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How I Covered the Chris Sale Story

As the vast majority of you are no doubt aware by now, a bizarre uni-related incident took place on Saturday night, as White Sox pitcher Chris Sale was reportedly so unhappy with the prospect of wearing the team’s 1976 leisure suit throwbacks that he brandished a knife and cut several of the team’s jerseys to shreds (and has now been suspended for five days as a result). Phil had coverage of the story here on the blog yesterday, and I had some analysis over on ESPN.

That prompted the following comment, which was posted to the site yesterday morning by a reader named Dave:

I have a couple of meta-journalism questions for Paul, if that’s OK.

As “breaking stories” in the uni world go, how highly did this one rate?

What kind of follow-up articles or features get planned? Did you get called in as a talking head anywhere? Or asked for quotes, etc.? Did your life get appreciably more hectic for a couple of hours?

How long did it take you to research the ESPN piece? Did someone from ESPN contact you and say “We heard Sale flipped his wig, can you give us something?”

Funny you should ask, because this was a pretty unusual situation — one that’s actually led me to do some soul-searching.

Let’s start with Dave’s first question. Off the top of my head, I can think of three other big breaking uni-related stories that rank with this one (although I’m sure there have been many others that simply aren’t occurring to me at the moment). The first was on a Thursday night in November of 2007, when four Virginia Tech football jerseys went missing and the affected players had to wear Georgia Tech jerseys with hand-lettered NOBs and other details. I happened to be in Canada at the time — I was participating in a live-performance thingie and then attending a friend’s wedding — and pretty much missed the whole thing.

About a year and a half later, in April of 2009, was the infamous case of two Washington Nationals players wearing misspelled “Natinals” jerseys in the same game. That one took place on a Friday night, which meant Phil would normally have covered it here on the the blog on Saturday, but I stepped in and covered it myself, because it was just too good to pass up.

And about two and a half years after that, in September of 2011, the Maryland football team surprised everyone by coming out in the first edition of their flag-based “pride” uniforms. That one took place on Labor Day, so I wrote about it here on the blog the next day.

Back in 2007 and ’09, I didn’t cover much breaking news for ESPN (I just did a weekly or bi-weekly column, which was often pegged to current uni-related affairs but didn’t offer real-time coverage of breaking storylines), and uniform news wasn’t taken as seriously as it is now, so I didn’t cover Virginia Tech and Nationals stories for ESPN, at least not as they were breaking. I used the Virginia Tech story as the peg for an ESPN column about two weeks later, about teams that had to improvise when their uniforms went missing. I’m not sure I ever wrote about the Nats situation on ESPN until I did this 2011 piece on the profusion of DC sports typos, and I’m not sure I ever wrote anything on ESPN about the Maryland uniforms (although I did some TV spots on the Maryland situation for several ESPN programs).

Nowadays, uni-related news has a higher profile and I tend to cover breaking stories as part of my ESPN beat, so I ended up writing about the Sale incident more or less in real time. But it was tricky. For one thing, the Sale storyline unfolded on a Saturday night. As you might imagine, Saturday nights are when I’m often busy doing, you know, Saturday-night stuff. I don’t ever look at Twitter on Saturdays (a personal rule), and the Uni Watch email address is forwarded to Phil, so I’m generally — and intentionally — beyond the reach of most uni-related news.

In addition, this past Saturday was unusual, because I was spending the weekend at my girlfriend’s parents’ house in Florida. The Tugboat Captain and I had flown down there on Friday, and it was my first time meeting her ’rents. Her father, who’s a retired chef, had whipped up a big, delicious dinner for us on Saturday, with tons of food and more than a little drink. Naturally, I wasn’t looking at my email (and even if I had been, anything sent to the Uni Watch email address was being forwarded to Phil).

At one point during dinner, I excused myself from the table and went to the bathroom, where I checked my email on my phone. Our “Collector’s Corner” columnist, Brinke Guthrie (who always sends emails to my personal address, not to the Uni Watch address), had sent me a link about the Sale story, and reader Jim Walaitis had posted something about it to my Facebook wall. If not for those two submissions, I wouldn’t have known what was happening and probably wouldn’t have found out about it until the next day.

I read the linked articles on my phone and thought, “Huh — that’s something.” I forwarded one of the links to Phil, just in case he hadn’t been aware of what was going on (as it turned out, he was all over it), and then went back to the dinner table and rejoined the conversation. There was more food, more drinks, and then some clean-up. The parentals went to bed a little before 10pm, and we prepared to do the same.

