The 2014 MLB season had its second soft opening of the year last night in San Diego (the first one, of course, was eight days earlier in Australia), where the Padres hosted the Dodgers. As you can see above, the Padres couldn’t be bothered to wear their home whites for their first game of the season and instead went G.I. Joe — shame on them.
A few other notes from the game:
• As you also see in the photo above, the Padres wore their Jerry Coleman memorial patch for the first time.
• The Dodgers wore their new alternate road grays (the ones with the team name on the front). They’ve now worn this design twice, without having worn their primary road grays (the ones with “Los Angeles” on the front).
• The Dodgers’ starting pitcher was Hyun-Jin Ryu (No. 99), and in the 8th inning he was relieved by Brian Wilson (No. 00). This isn’t the first time these two pitchers have set the mark for the biggest uni-numerical difference between two pitchers appearing consecutively in the same game, of course, and it won’t be the last, but it’s the kind of thing that somehow seems worth mentioning when it happens on Opening Day Night.
• There were lots of “Opening Night” graphics splashed around the stadium. MLB’s season-opening graphics package also includes logos for Opening Day, Opening Week, Opening Weekend, and Opening Series, so expect to see all of those over the next several days.
• The Dodgers have now managed to play three games before 27 of the other MLB teams have played even one. Seriously, after they got tapped to play those two games Down Under, was it really necessary to give them the Sunday-night opener as well? Let someone else play!
The real start of the season, of course, is today. I’ll be camped out in front of the TV at 1pm to watch the Mets/Nats game, and I hope you’ll get to see (or at least hear) your favorite team’s game too. Play ball!
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Unmasking the Commenters: I recently invited the site’s commenters to tell us a bit more about themselves and give us a peek at what they look like, just because I thought it would be fun to pull back the internet’s curtain of anonymity. I’ll keep showcasing you folks as long as you keep sending in your photos and quick bios.
One of the best things about “Unmasking the Commenters” is that I’ve been able to match up some people’s real names with their pseudonyms. For example, I knew we had a frequent commenter who calls himself Dumb Guy and a frequent Ticker contributor named Jon Solomonson, but I didn’t know they’re the same person. They are! And here he is (click to enlarge):
I just turned 50 last year but no, I haven’t made my colonoscopy appointment yet. I grew up in the DC area and am mostly an NFL fan and ’Skins fan, although I’m also a Cubs and MLB fan by osmosis (thanks to my Chicago-born dad). Not much for the hockey or the basketball. I am a proud graduate of James Madison University, which sports a wonderful purple-and-gold motif on its sports uniforms (sorry, Paul). Currently residing in Orlando, Florida, I am surrounded by lots of sports teams that are constantly changing uniform parts, so that is much to my liking.
Uni Watch is my first stop every weekday morning. It’s a great mix of uniforms, pop culture, and trolling. My screen name, Dumb Guy, simply portrays my love of the simple, the easy, the not-overthought, and the silly one-liner. Oh, and I’ve been a drummer for 40+ years.
Thanks, Jon. I appreciate all your contributions (I love typing your surname when I credit you in the Ticker — consonant, o, consonant, o, consonant, o, consonant, consonant o, consonant!). Thanks for helping to make Uni Watch a better place!
Do you want to be featured in “Unmasking the Commenters”? If so, send me a photo and a quick paragraph about yourself. You don’t have to reveal your real name, and the photo doesn’t have to show your face, but you must include a photo to be considered. Send everything this-a-way.
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PermaRec update: The latest entry on Permanent Record is about Finding Vivian Maier, the new documentary film about a 26-year-old Chicago writer who acquired a set of old photo negatives that had been salvaged from a delinquent storage locker (including the photo shown at right) and realized he’d stumbled upon the work of a major unknown artist. It’s an amazing story — check it out here.
