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There's an awful quarter of a second right before a batted ball hits a pitcher in the head when everyone realizes what's about to happen and no one -- not even the pitcher himself -- can do anything about it. J.A. Happ experienced that worst-case scenario in Tuesday night's game against the Rays, when a line drive by Desmond Jennings sent him to the hospital. Happ is in stable condition, fortunately, and is likely to be discharged from the hospital Wednesday, but something like this inevitably brings the issue of pitcher safety to the forefront. Helmets or other protective gear may be a tough sell, but it could be worth it the next time a line drive hisses toward a defenseless pitcher.

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Jerry Seinfeld famously said that because of the way players constantly change teams and teams occasionally change cities, sports fans are actually rooting for clothes.

"You are standing and cheering and yelling for your clothes to beat the clothes from another city," he said. "Fans will be so in love with a player, but if he goes to another team, they boo him. This is the same human being in a different shirt, but they hate him now. 'Booo!!! It's a different shirt! Booo!!!!'"

Well, he's right about that. We do root for clothes. And against clothes. As well we should. If Yankees pinstripes or red socks or Dodger blue or, worst of all, those powder blue alternate Royals tops don't get your blood boiling, then you're not a true fan.

#UniBattle

Which is why we're holding our Battle of the Uniforms. As Seinfeld said, what is most important is not the player but what the player is wearing. And no, we're not just talking about Kevin Youkilis, but that's a good example.

It's the uniform that is most important. After all, your team may stink. It may not have had a winning record in 20 years. It may not have reached the postseason in your lifetime. It may not have reached the World Series in your grandparents' lifetimes. But chances are your closet is still overflowing with your team's replica jerseys that you proudly wear to the ballpark, the office or the nightclub.

We can look at the standings and know which teams are on top, but which teams have the best uniforms? Which designs have stood the test of time, and which are as dated as the grunge look? Do you prefer the classic look of Detroit's old English "D" on the chest and the Yankees pinstripes? Or do you appreciate the South Beach neon look of the Marlins' jerseys? Should the bill of a cap be as profoundly curved as Christina Hendricks or as flat as the Marlins' offense? Should socks be visible to midcalf, to the knee, or tucked under baggy pants legs?

All this is for you to decide. We've seeded all 30 teams based on their standard home and road uniforms and placed them in a bracket. Throughout the week, you'll have new matchups to vote on each day until only one uniform is left standing. We'll announce the winner next Monday.

Until then, we'll also provide stories and lists about such things as what caused the god-awful '70s look, the rules for when and how to wear replica jerseys, and the good, the bad and the ugly of uniforms throughout the decades.

So check out the bracket. Read our style analysis. Vote for your favorite uniforms. Vote against the ones you hate. And keep checking back each day to see which teams advance and who ultimately tops your best-dressed list.

One request: We know people can get pretty passionate about uniforms, but please keep things civil. If the fashion police can't maintain order, we may have to call in the security in those Padres camouflage jerseys.

--Jim Caple

Note: Detroit Tigers and St. Louis Cardinals have first-round byes; first-round polls close at
9 a.m. Tuesday, and the next round begins shortly thereafter.

Mobile users: To vote, click here.

Jim Caple bracket: American League


(2) Yankees vs. (15) Indians

With one of sports' greatest logos (the Tiffany-designed NY) pitted against one of the worst (Chief Wahoo), this battle should be as lopsided as the trade that sent Graig Nettles from Cleveland to New York.

SportsNation

Which set of uniforms is best?

  •  
    70%
  •  
    30%

Discuss (Total votes: 193,377)


(3) White Sox vs. (14) Rangers

With that great SOX design across the chest, this should be a much more favorable matchup for Robin Ventura against Texas than when he charged Nolan Ryan.

SportsNation

Which set of uniforms is best?

  •  
    67%
  •  
    33%

Discuss (Total votes: 188,374)


(4) Astros vs. (13) Orioles

The Orioles would stand a much better chance if this were the late 1970s and early '80s when their white-front cap style was in fashion and the Astros were wearing rainbows.

SportsNation

Which set of uniforms is best?

  •  
    21%
  •  
    79%

Discuss (Total votes: 189,013)


(5) Royals vs. (12) Rays

K.C. should win this matchup … unless the Royals wear their powder blue alternate tops or Joe Maddon comes up with another great road-inspired costume theme for his players to wear.

SportsNation

Which set of uniforms is best?

  •  
    73%
  •  
    27%

Discuss (Total votes: 185,729)


(6) Red Sox vs. (11) Mariners

Have to favor the old classic Red Sox look in this matchup, unless Seattle's King Felix shows up wearing his crown and velvet robe.

SportsNation

Which set of uniforms is best?

  •  
    73%
  •  
    27%

Discuss (Total votes: 189,031)


(7) Blue Jays vs. (10) Athletics

The Jays should win this matchup. Then again, the Jays should look a lot better in their uniforms this year than they have so far. But never underestimate the power of an elephant.

SportsNation

Which set of uniforms is best?

  •  
    33%
  •  
    67%

Discuss (Total votes: 188,059)


(8) Twins vs. (9) Angels

In the logo battle between TC and the haloed A, the Twin Cities of Minnesota get a slight edge over the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim.

