. Today my giant souvenir Mets cup is filled with champagne. (Actually, I don’t own a souvenir cup, and I don’t particularly like champagne. But you get the idea.)

My thanks to everyone else who’s helped with the cause over the years, especially Shannon Shark over at Mets Police (who, unlike me, has actually been diplomatic enough to break bread with some of the team’s front office types and, I’m fairly certain, has made them take this kind of stuff more seriously). Enjoy the moment, people — an all-too-rare triumph of Good over Stupid.

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Notre Dame auction update: The auction for the Notre Dame promo box is continuing. The high bid as of this morning was $4301, which means today’s minimum bid is $4401. If nobody bids today, the minimum bid will increase to $4501 tomorrow.

Full details on how to bid, and everything else regarding the auction, can be found here.

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Hahahahahahahahahahahaha: Here, see for yourself.

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Uni Watch News Ticker: New 35th-anniversary patch for the Mariners. … Blue Jays will unveil their new set on Friday. … Teeny-tiny cap logo adjustment for the Dodgers. … Small item on this page indicates that the Pirates will be wearing camouflage uniforms on Memorial Day weekend, and will also be giving away camo jerseys to kids, which seems like a truly repellant idea. … Speaking of camo, it’s bad enough that the Blue Jackets just became the latest team to pull the camo warm-up stunt. But Rick Nash broke new ground on the G.I. Joe front by using — get this — camouflage tape on his stick. Just give every player an M-16 and get it over with already (from Adam Sgriccia). … A Canadian minor league baseball team is drawing criticism because it’s named after Jack the Ripper. … Here’s another great taffy-pull jersey shot. It’s from the Clemson/FSU game a few years ago (big thanks to Chip Powell). … Tosh.0 star Daniel Tosh wore nine different Oregon outfits during last night’s show (screen shots by Matt Dubroff). … I was recently interviewed by a Nebraska football equipment blog. … Just what the world needs: the glove-palm salute as a T-shirt (from Kate Sutter). … The Sabres are running a promotion to let fans design Ryan Miller’s mask (from Tim Tryjankowski). … Renfrew Hockey Tape — the brand that’s “synonymous with tape for hockey players worldwide,” according to a press release — now has its own web site. … The NFL is launching a new monthly magazine. … Who are these guys? None other than (from left) weekend editor Phil Hecken, readers Conn Nugent and Chance Michaels, and yours truly. The four of us celebrated VB Day last night by meeting up at the Harvard Club for cocktails and then moseyed around the block to a Brazilian restaurant, which is where that photo was taken (yes, they serve more than water, although you wouldn’t know it from that photo). A splendid evening all around, and fine capper to a very, very good day.

‘It was as if someone had spread butter on all the fine points of the stars / ’Cause when he looked up they started to slip.’

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Everyone’s gonna like these.

And why shouldn’t they? Let’s go through the details, one element at a time:

The new cartoon bird: You know, I’ve always enjoyed the ornithologically correct bird, which is classy, stately, and proud. The thing is, classy, stately, and proud are the kind of attributes that make a good team seem better, they just make a bad team seem boring. And the O’s have been bad for a long time now (and, given the division they’re in, are not likely to get a whole lot better anytime soon). But hey, if you can’t field a winner, you can at least look like you’re having fun. The cartoon bird provides that, while simultaneously connecting to successful chapters from the team’s past.

The O’s are touting the new bird as a hybrid of two previous version. Now, the bird’s history is actually much more complicated than that (that page there deserves a Nobel freakin’ Prize), but whatever — I like the new version a lot. The angle of the eyeballs, the updated squatchee, even the way the lower part of the beak blends into the orange outline.

Just one problem: the cap that the bird is wearing. For starters, it’s a wasted opportunity for an infinite regression. More importantly, there’s this (click to enlarge):

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Arrrrrghhh! In the name of David Simon, why did they saddle this poor bird with that accursed upside-down apostrophe? For that matter, why is that punctuative affront still part of the team’s identity system? This design update would have been — should have been — the perfect opportunity to fix it. Rich Frank, I know you’re reading this. You know I love ya, but you’re gonna have a hard time explaining this one!

Still, overall, the new bird is a very positive development. So is it good or is it stupid? Let’s say 99.9% very, very good, 0.1% remarkably stupid.

The new home cap: Love it. Wouldn’t want every team to go with the multi-colored panel look, but this one totally works. Very good.

The new road cap: Magnifique. If you’re gonna have two distinct caps — like, really distinct, not just mild variations of each other — this is how to do it. Very good.

The new road jersey script: As you can see, they’ve decreased the insignia’s angle of inclination and eliminated the vanishing-point taper. As for how it looks on the jersey, I didn’t mind the old one, but I like the new one even better. Also, note that the old version resulted in an awkwardly split “t,” a problem they’ve avoided this time around by extending the loop between the third and fourth letters. Remains to be seen if that will end up looking a bit forced. Even if it does, I still think this is an improvement. Good.

