Jet Setting

By John Ekdahl

The Winnipeg Jets released three of their official logos yesterday (the uniform release will be at a later time). Phil will be covering this in more detail next week, but I was fairly underwhelmed. I think the leaf/plane primary logo was a solid idea for a logo (and was inspired by the Royal Canadian Air Force insignia), but the execution ended up being a little bland. The “wings” secondary logo is decent, nothing spectacular though. The wordmark, however, is a complete mess. I’m sure Paul will have more to say about this soon.

Update: Here’s a link to their “brand identity” gallery.

Update 2: Video from the press conference is available here (video on the right side of the page).

The Phillies and Padres wore throwbacks last night and Uni Watch reader Rob Holecko was kind enough to get some screen grabs for us.

Added: Here’s a link to ESPN’s game photo gallery.

The Memphis Redbirds will be wearing organ-themed jerseys for “Organ Donor Night” on August 13th, which is a pretty hysterical promotion.

The Redbirds will be encouraging fans to sign up to be an organ donor at the National Foundation for Transplants table located on the concourse. Those who sign up or show their driver’s license that they are already a donor will be entered to win a keyboard organ donated by AMRO Music, a team autographed jersey, or a heart healthy basket from US FoodService.

Benchies HeaderBenchies

by Rick Pearson

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Oh, since when is a little innovation a bad thing?…

7-23-11 d-cross training mono

And of course, here’s the full size.

Fridays With Morris

Miami Marlins

[Editor’s Note: Morris Levin will be contributing an article each Friday while Paul takes his break. Enjoy! — Phil Hecken]

“No, I just meant Miami….. what did you just say?”
By Morris Levin

The Phillies host the San Diego Padres tonight at 7:05pm at Citizens Bank Park and will wear 1984 turn back the clock uniforms. I told Phil I would write an entry about the Phillies’ gradients of red and maroon to coincide with tonight’s game. Thinking about 1984 however led me to think about the 1980s and one idea led to another and there I was in Miami and it was 1989. It was either the Marlins or Orwell.

(If you just want to read about the Phillies, skip down to the Phillies logo).

The Florida Marlins plan to move into a new ballpark next season. The ballpark is being constructed on the site of the Orange Bowl which, while known as a football venue, was home to the AAA International League’s Miami Marlins in the 1950s. With their move from [I’m just calling it] Dolphins Stadium to the new ballpark in 2012, the Marlins will rename themselves the Miami Marlins.

The Marlins are leaving a stadium that we consider ill-suited for baseball today but which Miami Dolphins owner Joe Robbie’s construction with baseball specifically in-mind enabled the Marlins existence as a Major League franchise. The Dolphins had played at the Orange Bowl since their 1966 inception. They left for Robbie’s new football stadium, which he built for the Dolphins, but in such a way as to be adaptable for a Major League Baseball team. This was in 1985. Robbie succeeded and Miami, along with Denver, were awarded National League franchises to begin play in 1993.

Thinking about the Marlins led me to thinking what someone would have made of these contemporary changes back when the stadium was built in the 80s. This led me to think about Back to the Future Part II because it came out in 1989, looked to 2015, and brought to the wider public the possibility of Miami Major League baseball. Now here we are in 2011, looking towards 2012, which means that 2015, if all goes according to plan, will be here in three plus years.

The film is not generally considered a sports film although Gray’s Sports Almanac, and the correction of the dystopian 1985 created by Biff’s sports-gambling profits, drives the plot and has plenty for the Uni Watcher to deconstruct.

Let us review: The film was the second installment of a planned three-part Back to the Future trilogy. The original film was released in July 1985 and took Marty McFly from 1985 Southern California back to 1955 in a flux capacitor-modified DeLorean DMC-12. The second film was released for Thanksgiving 1989 and commences in October 1985, where the first film ended.

In Part II, Doc Brown brings Marty and Jennifer thirty-years into the future to 2015 to rectify a future family problem. But in 2015, Biff discovers the Delorean, steals it to travel back to 1955 to give his teenage self a 1950 to 2000 sports almanac thereby creating an alternative 1985. Therefore, Marty and Doc have to travel back to November 12, 1955 to correct the disruption in the time-continuum from which Doc is transported to 1885. Exeunt.

