Independence Weekend Uniform Crazies
Today is July 6th, meaning that I’ve just started readjusting to meals not of the 12 oz. long-necked variety. So, forgive me if it took a while to adjust to the fact that the past three days worth of baseball wasn’t some strange patchwork of asinine MLB-orchestrated celebrations weaved into a nightmarish weekend of bad fashion decisions…this shit actually happened.
I first noticed the orchestration of this league-wide travesty during the Wednesday highlights for the middle game of the Giants vs. Cubs series. Upon first glance, I noted that my television might be a bit out of focus – “Are those really navy blue hats the Giants are wearing?” I pondered. In retrospect, I might have believed the drinks I consumed to mourn yet another Padres’ loss were the culprit, but make no mistake. While the Cubs hid this secret a bit better, the Giants’ hats were just completely out of whack. I didn’t think much about this, maybe it was just a one-off thing. Therefore, out of sight out of mind and I went to bed none the wiser. Then, without warning, I wake up on Friday morning and this happened…
It’s Captain America’s wet dream. Keep in mind, this isn’t even Varitek’s first venture into bad baseball fashion decisions this season, but it’s definitely the flashiest (although, you could argue that his Memorial Day garb was a bit worse). At first I believed this was merely an attempt for Varitek to draw attention away from his recent 12-for-100 slide at the plate, but at least this went to a good cause. Varitek, like last season, would auction this off with Children’s Hospital Boston. More importantly, however, this signified the beginning of a holiday weekend that would promote my least favorite baseball tradition: league-wide uniform trends.
Granted this didn’t necessarily creep up on people. Fred Wilpon, owner of the New York Mets, announced he was working on this with his “Welcome Back Veterans” program (complete w/Tom Hanks!) a while back and stated his desire to raise $100m from this particular endeavor. Worthy cause, and slapping a few logos on the bases and enduring three days worth of crappy hat designs isn’t the end of the world…but, c’mon. Is it not enough that we, as Padres fans, have to endure the occasional blue-on-sand uniform ensemble? What about the fact that our team’s uniform bears a striking resemblance to nearly a half dozen other teams (namely, this one)?
What’s worse, is we were given a firsthand example of how camouflage uniforms are supposed to look (Green hats? GREEN HATS!?!?!). Granted, the Reds’ attempt was a sad display (and, to spite us all, they wore them Saturday and Sunday), but the frickin’ South Sidin’ Pale Hosers got it right on the first try, guys. It might be a disgusting sight to behold bordering on uniform copyright infringement to the umpteenth degree, but they damned sure got it right. Just look at them:
Brown hat, matching pants…it’s beautiful. And I’ll be damned if Nick Swisher didn’t make it look even better. For being Major League Baseball’s self-proclaimed official Team of the Military, the Padres could at least take a style tip from these Chicagoans and present the camo uni to perfection.
But that’s not even the strangest thing that happened this weekend. While the Reds and White Sox busted out the Army fatigues and the majority of Major League Baseball busted out the Stars & Stripes, Fourth of July cap collection (which you can find and buy here), there were two occurrences this weekend that, I thought, put the icing on the crap cake that was this weekend’s baseball fashion:
1) Northern Shenanigans
The Blue Jays addressed the most pressing question of the week in stride: if the Stars & Stripes caps are specifically released to coincide with America’s independence, what’s a Canuck to do? In response, the Jays donned the best of the bunch, the l’Unifolié cap – a maple leafed sensation:
Forget for a second that it completely contrasts the entire aquamarine theme they’ve got going on…that puppy is visible from space. Awesome. And despite the fact that I watched a lifetime’s worth of History Channel programs on American independence this weekend, and my history degree reminds me that the French actually helped during the American Revolution (it did come in handy!), I’d like to believe that the reason I like this so much is because it’s throwing a giant middle finger to the entire spirit of the uniformity of these uniforms. It’s almost as ironic as seeing the Cleveland Indians sporting their logo in a star-spangled red, white, and blue. That should go along perfectly with smallpox blanket night.
2) Compound the Crazies
On Saturday, the Milwaukee Brewers and Pittsburgh Pirates did their best to throw this whole thing into flux and put on their best retro gear. No, these weren’t the Brewers’ Friday night specials they’ve been sporting (these beauties) – these were the uniforms of the Milwaukee Bears (1923) and the Pittsburgh Crawfords (1931-1938). That’s right, this was a Fourth of July weekend Negro League throwbacks celebration. Now, I’m all for a good cause and I can understand the merits behind wearing these jerseys during a symbolic weekend such as this one, but it was just an overload for me. We already have the ridiculous use of camouflage, standardized caps for every team, and fireworks celebrations around the country that present little history and as much visual stimulation as possible. To me, this cheapens the historical importance of these teams the Brewers and Pirates are honoring. Don’t get me wrong, though – these were some sweet unis.
This seems like poor timing. The perfect solution would have been to bust these puppies out in the weeks around and after the Negro Leagues Player Draft back in June, when most would be aware of the historical relevance. The message is just lost during the hodgepodge of festivities surrounding Fourth of July weekend. Instead, it looks like the players are taking advantage of every excuse to rock the Ronnie Belliard pajama pants look:
Yet, there is a silver lining to this story. For what it’s worth – and I’m sure Ray would agree – Mike Cameron is missed for more than just his glove and bat. He’s still proven to be a master at rocking the throwback uni.