Predicting how the future will look is always a dicey proposition (remember those old “World of Tomorrow” exhibitions, which said that by now we’d all be living in space colonies and hip-deep in leisure time?), but Major League Baseball is giving it a shot. After several years of popular “Turn Back the Clock” games featuring old-style uniforms, MLB and corporate sponsor Century 21 have begun staging 14 “Turn Ahead the Clock” games, with “futuristic” unis that supposedly reflect how the game might look in 2021.
At its core, of course, this is just a way for Century 21 (which also sponsored the horrific jerseys worn in last month’s Home Run Derby) to buy itself some publicity and for teams to sell yet another cap design. But oy, those uniforms—if this is the future, then maybe a Y2K meltdown wouldn’t be such a bad thing. The garish color schemes make Uni Watch want to turn back the clock to the days of black-and-white TV, and many of the jerseys feature outlandishly enlarged logos that make the players look like walking beach towels. As one of Uni Watch’s associates put it after seeing the designs, “What, are we all of a sudden gonna lose our minds in 2021?” The only team whose futuristic uniform doesn’t look appreciably worse than its current one is the Devil Rays—apparently, they couldn’t sink any lower.
Eight teams, including the tradition-minded Yankees, declined to participate. But the Mets, who seem to revel in this type of embarrassing promotion (can Karaoke Night be far behind?), really outdid themselves, billing the team as “the Mercury Mets, making their only Earth appearance” for the July 27 game against Pittsburgh. Interestingly, the club’s silvery, metallic-looking jerseys have a little-known antecedent: the shiny satin unis that several teams—including the Brooklyn Dodgers—experimented with for night games in the 1940s. Not exactly the most futuristic reference point, but Uni Watch figures it’s the kind of irony that Century 21 can appreciate, since the futurist equity in the company’s name will soon be rendered moot by the calendar.