Uni Watch: Baseball's K's and hits
What with the Super Bowl and the Winter Olympics, it's easy to have missed all the uni-related news that's been coming from the world of Major League Baseball over the past two weeks or so.
So let's take a team-by-team look at the latest MLB developments that may have flown under your personal radar. In each case, we'll apply Uni Watch's key litmus test for uniform changes: Is it good or is it stupid? In case you're new to Uni Watch (or just need a refresher course), the idea here is that a failed design doesn't deserve to be called bad unless it's a failed attempt at being good. If it was never trying to be good in the first place, which is almost always the case with failed uniform designs these days, then it should simply be labeled stupid.
With that in mind, here's the alphabetical rundown of teams that have made adjustments to their uniform sets over the past couple of weeks:
1. A's: Oakland has made two significant changes, beginning with the logo on its road cap, which has changed from gold to white outlined with gold (click to enlarge):
The color change is welcome -- the white pops more than the gold. But the gold outlining is unnecessary and makes the logo feel a bit too clunky. Compare this new road cap logo to the white logo on the home cap -- see how the home logo looks sleeker?
So is it good or is it stupid? A little bit of both.
In addition, the A's have redesigned their green alternate jersey, which will now have a simple "A's" insignia, instead of a script "Athletics" (click to enlarge):
As you can see, they've made another gold-to-white change here. That shift is also reflected on the back of the new green jersey.
The new design doesn't look bad, but it mirrors the template of the A's gold jersey, so now the green and gold options look like copies of each other. They were better off with more variety. Slightly stupid.
2. Braves: Atlanta has transformed its garish red alternate jersey -- by far the worst design in the team's wardrobe -- into a "military appreciation" jersey by removing the tomahawk, sprinkling stars across the chest insignia, and adding an American flag sleeve patch (click to enlarge):
The Braves will wear this jersey five times in 2014 (the dates are listed at the end of this article). That's eight fewer times than they wore the red alternate last season, so let's count that as a plus. But it will take more than some stars to keep this bright red jersey from sticking out like a sore thumb, and the explosion of star-spangled and camouflage jersey designs has become a tiresome cliché -- enough already. Stupid.
Meanwhile, the Braves are also adding a new sleeve patch to mark the 40th anniversary of Hank Aaron's record-breaking 715th home run:
Much like the Cardinals' Stan Musial memorial patch from last season, the signature makes the patch feel more personal but also detracts a bit from the impact of the numerals. Overall, though, a nice gesture to commemorate a historic event. Good.
3. Dodgers: For the past 15 seasons, the Dodgers have worn a "Los Angeles" script on their road grays. But now they're adding an alternate gray jersey with the same "Dodgers" script they wear on their home whites (click to enlarge):
The Dodgers wearing "Dodgers" on the road isn't a new thing -- they did that from 1970 through 1998. It's not a bad look, but come on, everyone knows it's better to wear your city name on the road -- that's Baseball Unis 101. And this new trend of teams having two different sets of road grays (also exemplified by the Giants and Cubs) is getting out of hand. This feels like a pretty obvious attempt to boost jersey sales -- no more, no less. Stupid.
4. Giants: The Giants have a new design for their Friday orange jersey, like so (click to enlarge):
That script "Giants" chest lettering has always been a big favorite here at Uni Watch HQ. It was featured on most of the team's jerseys from 1977 through 1982, including an orange road jersey that was similar to the newly unveiled Friday orange alternate. In a perfect world, of course, the Giants wouldn't need an alternate orange jersey. But if they have to have one, this new version is definitely an upgrade. And it'll match that old BP cap that Willie Mays always likes to wear. Good enough.
5. Red Sox: New road jersey for the Sox, who are changing their lettering and numbers from navy to red (click to enlarge):
If that new design looks familiar, it should -- it's essentially the same road jersey the Bosox wore from 1990 through 2009. It's a huge improvement, too. The flat navy typography of the past four seasons was too plain, too blah. Now the Sox once again have a road jersey that matches the elegance and pop of their home whites. Very good.
6. Twins: The Twins have had two navy alternate jerseys in recent years -- one for home, one for the road. Now they're scrapping the home version, along with their "M" alternate cap (click to enlarge):
No team needs two separate blue alternate jerseys (looking at you, Mets), and the Twins already have two other home jerseys, so ditching the navy home alternate is the right move. And getting rid of the "M" cap is a textbook case of addition by subtraction. Good.
Paul Lukas will have all the rest of this year's MLB uniform changes in his annual season-preview column, which should appear in late March. If you liked this column, you'll probably like his Uni Watch Blog, 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.
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