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Some Thoughts About Giving Thanks

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Last Saturday the Tugboat Captain and I took what will probably be our final walk in the surf for 2016. The water, which has been getting colder by the week, was barely bearable. It’s possible that we’ll go to the beach again at some point this winter, but I’m pretty sure we’ll keep our shoes on.

These surf walks have been great. In addition to posting photos of them here on Uni Watch, I’ve also shared pics on Facebook, and many of my friends have responded by saying something along the lines of, “Wow, you guys look so happy. Glad everything’s going so well for you!” Maybe some of you have thought the same thing.

The reality is a bit more complicated. Although the surf walks were part of my “Best Summer Ever” mantra, this summer — and, really, much of this year — has not been the best. Among other things: I had a serious medical scare that resulted in surgery; I have a separate ongoing medical issue that has made me feel like I’m at war with much of my own body, and has resisted everything my doctors have thrown at it; I’ve been having major sleep difficulties that have made me feel sluggish during the day and exhausted at night (and have no doubt contributed to the rising number of typos and coding errors on the site lately, ugh); my brother had a stroke; one of my cats had an ongoing medical issue of his own; several people close to me or to the cultural scene where I spend most of my social time passed away; two of my closest friends endured a personal crisis that is now threatening their marriage; the industry I work in has continued its steady death spiral, which is troubling on many levels and has also stymied some creative projects I had hoped to launch; I recently got word that my rent will be increasing by 10%, my health insurance premiums will be increasing by 20%, and my car will soon need repairs that are so expensive that it’ll actually make more sense to just buy a new car; just yesterday I received word that a member of the Uni Watch community had passed away (I’ll have more to say about that tomorrow); the presidential campaign and its aftermath seemed to bring out the worst in a tremendous number of people, which I continue to find incredibly depressing; and, worst of all, my wonderful girlfriend endured a series of work- and housing-related troubles that have made her year and even her future — and therefore our year and our future — very problematic.

I realize that much of this is just the regular up-and-down cycle of life. I also realize there are many people out there — probably including some of you who are reading this — who are going through much rougher times than anything I’ve experienced. I don’t mean to dismiss or be insensitive to anyone else’s troubles, and I certainly don’t mean to sound self-pitying. I’m just saying that a lot of this year has felt like it’s been more uphill than usual — not just for me, but for many of the people and things I love. The walks in the surf have been little oases of bliss within that turmoil, small junctures where the uphill climb leveled out for a few minutes, my troubles melted away, and I could just enjoy the earthy intersection of water, sand, and foot. I’ll miss doing that, at least until spring rolls around.

All of which is a lengthy way of saying that Thanksgiving couldn’t have come at a better time, because it helps put things in perspective. So: I’m thankful that my brother, my cat, and I all came through our respective medical scares relatively okay. I’m thankful that my 92-year-old mom had no medical scares this year at all, and seems like she might actually be the healthiest member of the family at the moment. I’m thankful that while my industry may be in turmoil, I still have a good job, at least for now. I’m thankful that I was able to launch two new creative projects this year — Gromm•It and Key Ring Chronicles. I’m thankful that my favorite team, the team I live and die with, made it to the playoffs. I’m thankful that curling season has started up again, and that my team is playing well. I’m thankful to have so many amazing friends, and that we’re always there for each other during difficult times. I’m thankful that my wonderful girlfriend and I still have each other.

And of course I’m thankful for all the people who continue to make Uni Watch possible, including Ticker assistants Mike Chamernik and Alex Hider; “Collector’s Corner” columnist Brinke Guthrie; membership card designer Scott M.X. Turner; T-Shirt Club designer Bryan Molloy; all our weekend contributors, including Terry Duroncelet Jr., Joe Ringham, Ethan Dimitroff, Rex Henry, Dennis Bolt, Kyle Acker, Leo Strawn Jr., Jim Vilk, George Chilvers, and many others; webmaster John Ekdahl; and, especially, deputy editor Phil Hecken, the most devoted bench coach I could ever hope to have.

Finally, my thanks to all of you for visiting the site, for contributing content, and for putting up with my occasional (okay, maybe not-so-occasional) rants, ups and downs, indulgences, and so on.