A little later, I took out my laptop and saw that the Sale story was blowing up. That presented a conundrum. On the one hand, I’m a journalist and this is my beat. Part of the reason I created Uni Watch 17 years ago was so stories like this one would be taken seriously. And while I could see that plenty of media outlets were covering the story, I knew I could provide some historical perspective and context that other stories would probably lack. Even after a night of overeating and -drinking, part of the story was already writing itself in my head, and I knew I could probably write it for real fairly quickly.

On the other hand, I’m not a full-time ESPN employee, and I believe in the whole “work to live, don’t live to work” credo, so I try (and sometimes fail) to maintain some boundaries. And jeez, I was at my girlfriend’s parents’ house late on a Saturday night — what kind of workaholic would sit down to work under those circumstances?

I explained the situation to the Captain and asked if she’d mind if I banged out a story. If she had put her foot down, I would’ve respected that, and that would’ve been the end of it. But she’s a journalist, too — she understands. She gave me the green light, so I emailed the ESPN news desk and asked if they wanted me to weigh in. They immediately said yes. I sat down and started to write. I also told Phil what I was up to (I didn’t want him to be blindsided or have his Sunday entry upstaged by my ESPN piece) and asked if I could take a look at what he’d written for Sunday (I didn’t want to duplicate any of his efforts).

It wasn’t a difficult piece of work. The main thing was getting a fix on what had and hadn’t been reported and confirmed regarding Sale at that point. In other words, how much did we really know, and how much was just being attributed to unnamed sources? For background info, I knew the Sox had worn the leisure suit throwbacks before, so I just had to confirm the date on that, and I also knew I was going to reference the 1995 episode with the Buccaneers and Hardy Nickerson, so I called up my 2010 interview with former Bucs equipment manager Frank Pupello and quoted from it. (The Nickerson section of my story, incidentally, has now been updated to include a rebuttal of sorts from Nickerson himself, which he issued yesterday. It’s down toward the bottom of the piece.)

It all took a little longer than I’d expected, mainly because my computer was being balky and at one point crashed altogether (grrrr), but in about an hour I had my story, so I emailed it to the news desk. Normally I would’ve stuck around to deal with any editorial queries and to proof the story once it was ready to go, but it was late and I was exhausted, so I just filed the story and went to bed. When I woke up on Sunday morning, my story was leading the ESPN site — a nice surprise that made me feel like the extra effort had been worth it.

This type of story would normally result in a lot of reporters and radio stations asking to interview me. I did get a few such requests on Sunday (I’ll be on ESPN Radio Albany at 11:30am Eastern today, in case you want to tune in for that), but not as many as usual, probably because everything took place on a weekend. Maybe more inquiries will come in today; maybe not. Either way is fine with me. I try to accommodate such requests — in part because I enjoy talking about uniforms, and in part because I figure it’s good karma to help out other media members when possible — but they can end up being major time sinks, so sometimes I’m relieved if nobody’s in a hurry to talk with me.

With the benefit of a day’s hindsight, I’m mostly okay with how this all played out. I say “mostly” because I do worry about boundary issues and work/life balance. I often think about my brother Henry, who was an attorney and, unfortunately, died at the age of 34 after a long fight with cancer. At the memorial service, one of his colleagues approached me and said, “One thing I always admired about your brother was that he had his priorities straight. He worked hard, but he didn’t work late. He took his job seriously, and he was really good at it, but he didn’t let it consume his life.” That there was a life lesson, a teachable moment. I sometimes wonder if I’ve failed to learn from it.

Covering a journalistic beat in the digital era is a 24/7 enterprise — or at least it has the potential to be that way — which is something I’m very conflicted about. I enjoy the excitement of it (as I was banging out the Sale story on Saturday night, I thought of Hildy Johnson in His Girl Friday, banging out a story of her own and saying, “I’m a newspaperman!”), but I don’t like how it can take over my life. One reason I run those “What Paul Did Last Night” segments with the “Get Out More!” graphic is to remind myself — not just you — that there’s more to life than Uni Watch. I already spend more time looking at various screens and tapping on various keyboards than I’m comfortable with. When that culture starts encroaching into a weekend getaway with my girlfriend’s family, it doesn’t seem like a stretch to wonder if that’s unhealthy.

