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Blue Meanies: Cubs & Indians Go Alternate vs. Alternate

It was mood indigo at last night’s World Series game, as Cleveland once again wore navy and the Cubs wore royal. Lots of people asked me if it was the first blue-vs.-blue game in Series history, and I suspect it was, although I haven’t been able to confirm that. (People also asked if it was the first time two Series teams wore solid-colored jerseys, and the answer there is no. As we discussed in yesterday’s entry, the Pirates and Orioles went black vs. orange in 1979.)

As I watched the game (or at least the second half of it — I missed the first four innings because I had a guest-speaking gig at a college class), it occurred to me that there’s one place where we never see colored alternate jerseys: the All-Star Game, where MLB has imposed a white-vs.-gray protocol for several years now.

That seems exactly backwards. The All-Star Game is where players should be free to wear colored alternates if they want. Seeing the crazy quilt of different uniforms is part of the fun. MLB used to allow it, as you can in old team portraits. Hell, the A’s and Indians players in that shot aren’t even wearing the same colored alternates, and I love that — that’s the kind of thing that’s perfect for the All-Star Game.

But the World Series? Come on — wear your Sunday best, even on Wednesday night.

Meanwhile: Fox helpfully provided a close-up of Cubs catcher Willson Contreras’s comically long pants, with the cuffs extending under his spikes, as he reached on an error (click to enlarge):

That’s his right pant leg. The left one was just as bad, as you can see here (click to enlarge):

Also of note: Cubs closer Aroldis Chapman is still adding a José Fernández memorial inscription to his cap.

Okay, two games in the books. On to Wrigley!

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New NBA socks: If you watched Tuesday night’s Cavs/Knicks game, you may have noticed the Knicks wearing new “NY” socks. That’s part of a new line of NBA hosiery from Stance, the league’s sock provider.

Interestingly, only nine teams are getting new designs, at least for now (I’m pretty sure there will be lots of other new designs released as the season progresses): the Knicks, Lakers, Mavs, Warriors, Bucks, Timberwolves, Magic, Kings, and Wizards. The Warriors are getting four new designs; the other teams are getting just one.

You can see all of them here (if you can’t see the slideshow below, click here):

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And speaking of the NBA…: The NBA season is only two days old, and we’ve already seen some interesting things. Last night, the Celtics and Nets went color-vs.-color, and so did the Nuggets and Pelicans:

As longtime readers are aware, I’m all in favor of color-vs.-color basketball games. More, please!

Meanwhile, for good measure, the 76ers wore blue at home, and the Suns wore purple at home.

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And still speaking of the NBA: A day or two after my NBA Preview column was published late last week, it developed some sort of technical glitch that prevented the embedded images from appearing on the page. That glitch has now been fixed. So if you weren’t able to see everything before, try it now. Thanks for your patience.

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Panel discussion update: Last month I took part in a panel discussion at Baruch College on the use of Native American imagery in sports. The event was videotaped, and the video is now available for viewing. You can view it here, or below:

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Late-breaking scroogie: On Tuesday evening I was at a friend’s wedding party and ended up yakking with a friend of the bride. I mentioned that I had to dash home soon to catch the World Series, and then the following discussion ensued:

She: Oh, are you a Cubs fan?

Me: Well, I’m rooting for them in the Series, but I’m actually a Mets fan.

She: Me too. My father was actually a big Mets fan. He was even named one of the “25 Greatest Mets Fans” in 1969.

Me: That’s funny. What did he do to qualify for that — write an essay about how much he loved the Mets or something like that?

She: Sort of. He wrote this letter and decorated it with all these drawings. He liked to do caricatures.

Me: Cool. Did he draw for a living?

She: Nah, he was an engineer, but he liked to do art on the side. He was pretty good! His big claim to fame is that he did a caricature that Tug McGraw hung in his locker.

