Uni Watch’s fifth annual Major League Baseball roundup begins with the welcome news that the game’s most egregious stylistic sin of recent years—the footie-pajama look—is dead. New MLB guidelines mandate at least an inch of clearance between shoes and pant cuffs. Pant-leg modification is off-limits too, which means Barry Bonds can no longer loop a strip of fabric from his pant legs under his shoes, Manny Ramirez can no longer remove the elastic from his pant cuffs, and Dmitri Young can no longer lace his shoes through a slit in his pant legs. Such policies are only as good as their enforcement, natch, and Uni Watch’s long-held fantasy of restoring pant lengths to mid-shin remains just that, but this is a good start.
In less momentous developments:
• The Blue Jays have a sharp new logo, featuring a cool-looking avian character. It will appear everywhere the old logo did—caps, left jersey sleeves, and vest jersey fronts. Colors, lettering, and everything else stay the same.
• The Red Sox have gotten redder, adding a garish solid-crimson alternate jersey and dugout jacket, both of which will have fans reaching for their sunglasses, even at night (“We’ll be visible from space,” cracked one player). Look for these experiments to be quietly shelved next season. Less objectionable is the team’s switch from navy undersleeves to red, a look the franchise last sported in 1911. Meanwhile, the new crackdown on uni modification means Pedro Martinez can’t slit his jersey sleeves anymore (but he’ll probably do it anyway).
• This year’s sleeve patches commemorate the usual assortment of team anniversaries (Marlins), stadium openings (Reds) and closings (Phillies), and the All-Star Game (White Sox). Interestingly, the Giants are wearing a “National League Champions” patch, which is akin to saying, “We lost the World Series.” Perhaps silence would have been a wiser option. The classiest sleeve-wear belongs to the Astros, whose patch memorializes the crew of the Columbia space shuttle. And the crassest situation is in Chicago, where the White Sox have removed their Comiskey Park sleeve patches, because their stadium is now called U.S. Cellular Field (a name that, thankfully, does not appear on a patch—so far).
• As you may have noticed during spring training, all teams have new batting-practice jerseys and caps (the Mets, predictably, have the worst of both). Such ancillary garb is usually beneath Uni Watch’s contempt, but this year’s developments feature two noteworthy design details: The caps have contrast-colored brim edges (some tasteful, some awful), and most of the jerseys have contrast-colored underarm gussets (atrocious). Will these elements soon appear in actual game unis? Anne Occi, MLB’s design services director, says, “We have no plans for that at this time.” Probable translation: “First we have to see how the batting practice merch sells.”
• Finally, two small morsels of aesthetic progress: The Diamondbacks have discontinued their purple alternate jersey, and the Marlins have changed their home pinstripes from teal to black.
And on the seventh day, Bud Selig rested.