Wednesday, October 18, 2006


First installment -- the American League East
[check back later because I might add some links, as there are many that could be added]

As some of our remaining readers out there may know, I can be quite particular about sports uniforms and I could dissect them and discuss them for hours. Since I have some trouble these days coming up with post material that doesn't have to do with the games themselves, I like it when I'm able to come up with an idea and just run and riff with it. Thus, a post like this is nearly effortless for me. I just put the fingers to the keyboard, they type and type, and then I end up with more than enough material that I'm okay with.

So, here is the first installment of my unloading on sports uniforms. Here I turn to baseball first, and here is the American League East. Keep in mind I'm drawing from a base of memories from around 1987 (when I first took a major liking to baseball) to the present.

Baltimore Orioles -- the uniforms aren't horrendously bad, so that's good. There was a period in the '90s where they reversed the color scheme on their lettering and everything. The home uniforms had orange lettering with black lining, and the road uniforms had black lettering with orange lining. They then flipped the home and road lettering and colors, and Cal Ripken, Jr. broke the consecutive games streak at Oriole Park in Camden Yards wearing the reversed scheme (black with orange lining). Around the same time of the decade, the Orioles tried out a gray hat on the road, which matched with the gray uniform, and the orange lettering didn't really clash, and the road uniforms to me looked bland. The Orioles since switched the home lettering scheme back to what it was, but they left the road scheme the same, so basically, the color schemes of the home and road lettering are the same. The Orioles' third jerseys (black with orange lettering) need white lining on the lettering or something, because I don't think the orange (or the edge of it) clashes well enough with the black. As for the Bird Head/Bird Body debate having to do with what goes on the caps, I'm still not sure which side I take. If there's one thing I'll give the Orioles' uniforms, it's that the font of the word "Orioles" on the front hasn't changed in forever (though the size has differed), and I hope it never does.

Boston Red Sox -- old baseball cards with a young Roger Clemens show the most basic Boston road uniform that had all navy blue lettering, and the font and numbering were basic and everything. Then at some point, they took the font and the numbering off the home uniforms and put them onto the road uniforms, and added surnames to the road uniforms as well (along with the color red). I hope the Red Sox home uniforms never change. Even surnames on the backs shouldn't be done. The most blasphemous thing, of course, was when the Red Sox rolled out the third jerseys during the regular season. Yes, I'm talking about the red tops. Black (or navy blue) lettering, white lining and piping. In a way, it reminds me a bit of when the Calgary Flames turned the "C" logo on their dark tops to black from white, but they had that extra color (yellow) to throw in there, while the Red Sox don't. The Atlanta Braves tried the same thing with red tops too, but somehow it doesn't seem anywhere near as bad as it does with Boston. Lastly, the number font Boston uses is unique to the rest of the Majors, and that's good.

New York Yankees -- I hope their uniforms never change. I don't even want the players' last names on the backs of their uniforms. I shouldn't laugh at what I'm about to say, but I do -- I laugh when I see people wearing the Yankee shirts that say "Jeter 2" or "Williams 51" or "Rivera 42" on them for the sole fact that no Yankee wears a last name on his back when he's on the field. The great thing about the actual Yankee jerseys is that they afford you the flexibility with which to wear a number for whomever you want unless the number is retired. I don't know this from personal experience, but if you saw someone wearing a 13 jersey in the Bronx that had no surname on the back, the right person (or a person ashamed of admitting the jersey was bought because Alex Rodriguez just came to New York and was wearing the number) might say that they bought a 13 jersey because Jim Leyritz wore the number and delivered clutch postseason hits for the Yankees. By the same token, if someone wore 33, they could cover up the fact that they thought Melido Perez was incredibly cool back in the day by saying, naw, it's a David Wells jersey. Anyway, the pinstripes are decked in baseball lore. Due to what probably was the picture quality on the household television back in the day, I always thought the Yankees wore black, but when I got the right Upper Deck baseball card, I found the Yankees wear somewhat of a navy blue. The White Sox wear black, not the Yankees. Really, the only year-to-year changes the Yankees make to the uniforms have to do with whatever patches they might put onto the sleeves. I'd also like to thank the Yankees for not using a third jersey during the regular season.

Tampa Bay Devil Rays -- originally I thought the multi-color gradient thing on the fronts of their jerseys from the franchise's inception up through the Jose Canseco/Greg Vaughn era was kinda cool, but it really was a bit much. In addition, putting two words above one another (Devil above Rays) on the front of a uniform is a little much as well. So they had the two words and the devil ray on the front of the uniform, and I think they might have used purple for the letters and numbers on the backs of the road uniforms. Then they switched to the overly green color scheme they currently have and dropping the name "Devil" from the uniforms. The whole thing is more traditional, sure, but it's pretty drab. The road vests don't look too bad, and not long ago they switched from "Rays" to "Tampa Bay" on the road jerseys [correction -- they capitalized the T and B in "Tampa Bay." No "Rays" was ever on the road uniforms]. The city name could be a little larger on the road vests. The green jerseys also don't look that bad, partly because the numbers on the backs stand out so well. I think they have to throw another color into their scheme and ditch the font of "Rays" on the fronts of the jerseys. Of course, the Devil Rays changing their logo and color scheme might have a reaction akin to a tree falling in the forest with nobody to hear it.

Toronto Blue Jays -- I thought there was absolutely nothing wrong with the Joe Carter/Paul Molitor/Jack Morris-era uniforms. Blue and a lighter blue were the main colors, and they were used nicely. In addition, the white front panels on the home caps didn't seem hokey at all. Then came the Roger Clemens-era uniforms. The Blue Jays messed with the fonts on everything (even the last names on the backs of the uniforms) and added red as a main color. Red was utilized more on the road uniforms as the in-between color on all the lettering and numbering (what used to be white). The home tops at the time had a lighter blue as the dominant color and the regular blue as the in-between color, but this was later reversed, which looked better. The main thing of which I'm not a fan regarding the current jerseys is the dropping of the word "Blue" from the jerseys. That and the not-black-enough lettering on the backs of the road jerseys makes them not stand out enough when light reflects the right way when you see it on television. I'm also not a big fan of italicized numbers on the backs of uniforms, which I think throws off the balance a bit, especially if the last names on the backs are arched (which they are with Toronto). That said, I like the huge last names on the backs. I also love the fronts of the road jerseys, which I think are just about perfect. They stylized and modernized the word "Toronto" enough and they did it tastefully. Whoever designed that should be commended.

There you have it, the AL East. If I thought there would be any structure to these posts, I'd end up doing the AL Central or AL West next, but I probably won't. I could skip to another sport, for all I know. Anyway, hope you enjoyed it.

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