Baseball News: Longtime Uni Watch pal Tyler Kepner has written a very amusing piece about how today’s MLB autographs are illegible. … Check out this belt. That’s Jerry Lyscio, a pitcher with the Astros’ Florida State League team in Cocoa in 1966. Keith Olbermann wonders if the belt was rendered in Astros colors. It’s possible, but I kinda doubt that it was a team-issued belt — looks more like a personal belt that he grabbed in a pinch. … You knew this already, but here’s an article about how Derek Jeter’s retirement will mark the end of single-digit uni numbers for the Yankees (from Chris Flinn). … An Australian’s explanation of baseball includes the observation that everyone wears pajamas (from Brian Crago). … Remember David Firestone’s recent guest-written entry about the late-1950s Senators’ 3-D uni numbers? I have a theory concerning that number design,” says David. “I’m trying to find a quote, or a press release, or a newspaper article concerning the publicly stated reason for the Senators switching uniforms prior to the 1956 season. So far I have had no luck, so I am pleading for help from the Uni Watch community.” If you’d like to help David with this research project, contact him here. … The Marlins have schedule their home uniforms by day of the week for the whole season. Hmmm, is it good to have a set protocol like that, or is it bad to eliminate any chance for surprise, superstition, and spontaneity? (Thanks, Phil.) … Also from Phil, this odd historical tidbit: In 1916, the Cubs had a live Cub on hand for Opening Day. … Oklahoma State wore solid orange yesterday. “Very close to an I-35 clean-up crew,” notes Vince Regan. … Cool story about some SF Giants jerseys that got repurposed for minor league use and then became a hit on Antiques Roadshow (from Kyle Sawyer). … Michale Hersch was watching a Reds/Indians spring training game and noticed that both teams’ respective “C” logos were painted on the grass in foul territory. “I was puzzled by why a team would paint the visitor’s logo on the field, especially for spring training, so I did a little research and learned that the Indians and Reds share spring training facilities,” he says. “I also learned that there are other teams that share spring stadiums as well. Do those teams also paint two logos? I’ve never seen it done before, although I don’t watch too many spring games. Also, I noticed a discrepancy between the on-field logos that the Tigers use behind home plate at Joker Marchant Stadium (where they use the jersey D) and Comerica Park (where they use the cap D).” … Speaking of the Tigers’ logo, check out the odd version of it that appears in this ad, which ran in today’s Detroit Free Press (from Glenn Victor).
NFL News: The Saints apparently have their own official ice cubes, which is fine by me because it means more exposure for the excellent Sir Saint logo (from Bob Kile). … NOB typo alert! That’s Giants offensive lineman Tom Mullen — no “s” — from a Sept. 18, 1977 game against Washington (from Steve Kraljic).
Hockey News: Sharks goalie Annti Niemi apparently wasn’t wearing team-issue socks under his pads for last Thursday night’s game against the Jets. I know many goalies do this, but it’s still interesting to see (photo by Clinton Brown, who was attending the game). … “I’m getting caught up on the awesome Canadian TV show Trailer Park Boys,” says intern Mike Chamernik. “In the season four premiere, Ricky and Bubbles wore makeshift hockey jerseys for their jobs as the Trailer Park Supervisor (Ricky, with the ‘C’) and Assistant Trailer Park Supervisor (Bubbles, with the ‘A’). The captaincy designations were a nice touch.”
Soccer News: “Sunday was the happiest day of the World Cup year here in Colombia,” says Fernando Cardenas. “That’s because today we finally got our Panini sticker albums. I doubt it is this way in the States but here in South America (and I believe in some parts of Europe, definitely Italy) we fill this baby up with religious devotion. You can’t walk alone on the street without seeing someone trading stickers they got twice for stickers they need. They are mass-produced by the Italian multinational Panini and distributed in a somewhat similar fashion to baseball cards, except you paste them into an album.” … The Urawa Reds were forced to play a match behind closed doors last week after a fan displayed a racist banner, leading to the eerie spectacle of a game being played in an empty stadium (from Yusuke Toyoda). … Also from Yusuke: On Sunday Liverpool replaced its usual jersey sponsor, Standard Chartered, with the bank’s anti-blindness charity, Seeing Is Believing.
As we prepare to begin the MLB Seasonbegin the portion of the National Pastime that begins in the United States for Opening Day Night … there were a couple of spring training games played Friday and Saturday in two unlikely places. At least traditionally speaking.
