A guide to Uni Watch-ing the World Series
October, 24, 2012
By Paul Lukas | ESPN.com
Ezra Shaw/Getty ImagesGiants reliever Sergio Romo's striped socks are one unique uni detail to spot during the World Series.Once the four teams for the American and National League championship series were set, it was clear this year's World Series would be very easy on the eyes. And now that the Giants and Tigers have advanced, we can settle in for what should be a very good-looking Fall Classic.
But while the Giants' and Tigers' uniforms might appear simple enough, there are some nuances lurking beneath their seemingly straightforward surfaces. Here's a list of 10 uni-related details to watch for as the World Series unfolds:
1. D day. Whenever the Tigers make it to the World Series, that's when the rest of America discovers what denizens of the uni-verse already know: The Tigers' jersey logo and cap logo don't match. This isn't a unique phenomenon (the Yankees' cap and jersey logos don't match either), but the difference between the two logos is pretty pronounced.
2. The sultan of stripes. If a Giants player chooses to wear his pants high-cuffed, we get to see his plain black socks. Simple enough -- except in the case of reliever Sergio Romo, who wears striped black socks. The Giants actually introduced the striped socks back in 2010, but most players stopped wearing them and went back to solid black -- except for Romo. If only more teammates would follow his lead.
3. Le grand orange. The Giants and Tigers both have orange trim on their uniforms (albeit only on the road in Detroit's case). This marks the first time we've had two orange-clad World Series teams since 1984, when the Tigers faced the Padres.
4. You can't tell the players without a scorecard. Quick, name the only three teams in all of North American pro sports whose jerseys have NNOB (that's "no name on back," for those of you who don't speak uni). Right, the Yankees do it for every game, and the Red Sox do it at home. And the third team? The Giants, who've been going NNOB at home since 2000.
5. Loop-de-loop. Most MLB pants have wide belt tunnels. But the Tigers use conventional belt loops -- lots and lots of belt loops. The loops have been a Tigers visual signature at least since the days of Al Kaline. Why? No reason -- just one of those little quirks.
Elsa/Getty ImagesThe Detroit Tigers' distinctive belt loops are put to good use by Prince Fielder.
7. Hosiery hero. Most MLB managers grew up and played during the era of high-cuffed pants, but most of them have now given in to the low-cuffed pajama look. But Tigers skipper Jim Leyland still goes with the old-school high cuffs. Nicely done, Jim.
8. A glove story. Most hitters wear two batting gloves, and a handful of players wear no batting gloves. But Giants outfielder Hunter Pence is that rarest of species: the single-glover. How long has it been since a single-glover appeared in a World Series? Uni Watch isn't sure, but it's definitely been a long time, probably more than a decade. Pretty amazing, given how common single-glovers were back in the day.
Jake Roth/US PresswireHunter Pence is the rare one-glover when it comes to batting gloves.
9. Coke is it. PepsiCo has a huge branding footprint in the World Series. It has the Series' official soft drink (Pepsi), the official salty snack brand (Frito-Lay), the official isotonic beverage (Gatorade), the official energy bar (Gatorade again) and the official quick-service restaurant (Taco Bell, which is owned by the PepsiCo-affiliated Yum Brands). So imagine how irritated all those PepsiCo executives are going to be each time Tigers reliever Phil Coke comes in to pitch. You just know that big "Coke" on the back of his jersey is going to drive them bonkers.
10. Check your head. Each MLB equipment manager has his own system for labeling all the batting helmets. Some put uni numbers on the back; some put uni numbers on the brim; some put the players' names on little labels on the brim. But Giants equipment manager Miguel Murphy, who's been with the team for more than 50 years, has a much more direct system: For years, he's put the players' names on the back of the helmets in big, white letters that nobody can miss. Truth be told, Uni Watch thinks the oversized lettering looks a tad clunky, but it's still cool that Murphy has his own distinct style for this oft-overlooked uni element.
One other item of note: The Tigers don't have a solid-colored alternate jersey in their wardrobe, and we won't be seeing the Giants' orange alternate jersey (it's worn only on Fridays, and there are no Friday games scheduled for this World Series). So there will be no softball tops in this year's Fall Classic -- we already know that every game will feature home whites against road grays. Which is how a World Series should be.
Paul Lukas always roots for the National League team in the World Series. If you liked this column, you'll probably like his daily Uni Watch web site, plus you can follow him on Twitter and Facebook. Want to learn about his Uni Watch Membership Program, be added to his mailing list so you'll always know when a new column has been posted, or just ask him a question? Contact him here.