Starting next week I’ll be taking my annual August break from the site, and Phil will be in charge here. I’ll still be on the clock over at ESPN in August, except for an eight-day stretch when the Captain and I will be on vacation. I’ve already promised her that if something like the Chris Sale story comes up while we’re traveling, I absolutely will not cover it. It kinda sucks that I even have to say that, right?

As for this entry that you’re reading right now, I wrote most of it on the airplane ride home from Florida yesterday. That’s arguably another case of having boundary issues, since I could (should?) have been reading, napping, talking with the Captain about how the weekend had gone, and so on.

But at least writing this been somewhat therapeutic. Thanks for listening.

• • • • •

Looking back at another throwback: The Chris Sale incident reminded reader Jake Jahimiak of another incident involving a throwback uniform and a pair of scissors. I’ll let him explain:

The Devil Rays were playing the Dodgers, and the Rays were wearing flannel St. Pete Saints jerseys.  I own one of those game-used uniforms, and I can attest to the fact that the jerseys were very boxy and tight in the arms.

Anyways, during warm-ups for the game, I saw Rays pitcher Scott Kazmir, who was the starting pitcher that day, working in the bullpen, and he looked very uncomfortable in the uniform. Kazmir said something to a nearby assistant, the assistant ran into the clubhouse and another individual came out to talk to Kazmir. At this point Kazmir got off the bullpen mound and had words with the assistants.   Both assistants tried to make some makeshift adjustments to the jersey, in particular the left arm area. Eventually one of the assistants took out a scissors started cutting under the left jersey arm area, to make the jersey not as tight and boxy near the arm.

Even after the cutting, Kazmir looked annoyed and displeased with the uniform he was wearing.   The incident didn’t escalate into anything larger, but I’m sure that uniform wasn’t something Kazmir wanted to wear that day.

Footnote: Kazmir pitched poorly that day, but the Devil Rays won the game.

•  •  •  •  •

Timberwolves-redesign contest reminder: In case you missed last week, I’m running an ESPN contest to redesign the Timberwolves. The deadline is this Wednesday. Details here.

• • • • •

rafflet ticket by ben thoma.jpg

Raffle results, and today’s new raffle: The winner of the Orioles cap is Jason Snurr. Congrats to him, and thanks to all who entered.

Our next ’47 cap up for raffle is this Indians snapback:

Here’s a closer look at the logo on the side (against a different background). There’s a ’47 maker’s mark on the other side.

To enter, send an email with your name and shipping address to this address (not to the usual Uni Watch email address, please) by 8pm Eastern TODAY. One entry per person. I’ll announce the winner tomorrow, and I’ll also announce tomorrow’s raffle cap, and then we’ll keep repeating that process for each remaining weekday this month. If you win one of the raffles, please be nice enough to step aside and stop entering the remaining ones. Thanks.

•  •  •  •  •

A word about the StripeRite socks: American Trench honcho Jacob Hurwitz, one of my partners for the StripeRite socks, tells me he’s been getting lots of emails along the lines of, “Where are my socks?! I ordered them more than a week ago and they should have arrived by now,” blah-blah-blah.

Folks, we clearly stated from the outset — both here on Uni Watch and on the StripeRite sales page — that the socks would not be ready to ship until the last week of July (and we’ve now updated the sales page to make that point more prominent). We’re still on track to begin shipping product at some point this week, although the response has been so great that we’ve had to order more socks from the mill, so some orders from that second run may not ship until next week.

We’re thrilled with the positive response to this project. Thank you for that, and also for your patience.

•  •  •  •  •

The Ticker
By Alex Hider

Baseball News: Could the Mets be wearing this patch for Mike Piazza’s number retirement next Saturday? (From Lindsay.) … Ken Griffey Jr. wore a special suit for his Hall of Fame induction, complete with sublimated pinstripes and a custom tie ”” and, of course, his signature backwards cap. Speaking of Junior, Baltimore’s Adam Jones wore special spikes in his honor yesterday. Some players from the Astros and Angels wore them as well. (from Andrew Cosentino, Samuel Eastman and others). More 3D helmet logo woes for the Dodgers’ Justin Turner (from MHS Baseball). … The Cubs and Brewers went navy-on-royal yesterday (from Zach Martin). … The Diamondbacks mistakenly ran an advertisement for 2015 tickets this weekend (from Steve Sher). … Matthew spotted this guy with a White Sox hockey sweater, and apparently wasn’t a fan. … Check out this soda display of the Cubs’ “W” flag. “They screwed up the right side of the W,” Ben says. … The New Orleans Zephyrs will wear nutria jerseys on Friday. For those who don’t live on the bayou, nutrias are a type of river rat native to Louisiana (from Andy Rawlings). … Got $13,500 lying around? Then you can pick up this 1891 baseball jersey (from David Firstone). … David Arnott found a pullover baseball jersey at a thrift store with fake buttons.