Visually, the two teams didn’t do much, with both wearing their alternate jerseys:
Actually, the Astros jersey is technically their batting practice jersey, but it’s been designated as an official alternate this season. For those of us who haven’t been following spring training ball closely, we also got some looks at the new Rangers jersey this year — if you read Paul’s annual MLB Uniform Preview on ESPN (and I know you did), you know the Rangers slightly changed their blue jerseys (removing the beveling effect), although it’s difficult to tell at a distance. The Rangers also have slightly altered caps this year, but since they wore their batting practice caps, we didn’t get to see the same-colored squatchee. Visually, about what you’d expect from a spring training game. What made this all interesting, however, was where the game was played.
It’s actually a pretty amazing setup. Give it a look-see here (scroll ahead to about 2:30 for the cool baseball setup):
Faaaaascinating. Now, I’m reminded of one other football stadium that had baseball wedged into it (only this one lasted from 1958 to 1961). That necessitated fitting a round object (so to speak) into a rectangular hole as well:
Of course, baseball wasn’t made to be played indoors on astroturf, so the games in San Antonio were more of a novelty than any possible relocation spot — still, if baseball were to expand, San Antonio is always one of a handful of cities listed as a possibility. I imagine that if a team were ever to locate (or relocate) there, some kind of retractable-roof, climate controlled stadium would need to be erected. Always food for thought.
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There was another pair of preseason games played inside on astroturf — in a place that was once the home to a Major League Team…
Olympic Stadium, a/k/a Stade Olympique de Montréal, where the Montreal Expos played for decades before relocating to Washington and renaming themselves the “Nationals.” Although I never actually watched a baseball game there (I visited once in January of 1998 or 1999), I saw plenty of games there on television, since the Mets and Expos, as National League East rivals, often played to huge audiences. Well, that’s not entirely true — the Expos, when they existed, had a few good years and probably their best season ended very badly.
I watched both games (on MLB Network, interestingly) and much was said about how the 1994 Strike probably cost the Expos any shot at a much-needed outdoor stadium, which had been in the works. But the strike killed any chance of that, and the city and team never recovered. The Expos did get their outdoor stadium, only it was located a mere 584 miles south of the original plans. I hated watching baseball inside of Stade Olympique, but it was still better than the alternative.
So when it was announced the Mets and Blue Jays (now Canada’s sole representative in America’s National Pastime) would play a two-game series in the old concrete dump, I was pumped. I wasn’t expecting great baseball (although both games were very close), and surprisingly, the Blue Jays (the home team), actually eschewed their blue BP tops and wore their beautiful home whites. The Mets, despite having one of the more beautiful road gray unis, wore their BP smocks:
But the games weren’t about the Mets and Blue Jays (other than sorting out a few last minute roster moves, and possibly seeing who would be the fifth starters) — it was about baseball returning to Montreal. And the fans turned out in droves (yesterday’s attendance was 50,229 and Friday night packed in 46,121 — to put that into perspective, that’s more fans than will ever see a home game at CitiField, the capacity of which is 45,000). Most of the fans who wore team gear busted out their Expos stuff, and showed their love for their departed team, and their city:
And it was also about The Kid. On Friday night, with his wife and daughter in attendance, Gary Carter was honored. During a touching pre-game ceremony, a banner was unveiled in right field which featured Carter’s No. 8 and the words “Merci! Thank You!” You can watch a video of that tribute here.
For those of you who don’t know — and you should — Carter began his career with the Expos, having several All-Star seasons there before being traded to the Mets, where he had several more. So, the decision to have the Blue Jays play the Mets in Montreal was undoubtedly due to this fact. When Carter passed away, he was honored by the Mets with a jersey patch, and also given a tribute at Shea CitiField. This was Montreal’s chance to say “Goodbye” as well.
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That about wraps up those two games played in two odd indoor carpeted stadia. Now we can move on to the regular season, which kicks off for real tonight in San Diego. I usually watch Opening Night games (even though it’s still not “real” Opening Day until Monday), but with the Padres decision to wear camo, I may skip this one. I probably won’t because despite the uniforms, it is still baseball. Back, once again. For real. And all will once again be right with the world.
Yesterday we revealed the fifth set of concepts for the “Lookouts” (you can still submit for the Navigators [deadline 4/2] and the Pathfinders [deadline 4/9]). And today, we’ll reveal the eighth team for concepting.
If you missed yesterday’s post, which revealed the readers submissions for the “Lookouts,” you can vote for your favorite concepts (you may vote for up to three). Link here.