If you’re traveling today, be safe. If you’re working today, please accept my thanks for keeping the world spinning while the rest of us have the day off. Me, I’ll be driving out to Long Island to spend the day with my family. However you’re spending your day, I hope it turns out to be a good one. Peace. — Paul


Ladies and Gents, Your Vegas Golden Knights

The NHL’s new Las Vegas franchise finally revealed its name and logo last night. I gave my thoughts on the logo in this ESPN piece, which was published last night (although, as I mentioned at the top of that piece, it’s difficult to assess a sports team’s logo without knowing how it fits into the team’s uniforms and larger visual program, so I may change my mind about the logo once we see all of that). Here are a few additional thoughts:

• Interesting that the official team name is Vegas Golden Knights. Not Las Vegas — just Vegas. From a branding standpoint, this is probably for the best, since a two-word city name and a two-word team name would be cumbersome. If anyone out there lives in Las Vegas, I’d be interested in hearing what you think of this. Do you care that they’re foreshortened your city name, or are you okay with it? Does everyone in town just say “Vegas” anyway?

• Speaking of the two-word team name, reader David Sonny points out that teams with two-word monikers are rare in the Big Four leagues. There are none in the NFL, one in the NBA (Trail Blazers), three in MLB (Red Sox, White Sox, Blue Jays) and now four in the NHL (Maple Leafs, Blue Jackets, Red Wings, and now Golden Knights). “I have to say it feels collegiate: Scarlet Knights, Crimson Tide, Golden Gophers,” says David. Not sure I completely agree with that, but I understand his point. Then again, Vegas team owner Bill Foley originally wanted to go with Black Knights as a tribute to his alma mater, West Point. When that turned out to be impractical for legal and logistical reasons, he settled on Golden Knights. So maybe he wanted a collegiate feel. (As I noted in my ESPN piece, I think the logo feels a bit collegiate as well.)

• The unveiling event included the screening of a video that was supposed to culminate in the revelation of the team name and logo, but it appeared to fall victim to a technical glitch and stopped in mid-stream. An attempt to re-start the video a few minutes later failed, causing another delay. Then they finally restarted the video and showed the team name and logo. Simple technical difficulties, or phony glitches designed to create manufactured suspense? Hmmmm.

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Padres unveil new home/road uniforms: When the Padres said that the addition of yellow to their home uniform last season might end up being a one-year thing to coincide with hosting the All-Star Game, I didn’t believe them. I was sure (and also hoped) they’d stick with the yellow.

But nope — they’ve scrapped the yellow and are going with an utterly characterless navy “Padres” lettering treatment. They’re also updating the road greys with a return to the bow-tie lettering that was used on the urine-toned road unis from 2004-2010, and they’re keeping the Friday brown alternates, the Wednesday throwbacks, and the Sunday G.I. Joes (although the Marine camouflage will take precedence over the Navy camouflage, with the latter likely to be worn only twice). Details in the video shown above and in this article.

I’ve always liked the bow-tie insignia, so that’s an upgrade. But man, the new home design is a total snooze, and a major step down from the 2016 home design. This team’s visual program has been so completely lost for so long — it’s almost like they’re determined not to look good out there. Too bad.

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The Ticker
By Paul

Baseball News: Reprinted from yesterday’s comments: New alternate cap for the Montgomery Biscuits (from Keith Cadelsberger). … DIY question from Joel Krinsky: “I purchased a World Series patch to put on a Cubs sweatshirt. As your probably know, it’s made out of plastic and can’t be sewn on. How do I get in on? With glue? Ironing? If I iron it on, will I melt it? I ordered it from Emblem Source, and it says on the packaging, ‘Not meant to be applied to clothing.’ The patch comes glued to a piece of plastic. I peeled off the plastic and there is now glue on the back of the patch.” Anyone..? … If you’ve always wanted to see Chewbacca in an Angels uni, today’s your lucky day (from @RoadTripSports). … New alternate uniforms for the Orix Buffaloes and the Rakuten Golden Eagles (from @bigdaddy45_1969).