As Marty is walking through 2015 Hill Valley, (around 21:00 in the film for those keeping score at home), a hologram video reports that the Chicago Cubs have swept Miami in five games to win the 2015 World Series. It is October 21 after all in the film, World Series time.

From a baseball fan’s point of view in 1989, this was serious sports predictions: Cubs winning the World Series, placement of team in Miami, and even a new Miami team logo!

The film’s production and release coincided with significant progression in the placement of a Major League expansion team in Miami. Many expected a team by the 1990s, giving ample credence to the idea of future Miami Major League team.

In July 1985, Miami Dolphins owner Joe Robbie had announced that he would pursue a Major League Baseball expansion team to share the new stadium planned for the Miami Dolphins in Dade County. By November 1985, Robbie had appeared before commissioner Peter Ueberroth and baseball’s Long Range Planning Committee on behalf of bringing an expansion franchise to Miami. Through the late 1980s, talk of baseball expansion was of Denver, St. Petersburg, Buffalo, Washington, DC, and Miami. In 1990, Wayne Huizenga purchased fifteen percent of the Dolphins and set himself to bring an MLB team to Dolphins Stadium. In June 1991, Huizenga won approval for his group to place a team in Miami to begin play in 1993.

On the 2015 hologram news, the Miami team is represented by an alligator. This is difficult to imagine given the University of Florida’s identification with the mascot since at least 1920, if not earlier. In July 1991, a month after being awarded the franchise, Huizenga announced the team would be called the “Florida Marlins” combining the state’s identity with the historic name of Miami’s top professional baseball clubs. When the Marlins move to their new ballpark next season in 2012, the team plans to change its name back to the Miami Marlins. (Dear Baseball-Gods, Please bless and direct Mr. Loria to change the team’s uniforms to this and this for the 2012 season. Guide Mr. Loria by your stadium lights that he miss not this historic opportunity to embrace Miami’s baseball past and instantly have a classic uniform. Thank you and baseball gods bless, Morris)

On the occasion last October of the Universal Studios release of a new remastered Back to the Future trilogy set, Gawker.TV reviewed Part II’s predictions about 2015, “14 Things from Back to the Future II That Actually Came True, and 5 That Haven’t — Yet

That the Cubs could win the Series in 2015 perhaps seemed just as likely in 1989 as the Red Sox, Cleveland, or White Sox winning. It would have been hard for many baseball fans to believe that by 2011, the Red Sox would have won two World Series or the White Sox their first since 1917. Despite the continued proliferation of folk legends in 2011, the Cubs have not yet not-won the 2015 World Series and stranger things have happened in the post-season than the Chicago Cubs putting together a winning club in four and a half seasons. I am not ready to write off the Cubs’ 2015 season just yet. Cust kayin’.

Under the current Major League Baseball structure, the Cubs would not face Miami in the World Series as referenced in the film. But talk is aflutter about realignments in which we could see such a Series. In the film’s 2015, the Cubs sweep Miami in five which infers a best of nine game series. Major League Baseball played best of nine as recently as 1921.

Of comfort, the 2015 Cubs logo is our contemporary Cubs logo. The team has used this since 1979 in its current weight, and one could argue that it is an evolution of the logo seen on the 1937 home uniform. What the film writers could not have known was that by the film’s release in November 1989, the Cubs would be fresh off a 93-win season, the National League East Division win, and loss in the NLCS, lending greater resonance to the Cubs-finally-win in 2015 gag.

Other sports elements in the film have been previously covered. The self-lacing Nike Air Mag worn by Marty in 2015 had been reviewed in 2008 when Nike released a limited edition style inspired by the film sneaker. In August 2010, Dime reported on Nike efforts to produce the sneaker with an actual self-lacing system. Futurepedia details the Kirk Gibson Jr. Slugger 2000 adjustable bat wielded by Griff in 2015. (A replica is being produced and offered for sale.)