Here’s Ross with this week’s updates/information:
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Hey O, Pios!
Next up on the LCBL docket is the Pioneers. Personally, this team has the best color palette of the lot. Unfortunately, the sky/baby/columbia/carolina/powder blue and navy combo has been overdone in recent years. There really is no primary and secondary shade of blue, so there are tons of ways to dress up the Pioneers to make the look unique.
As for the font, this is the one and only LCBL team with a traditional frontier-style font — Pointedly Mad. It certainly screams “Pioneers” so it had to be done.
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I envision the American buffalo, since it has to make an appearance in anything named the Lewis & Clark Baseball League, right? Y’all know the drill at this point. Wow me (like you have so far) in an unexpected way. Same rules as always. Take care, good luck, and thanks again.
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To all that entered the contest for the Governors of the LCBL, thank you for your thoughtful presentations. Big thanks to all the readers that cast votes. It made it easier for us (the league execs) to choose what we want; choosing the best out of two is more our speed. Ryan Foose and Bert Ayers squared off in the finals yet again, both with grizzly bear themes. There must be something to their rivalry, because one never finishes in the top two without the other.
The league decided to go with Ryan’s bear:
We loved the cleaner cut iteration with some slight modifications — graciously done by Ryan himself. The secondary logo really brings it all home; Missouri is where we are proud to call home.
The uniform will remain a mystery until a final reveal of all twelve at the end. But we wanted to give Uni Watch Nation a taste of the winning identity.
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Thanks, Ross! One final note — Ross wanted me to inform everyone that “we will be skipping the Settlers in the alphabet. We are in a bit of time crunch and they are a 2015 expansion team.”
So, to anyone who was hoping to design a uniform/logo for that team, that won’t be included as a part of this year’s design contest.
Uni Tweaks Concepts
We have another new set of tweaks, er…concepts today. After discussion with a number of readers, it’s probably more apropos to call most of the reader submissions “concepts” rather than tweaks. So that’s that.
So if you’ve concept for any sport, or just a tweak or wholesale revision, send them my way.
Please do try to keep your descriptions to ~50 words (give or take) per image — if you have three uniform concepts in one image, then obviously, you can go a little over, but no novels, OK? OK!. You guys have usually been good with keeping the descriptions pretty short, and I thank you for that.
Like the colorizations, I’m going to run these as inline pics — click on each one to enlarge.
And so, lets begin:
We begin today with Mark Lilley, who has a logo for the Broncos:
I’ve never liked the Broncos seldom-used alternate logo. The wild horse looks more afraid, like it’s recoiling from a snake or a mouse. The current styling has too much human qualities and musculature, and just isn’t very accurate, and it’s simply not very intimidating to opponents. So I created a concept that is more aggressive and reminiscent of the old-school Broncos logo with the D, with the front legs up and a stance that says Time to Ride!
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Next up is Robbie Anthony with a new look for Dartmouth Football:
Attached is my concept idea for a new Dartmouth College football uniform. The design keeps our current helmet, I am a senior at Dartmouth and just finished playing WR here, and updates both the top and pants. The back’s slogan is the New Hampshire motto, “Live Free or Die”. There are a few teams on campus that wear the block D on the chest so these uniforms are a combination of Dartmouth’s illustrious history with a modern concept.
Go Big Green,
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And we close today with Bryant Grosso who has some possible badges for a future Miami MLS team:
Now that the MLS-to-Miami-With-Beckham ball is definitely rolling, I thought I would send over one of my designs for the New Team’s Name and badge. Due to Miami truly being an international city, I came up with Inter Miami FC as the name. I thought of going with a circular design instead of the traditional shield styling. I am sending over the badge/crest in 2 color ways (pink/black) and (grey/black/light blue) I am hoping your readers like them – always willing to receive feedback… Thank You!
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And that’s it for today. Back with more next time.