NFL News: Grainy image, but it’s still worth checking out this nose guard worn by Don Meredith in 1967 (great find by Jerry Wolper). … The green laser light deployed against Texas QB Brock Osweiler is part of a regrettable trend at Mexican sporting events.

College and High School Football News: Here’s one of those deals where you can see your favorite team in its rival’s colors (thanks, Phil). … New uni combo this week for Vanderbilt (from Jerry Lawless). … Texas is adding a helmet decal to mark the 100th anniversary of the school’s Bevo mascot (thanks, Phil). … O’Neill High in Nebraska has a wing on one side of the helmet and a number on the other (from Brett Baker). … Doozy of a helmet logo glitch last night for Akron RB Manny Morgan, whose “Akron” script was peeling off of his helmet shell (screen shot by Brandon King). … In that same game, an Ohio player lost the “O” on his “Ohio” helmet logo. … Here’s the on-field logo for Friday’s Apple Cup game between Washington and Washington State (from @_CoachDave).

Hockey News: Ugly sweater jerseys are usually pretty awful, but this one for the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins is definitely better than most (from @ColHapablap). … Here’s an explainer on the stories behind the 30 NHL team names (thanks, Brinke).

NBA News: The Cavs have announced six dates when they’ll be wearing mid-1980s orange throwbacks. All six games are at home, so they’ll either be color vs. color or the visiting team will have to wear white on the road.

College Hoops News: Rough-looking game last night, as Purdue and Utah State went white vs. grey (from Nick Yeoman). … Here’s one observer’s picks for Kentucky’s worst uniforms (from Josh Hinton).

Soccer News: Last night’s MLS game between the Montreal Impact and Toronto FC was delayed for 40 minutes after officials discovered that the lines around the penalty box were painted too thin (from Michael Starbuck).

Grab Bag: “This past Saturday, Rutgers held their first ever Battle at the Birthplace, an outdoor wrestling match between Rutgers and Princeton in the North end zone of Rutgers Stadium,” writes Matthew Meo. “It was an amazing sight to see. Rutgers had a special mat with an event-specific logo and special one-off singlets with ‘BATB’ across the back.” … Nice shot of a young JFK catching a football while wearing black high-top Chucks. … The Nigerian Navy is cracking down on imposters who are pretending to be naval officers by wearing naval uniforms. … Check it out: a foldable paper bike helmet. … This is pretty funny: Adidas has been trying for years to trademark the term “Adizero,” but they can’t because a small church in Chicago has a trademark on the phrase “Add a zero” for clothing. Live by branding, die by branding (from Adam Herbst).

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Gobble-gobble: I don’t know about you, but I feel like Thanksgiving really snuck up on me this year. Maybe it’s because a good chunk of the month got swallowed up by the election and its aftermath..? Not sure, but my brain definitely hasn’t shifted into holiday mode yet.

Anyway: If you’re traveling today, travel safe. We’ll continue to have content tomorrow and Friday (although it may be a bit lighter than usual), and Phil will have his usual content on the weekend. Peace.

Maple Leafs, Red Wings Unveil Centennial Classic Unis

We’ve gotten used to the NHL Winter Classic taking place on New Year’s Day. This winter, however, the Winter Classic is on Jan. 2, while Jan. 1 will be the day for the Centennial classic, which will feature the Maple Leafs and the Red Wings. The uniforms for that game were revealed yesterday.

Let’s start with the Leafs. First, although it’s a little hard to see in that photo shown above, there’s a lot of silver trim. The horizontal band across the chest is meant to evoke the early 1920s Toronto St. Pats (although it looks like they just used the Panthers’ new template), and the “T” on the pants is a shout-out to an even earlier incarnation of the franchise, the Toronto Arenas.

Overall: It’s okay, but nothing special. I’d prefer a contrasting border along the jersey hemline to delineate the border between the jersey and pants. Further info on the jersey is available here.

Okay, now let’s take a look at the Red Wings (click to enlarge):

The silver is much more evident on this one. Here’s a close-up of one of the silver sleeve stripes, where are imprinted with the years of the team’s 11 Stanley Cup championships (click to enlarge):

The stripes are supposedly inspired by the old Detroit Cougars. Too bad they didn’t use that whole design, eh? According to this page, there will also be a Cougars-style “D” on the pants, but they haven’t bothered to show us a photo of the full uniform yet — only the jersey. I’m sure that has nothing at all to do with the fact that the jersey is available for sale while the pants and socks are not.