Snopes, in the business of confirming the veracity of internet rumors, easily addressed a false claim that the film had predicted the Florida Marlins’ 1997 World Series victory. Similar rumors arose regarding the Cubs in October 2003 when the Cubs did face Miami’s team in the 2003 National League Championship Series.

~~~

phillies logo Back to the Phillies tonight. The team will call themselves the 1984 team and wear uniforms that look more like their 1987 unis. The Padres will wear their 1984 road unis. From 1975 to 1986, the Phillies wore a zipper-front; Majestic’s reproduction substitutes buttons for the zipper. The Phils switched to buttons in 1987, which they have used since. The back of Majestic’s reproduction will have the players’ names in standard arch whereas the team wore vertical arch name until 1986 as well. Paul highlighted the same oversight when the team wore variants on the 1974 uniforms in May in Atlanta.

This is the first time the Phillies will wear retro uniforms at Citizens Bank Park. The Phils wore approximations of their 1971 uniforms for the last home opener at Vet Stadium in April 2003, the last time the team wore throwbacks at home. The Phillies also wore the 1970s-1980s pinstripes during a July 2002 series against the Braves who wore their 1974 unis.

By my count, the Phillies have played seventeen games wearing turn back the clock uniforms since their first in June 1991. The Phils are 1 and 6 at home, and 6 and 4 on the road in retro. The Phillies are 4 and 6 wearing permutations of the 1971 to 1991 uniform; 3 and 2 dressed as pre-1970 Phillies, and 0 and 2 dressed as the Philadelphia Stars.

~~~

Morris Levin is an alumnus of Mitchell & Ness Nostalgia Co. between 1993 and 2006 and edited MLB Game Worn Jerseys of the Double Knit Era. He is a proud booster of the Athletic Base Ball Club of Philadelphia and supportive of efforts in West Philadelphia to honor the legacy of the Philadelphia Stars.

~~~

Thanks for that wonderful article, Morris. On Fridays during Paul’s sabbatical, Morris will be treating us to an interesting look at a variety of subjects.

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Benchies Beginning logoBenchies from the Beginning
By Rick Pearson

For nearly three years, “Benchies” has been appearing most weekends at Uni Watch. While Bench Coach Phil fills in for Paul Monday through Friday during August, we present a retrospective. New strips will continue to appear on weekends. For further background, here’s the “Benchies” backstory and bios on the regular Boys of “Benchies.” Enjoy.

7-22-11 d-pitcher 2

And here is the full-size version.

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reminder.jpg

Friendly reminder: Paul is on his summer break from the site from now until Aug. 8 (although he’ll still be doing ESPN work, which we’ll link to as it comes up). That means there are a few changes regarding where you should be sending e-mails:

• Phil is writing the lead entries while Paul’s away. You can contact him at his usual address.

• The Ticker is now being compiled by webmaster John Ekdahl. You can still send submissions to the uniwatching at gmail address, but they will go to John, not to Paul.

• If you absolutely need to contact Paul during his summer break, the best way is to send a note to his plukas64 at gmail address. But he may take a little while to get back to you, especially during the period from July 16-21.

• Finally, if you hear about any new college football uniforms during Paul’s break, please send that info to this address. Thanks.

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ticker 2Uni Watch News Ticker (mostly compiled by John Ekdahl): Baylor has unveiled their new 2011 football uniforms. “The Bears will have two jersey colors (green and white) to choose from, as well as three different colors of pants (green, white and gold) and two helmets (white and gold). All told, Baylor will have 12 different uniform combinations (jersey/pant/helmet) at its disposal this season.” (Tony Baldwin) … Here’s a photo gallery of a vintage baseball game played by 1861 rules in Waltham, MA (Andrew Merritt). … The AHL Grand Rapids Griffins hockey club is holding a design competition for their alternate jersey to be worn during the New Year’s Eve game (Jason Chaimovitch). … Georgia will be wearing new uniforms for their opener against Boise State this year, and they’re staying pretty tight-lipped about the design. Georgia coach Mark Richt: “We’re trying to honor (Nike) by not describing what it looks like, they want to present that. We’re like death threating on the cell phones. ‘I better not see anything that resembles you saying what it looks like or somehow having an image of it.” (Jameson Adams) … From Dan Graham: “Just wanted to let you know that BYU has redone their floor design in the Marriott Center for basketball. Added was the stretch Y logo at mid-court as well the new West Coast Conference logos.” … Is this the largest last name lettering in baseball history? (Gary Streeting) … Forget the subtly of painting a room pink, Nick Saban is going to come right out and tell you how he feels. Here’s the door to Alabama’s visiting locker room (Ben Traxel). … Kansas State is looking to officially rebrand themselves as “K-State” (Ben Traxel, again). … From Michigan Live: “Michigan State plans to don its ‘fully integrated uniform system’ by Nike against Michigan when the Wolverines visit Spartan Stadium on Oct. 15.” (Cassian Wykes) … The Cleveland Browns will be wearing white uniforms for all their home games this season (Joseph Gerard). … This is not Bert Blyleven looking his best (Jimmy Lonetti). … James Huening wasn’t sure whether anyone was aware of Marlon Byrd’s facemask contraption. As a bonus, here’s a good shot that also features a gazoo. … Dan Cichalski spotted this banner at Shea this past Saturday. The caption? “Stay Classy, New York.” … Shaun Tunick asks, “Any idea what the writing on O-Dog’s wrist wrap is for?” … Late breaking news? Saw this posted on Twitter late last night: “Winnipeg Jets new color scheme: White, black and steel blue. Source is one of the guys repainting MTS Centre.” White, black & steel blue? Say it ain’t so.

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And that’s all for this week folks. Thanks to Johnny Ek for the ticker, Morris Levin for today’s main article, and all the great guests who helped me this week. If you have an idea for a UW article, give me a shout. John will take you through the weekend, and I’ll see you guys and gals on Monday. Have a great weekend!