Pro and College Football News: Take a look at these classic NFL figurines (from Pro Football Journal). … Andy Garms found a golf ball with a Bengals-inspired marking. … Joanna Zweip sent along a couple of items from East Tennessee State University, including a shot of the team wearing a the 1969 college football centennial helmet decal and a shot of Jimmy Buffett in an ETSU jersey. … Back in the late 1970s, the Rams’ cheerleaders wore uniforms with NOBs (from John Turney).

Grab Bag: We may have seen this before, but here is the kit for the 2016 MLS All-Star Game. … Jersey-burning isn’t just for Cavs and Thunder fans anymore. Apparently, the trend has made its way to Italy. … Spotted at a Portland, Oregon Kohl’s: A Blackhawks jacket with an NFL logo (from Neal Hanson). … NHRA racer John Force has five different racing suits, one for each round of qualifying and one for the main event. According to David Firestone, Force used to wear the same suit for every race, no matter how dirty it got. … Danica Patrick has a new helmet design for only the third time in her career. … Indiana basketball coaches love Coca-Colaâ„¢, according to this classic ad (from LoLo Phynarski). … Some boys in England decided to protest their school’s uniform that forced them to wear pants during a heatwave by wearing skirts ”” and it worked! (From Chris Mycoskie). … Marvel Studios has a new logo. … South Park has a new Super Bowl-inspired 20th season logo.

Comments (57)

    This may be my favorite column I’ve ever read on uni-watch, mainly because I went through something similar this weekend. I currently write for 2 websites that cover geek culture, and 1 which covers entertainment (one on staff, two freelance) and generally I don’t have any assignments on weekends. However with Comic-Con being this weekend, I was tempted several times to send in unsolicited stories about breaking news/trailers/etc that came out of the con, even though that’s not the norm for any of the jobs. I couldn’t help but think that I was letting work overtake my personal time.

    Paul, the fact that you’re thinking about work/life balance gives me some confidence that you won’t let the potential 24/7 pace of modern journalism burn you out Andrew Sullivan-style. The important thing is not whether your boundaries sometimes get crossed, it’s whether you have boundaries to cross.

    That’s an interesting way to put that. It reminds me of a podcast (the author escapes me at the moment) that talked about NOT living a balanced life, but a COUNTER-balanced one. He posed that life will never be perfectly in balance, so keep adjusting and tweaking to compensate for when it inevitably gets away from you. Particularly pragmatic advice, I think.

    I absolutely love this Chris Sale story – except that it’s about my team. But I still think it needs to be appreciated for what it is – a guy just “losing it”.

    The Sale story is more than just a guy going bonkers. It points out the futility and immaturity of destructive protest. An adult would have gone to the White Sox and either had the jersey altered beforehand, or found another solution. Since the White Sox had already worn this jersey previously, Sale had time to say something instead of erupting like a child. It’s pure insubordination, and I hope Chicago wears these jerseys on Sale’s next start.

    They didn’t wear this particular jersey before — this was to be the dark blue version of the white leisure suit they wore last year. Sale didn’t pitch that day, but he probably did wear the top. Wonder if he had a problem with it then, or if this is just the escalation of a number of *other* issues he has had with the team this year.

    Perhaps not. When Sale isn’t pitching he usually wears team pullovers or jackets. It’s possible this was the first time he wore it, and didn’t like the way it “felt” when he was throwing.

    That’s how this started; his other issues merely escalated things.

    I think we might be looking at the wrong part of the jersey. Sale is a pajama pants guy. Look at the times he has worn the Sunday throwbacks. Always low.

    Now, I am not 100% sure about this year’s version, but when they wore the white 76 tops last year, I think everyone had to wear high cuffs. At least, all the images I have found from that game show everyone with beautiful socks. And yeah – Sale didn’t pitch that game, so who knows how he was dressed on his legs.

