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Players' Weekend

Players’ Weekend: a uniform disaster

Last weekend, Major League Baseball held its Players’ Weekend for the third straight year, and it was a smashing success with the players and fans. Save, for one small item…the uniforms. On a scale of 1 (lowest) to 10 (highest), this year’s versions were a -500. They were ugly, unreadable, and showed no imagination or creativity whatsoever. And, that’s being kind!

I had a “wait and see” attitude on rating the uniforms when they were first introduced in the weeks leading up to this year’s Players’ Weekend. Then it only took one pitch for me to hate them wholeheartedly.

I turned on the Yankees – Dodgers game on Friday night and couldn’t read the Dodgers’ starting pitcher Hyun-Jin Ryu’s name or number on the back of his jersey. Who thought that white on white was a good idea?

If these jerseys were test-marketed before they were distributed to the teams (and retailers), they should have failed the test. And, who knew Justin Turner’s beard could look even uglier.

Players’ Weekend Critique

While the players were pretty much mum on the whole subject, some of the managers were not.

Cleveland Indians manager Terry Francona had this to say about the Tribe’s all-black uniforms –  “What’s the slogan, ‘Let the kids play?’ Let the grown-ups look like morons.” Francona also mentioned he was embarrassed to make a pitching change because of how he looked.

The LA Dodgers skipper Dave Roberts had this to say of the team’s all-white unis –  “It’s not our finest moment, wearing these all-white, milkman uniforms. But it is what it is.”

The Yankees’ own Aaron Boone was a little kinder: “I like the idea of it all, but when I put the uniform on I felt a little silly”.

Chicago Cubs manager Joe Maddon walks to the beat of a different drummer and protested the move by having his squad wear their regular blue hats on Friday night. They fell in line on Saturday and Sunday, however.

Adding to the ridiculousness was the black hat that any white-uniformed team’s pitcher had to wear. It was a smart move to try to cut down the possibly of a batter losing sight of the ball when the pitcher delivered it, but why not have everyone wear the same color hat?

The league also denied a petition from the Dodgers to let them and the Yankees wear their traditional uniforms for one game of their three-game series. The teams are arguably the two most storied franchises in baseball history (the Yankees are definitely at the top) and long-time rivals, but the league responded with a firm, “NO!”.

It’s also boring to have every team wear either the all-white or all-black uniforms and hats. It was difficult watching highlights from the various games because you couldn’t tell one player or team from another.

Suggestions for Next Year

Get some input from the teams themselves. Why not let the teams submit designs for the jerseys and hats they’ll wear on Players’ Weekend?

Incorporate the team’s natural colors into an alternate design, similar to the third jerseys that teams in the NHL wear.

Hold a contest to let the fans select their favorite team’s threads.

Let some teams wear throwback uniforms on Players’ Weekend. It’s still fun to see the Houston Astros multi-shaded orange uniform tops and even the hideous brown and yellow dark-mustard uniforms donned by the San Diego Padres back in the day.

The Good Among the Bad and Ugly

Not everything was bad about Players’ Weekend. There were the fabulous custom cleats, bats, batting gloves and other equipment. And, of course, the nicknames on the backs of the jerseys were great.

The winner for the best nickname goes to the Dodgers’ Jedd Gyorko who paid homage to Seinfeld with “Jerk-Store” on the back of his shirt.

All teams wore a #45 patch on their jerseys to commemorate the life of Tyler Skaggs who passed away suddenly earlier this year. Among those players paying special tribute to their fallen friend was the Nationals’ Patrick Corbin, who spelled out “FORTY-FIVE” on his jersey nameplate.

And, I’m all right with James Paxton wearing the Players’ Weekend uni for every one of his starts if he pitches the same way he did on Friday night against LA.

Of course, the best thing about Players’ Weekend was the Yankees taking two of three from the Dodgers!