~~~

“I’m no Luddite (well, not a total one anyway), but I just don’t see technology solving the problem.” — Jim Vilk

¿Cinco de mayo...en el 20 de julio?

Kyle McClellan in Cardenales jersey

By Phil Hecken

What if your opponents canceled a “Latin Heritage” night and no one told you? Well, you might feel a little like Kyle McClellan, starting pitcher for the … er Los Cardenales … last evening at Shea the ballpark in Flushing.

Except that the Mets didn’t cancel a “Latin Heritage” night against the Cards last evening, but still, there was McClellan, sporting his “Cardenales” jersey.

How did this happen?

This is a most interesting situation, although far from unique. In the past several years, we’ve seen the Mets, who used to have two black alternate jerseys have players who accidentally wear the home jersey on the road. The Brewers, who also have two navy alternate jerseys, also had a home jersey worn on the road. The player who wore that? Chris Capuano, who currently pitches for…the Mets.

I’m sensing a bit of a pattern here.

While it’s understandable (but not excusable) to have home jerseys packed for a road trip, ESPECIALLY IF YOUR TEAM IS STUPID ENOUGH TO HAVE TWO SOFTBALL JERSEYS, how did McClellan end up with a spanish jersey in his bag? None of the other players on the Cardinals had the wrong jersey.

Now, Los Cardenales did wear their “Latin Heritage” jerseys before, earlier this year (June 11 in fact), in a game against the Cerveceros in Milwaukee. I wrote a bit about that (scroll way down) earlier this year. But that’s a long time ago (relatively speaking) and the Cards have played on the road since that game, without incident.

My first question of course is how in the hell did that jersey get packed for a road trip? One would think the equipment guy would have been able to spot the differences in the jerseys, but maybe not. Both have “Car” on the right placket, so perhaps the jersey was folded over? Or perhaps the jersey was hanging on a hanger with only the “Car” visible? This is certainly a less egregious mistake than wearing “NEW YORK” when a script “Mets” is clearly a different look, or “Brewers” when “Milwaukee” is in your rotation (although at least the Brewers home and road alternates are both in a script font).

While I had this game on, I must admit I wasn’t watching that closely, but by the third inning McClellan had a proper jersey, and it definitely had “McCLELLAN” on the back, so there were obviously two separate jerseys packed for him for this trip. That got me to thinking — who do the Cardinals play on this road trip? Well, they started out of the break in Cincinnati, traveled to New York, where they conclude this afternoon, and then they travel to Pittsburgh. And what do we find on the Pirates calendar? Yup. July 23, Heritage Day. But wait, it’s African-American Heritage Day, not Latino Heritage Day — could the Cardinals possibly be planning to wear the “Cardenales” jerseys then? One wouldn’t think so. But why then would a “Cardenales” jersey be packed for this road trip? Hopefully, we’ll be able to get an answer soon enough.

[Thanks to Ryan Pastrovich and Paul Lukas for the screen grabs.]

