Monday, February 14, 2005

 

February 14th, 1911

Giants and Phillies put pinstripes on their uniforms

In putting the stripes on their uniforms, the Giants and Phils became the first teams to do so, as the story of the Yankees inventing pinstripes to make Babe Ruth appear thinner is, alas, apocryphal. Being that this is a relatively slow day, excepting of course the birth of future trivia answer Brad Halsey (name one player besides Javy Vazquez the Yankees traded for Randy Johnson). So with a tip of my cap towards Paul Lukas, I think I will do a run down of my Top 10 Best and Worst uniforms of the last score of seasons, which happens to exactly coincide with my lifetime:

The Worst:
(10) Seattle Mariners, All, 1987-1992: There is something to be said for simplicity. No Technicolor gingerbread, just the name of the team. The problem is that unless the team has some sort of history, some legacy, you need to have a little something. Otherwise, the jersey isn't simple. It’s boring.
(9) Toronto Blue Jays, All, 1984-1988: These are fine--although I'll confess to not understanding the wide-ranging fondness for light blues in the 80s
AL--except for the giant Blue Jay in middle. In 1989, the Jay was moved off-center, to considerable benefit.
(8) Boston Red Sox, Alternate Jersey, 2003-2004: Like the Yankees, Dodgers and a few others, the Sox jerseys are beautiful in their simplicity and elegance. White with red lettering and trim for home, gray with the same for away. And then there's this thing. A gaudy bright red disaster saved from a higher spot only because it’s rarely worn and was abolished after this past season (although you think the Sox would have learned their lesson about changing things after titles).
(7) Chicago White Sox, All, 1984-1988: The 1984-1986 versions are especially bad featuring a horizontal stripe, almost always a deal-breaker. But all are guilty of something that will put a uniform onto my Worst List every time: writing on the pants. You don't have text on pants, it just isn't done.

(6) Texas Rangers, All, 1984-1985: I'm not as opposed to alternate jerseys as some are, but this bunch just annoys me. Alternate jerseys are one thing but there should be a clearly defined home uniform and clearly defined road and then take it from there. You can't have an off-white road uniform if you have a white home uniform. I'm getting worked up here, let's move on.
(5) Florida Marlins Home, 1993-94: When it comes to uniforms, I'm fairly traditional. I like strong colors. Dark blues, blacks, reds, greens, and so on. Teal, needless to say, does not fall into this category and the Marlins jersey was just teal overload! Teal pinstripes, teal logo, teal undershirt, teal hat and, one imagines, a teal jockstrap.
(4) San Diego Padres, Road, 2004-Present: Ok, so its a little unfair showing David Wells in it, he's not exactly an ideal model, but even more modest sized players can't make it look good. According to the Padres that jersey color is "sand." Must be a
California thing.
(3) Various, "Turn Ahead the Clock," 1999: They were a one-off promotion sponsored by Century 21 (thus the notion of leaning towards the future). And we learned that apparently, the future is really, really ugly. The only comfort that could be found was for fans of the Cubs, Yankees, Dodgers, Reds and others who spared their fans the torture of players dressed like clowns, even for one game. You can brand uniforms, you can put ads on bases but please god, spare me the future uniforms.
(2) Anaheim Angels, All, 1997-2001: Goofy looking, poor colors and just awful all-around. There are but two goods things for be said for these uniforms: at least they did not look as goofy as their fellow Disney-owned
Anaheim based team and the year they got some decent unis, the baseball gods rewarded them with a World Title.
(1) San Diego Padres, All, 1984: These have, flying in the face of all logic, actually become somewhat popular in the throwback jersey market. These jerseys have almost no redeeming feature, the primary colors (besides white) being brown and mustard yellow. They're just ugly from start to finish. The trend of popular throwbacks has also revealed the '84 Pads completed a rare trifecta: Their batting practice jersey was ugly as sin too.

The Best:
(10) Seattle Mariners, Home and Away, 1993-Present: I'm avoiding the gruesome alternate teal jersey the M's sometimes wore in the early nineties and sticking with the design that came after the 1992 season. That uniform held this same space on the Worst List and its upgrade is for demonstrating how a new team and developed some sense of identity without looking like fools.
(9) New York Mets, Home, 1985-1986: For reasons I've never quite understood, these were always one of my favorites. I really liked the thick vertical stripe running the length of the uniform. This is home only; the gray road unis are best left to memory.
(8) Oakland A's, All, 1989-Present: If these jerseys were just described, they come off as truly terrible, green and gold, combined with white shoes. And yet, despite that, they work quite well. I'm also a big fan of the elephant patch on the jersey sleeves, something which harkens back to the team's time in Philly.
(7) Los Angeles Dodgers, 1984-1998: The Dodgers drop a few spots because of their decision to change the lettering on their away jerseys from "Dodgers" to "Los Angeles" starting in the 1999 season. I generally support this policy (in front of your fans, you show your team, in front of enemy fans you show your city), but changing tradition requires a reason.

(6) Anaheim Angels, All, 2002-Present: These are another example of a new-ish team can create an identity for themselves without resorting to being gaudy. It was hard to forget the sea of red in Anaheim in 2002.
(5) Boston Red Sox, Home and Road, 1990-Present: 1990 was the first season the Sox changed the font on their road jerseys from plain text to the Olde English font that was on the front of their home uniforms. This gave the Sox uniforms a more, well, uniform look and one I'm a big fan of.
(4) San Diego Padres, Alternate Uniform, 1996-1998 (Approximately): Modeled here by Trevor Hoffman, who has been immortalized in it, this is one of the few solid uniforms I like, the combination of the solid blue of the jersey and hat combining with brighter shade of the pants works well.
(3) Florida Marlins, Road, 1997-Present: So I rated the home version of this jersey the fifth worse of the last twenty years, how does its cousin rate as the third best? Well, I'll be damned if teal and gray don't go well together! However, the Marlins insisted on sticking a teal hat on top of the uniform for the first three seasons of their career. Proving once again the wisdom of wearing an attractive uniform, the year the Fish changed to a far superior black cap, they went all the way.
(2) St. Louis Cardinals, All, 1995-Present: I've always liked the Cardinals uniforms, but it was not until 1995 when they adopted the distinctive white and gray for home and away uniforms that they earned the second favorite uniform spot. The units are distinctive with the two birds on the bat and classy. A damn fine uniform.
(1) New York Yankees, All, 1984-Present: At home, blue pinstripes, interlocking NY. On the road, gray with a blue "
New York." No jersey names. The classic standard to which all other strive. Marred only by "replica" jerseys which put a name, especially that of the wearer, above the number.




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