SportsNation

Which set of uniforms is best?

  •  
    40%
  •  
    60%

Discuss (Total votes: 78,485)

Paul Lukas bracket: National League


(2) Cubs vs. (15) Padres

A gorgeous, time-tested look versus a generic slate of blandness. Feels like a mismatch, right? But hey, upsets are always possible.

SportsNation

Which set of uniforms is best?

  •  
    86%
  •  
    14%

Discuss (Total votes: 187,159)


(3) Phillies vs. (14) Diamondbacks

Old-school versus new-school: The Phillies have had only two different uni templates since 1950; the Diamondbacks had two different uni templates within their first decade of existence.

SportsNation

Which set of uniforms is best?

  •  
    73%
  •  
    27%

Discuss (Total votes: 185,709)


(4) Pirates vs. (13) Marlins

Let's say you're a baseball player, and you can be drafted by the Pirates or the Marlins. Either way, you're gonna lose a lot of games. But wouldn't you rather lose them in that nice Pirates uni?

SportsNation

Which set of uniforms is best?

  •  
    81%
  •  
    19%

Discuss (Total votes: 186,409)


(5) Giants vs. (12) Rockies

Fun fact: The Rockies are the only MLB team that currently wears purple. But it may take more than that to defeat the classic look of the defending World Series champs.

SportsNation

Which set of uniforms is best?

  •  
    76%
  •  
    24%

Discuss (Total votes: 185,812)


(6) Dodgers vs. (11) Brewers

Say this much for the Brewers: They sure have a lot of uniforms (home, road, home alternate, road alternate, throwback, Spanish, Polish, Negro League, etc.). But does quantity equal quality?

SportsNation

Which set of uniforms is best?

  •  
    77%
  •  
    23%

Discuss (Total votes: 185,844)


(7) Mets vs. (10) Nationals

Granted, any uniform looks better when Stephen Strasburg or Bryce Harper is wearing it. But the Mets' look still feels more natural, while the Nats' feels forced.

SportsNation

Which set of uniforms is best?

  •  
    45%
  •  
    55%

Discuss (Total votes: 184,757)


(8) Braves vs. (9) Reds

Subtlest uni change of this season: The Braves changed the belt tunnel piping on their alternate road pants from red to blue. Will that garner any additional votes?

SportsNation

Which set of uniforms is best?

  •  
    61%
  •  
    39%

Discuss (Total votes: 187,168)

Battle of the Uniforms seedings

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R.A. Dickey

For a second consecutive start, reigning NL Cy Young Award winner R.A. Dickey failed to find his elite form from a year ago, getting lit up for eight runs (seven earned) Sunday against the Red Sox. Dickey is pitching in the American League for the first time since 2009 and working with a catcher who is unfamiliar with fielding his trademark hard knuckleball. But an 8.44 ERA wasn't what the Blue Jays were expecting when they signed Dickey to a two-year, $25 million extension this offseason. So are Dickey's troubles just early-season jitters, or a sign of things to come in Toronto?

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Brett Lawrie was ejected after his helmet hit umpire Bill Miller in the hip after Lawrie slammed it to the ground. Should he be punished further?

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Opening Day -- well, Opening Night, really, and we technically already had one of those in Japan, but who's counting? -- is finally here, as the Cardinals will take on the Marlins tonight in the first stateside regular-season MLB game. It's bound to be an exciting season with so many players having changed teams, but has the power structure been altered significantly?

Vote: Pick each division and pennant, and the winner of the World Series

Rank: Baseball's best teams? | Top players in the game?


World Series repeat?

The Cardinals prevailed over the Rangers in the 2011 World Series, but St. Louis lost its biggest gun this past offseason ...

SportsNation

Which team is more likely to make it back to the World Series?

  •  
    21%
  •  
    79%

Discuss (Total votes: 63,581)


Best player?

... which is a pretty big loss, considering he might be one of the best players of all time.

SportsNation

Which of these players would you most want on your team?

  •  
    6%
  •  
    17%
  •  
    6%
  •  
    39%
  •  
    32%

Discuss (Total votes: 64,564)


Odd one out?

The Red Sox missed the playoffs last season after an epic September collapse. Will they be on the outside looking in once again?

SportsNation

Which of these AL East teams is most likely to miss the playoffs?

  •  
    54%
  •  
    15%
  •  
    31%

Discuss (Total votes: 38,308)


AL's best?

Prince Fielder and Albert Pujols were probably the two biggest additions to teams in the American League, meaning the balance of power could shift.

SportsNation

Which is the best team in the American League?

  •  
    23%
  •  
    14%
  •  
    21%
  •  
    21%
  •  
    21%

Discuss (Total votes: 66,943)


NL's best?

Likewise, the addition of Jose Reyes to the Marlins could give the team a huge upgrade -- offensively with new third baseman Hanley Ramirez, and defensively at shortstop.

SportsNation

Which is the best team in the National League?

  •  
    10%
  •  
    10%
  •  
    46%
  •  
    8%
  •  
    26%

Discuss (Total votes: 63,887)

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