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BM14778The All Rup & Sock Team

A little over a week ago, I based a column around a suggestion from Sivan Silver-Swartz, who was interested in knowing if anyone had (or wanted to) come up with an “all-stirrup” wearing list for MLBers. A few people listed some sock and stirrup-wearing players in the comments, but I kind of thought the suggestion would not come to fruition. Silly me for ever doubting the resourcefulness of UW readers. I was first contacted by Jon Fricker, who wrote me back with this:

Phil—

I just saw your letter from Reader Sivan Silver-Swartz about stirrup sox.

By coincidence, a few days ago, I started assembling my All-Stirrup Team.
Players who show their stirrups, or a reasonable facsimile.

Here is my “roster” so far.

All-Stirrup Team

2B Cubs Jeff Baker #28 (sometimes)
2B TEX Ian Kinsler #5
SS Seattle Brendan Ryan #26
3B Det Brandon Inge #15
3B NYY Alex Rodriguez #13
LF ChiW Juan Pierre #1
LF NYY Brett Gardner #11
LF Rays Sam Fuld (sometimes) #5
CF Mke Nyger Morgan #2
CF FLA Chris Coghlan #8
CF NYY Curtis Granderson #14
RF Seattle Ichiro Suzuki #51
RF Hou Hunter Pence #9
CF Toronto Rajai Davis #11
CF Cubs Tony Campana #41
CF SFG Cody Ross #13
RF Cubs Reed Johnson #5
DH Twins Jim Thome #25
LHSP Oakland Josh Outman #88
LHSP Phil Jamie Moyer #50
LHSP SFG Barry Zito #75
RHSP SFG Matt Cain #18 (sometimes)
RHSP Colo Ubaldo Jimenez #38
RHSP Cleve Justin Masterson #63
RHSP Wash Stephen Strasburg #37
RHSP Mets R.A. Dickey #43
RHSP Toronto Casey Janssen #44
LHRP Mets D.J. Carrasco #77
LHRP StL Trever Miller? #43
RHRP Det Jose Valverde #46
RHRP Tor Octavio Dotel #29

—jdf

Shortly thereafter, Rob Holecko (who came to Tim Brulia & Bill Schaefer’s rescue to start up the awesome Gridiron Uniform Database), contacted me with this:

Hi Phil

Well, I’ve done it again. A week ago you had a reader e-mail where you were asked about having a comprehensive list of current major leaguers who regularly/semi-regularly wear stirrups somewhere on Uni Watch, possibly as a summer research project. Well, here it is, from the makers of The Throwback Report, it’s…(drum roll please)….The High Cuffed Report. So far I have listed 26 players who have gone high-cuffed recently in normal non-throwback MLB games, when others on their team have gone “pajama-pantsed.” Uni Watch readers, feel free to submit others (preferably with links to pictures), and I’ll add them accordingly.

–Rob

Awesome, both of you guys. I particularly like how you can go on Rob’s board and search for guys who wear only stirrups (or who have worn stirrups along with socks at some point). Great stuff, and a fantastic start in getting a comprehensive list together.

Readers, if you can think of any other players who wear either socks, or preferably stirrups, please either E-mail me, post down in the comments, or contact Rob via his website.

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Benchies Beginning logoBenchies from the Beginning
By Rick Pearson

For nearly three years, “Benchies” has been appearing most weekends at Uni Watch. While Bench Coach Phil fills in for Paul Monday through Friday during August, we present a retrospective. New strips will continue to appear on weekends. For further background, here’s the “Benchies” backstory and bios on the regular Boys of “Benchies.” Enjoy.

7-21-11 d-pitcher 1

And here is the full-size version.

