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Wild Card: Fashion Faux Pas
If Jerry Seinfeld's right that we baseball fans really just root for laundry, then it only seems appropriate that, after all of the words spilled on new faces in new places (or rather, old faces in new laundry), we spill a few on the laundry itself. This year, the Diamondbacks and Reds have entirely new looks. New designs were sorely needed in both cases, though both could have done better than what they ultimately came up with. The Reds became victims of the dreaded black drop shadow in 1999 and, though they are one of the few teams with some historical claim to black as a team color, the Reds always looked better when they either stuck exclusively to red and white, or used navy instead of black. Their new duds greatly reduce the amount of black in their color scheme, but that blasted drop shadow is still there.
The Diamondbacks were the clear choice for worst uniform in the majors from the moment they entered the league in 1998. (So much for Buck Showalter's reputation as a traditionalist; even a dirt path to the pitchers mound couldn't make up for the Snakes' seemingly endless combinations of purple, teal, gold, and black.) They've finally toned things down, but now they just look like the Astros. Despite the lack of creativity in the D-backs' new design (see also the Washington Nationals), their wholesale color scheme change is actually rather historic.
Many teams have added or deleted third or even fourth colors (such as the Mets, Royals, Rangers, and Reds flirtation with black drop shadows in recent years). Some have completely inverted the significance of their main two colors (see the Angels and Rangers, who went from predominantly blue with red highlights to the reverse, and, in the case of the Rangers, back again). Others have made gradual changes to their color schemes, such as the Padres switching from yellow and brown, to yellow, orange, and brown, to just orange and brown, to orange and blue, to blue and "sand" over the course of a quarter century. Still others have made what amount to changes in tint, the most extreme being the Astros, whose colors had always been based in orange and navy, but who switched to rust and black in 2000. Similarly the White Sox have always used some combination of navy, black and red, though at different times they've reduced their color scheme to just one of the three, the most striking recent examples being their early ‘70s duds, the home versions of which looked exactly like their current home unis but whereas the current versions are entirely black and white, the 1971 to 1975 versions were entirely red and white.
What the Diamondbacks have done, however, is to change their entire color scheme in the course of a single winter, something that has only happened twice before in modern major-league history. The first time was in 1948 when the Pittsburgh Pirates, who had always worn some combination of blue and red, adopted the colors of the Pittsburgh city flag, the black and gold since worn by the city's other two major sports franchises, the NFL's Steelers and NHL's Penguins. The second came in the wake of Charlie O. Finley's 1961 purchase of the Kansas City Athletics. The Athletics too had worn only shades of blue with occasional use of red throughout their history in Philadelphia and Kansas City, but in their third year under Finley they took the field in colors Finley dubbed "kelly green," "Fort Knox gold," and "wedding gown white." Mickey Mantle said the A's, "should have come out of the dugout on tippy-toes, holding hands and singing." The Mick's homophobia aside, that sort of strong reaction was exactly what Finley was going for. His A's didn't just use their green and gold on stripes and text, they wore bright yellow vests and pants with green hats, green undersleeves, and green stirrups. Remember, this was back when uniforms were wool and the last active player to sport a moustache during the regular season was Frenchy Bordagaray in 1936. (Actually, there was a third instance, but the Brooklyn Dodgers' flirtation with green lasted just one season before they returned to their traditional Dodger blue, whereas the other two changes persist to this day, even despite such horrors as this).
What exactly the Diamonbacks are trying to accomplish with their new colors is more difficult to discern. The team's official press release stated that the new colors were "chosen to better represent the personality and beauty of Arizona." I get that. The connection between their new shade of red and the rocks in Sedona is obvious. But when the Pirates and A's made their palette changes, they distinguished themselves in the process. No other major-league team before or since has worn Finley's green and gold or Pittsburgh's green and black. The Diamondbacks, however, look almost exactly like the Astros, who have been wearing "brick red" and black since 2000, supposedly in tribute to the importance of railroads in Houston's history (which only makes sense for a team first named after a gun and then for the city's connection to the space program). Then again, anything that will prevent things like this from happening has got to be considered an improvement. It's just troubling that something so historic could seem so uninspired.
Cliff Corcoran is the co-author of Bronx Banter.
Labels: Wild Card
posted by SI.com | View comments |
Excellent stuff, Cliff. Pastels do not belong on a baseball uniform, as it's questionable if they belong on a man in any form. (see Miami Vice)
I remember when the charlotte hornets came into existence and they had the clothing designer, Alexander Julian, create their ghastly uni's. The franchise ending up leaving and I'm not sure if Mr. Julian is still in the designing business, either.
Good article, Cliff. Soemthing else I think is interesting about the new D-Backs uniform is they now feature the team name. Last year, they were one of only three teams (the Yankees and Tigers being the other two) to not have a nickname on either their home or road jerseys.
i really miss the simplicity in uniforms. 2 or 3 colors are a plenty. the cardinals have, to me, the best by far. it just looks classic and traditional and it looks like the game of baseball is about to commence. great colors. well placed on the uniform. symmetry is important. i agree with you on the Reds looking good in red and white. why did Kansas City and the NY Mets also pull black into their color scheme? they ruined an otherwise simple (blue, white and gold / blue, white and orange respectively) and unique uniform. i really wish i could "fix" the uniforms. some are tough to look at while trying to enjoy the game. i think the Orioles do it well. The Yankees and White Sox and Tigers too, by keeping it very simple. Change isn't always good. I like the Braves and how they returned to the Milwaukee/Boston roots. Oh yeah, the Red Sox have a wonderful uniform full of tradition. I like that the Phillies revisited a classic. I'm not a fan of too many logos on the sleeves and on the side of hats either. I don't like that enourmous patch on the side of the hats of the World Series teams. It makes me nervous as one change usually leads to another.