I hate assessing uniforms solely on the basis of a jersey (the pants and socks matter a lot!), but this one feels like a stinker. The silver on the crest feels tacky and overdone, and including the Cups years on the sleeve striping is just a retail/merch gimmick, since none of that will be visible on TV (much less from a far-away seat at the Centennial Classic). Also: The collar, with those two white strips of fabric surrounding the NHL logo, looks like something from Old Navy. Disappointing.

Meanwhile, as long as we’re talking about the NHL: The new Vegas franchise is due to reveal its name and logo this evening. I’ll be covering that for ESPN.

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Collector’s Corner
By Brinke Guthrie

Got tipped off to this selection of 1970s/1980s MLB tube socks from the @BorchertField Twitter account (the only online museum dedicated to the Milwaukee Brewers of the American Association, 1902-1952). As it happens, the seller of these socks also happens to have several other terrific items for sale. The next four items are all from him:

• Very nice-looking 1980s Starter poster showing the different jacket designs for the major sports. Remember, the next best thing to being a Starter is wearing one. And I do hope Starter’s copywriter got a bonus for that line.

• This perfect-looking 1990s Bengals Starter jacket is priced to move. I had the very same jacket and got mine for the same price, as I recall, on sale at a big box sporting goods store in suburban Forest Park. The seller is from nearby Mason, so that explains the Bengals connection.

• More tube socks, this time for the Steelers, Chargers, and Rams.

• Never seen an NFL Cliff Engle sweater with a helmet design before. Usually it’s just the team name. Not the case with this New York Giants sweater.

• Okay, moving on to some other sellers: In case you ever wanted a Philadelphia Eagles sneaker-shaped gear bag, we have one for you.

• Your call to the bullpen will go through every time with this 1974 Padres bullpen buggy from Sportoys. The seller also has a Yankees model.

• Ever heard of “Star Standouts?” These were cut-out figures that you mounted on a wooden base. The company was from Pittsburgh, so these are for Terry Bradshaw (wearing Spalding cleats!) and Mean Joe Greene.

• You’d think that the majority of Miami Dolphins fans would live in, well, Florida. So I’m not sure why they made these Officially Licensed winter gloves for the Fish, but there you go.

• Here’s something more seasonally and regionally appropriate: This 1970s Begnals winter scarf will keep you warm at Riverfront Stadium. I mean, er, Paul Brown Stadium.

• Here’s a nice Rawlings Bills jersey from the 1980s with a heat-pressed NFL shield on the sleeve. They didn’t get the sleeve stripes quite right, did they?

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StripeRite update: We’ve been saying all along that the new batch of StripeRite socks would start shipping on Nov. 21, which was yesterday. But American Trench now tells me that there was a backlog at the knitting mill, and the socks will not be shipping until the end of next week, which is Dec. 2. Very sorry about that — thanks for your patience.

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The Ticker
By Mike Chamernik

Baseball News: The Braves will wear a sleeve patch for their first year at their new stadium (from Brinke). … A new baseball team in Fond du Lac, Wis., will be known as the Dock Spiders. No surprise that Brandiose had a hand in the design. Other finalists for the nickname included the Barn Owls, Lake Flies, Pipsqueaks, and Shantymen (from Bob Brainerd). … A writer for a New York sports website argued in favor of a Yankees alternate jersey (from Phil). … New uniform and 10-seasons patch for the Lehigh Valley IronPigs (from @Banditmax). … Rice will wear these really cool Los Buhos jerseys (Spanish for “The Owls”) for an upcoming trip to Cuba (from Brad Blunt).