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ticker 2Uni Watch News Ticker (compiled by John Ekdahl):”The National Operating Committee on Standards for Athletic Equipment (NOCSAE) and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) are teaming up to launch “Heads Up to Parents,” a new educational initiative designed specifically to provide parents with the facts about how to protect, prevent and respond to youth and high school athlete concussions.” Full press release is here. (Rebecca Rausch) … The NHL is teaming up with Disney to co-brand merchandise based on the animated series “Phineas and Ferb” in an effort to attract younger fans. … Here’s a great photo of a pinstripe versus pinstripe game between the Pirates and Cubs in 1977 (Jerry Wolper). … The Blue Jays are set to retire Roberto Alomar’s number (Paul). … Don’t expect of flurry of record breaking times at this year’s World Swimming Championships as they won’t be allowing the so-called “techincal suits” in the pool (Paul, again). … TMZ can’t even get the NFL logo right (Mark Kaplowitz). … “England will wear a change strip against Wales on August 6 and against Argentina on September 10 in their Rugby World Cup group match. They will wear their white home shirt in their other RWC pool matches.” Full article here (Andy Buck). … The Richmond Flying Squirrels will be switching their name to the Richmond Rhinos for a one-time promotional event on July 22 (Dan Cichalski). … Colorado’s gold helmet will finally match their gold pants (Matthew Robins). … Ariel Shoshan noticed something that the rest of us all missed: The All-Star Game patch that the Diamondbacks have been wearing all season has the D-backs logo at the top, but the patch worn by the players in the ASG itself — including by the two Arizona players — had “MLB” instead of the team logo. … Nike press release yesterday: “Nike Equips Elite College Football Teams with Combination of Creativity and Advanced Technology – Select Schools To Show Off Newly Designed, Fully Integrated Nike Pro Combat System Of Dress Uniforms During Key Games On 2011 Football Season Schedule“. Again, it’s a good thing Paul is on vacation (Jacques Berry). … And here’s what Army’s take on the combat uniforms says. If there is ONE team who should wear combat uniforms, it’s Army. Unfortunately this is the image most people think of, not this one. … I wonder what the San Francisco Giants think about the critical baseball-related issue of medical marjiuana (Paul).

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“To say that players are ‘selling out their integrity’ by wearing ribbons supporting battling various diseases is ludicrous.” — Jason Shane

When a Sock is More Than a Sock

Lance Allred

[Editor's Note: Today's post was penned by Vince Grzegorek, Web Editor at Cleveland Scene and "Intern Emeritus" at Uni Watch. Enjoy! -- Phil Hecken]

By Vince Grzegorek

Lance Allred isn’t the most memorable career D-Leaguer/Euro player, but he’s got a good case for being the most interesting. For one, he became the first legally deaf player in the NBA when the Cavs handed him a couple of ten-day contracts a couple of years ago. Oh, and there’s more.

Allred was raised in a fundamentalist polygamist sect (which he and his parents left many years ago), dealt with major-league asshole Rick Majerus at Utah (where Majerus would call him a cunt by spelling out the letters with his fingers, even though Allred is a dynamite lip-reader and could have done without the mock signing, and qualified himself for untold number of humanitarian awards when he told Allred, “You’re a disgrace to cripples. If I was a cripple in a wheelchair and saw you play basketball, I’d shoot myself.”), penned a critically acclaimed first book on his childhood upbringing and his journey to the NBA, and dabbles in Jane Austen-era fiction when he’s not writing memoirs.

Clearly, someone could use a hobby.

Last week Allred released his second memoir (Basketball Gods: The Transformation of the Enlightened Jock), self-published this time on his website, and downloadable to a host of convenient platforms (Kindle, PDF, etc.) for the low, low price of $0.99. Coverage this time picks up in 2008 when Allred is signed by the Cavs, focusing on the life of a ten-day contract guy in the NBA and all the fun waiting in the Euro leagues once that brief stint in the league is up, along with his personal and religious growth through the ordeal.

Don’t let the fact that the tome’s coming without the endorsement of a major publishing house scare you away — this one is as good as the first; Allred is consistently thoughtful, literate, and a damn fine writer. Turns out the market for deaf D-League authors isn’t quite what it used to be, especially once they’ve already broken the seal on their polygamist upbringing once already.

Are there uni-notable moments? Of course. Here’s one of the passages that caught my eye through the first read.

LeBron: “Look at this guy!”

Ben Wallace: “What?”

LeBron: “He’s wearin’ his D-League socks. Someone get this sumbitch a new pair of socks.”

Me: “Thanks, Bron, but I am okay. I wear these socks to remind me where I came from.”

LeBron: “Man, if I was doing that, my socks would have no toes.”

Ben Wallace: “I would be playing basketball in the dark. Don’t you dare turn on that light boy! Wasting the electric bill and all!”

Me: “All apologies, fellas. A comparison of socioeconomic backgrounds was not my intent. Your shot, Mr. James.”

For the people and everyday workers behind the scenes of the Cavaliers organization, I had grown into somewhat of a fan favorite. I was approachable and I talked to them. I was also the basketball player who had requested that my car be downsized from an SUV to a more environmentally sound Ford Fusion. What? No stereotypical Escalade?