    But on Saturday, he was supposed to pitch. And if the uniform was the same cut as last year, pant wise, I bet he was not happy about that. His comfort may have been the legs. Because geez – the tops last year were HUGE:


    So I don’t think it was the top, but the bottom.

    The GM said that last year’s white tops were too baggy, so during spring training they took steps to change this year’s navy jerseys. But what I love is that we are not always “adults” and handle things properly. Sometimes we all go nuts & somethings small snow balls!

    Chris Sale is 27. Though it’s considered to be well in to “adulthood,” let’s remember what many of us 50-somethings did back at 27. If you don’t have some “ouch – let’s forget that” moments during your twenties, then good. Your extended adolescence may have ended by then. Many of us were still avoiding adult responsibilities at 27, and the average age of actually “growing up” has only increased since them. Add the fact that he’s a highly-paid celebrity at the top of his game, and it’s hard to avoid narcissistic qualities that he might be capable of. Other mitigating factors: he’s paid less than most #1 starters (he’s got a year left on an old contract), he’s spent most mid-seasons sweating thru trade rumors, and his Sox went from a comfortable early season lead to another season lost in mediocrity.

    He’s also a major league pitcher. We know from our obsession with baseball that the smart ones are usually the eccentric ones, and we love it. It could also have been his idea of the perfect “get me out of here” ploy. Though I’d deduct smartness points for that motivation since two-thirds of the league is basically out of contention at this point. Then there’s the motivation factor. How do we know that the word in locker rooms is “enough already with the throwbacks. It’s hotter than shit on the field and the jerseys that are broke-in and have been washed fifty times feel good. So what if the brand new throwback is the same size I was measured for in March. It feels weird.” All right – that’s a lot to imagine as “locker room talk.” But if the Sox start winning again and Sale stays… well, I could live with that!

    I find this post quite interesting, because it suggests (in my mind, anyway) that perhaps you are coming to resent this site a bit. You’ve talked before about how this site requires a pretty significant time commitment, and yet this is the first time I can remember (and I’ve been reading your work for a long time) that you have come across as upset that it is cutting into your non-work life.

    What stands out to me regarding this circumstance is the fact that, if i read your post correctly, nobody actually forced you to write the Sale story for ESPN. You contacted your editors and asked if they would like you to do so and they replied yes, but they did not contact you initially. You also mention that from start to finish the process took you not much more than an hour, and that when you heard the news initially your first reaction was not to act on it but to return to your dinner, which means that you engaged with the story on your terms and not your boss’ or anyone else’s.

    Despite all of this, you are still worried that perhaps you are devoting too much of your time to work and not enough to yourself. That’s an entirely legitimate concern! I am terrible at separating work time and personal time – as I always tell people, for me every day is simultaneously Sunday and Monday. It’s not a great way to live, and so I envy your ability to separate the two. But it does make me think back to something you wrote a while back, when you said that you view UniWatch as a project, and one that is nearer its end than its beginning. It seems to me today’s post might very well suggest that the end is even nearer than we think.

    PS: I’m sorry if this post comes across as judgmental or anything like that – I certainly am not trying to cast aspersions.

    I find this post quite interesting, because it suggests (in my mind, anyway) that perhaps you are coming to resent this site a bit.

    My coverage of the Sale story had nothing to do with this site. The story I wrote was for ESPN.

    As for the larger issue, I don’t “resent” anything. But it would be fair to say — as I already said in today’s entry — that I’m questioning how smart or healthy it is to cover a beat in the digital age, because it essentially becomes a 24/7 job. That has less to do with Uni Watch per se than with the nature of contemporary beat journalism in general.

    But they are connected, aren’t they, through the “UniWatch” title? Your work on this site and your work on ESPN have BOTH contributed to making something like the Chris Sale story a legitimate news item (beyond the basic fact that he was scratched, which would have been news anyway). Perhaps I shouldn’t have said “this site” and instead gone with “UniWatch” because this is the UniWatch site and when you go onto ESPN you are presented as “Paul Lukas from UniWatch,” and headlines are stylised as “Uni Watch: Chicago White Sox starter…”

    I could be totally wrong (I usually am), in which case great! I misread the tone of the post and my reaction is entirely unfounded.

    Wait… The Tugboat Captain is not an actual Tugboat Captain?! That’s disappointing.