NBA News: There was an interesting article on Kobe Bryant’s “controversial comments about Trayvon Martin posted yesterday. Most of the points aren’t germane to Uni Watch and instead speak to the larger question of race and professional basketball’s response to the shooting, but did include a call by Project Islamic H.O.P.E. that “African American youth should no longer buy Bryant’s jerseys or shoes and should boycott all products he endorses.” Interesting — I don’t know the value of sales of Bryant’s jerseys or shoes, but I’d imagine any successful boycott would be a pretty big hit to the pocketbook for Kobe and Nike. … Ryan Collins, another NBA player to express misgivings about the NBA sleeved jerseys, isn’t “buying” them: “You don’t really go to a party with a jersey anymore. Back then, it was the thing to do if you’re ‘that guy.’ ‘That guy’ means like you [say], ‘Look at that guy with the jersey.’ You don’t want to be that guy.”
Grab Bag: Aussie Rules Football fan Leo Strawn, Jr. was up early yesterday and sent this: “It’s about 6:15 a.m. on Saturday morning, and there’s two AFL (Aussie Rules) color on color games currently being played down under. Fremantle v Gold Coast, and Sydney v Collingwood.” … As part of Second Annual NASCAR Race To Green Initiative, the cars featured light green window stripes to bring attention to the environment, says David Firestone. “They also had the unintended effect of making the manufacturer logos, and white lettering all but invisible.” … Scott Crawford says, “Not really uni-related, but I think you will ‘enjoy’ this” article about misuses of quotation marks. … “A couple weeks ago someone mentioned the new trend in football to have the enlarged logo (Boise st, Miss St, Tex Tech),” says Jared Buccola “Here’s two examples of it in this weekends NCAA Lacrosse games: Johns Hopkins and Syracuse.”
And that’s all for today folks. Enjoy this fine last Sunday in March (out like a Lion is more like it) and get ready for some Baseball! The holiest of holy days is tomorrow (I still haven’t decided if I’m going to play hooky…I am getting a bit of a tickle in my throat). So we’ve got that going for us.
Thanks to Ross for the next uniform/logo to concept, and of course, the concepters. And won’t you join me in wishing a (one day) early birthday to two of Uni Watch’s finest (if flighty) commenters, Jason Bernard and Matt Powers, who’ll both be celebrating their big days on Monday. Happy early b-day fellas.
“Reds will presumably wear white jerseys for their home opening day game, even though every other home day game they wear the red tops. So it’s not like the Padres couldn’t have an exception to their jersey ‘rule’ on opening day.”
Today we’ll be taking a look at the fifth set of uniform submissions for the Lewis & Clark Design-a-Uniform Contest, for the team known as the “Lookouts.” If you’re not familiar with the contest, please give that a read. The contest’s creator, W. Ross Clites will be asking readers to design uniforms for all of the teams in the Lewis & Clark League, and thus far we’ve asked for submissions for a total of seven teams. We’ve looked at the “Captains,” “Diplomats,” “Explorers,” and “Governors,” and today, we’ll see the concepts for the “Lookouts”
Two other teams have been put to readers for concepts, the the Navigators and the Pathfinders. If you’d like to submit your concept for either team, the deadline for submissions for the Navigators is Wednesday, April 2 and the deadline for submissions for the Pathfinders is Wednesday, April 9. Tomorrow, Ross will have a short write-up for the eighth team, so make sure you check back then!
At this point I’ll turn it over to Ross, who will go over the guidelines for voting, and then I’ll be back with some final words before we take a look at the entries from our contestants. Here’s Ross (these guidelines will likely accompany each set of voting):
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Alright boys and girls, here is how the voting is going to go for each Lewis & Clark Baseball League team:
1. The hierarchy of importance goes primary logo, then uniform design, and then all rest (i.e. hat design, secondary logos, etc.) Cast a vote for the design with your favorite primary logo, first and foremost. Do not fault someone for going outside the design guidelines. Changing a wordmark or adding a third color is not a disqualifier for good thought process.
2. Your votes will take the field of applicants down to a final two per team.
3. We, the LCBL Executive Board will make the final decision on the winning proposal. However — and this is big — design is never complete and collaboration is paramount to success. We will likely settle on a combination of the final two submissions. We might love the logo of one, but prefer the jersey scheme of the other. In this, you will both be winners with full prizes to ensue. The possibility does exist for a total victory, of sorts. One designer could present the best looking jersey, logo, hat, and all the rest. Do not get offended when your submission gets handed back to you with redlined edits. We hate to hand out homework to the winning look, but tweaks may be requested. It is a studio project and not a math equation; the “right” answer takes some massaging of details.