I didn’t realize for sometime just how many supporters and friends I was making from within the Cavs organization: from the security guards, to the chefs, to the interns, to the secretaries and the ball boys. I suppose speaking and being kind to people who don’t immediately benefit us is a foreign concept for most of us athletes. To me it is not hard to do, as I never saw my parents treat and behave different from one person to another, regardless of social standing. As well for me, having toiled in the slums of professional ball, meandering in those dark corners of the earth, to forget those experiences and where I came from would have been the greatest travesty of all.

Hence the D-League socks.

Well that deserves a follow-up, no? So, I called Allred for a chat about the socks, the varying degrees of equipment-related plushness between the D-League, where I assume players are made to sew up holes in their socks, and the NBA, where I assume metric tons of free socks are shipped to facilities on a weekly basis, the extras of which are used as tinder at Fourth of July parties, and other stuff.

Uni Watch: You really liked those D-League socks.

Lance Allred: [Laughs] I wore those things until they got too ratty to wear, sometime around the playoffs. I wore them every game in the D-League that year. We are superstitious creatures. So when I got the call from the Cavs, I said, “I need my lucky socks.” I think they lasted me two months in Cleveland, ’til there were holes in them.

UW: Were you ever worried about getting fined? I’m sure D-League socks aren’t approved NBA gear.

LA: They were probably illegal, but I was just a lowly D-League call-up. I’m not making that much money.

UW: Your fine might have been more than your paycheck at that point.

LA: I’m not sure what they would have fined me. Maybe if I had been playing more and under more scrutiny, they might have noticed. But usually I was just sitting there on the bench in my warmups. As I wrote in the book, though, I was worried about my shorts being too long.

UW: The difference between equipment supply and quality between the NBA and D-League is probably pretty self-evident, but tell me what the differences were.

LA: It’s just insane, all the stuff they have in the NBA. In the D-League, each team gets, like, a box of stuff — a box of socks, a box of compression shorts, etc. — and they’re supposed to last the whole season. The team trainer appropriates them appropriately, so you have to use it sparingly. You have to be careful what you take. If you get to the NBA, you don’t have enough bags to take all the stuff they’ve given you. Sadly, at the time, I just gave most of it away. Now, three years later, I realize I should have given away so much stuff.

UW: And the D-League is like the NBA compared to the Euro leagues?

LA: It’s bad over there. You have to buy your own stuff — buy your own shorts, buy your own ankle braces, your shoes. Nothing is provided for you. Sometimes a team does have a contract with an equipment provider for shoes, but not often. One team I was on had a deal with AndOne, and they just make the worst shoes ever. So, I got a doctor to give me a note saying I needed better shoes with better arch support or something. The only things they provide are practice uniforms and game uniforms.

UW: With some NBA guys considering signing with Euro teams during the lockout, your book has a lot to offer as far as warnings and first-hand knowledge of just how badly things can go.

LA: You head in there with eyes wide open. Eventually, you just don’t get upset about things anymore. But these NBA guys don’t know what they’re getting in to. In Europe, they play one game a week, and they think, “Hey, one game a week is great.” What they don’t realize is you’re doing two-a-days the other six days of the week.

UW: Any other Euro-related warnings?

LA: They should be concerned. There’s nothing guaranteed about playing over there. Josh Childress and other guys in the NBA who went overseas, they last maybe one season, if that. There are two things: 1) Euro owners expect NBA guys to come in and dunk on people. But there’s no spacing and no illegal defense, everyone’s just standing in front of the hoop, so you can’t go through the lane. The owners get impatient then. And, 2) They NBA players at home, they’re used to a posh lifestyle — living in 4-star hotels, nice restaurants, chartered jets, all the towels they want. In the Euro locker rooms, well, those a pretty sketchy. Plus the pay isn’t coming. Most of the guys who’ve played there only get about 50% of what they were supposed to be paid.

UW: And the lockout…?

LA: It’s the worst time in the NBA to have a lockout. The fans are struggling, struggling to hold a job or keep a paycheck. To have both sides arguing over ridiculous amounts of money is ridiculous, and a lot of players are aware of this, a lot of people on both sides are aware of this. They know the timing isn’t right. But there’s the people who don’t care, too.

As you could guess, Lance has plenty of knowledge to share about the lesser lives of minor and foreign league basketball players, and another load or two about the actual game of basketball. Check out Sports Illustrated‘s interview with Allred for more conversation on those topics. Also, go buy his book.