    Taking a month every year away from the site shows me one of 2 things. 1) the other 11 months you feel like you are too consumed by the site, and might need to change things, or 2) you are just fine and know you need the extra month to rest and relax. I don’t know you at all, personally, but I think you are more aligned with #2.

    I’m going to bring this up because I see it being misused more and more as time goes on. Sublimation is a specific printing process. It is not a synonym for the application of any graphic elements on any fabric, nor is it a synonym for subtle.

    Sublimation is done basically like an iron transfer. Transfer paper is printed with the desired graphic and then heat is used to transfer the graphic from the paper to the fabric. Synthetics like polyester give you the brightest results because the ink only bonds properly to synthetic fibers.

    The pinstripes in the ticker entry are either embroidered or woven into the suit fabric. You can see they are made of thread if you look closely.

    A fine bit of reporting as the Uni-verse takes center stage in the world O’ sport. How will this affect the future of “throwbacks uniforms” or is this more about Chris Sales’ concept of team and/or his future trade value – caveat uniformus?

    You can bet there’s a paragraph or two in Sale’s contract about supporting team promotions and consent to wearing trademarked team apparel in conjunction with special events. AFAICT, no player has say over fundamentals of the team’s appearance. Presumably, Chris Sale cannot say, under the terms of his contract, that he refuses to wear Memorial Day camouflage uniforms because he disapproves of America’s military. It isn’t allowed, nor should it be.

    I’m still wondering which jerseys Sale cut up — his own, I’m sure, but how many others? If he cut up only one or two more, they probably could have given those players “emergency/blood jerseys”… would they have hurriedly sewn some numbers on the backs of those? I’ve see a few throwback jerseys labeled “Extras” on eBay which seem to have been made for this purpose — either replacements for damaged jerseys, or sudden acquisitions.

    How many jerseys can be destroyed before the team has to abandon playing in that set?

    This was an outstanding entry, Paul. Thanks for sharing. I don’t know if you’d ever written about your brother before, but I really appreciated hearing about him. My uncle recently passed away, and the same could be said for him: he worked very hard and was passionate about his vocation, but he was more passionate about his family and the things he loved: tennis, the Yankees, the Tar Heels, and a great meal. It’s a really good reminder to hear over and over: work is work, but it’s incredibly important not to let work get in the way of life. Thanks again for sharing this.

    Thanks, Adam.

    My brother was 12 when I was born, so he went off to college when I was six years old, and then off to law school after that, all of which meant that I didn’t see much of him when I was growing up. He and his wife settled in Brooklyn, and I moved to Brooklyn myself after college in 1987, so I was finally going to have a chance to live in the same city as him, and we’d finally get to know each other as adults — but we didn’t get the chance. It really sucked. And still sucks.

    Five years later, his wife/widow died. That sucked (and still sucks) even worse. Our family has never fully recovered.

    Anyway, yeah: Henry had his priorities straight. I sometimes wonder about mine.

    Like others have said, the mere fact that you’re thinking about your priorities is really important.

    Thanks again for sharing the story of your brother. Cancer is a lousy, no-good disease.

    The bond you seem to have with those closest to you, the quantity and variety of happenings you share through “What Paul Did Last Night”, and the fact that you are about to embark on a 1 month ‘vacation’ from the site all tell me you have your priorities much more in line than most who work in digitally enabled fields.

    That South Park 20th season logo woulda would’ve been better if they’d featured an exhausted Randy Marsh sitting on top.

    The reason that uni stories have a higher profile these days is because of you!

    the 24/7 news cycle was big issue for me when I worked for a major news was to much for me

    As I read the whole thing blowing up over the weekend, I was sure this would be on UW on Monday. However, after reading today’s entry and having the benefit of hindsight, I think today’s post could’ve been written on Monday to be posted on Tuesday and avoid working on the plane, adding a quick note about Chris Sale (ESPN link and all) somewhere on the regular entry.

    On tweet that seems to be very important in all this story comes from Ken Rosenthal link
    where he says “Sources say: Sale cut up throwbacks during batting practice. Upset that, in his view, PR and jersey sales were more important than winning”
    I know it quotes sources, but I really hope he thinks that way.

    i think the practice of pitchers choosing what the team wears is a silly one. i also think he’s out of touch that just because PR and sales have nothing to do with the team winning.. it’s the fact that the players are not performing to the level they should.. nothing more.. nothing less

    The New Orleans Zephyrs will wear nutria jerseys on Friday.