4. With permission from both finalists, our graphics department will meld the two submissions together (if necessary) and place it in our common platform. This is done as a common denominator showcase for all twelve to look uniform when the contest has reached its end.
5. Someone, not even in the top two, could see an element (such as an awesome secondary logo) appear in the final iteration. We would never select the winner based solely on a minor design element, but we will also not let it go to waste. In this, all submissions could be part of a bigger design team. This contest — and frankly this site — was created to identify the best possible combinations of logos and materials in the sports world. This rarely comes from one person’s mind; we will reward any of those that play a part in making our on-field product the best it can be.
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Thanks, Ross. A few words about the submissions below:
Some of the contestants sent one single image, others sent multiple images. Some contestants sent descriptions (in some cases, very lengthy ones), others had little or no description. In an effort to make the voting as fair as possible, I have put those who sent multiple images into one single image, and no descriptions of the uniforms will follow. If you’d like to see all the entries for the Governors and their write-ups/descriptions, I have hosted the entire set on Flickr. Keeping in mind Ross’ rules for voting, you may use these as an additional guide in determining which submission(s) you think are the best.
The submissions will be in alphabetical order and voting will follow. You may vote for any three of the concepts below. You may click on any image to enlarge. OK? OK. Here we go:
Scott de Fasselle:
OK, readers. That’s quite an impressive set of contributions! Now it’s time for you to vote. You’ll be allowed to vote for up to THREE (3) submissions. You may wish to scroll up for one more viewing, and write down your favorites.
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And now it’s your turn! Make sure to vote for your favorites and let all of the concepters know what you think of their designs. They all put a great deal of effort into this, so tell them how they did (and lobby for your favorites, if you wish).
Thanks to all the submitters — we’ll be back next weekend at which time Ross will reveal the winner(s) and how they will adapt the design for the Lewis & Clark league!
College Hoops News: Reader Jimmy Knodel was at the Sweet 16 in Anaheim Thursday night and saw a couple of interesting things: The cupholders at the Honda Center have ads on the inside for a casino,and there was a piece of blue painter’s tape covering the ad. “On every single cupholder. In front of all 15,000 plus seats. The NCAA had some poor sole [sic], or hopefully a couple of them, put tape on all of them as if we wouldn’t see.” Jimmy also noticed that the concessions workers were pouring water and Gatorade into plastic cups with lids and straws. “At first I thought people were asking for it, then I realized it was probably a dealing with Coca Cola. So they created even more waste to keep competing labels out of the arena.” (Actually, that’s part of the “ONLY NCAA CUPS ALLOWED BEYOND THIS POINT” marketing bullshit). … Jonas Nordman asks if Kentucky player James Young has a “trademarked Nike t-shirt”? … Last weekend I mistakenly labeled this matchup as Tennessee/Michigan. Well, they did play last night, and photo submitter William Hughes noted, “I bet Katherine [sic] loved this one!”
Grab Bag: Did you know there are “lost” Nike commercials? Well, they’ve been found and you can now watch them (thanks, Brinke). … Stop whatever you’re doing for the next two-ish minutes and take a look at this: “Never thought I would live to see a ‘Generic Brand Video’,” writes David Firestone. “But here we are.” Freakin’ genius. … Syracuse is getting new lacrosse unis. … And there is more on that, including this insight from Casey Vock (editor of Inside Lacrosse) who notes, “Sleeveless uniforms for lacrosse, for an actual college game, is a new thing and likely to stir up a lot of discussion. I used to have a saying at grad school in Syracuse: ‘gettin’ loose in the ‘Cuse.’ This gives that a whole new meaning for lacrosse players.” … Jeremy Brahm asks, “Is this the worst serif for a ’6′?” This is from the French National Volleyball League and the team in question is Tours. … DC Comics has unveiled a 75th Anniversary Logo for Batman (thanks, Brinke). … Pretty cool idea from a student on how to save money by using the “garamond” font, which uses less ink than other fonts (h/t to Clint Richardson). … And finally, there’s nothing that upsets a UWer more than socks with an apostrophe catastrophe (great find by Ryan Pastrovich).
That’s it for today folks. Make sure you vote for your favorite design in this week’s Lewis & Clark entry. And if you’re looking for the UWFFL, it’s taking a hiatus from Uni Watch, but you can still follow the developments on the uwfantasyfootballleague.com.