The new orange alternate jersey: Between the Marlins’ new orange alt and now this, it’s shaping up as quite a month for orange. Can’t say I’m in love with this one, but I suppose it’s better than the black alternate, and it pairs nicely with the new cap. Good enough.

The new sleeve patch: So. Very. Plain. I assume the patch shape is based on this dedication plaque or some similar referent, but it doesn’t work for me at all. The type, the composition — snoozers. I won’t say it’s stupid, but I will say it’s not that good.

Too bad there wasn’t a live unveiling — they could’ve had Brooksie come onstage in a shortened-brim helmet with the new bird. Overall, though, a very nice job. Further details here, and you can check out the new style guide here.

Now if they’d just fix that goddamn apostrophe already — it would be like removing a splinter from my brain.

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Notre Dame auction update: My thanks to everyone who’s sent in bids for the Notre Dame promo box. The high bid as of this morning was $4000, which means today’s minimum bid is $4100. If nobody bids today, the minimum bid will increase to $4200 tomorrow.

Full details on how to bid, and everything else regarding the auction, can be found here.

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Sticker update: I handed out lots of Uni Watch stickers at last weekend’s Sheep Station gathering. Want to get some for yourself? Just send a self-addressed, stamped envelope to me at 671 DeGraw St., Brooklyn, NY 11217 and I’ll send back three stickers (one each of green, gold, and burgundy). If you want to enclose a coupla bucks or a barter offering, that’d be nice, although it isn’t required. Okay? Okay.

Uni Watch News Ticker: Mets will officially ditch (most of) the black at 10am Eastern. That sound you’ll hear in the background will be yours truly shedding a few well-earned tears of joy. … Here’s USF’s Wounded Warrior uni — woof! Note that they’re going with simple block uni numbers, in gold — a lot simpler than what they initially had in mind. That’s a direct result of the snafu with South Carolina’s Wounded Warrior jerseys last month. Looks like they made up for it with the helmet, though. … Bit of a dust-up regarding an alteration to the Polish soccer jersey (from Ron Lizik). … Ohio University’s marching band wants new uniforms (from Jason Hillyer). … Kudos to Jon Solomonson, who found some primo sports-themed citrus carton labels. … Yesterday I Ticker-linked to those Radford basketball jerseys with the “RU” above the NOB. “That was a mistake by the screen printer,” says Radford multimedia services director Parick Reed. “After the uniforms arrived from Powers (who makes the Nike uniforms for us), the basketball staff sent them off to have an RU logo placed above the name on the back. It was supposed to look like this. Unfortunately, the printed matched the font of the player names, which everyone agrees looks ridiculous. The staff has been assured that these will be fixed with some sort of patch.” … Memphis hoops wore some gorgeous throwbacks yesterday to honor former coach/player Larry Finch. … Sure, why not, and while you’re at it you can get a DeSean Jackson jersey with a “Judas” NOB. … Weird coincidence: Yesterday I linked to photos of Matt Powers and his DIY Johnny LeMaster jersey. Then yesterday’s Freakonomic podcast was all about the phenomenon of booing — including an interview with Johnny LeMaster himself, talking about his famous “Boo” jersey. To hear the podcast, go here and click on “Listen,” which will let you access the free audio file in iTunes. The LeMaster segment is toward the end of the 30-minute program (big thanks to Mike Hasselbeck). … Between the flocked helmet shell and the felt logo, you’ll rarely see a batting helmet shot wit h more texture than this one (great find by George Fetkovich). … Speaking of batting helmets, for a second there I thought Jason Henke had found a photo of Martin Prado wearing a chinstrap. Then I realized it was just Prado’s necklace riding up. … We already knew that Oregon State would be wearing turquoise uniforms for the N7 game on Nov. 12. But Joe Alvernaz reports that this had matching turquoise shoes this time around. … Matt Powers notes that Tyrone Mathieu of LSU was wearing white Cutters, instead of Nike gloves, in the game against ’Bama. … The Grand Junction Rockies — the former Casper Ghosts and Rookie League affiliate of the Rockies — have a new logo. “Obviously, it’s a based on the Rockies’ logo, but with a silhouette more representative of the mesas on the western side of the state,” says Scott Schlaufman. “Personally, I think it just looks like a hat.” … Some decent analysis of NHL team logos on this site (from Donnie Kwak). … Great catch by Mike Sambuco, who noticed that the jersey used as the Phillies’ press conference for Jonathan Papelbon had an upside-down 8. … Matt Duchene of the Avalanche has “It Ain’t Killed Me Yet” written on the end of his stick (screen shot by Dane Drutis). … Very interesting contribution from Charles Fisher, who writes: “Many law enforcement agencies create souvenir patches with team logos, which they use as gifts or to trade to officers in other agencies.” … Nike and Darren Rovell: letting no event go unmerchandised (and no merch uncelebrated). … Here’s another view of that undershirt looking like a taffy pull from Saturday’s UMD/Notre Dame game (from Dan Chichalski). … Also from Dan: Notre Dame backup QBs usually wear red caps on the sideline, so they’re easy to spot as they signal in the plays. But it was a little bit nippy on Saturday, so they wore striped ski caps instead.