    “Nutria” is actually a great nickname. Beats having a team called the “Redhawks”.

    Up here in the Pacific Northwest, we Oregon Ducks fans enjoy referring to Oregon State’s Beavers as Nutria (among other names). That uniform gives me some ideas for suggestions to OSU’s uniform department … although the front of that shirt with two giant white teeth might not be considered terribly attractive.

    If NOLA can celebrate the nutria, will there now be a possum jersey for LSU?

    Fact check-

    Nutria are not native to Louisiana. They are native to South America. They were introduced to Lousiana in 1937.

    There was an episode of Insomniac with Dave Attell (comedian) where he accompanied a crew that goes around shooting nutria because they are an invasive species and their population is/was? out of control.

    I can attest to that. I grew up in surburban New Orleans and the state Department of Wildlife and Fisheries (and as I recall, the local Sheriff’s department) had a group of snipers who would shoot nutria from the back of pickups parked along the canals that ran between the main thoroughfares in my town at night. The nutria had a bad habit of digging their burrows into the earthen sides of the canals, causing them to erode and weaken–not a good thing in a town 90% below sea level.

    The nutria became the mascot of the Zephyrs in the late 90’s with the introduction of Boudreaux the Nutria (think of a beaver costume complete with orange teeth with a rat tail). He proved so popular, the team brought in a female version, Clotiele, who in true minor league-fashion got married to Boudreaux at home plate one game.

    And yes, the nutria is an invasive species from South America imported to Avery Island (home of Tabasco) in the mid thirties as a fur source. Unfortunately, a mating pair escaped during a hurricane and they rapidly colonized South Louisiana. Fur’s decent and apparently, they’re good eating, but they are mainly thought of as a pest.

    It’s not just in digital journalism you run into 24×7 issues. Many of us who work in/with the technology field deal with it all the time and struggle with it. You try to keep your work/life balance, but then big project X comes along and you’re suddenly working 70-80 hour work weeks to meet some sort of corporate deadline juxtaposed to the next earnings release.

    I empathize with your position, as I’m also a little further along in my career and wonder how much longer I want to tip the scales of work/life balance in favor of work.


    At one point on Saturday night, I thought, “Hmmmm, maybe I should let my ESPN boss know that I’m doing all of this.” Then I thought, “Nah, he’s probably busy with his kids, so I won’t bother him.”

    And then I thought, “Hmmmm, so just because I don’t have kids, I think of myself as being more available for this type of thing. That isn’t how it should be.”

    Hmmmmm, indeed.

    Another pitcher having throwback issues, from lats week:

    Bartolo Colon mentioned to WOR’s (and friend of this site) Howie Rose on Wednesday about how hot the Mets’ ’86 road throwbacks were (he mentioned this on the radio). Colon wore them, but pitched lousy against the Cubs.

    Bartolo Colon’s the size of a house, though, and I don’t recall the ’86 Mets having any let’s say portly players. Maybe poly double knit just isn’t meant for that sort of application? Where they made from the modern fabric or the old-time stuff?


    Wow, what a great in depth reply. Thanks for all the insights and timelines. Uniforms coverage is something that could still be dismissed as fluff if it wasn’t for the dedication and diligence you’ve brought to it.

    Thanks to you for getting the ball rolling by posting your original comment/query, Dave, and big thanks also to Phil, who brought your comment to my attention and suggested that I might want to run with it. (I probably wouldn’t have seen it otherwise, what with all the family/travel/etc. yesterday.)

    I had noticed before the game that they were selling tshirts on the various merch sites with the throwback theme and Sale’s name and number. I’ve not been able to find those solicitations since. As Gomer Pyle once said, “Surprise, surprise…”

    Hey Paul,

    As other have mentioned, this is a great UW entry. Love the details of a story coming together and all the insight. As someone who wishes he could’ve been a journalist, this stuff fascinates me. It’s a bummer that this story collided with your personal life in a way, but I think you handled it well (Phil, too).

    Thanks for sharing this, Paul. I always enjoy reading about your thought process, and how your career shapes your life and of course vice versa.

    There are other places now we could get uniform news, but nowhere else can we get the depth of thought behind your coverage.

    Could the Mets be wearing link for Mike Piazza’s number retirement next Saturday?