Everyone have a great Saturday and I’ll be back with more tomorrow.
“I think it’s a very fair assumption to make that Dan Snyder has done more for Native’s than the people who have come out of the woodwork the past year to smear him and his team without providing a detailed excel spreadsheet about it.”
[Editor's Note: Today's main entry is from intern Mike Chamernik, who has something very appropriate for the onset of the baseball season.]
By Mike Chamernik
When I turned 14 in 2004, my dad gave me a pretty swell birthday gift. Even back then he knew I enjoyed history, nostalgia, and aesthetically-pleasing sports memorabilia, so he surprised me with a gift bag filled with, among other items, old scorecards. The bag included Cubs scorecards from 1966 to 1978, plus the 1990 and 1995 versions, and Cardinals scorecards from 1966 and 1972. You can see some of the covers and interior pages in the slideshow above.
While the Cardinals scorecards (does anyone call them the Cards’ ’cards?) are nice, the Cubs’ programs are the true gems. The 1966 to 1971 editions featured cover artwork from longtime Cubs graphic artist Otis Shepard. As you may recall, Paul recently featured a 1937 article about him. Even though he died in 1969, some of his artwork must have been released posthumously, because the 1970 and 1971 cards have “Shepard” inscribed on the back covers — interesting that he created the template for the back-cover advertisement, in addition to doing the front-cover artwork (for all of these, you can click to enlarge):
Shepard had a distinctive style that was very visually pleasing. The artwork was angular and geometric yet colorful and striking. This cover uses vibrant warm and cool colors along with white and black, and notice how the lines intersect and even up — the top of the fielder’s arm, the back of his neck and back of his cap are all on one curved line:
This scorecard uses the minimalist approach. It has very little detail — the only features on the two men are noses and ears on the faces, a tie for the ump, and a belt and triangular stirrups on the manager — but it works very well:
Although Shepard’s artwork was no longer being used by the late 1970s, the two programs in my collection from that period show dustings of his influence, as you can see here:
By the 1990s, the Cubs had switched to using action photos (and ads!) on the scorecard covers — a big shift away from the old illustration-based style:
My favorite scorecard is the 1971 Cubs edition. I’m not sure if all the programs that year had a printing error that made the colors appear out of registration, but the one I have is really trippy. It captures — perhaps inadvertently — the psychedelic era of baseball:
Another cool thing about these cards (and, unfortunately, my scorecards aren’t with me at my current residence so I couldn’t scan them) is that in the Cardinals cards, not only is the score kept throughout the game but the keeper, my great-aunt, wrote brief annotated notes. She jotted down game action descriptions but also noted what the teams were wearing, what the vendors were selling, and even what color the seats were. I remember the Busch Stadium seats were described as salmon-colored. This is extremely fascinating to read 40 or 50 years after the fact; it has a time capsule effect.
Getting the scorecards as a gift inspired me to collect scorecards myself. I even used to keep score of games and write my own notes and stuff. Too bad the more contemporary scorecards aren’t as cool as the old ones.
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Chart-toppers: Paul here. Last week I wrote that piece about the role of cultural critics and how critical tastes relate to popular tastes. That piece included the following bit:
[P]eople now have more ways than ever to express their tastes. They can start blogs, post on Twitter, vote on American Idol, and so on. This reminds me of … the advent of the People’s Choice Awards [in the 1970s]. Even though I was just a kid at the time, I remember thinking, “What’s the point? Don’t we already know who the ‘people’s choice’ winners are, just by looking at sales figures? Who needs an award for that?” The situation nowadays, with all the internet-driven ways people can express themselves, is like a giant, society-wide version of the People’s Choice Awards.