Watch, the D'Backs will add some gold trim around their numbers and end up looking like USC. I liked the old D'Back uniform precisely because they were crazy and unique. They also reminded me of the good 'ol days of the 1970's, when the Astros had the best (worst) uniforms ever. And say what you will about the color schemes then, but you had a lot of teams wearing road uniforms in powder blue, which beats the heck out of the 'modern' trend towards drab gray (why not go back to wool while they're at it?). Finally, this needs to be said: the most colorful World Series had to be the 1979 matchup between Pittsburgh and Baltimore, which featured no small amount of black, but also bright yellow, bold orange, and smooth white. And it was probably one of the greatest Series in history. Coincidence?
The Red Sox uniform, pure class. Same for the Cardinals. The Mets on the other hand have uniforms that are more appropriate to open up Barnum and Bailey Circus. What ugly combinations of blue,NOT NAVY BLUE, orange, white and black all mixed together in an ugly mess that represents the height of poor taste.Maybe they want opposing teams to laugh themselves to death so they can win the game. Just put Navy Blue, with orange on white uniforms and make a statement that we are a professional team.
Great article, but those new D'backs jerseys are great for Arizona fans period.
THERE ARE TOO MANY TEAMS IN SPORTS THAT WEAR RED UNIFORMS!!!!!!!!
An excellent example is the English Premier League and now Baseball can be a prime example
Of course, this year the Pirates have added a red alternate top (an alternate cap in recent years had a red bill). When I saw it unveiled, I was wondering who in the Bucs' front office was a University of Maryland fan -- the red, black and gold looks like something the Terrapin baseball team would wear. (Ironically, the Terps' latest uniform design evokes their new baseball neighbors, the Washington Nationals; the "TERRAPINS" looks like a clone of the "NATIONALS" on the Washington jerseys, and the numbers are similar, too.)
Cliff, you kind of lost me when you said that the uniform changes were needed. I disagree. In fact, they were a step backward for both. You don't have to believe me. A plurality of Diamondback fans consider the change to be bad. Just check on Wikipedia under "Diamondbacks". As for the Reds, their uniforms last year- black and red- were distinctive. Now they just look mundane. There is a common misconception among baseball marketing people that changing the team's colors or something else central to the team's identity will improve marketing efforts. Never mind the fact that it might back-fire and alienate some fans.
Uniform colors are not the only key aspect of a team's identity that gets messed around with for the sake of money. In the case of my Yankees, they're pulling the plug on Yankee Stadium in a couple years. And this is another revenue-increasing idea, mind you.
I think it all boils down to money and marketing. Other than the never-changing traditional uniforms (Yankees, Tigers, etc), these teams that are constantly changing are forcing their fans who purchase jerseys, etc. to continue to buy the new updated merchandise. It is a way to draw attention to themselves in a marketing way. Whatever happened to keeping a team's identity and just playing ball. Free agents, who despite saying "it's not about the money" consistently prove it is about the money and fan gouging by greedy owners ($5 for a beer at the ballpark...give me a break) all go to prove that greed and profits rule the day and the fan be damned.
More interesting: The fact that SI.com can post an entire column about the D-Backs' uniform and color change, but - almost a week into the season - they still haven't managed to upload Arizona's correct new logo.
Who gives a flying %^$@ about the color or design of the uniforms. Next you will be talking about hairdos and whether a uniform makes me look fat or not (u sound like some women I know). WHO CARES !!! Lets play BASEBALL.........
I think the Diamondbacks should have cut out some of their all-too numerous previous colors and become distinctive, rather than simply blending in with the Cardinals, Nationals, and Astros.
Also, how 'bout the Giants' uniforms? They are extremely simple, good looking, and distinctive at the same time- does anyone else have the old school cream colored tops?
I think all MLB teams should just switch to red and get it over with. I am a D-backs fan and I LOVED their old uniforms -- unique and traditional, as far as AZ baseball goes. If they really need to change something why not start winning again (remember 2001)? That would be a welcome change. Squished-bug red will not help them win but it turns my stomach.
My current favorite has got to be the Seattle Mariners. Simple, solid colors that have been consistent and attractive for about the last 14 seasons. The lone exception was the awful "Northwest Green" sleeveless alternative jersey from about 1995-1997.
it's ALL about the money.
I WISH i could get a $5 beer at Chavez Ravine.
's cute, labelling the mick with "homophobia" now that he's gone. are we sure he was scared? maybe just contemptuous, although wrongly so.
Julian's is very much still in buisness: http://www.julianstyle.com/. Alexander Juilan also did the Tar Heels argyle-styled uniforms. Make of that what you like ...
I think that the Mariners change should be considered a whole-sale change in color scheme. I mean, yeah...they stayed with a certain HUE of blue...but it's a totally different look.
There's a world of difference in Navy versus Royal as far as blues go.
And silver versus "gold" (which was really a rich yellow).
As a citizen of Seattle, I must say that I appreciate the current color scheme so very much. And they have one of the better unis in MLB as far as I'm concerned.
Now, if they could just put together a team that would match the quality of their unis and Ichiro, then all would be better...
"The Diamondbacks were the clear choice for worst uniform in the majors from the moment they entered the league in 1998."
No, the clear choice for bad was - and still is - the Rockies. Bad colors, bad use of overlapping C and R. They used to have an icon that had the Rockies in the bkgd that looked good on a brochure, but bad on a t-shirt or uni. Rockies, clearly the worst.
Baseball is just doing what it always does, the teams without a strong theme follow the fashion trend about a decade late (black and red). Now everyone is going to piping on the sleeves and pants. Arizona's uniform design is nice, but their colors are too much like Houston. What about the Twins updating their look?
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