    Yikes, I hope not. There’s a good idea in there, but don’t care for the design.

    I wish the artist would have trusted the NOB to do its job; adding that banner with Piazza’s full name is just clutter. Put his years with the Mets there, or “Hall of Fame 2016” or pretty much anything else there, but don’t duplicate information already contained within the graphic.

    Thanks for posting the photos from East Tennessee State University. I get a kick out of old college yearbooks.

    Spotted at a Portland, Oregon Kohl’s: A Blackhawks jacket with an NFL logo (from Neal Hanson)

    Portland’s WHL team is the Winterhawks, and their logo is very similar to Chicago’s. As for the NFL part, I’m as stumped as you are.

    No, no, no. It’s not about Kenny Williams, or ugly, it’s about feel & it’s about performance. That should be the focus of the new UW Fit & Function beat.

    If that shoulder binds on 90 pitches on a hot, humid Chicago summer day the organization has failed the players and robbed the fans of the performance they have come to expect from the best pitcher in baseball. And Chris Sale was absolutely heroic to blow this thing up. If he’d pitched a fit and gotten pulled we’d never hear about it. But going full Play Misty For Me gets our attention. Destructive protest doesn’t work? Ask the guy working front door at the Bastille on July 14, 1789.

    I will bet a gross of 16 ligne melamine buttons of the color of your choice that no one from the uniform company came in and did fit tests on those throwbacks. Performance MUST be given FIRST consideration before the merchandising department gets to fool with the fit. This isn’t a fashion show. This is an athletic performance. I don’t want to hear about wool uniforms or Wilbur Wood pitching both ends of a double header. I want Chris Sale and the White Sox to win.

    Wasn’t Rob Dibble the first to have a problem with the comfort of Throw-backs jerseys? I remember him trying to throw a ball at the center field scoreboard, in response top being uncomfortable.

    Maybe Paul or a Cincy fan has better notes on this. or…did I mis-remember?

    I think the home-work balance is a major part of why traditional journalism is having a hard time keeping younger employees. I worked in newspapers for about 4 years after college and even spent a week’s “vacation” waking up early to publish the paper remotely, not to mention all the times I’d wake up looking forward to a day off only to have to go in because of breaking news, all for 29k a year.

    That being said, Paul, it seems that you’ve always had a solid grasp on the big picture when it comes to your ESPN work. Once in a while, Rovell or someone will encroach on the uni beat, and when they do, you seem to have good judgment as to whether you need to do a supplementary story and when you do, you’re always approaching it from a different angle than most news outlets would even consider.

    Either way, it would have been dumb for UniWatch to ignore the Sale story and your follow-up was a great piece of supplemental material for the larger coverage. While it’s unfortunate that it interfered in your weekend, I wouldn’t worry too much, as long as it’s the exception instead of the norm.

    I really enjoyed reading your post today, Paul. It’s an internal battle that I am constantly fighting. Unfortunately, due to the nature of my job (litigation attorney) and my status in that position (lowly associate), I have no choice in the matter. If something needs to be done, I have to do it. If I need to make my hours, I’m working. I don’t have any other options right now.

    Cherish the opportunity you have to tip the work-life balance scales. My goal in life is to get a place where I can do the same. I’m not there yet, but hopefully I will be.

    As for the Rob Dibble situation:

    In August 1992, the Reds and Mets wore 1962 uniforms for a Sunday Night game at Shea Stadium. Reds pitcher Tim Belcher had made the Mets look like the ’62 team, getting 23 Mets in a row before he was pulled with the Redlegs leading 4-1.

    Dibble then came to pitch the ninth. But he was nasty (pun intended), as he gave up a three-run walk off HR to Bobby Bonilla. Dibble tore up the jersey in front of the TV cameras. It was probably the end of Lou Piniella, as he was fired at the end of the season.

    BTW: FC Cincinnati soccer wore white uniforms at home Saturday as part of a whiteout promotion.

    Rockies players, Arenado, Cargo, and Story all wore the Griffey shoes also. On the TV broadcast they mentioned that it was a Nike thing for their contracted players all over MLB.

    Uniforms were uncomfortable? How many home runs did Mickey Mantle hit in wool and flannel?

    Nutria are Not native to Louisiana. They are a feral invasive pest from South America descended from escapees from failed nutria farms established in the area many decades ago. The state and/or local governments even pay bounties to exterminate them from canals.

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