NFL News: Michael Crabtree’s swooshes were off-center last night (from Johnny Bruno). … Raiders OL Donald Penn had a Riddell sticker on his helmet last night (from @SteveBCreations). … Calgary will play Ottawa in the Grey Cup on Sunday. The teams have the exact same red, black, and white color scheme. The matchups inspired Noah Sidel to look up the last time that happened in the four major American sports (by his count): the NHL’s Oilers and Islanders in 1984, the NFL’s Giants and Bills in 1991, the NBA’s Bulls and Blazers in 1992, and MLB’s Indians and Cubs this year. … Kenny Kaplan bought a Browns jersey from a Rawlings catalog way back in 1970. He noticed the typeface on the front of the jersey is different than the one used on the back and for the TV numbers. … You don’t often see memorial armbands in the NFL, but here’s a rare example (from @BSmile).

College & High School Football News: Ohio State will play Michigan on Saturday. The players on the Buckeyes scout team are wearing makeshift Wolverines helmets in preparation. Also, Ohio State is trying to cross out all of the Ms on campus (from Phil). … Former BYU wideout Mitch Mathews wore a BYU baseball jersey to a Cougars game this past weekend. It must be an old jersey, because it has a Mountain West Conference patch on the sleeve. BYU left the conference in 2011 (from Josh Sorensen). … Teams in the Indiana state finals will wear this jersey patch this weekend (from @jameydeckard20).

Hockey News: The Penguins’ player of the game wears an old Pirates helmet in the dressing room afterward. A new sticker is added for each win (from Austin Chen). … The new video for Lil’ Yachty’s song “Minnesota” features some Rangers-inspired jerseys. Full video here.

NBA News: The Heat will retire Shaquille O’Neal’s No. 32 in a game against the Lakers in December. … Stance revealed the socks teams will wear for games on Christmas Day. … The Pistons’ mysterious retro-looking secondary logo has popped up on a sweatshirt in the team’s official store. It is referred to as the alternate ball logo (from Collin Hall). … Not really uniform-related, but I walked past a house in Chicago the other day that had a picture of Kobe in the window. … The Pistons are moving back to downtown Detroit. They’ll share Little Caesars Arena with the Red Wings next season.

College Hoops News: Ohio State wore gray throwbacks last night. … A player on Saint Francis College of Brooklyn wore a black swoosh last night while the rest of the team had white marks (from Matt Bessette).

Grab Bag: Two Michigan high school volleyball teams wore very similar jerseys in the state finals this past weekend (from Chet Miller). … Renderings were released for the new stadium in Columbus for the Ohio Machine of Major League Lacrosse. The highlight is a castle-like structure that will serve as the entrance (from Jason Hillyer). … New logo for Malta’s EU Council presidency. … Good piece here on why a few companies, like Kodak and Bacardi, opted for throwback logos.

Monday Morning Uni Watch

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Battle of the gold yellow pants last night in DC, as Green Bay visited Washington. The two shades of yellow didn’t quite match (Washington’s was darker), but they were close. Same striping style, too. Some teams that used to use it years ago have moved away from it (Saints, Lions, Rams), but that striping still says, “NFL” to me.

In that same game, at one point Washington wideout Pierre Garçon got so excited that he ripped a cheesehead in half:

In other developments from around the league yesterday:

• The Browns wore their orange alts.

• The Bengals went mono-black.

• Speaking of the Bengals, it looks like wideout Brandon Lefell might still be wearing his old LSU shoulder pads.

• And speaking of Bengals wideouts, when A.J. Green was carted off with an injury, the security guy sitting next to him had an upside-down American flag patch.

• I’m not sure which game this was from, but one official was still using a Pinktober whistle.

• In Indy, the Colts had a Super Bowl XLI reunion. The former players wore Nike jerseys with the Super Bowl XLI patch, even though the team (and the whole league) wore Reebok back in those days. I was surprised by the number of people who were upset by the Nike switcheroo. Like, did you really expect the NFL to use Reebok jerseys for this?

• A close-up shot revealed that Giants punter Brad Wing wears braces. If you scroll down to see the responses to that tweet, you’ll see a bunch of other athletes who’ve worn braces — good stuff.

• Washington running back Chris Thompson had camouflage trim on his helmet. Don’t think I’ve seen that before.

• Washington cornerback Josh Norman had mismatched clips on his facemask. Never seen anything like that before.

• Two teams wore white at home: The Rams and, of course, the Cowboys.