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Membership update: Paul here, surfacing just long enough to mention that membership cardback designer Scott M.X. Turner has returned from his assorted summer-break activities, which means that the Uni Watch Membership Program — which had been on a short hiatus — is once again open for business. Although I’m still technically on summer break myself, I’ll still process any orders that come in and will get your membership cards shipped out super-timely-like.

As always, you can see all the cards we’ve designed here, and you can sign up here. Have at it!

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Benchies Beginning logoBenchies from the Beginning
By Rick Pearson

For nearly three years, “Benchies” has been appearing most weekends at Uni Watch. While Bench Coach Phil fills in for Paul Monday through Friday during August, we present a retrospective. New strips will continue to appear on weekends. For further background, here’s the “Benchies” backstory and bios on the regular Boys of “Benchies.” Enjoy.

7-20-11 d-position

And as always, here’s the full-size version.

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IU2011Tim E. O’B’s IU Review

Yesterday, Indiana announced a new football uniform set for 2011. While anything is an improvement over this, I’m not sure just going back to this was the best idea ever.

A few weeks back, I had hopes that this would be IU’s uniform next year. Aside from that silly collar, that’s almost exactly what I wanted out of the Hoosiers’ unis.

But, alas, the Hoosiers disappointed me yet again. The uniform – seen here – along with the helmet (at the bottom) are basically throwbacks to the Terry Hoeppner era.

And actually, except for the numbers on the compression sleeves, and the candy-striped pants, the new IU unis look a lot like my over-the-top IU concept – down to the overly fat uni numbers.

Compare: 2011 uni vs. O’B. Candy-stripe.

I like the white facemask but the jerseys are too boring. Maybe add some stripes to the bottom of the sleeves, or maybe go with sleeve numbers rather than pad numbers, or go for what IU fans really want, the double stripe theme all over.

The Hoosiers were just shoulder stripes away from that design two years ago and they were a pair of pants (and that stoopid side blotch on the jersey) from having it last season. Keep it simple but don’t make us an Oklahoma knockoff again.

And please, for Christ’s sake, remove the “For the Glory Of Old IU” from the inside of the collar.

Final Grades:

* The Helmet – Love the facemask, hate (like, loathe) the lack of stripes. Grade: D | Uni-Watch.com Scale: Seriously Stupid

* The Jersey – No side blotches, but no stripes whatsoever. Grade: B- | Uni-Watch.com Scale: Good but could be great

* The Pants – Back to the ol’ double stripe. Grade A+ (so long as they wear red pants on the road) | Uni-Watch.com Scale: Great

Overall, two steps forward, one step back: B (which is a vast improvement from the D- that was last year.)

Tim E. O’Brien

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ticker 2Uni Watch News Ticker (compiled by John Ekdahl): A French impostor dressed himself in a team’s full kit and made it out to the field at kickoff, but was promptly escorted off (Andrew Kendall). … Here’s a shot of Ryan Madson on Phillies photo day with his shirt on backwards (Edward Lafayette). … Stephane Bergeron of La Griffe Originale has just released the latest mask for Pittsburgh Penguins goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury (Ryan Rearick). … Check out these great football photos from U.S. Army Camp Darby in Italy during the 1940′s (Jeff Wilk). … Ian T.L. Henderson noticed on a recent trip that a certain liquor store in upstate Pennsylvania is using a familiar MLB logo. Maybe it’s been around since they played in Philly. … Southern Illinois will be wearing “special one-time only black Under Armour jerseys” for the Black Out Cancer game on November 12th (Paxton Guy). … “I think you’d have to admit this shirt is pretty brilliant. Even if it does bear the mark.” – Tim McNulty. … Monday night was “Until There’s a Cure Night” at AT&T Park. San Francisco Giants pitcher Ryan Vogelsong was the only player not wearing the red AIDS ribbon on his jersey, which offended some fans who noticed. San Francisco Chronicle reporter Henry Schulman tried to put the controversy to rest in this article (Laren Richardson). … Well, it looks like someone has decided to blatantly rip off our buddies at No Mas (Brian Geiger).

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“How on earth did the design team at Adidas find a way around all that state of the art technology to place some simple pants striping? Is there nothing they can’t do?” — Patrick Woody