I thought of that passage yesterday when an interesting bit of news came over the wire. But before I get to that news, let me backtrack for a minute: The years I attended college (1982-1986) were right when MTV was starting up and becoming really popular. I was lucky enough to work at and then co-manage an on-campus record store at the time, and we always had copies of Billboard magazine, the trade journal of the music biz, at the store. Billboard, of course, is famous for its music charts, which supposedly measure sales and popularity, and it was around this time, I think in ’84, that they added a chart for music videos. I recall saying to another person at the store, “Wait a minute — this doesn’t make any sense,” because music videos at that time began and ended with MTV airplay. There was no YouTube (duh), and VHS sales of music videos were still in their infancy. So the Billboard music video chart was really just measuring what MTV felt like playing, which wasn’t a measure of popularity — it was just a measure of one company’s content choices (which were presumably influenced by all sorts of corporate graft from the music labels). True, Billboard also ran lots of radio airplay charts, but those were aggregated from hundreds, maybe thousands of stations, so at least they presented a composite snapshot of something fairly broad (even if it was only a snapshot of how payola worked at that time). The video chart was just a snapshot of MTV. Who needed a chart for that?
About 10 years later, in 1993, I found myself working for Billboard, at least peripherally. I never wrote for the magazine but I was the senior editor for its book division, Billboard Books. We did mostly chart-based books like The Billboard Book of Top 40 Hits, The Billboard Book of One-Hit Wonders, and so on — bathroom books, basically (and I mean that in the best sense of the term). It was around this time that Billboard’s sales charts to reflect bar-code sales data from SoundScan, instead of using self-reported sales figures phoned in from record stores (plus whatever bribes and graft were still baked into the system). SoundScan totally rewrote the Billboard charts — country and rap artists had claimed for years that their album sales were seriously underrepresented under the old system (maybe they just didn’t know who to bribe), and it turned out they were right: Once the SoundScan numbers were factored in, country and rap artists suddenly shot to the top of the album charts, often debuting at No. 1. I was uncomfortably aware of the fact that most of the chart-based books I was working on were based on old, pre-SoundScan chart data that was almost certainly bogus.
I left Billboard Books in 1996 but have kept an eye on the goings-on in the Billboard world. The magazine has been bought and sold a few times over the years, and my sense is that it’s been struggling, which I guess is no surprise when you consider that Billboard operates in one beleaguered industry that’s been brought to its knees by the internet (trade journalism) and chronicles the workings of another (recorded music sales).
All of which is very lengthy way of saying I was particularly interested to see the news yesterday that Billboard is adding a new chart for — get this — music-related tweets. Key quote, from Twitter’s “head of music” (who knew Twitter had a “head of music”?), Bob Moczydlowsky: “We want music business decisions to be based on Twitter data.”
Now, Twitter is extremely useful for a great many things. But I’d like to think that everyone reading this is smart and well-informed enough to know that it’s ridiculously easy to manipulate Twitter data. With a little bit of money, for example, you can buy yourself 5,000 new followers, and there are all sorts of automated things you can set up to present a distorted view of reality. Does anyone really expect “music business decisions to be based” on something that malleable? (Maybe they do. After all, the pre-SoundScan Billboard charts offered a distorted sense of reality too.)
But here’s the thing: Even if Twitter data were reliable, what would it tell us aside from what Billboard’s other charts already tell us? “Look, Beyoncé is trending!” — wow, there’s a scoop for ya. It’s like a giant version of the People’s Choice Awards all over again — popular taste reaffirming itself. Nothing new about that, but it’s still pretty fascinating.
Soccer News: Pretty sure we’d already seen a leak of Portugal’s World Cup away jersey, but now it’s been officially unveiled (thanks, Phil). … Incidentally, I’ve been working on a big World Cup column for ESPN. But since I don’t know jack about soccer uniforms, longtime reader/contributor Trevor Williams has been assisting me, and he’s being doing a sensational job. I’ve learned about soccer uni history just by reading and editing his copy! Thanks again, Trevor.
Grab Bag: Here’s another one of those mock-untucked basketball jerseys. That’s Canton McKinley High from Ohio in 1989 (big thanks to Vince Guardado). … Here’s some box lacrosse video from 1994. “Too much spandex, tons of traditional sticks, and a football facemask in a pro lacrosse game, which terrifies me still,” says Connor Wilson. … Faaaascinating photo gallery of children from around the world in their bedrooms. Wait till you get to the kid from Kentucky (thanks, New Girl). … Here’s a new one: Maryland lacrosse — and maybe some other Terps sports, I’m not sure — has a “Farewell to the ACC” logo (from Anthony Pellegrino). … By the time we meet again next Monday, it will be baseball season! Isn’t that a nice thought? See you then.