• Players participating in postgame jersey swaps included Leon Orr (Dolphins) and Dominique Easley (Rams); Jarvis Landry (Dolphins) and Todd Gurley (Rams); Dez Bryant (Cowboys) and Mike Wallace (Ravens); Domata Peko and Darqueze Dennard (Bengals) and Jerel Worthy and Brandon Tate (Bills); DeShawn Williams (Bengals) and Shaq Lawson (Bills); and Jameis Winston (Bucs) and Vernon Harris (Chiefs).

• Here’s a list of players who protested during the national anthem.

(My thanks to all contributors, including Mike Chamernik, Austin Elmore, Alex Hider, and of course Phil.)

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Don’t tell Tucker and Caitlin: For a variety of reasons, the Tugboat Captain and I wanted to do something this past weekend that had a positive impact on the world, however small that might be. So yesterday we went over to Sean Casey Animal Rescue (no relation to the former Reds first baseman), where they’ll let you take one of their shelter dogs for a walk.

This is, admittedly, a rather self-serving form of do-gooder-ism. But hey, dogs need walking! The pooch they assigned to us is named Jackson, and he was a total sweetie. We took him over to Prospect Park, where he reveled in all the sights and smells (if you can’t see the slideshow below, click here):

I’ll always be a cat person first and foremost, but I love dogs too. It had been a while since I’d walked one, and I’d forgotten how much fun it can be. So satisfying to feel that tug on the end of the leash, and to sense the dog’s curiosity as it explores its surroundings. Good boy!

By the time we brought Jackson back to the shelter, we’d completely lost our hearts to him (and so had several people who stopped to pet him along the way). If you live in the NYC area and are in the market for a totally swell dog, contact Sean Casey Animal Rescue and tell them you’re interested in Jackson. He’s a keeper, trust me.

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Three and oh: Another curling win last night, as (from left) Omoy, Phil, yours truly, and Doug built up an early 5-0 lead in the first two ends and then hung on for a 5-4 win. We’re now undefeated in our first three games of the season. So far, so good.

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StripeRite update: The second batch of StripeRite socks, shown at right, is now available for ordering. For those of you who’ve already ordered, the socks should start shipping today. Enjoy!

My thanks, as always, for your consideration.

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The Ticker
By Alex Hider

NFL News: The NFL commissioned Mexican artists to paint custom helmets for all 32 teams in honor of the the Raiders/Texans game that will be played in Mexico City tonight (from Jorge Cruz). … Is this the craziest TV number matchup of all time? (Via Pro Football Journal.)

College Football News: At least one Yale football player had his helmet stripe cut short during the Bulldogs’ win over Harvard Saturday (from William F. Yurasko). … Matt Hanson points out that Pitt’s gorgeous throwback unis have inconsistent TV numbers. … An Illinois player had helmet decal problems on Saturday (from Jesse Gavin). … Jerod Evans of Virginia Tech was wearing shin pads Saturday (from J. Fletcher).

Hockey News: Canucks goalie Jacob Markstrom debuted an awesome new mask last Tuesday. Super meta (from Wade Heidt). …. Speaking of Markstrom, he switched his number from 35 to 25. He’s now worn 25, 33 and 35 for both the Canucks and Panthers (from Patrick Thomas).

Basketball News: The Hawks wore their silly red over black uniforms yesterday. … It appears that the Thunder have mothballed their navy blue, vertically striped alternates. Good riddance (from Ronnie Levi). … Is Nebraska basketball set to debut new black uniforms?

Soccer News: “Peterborough United was wearing a vile luminous yellow alternate kit the other day,” says Thom Gibbs. “A stadium steward standing off the pitch was wearing a similarly-colored jacket to the Peterborough jersey, and at one point Peterborough player Michael Bostwick mistakenly passed the ball to him.”

Grab Bag: The tee markers at the Australian Open were tiny model Emirates planes (from Graham Clayton). … NASCAR driver Tony Stewart wore this helmet for his final race. … Two Michigan volleyball teams wore almost identical uniforms in a state championship game recently (from Chet Miller). … The uni-verse will appreciate this comic strip (from Bo Baize).