I instantly knew what she was referring to. If you’re a Mets fan of a certain age, you probably know too, because this photo appeared in the team’s 1974 yearbook, which I spent many childhood hours poring over (click to enlarge):

I always loved that caricature. It seemed to fit Tugger’s quirky personality — his signature pitch was the screwball, and everyone said he was a screwball. It all fit.
So now, through a fluke, I’ve met the artist’s daughter. She says her dad, whose name was Bill Kobe, is now deceased, but she and her brother still have some of his artwork, including a lot of sports imagery, and she’s going to try to dig some of it up for me. More soon — stay tuned.

Meanwhile, as an aside, look at the buttons on McGraw’s jersey — three buttons above the script! The Mets used that style, which is fairly unusual, for a while in the early ’70s.

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The Ticker
By Mike Chamernik

Baseball News: Indians OF Rajai Davis wore his left stirrup backwards during Game 1 on Tuesday (from Douglas McBurney). … Apparel manufacturer American Needle sold Cubs hats to the public for the first time in 1946. The company believes this was the first time fans were able to buy sports team merchandise (from Tom Bartkoski). … Brice Wallace found the complete set of the 1971 MLB posters that had been popping up in the Ticker over the last few days. … The Pirates are installing a new field (from @cdubya242). … Pennsylvania Sen. Bob Casey wrote to MLB about the league’s switch from Majestic to Under Armour. He urged the league to consider effect on jobs in the state. Majestic is based in Easton, Pa. (from Mike Hillman). … The Lakewood BlueClaws will wear throwbacks from 2001, their inaugural season. More details here (from Phil). … The Braves’ new affiliate, the Florida Fire Frogs, unveiled their logo (from Wayne Kohler). … The wife of Nats P Max Scherzer almost threw away the jersey from his second no-hitter (from Phil).

NFL News: The Bills will wear throwbacks this weekend. Here’s a cool stop motion video showing how the helmets are getting a makeover. … A socialist English punk rock band in the early 1980s was named the Redskins. The name had nothing to do with Native Americans or football. It was simply a combination of “red,” for communism, and “skin,” for skinheads (from William Yurasko).

College Football News: Pitt will wear all navy, with pink accessories, against Virginia Tech tonight (from Andrew Cosentino). … Lehigh has worn a different uniform combination for all eight games this season (from Pat Costello). … UCLA may have military alternates for Veterans’ Day (from Roger Wong). … Illinois will wear its Gray Ghost uniforms this weekend, adding a new helmet to go along with it. The unis are a tribute to Red Grange (from Erik Spoonmore). … Arizona will wear blue helmets, red jerseys, and red pants this weekend. The Wildcats haven’t worn that combination since 2014 (from Phil). … Washington State will wear all white against Oregon State (from On3Lung).

Hockey News: The NHL has inked a new deal with Fanatics, effective next season, that will give Fanatics total control of the league’s retail product. Interestingly, replica jerseys will carry the Fanatics logo, while the Adidas mark will only appear on the $359 authentics. Further details here, here, and here. … The Sharks will practice in “Los Tiburones” jerseys on Saturday as part of a Hispanic Heritage Night. Fans will get replicas. More details here (from Phil). … The Youngstown Phantoms put messages on the ice for Cancer Awareness Night (from Alex Dewitt). … The Ducks were the latest team to wear purple “Hockey Fights Cancer” pregame jerseys. Their mascot wore one, too.

NBA News: The Pelicans honored Bryce Dejean-Jones, who was shot to death in May, with black “BDJ 31” warm-up shirts. … Gerald Green of the Celtics braided a shamrock into his hair. … The Heat will wear seven different uniforms this year (from Phil). … For the Spurs-Warriors opener on TNT on Tuesday night, Steve Kerr, Gregg Popovich, and David Aldridge all wore ties that used the same pattern of the suit worn by Sager during his ESPYs speech this summer. Last night, the Bucks announcers (and, I assume, other broadcasting crews around the league) had their own Sager Strong tributes (from Cork Gaines). … Here’s more proof of a Chinese New Year jersey for the Warriors this season. “Interesting to note that, in addition to departing from last year’s slate color jersey, the sleeve patch is a redundant Warriors logo and no longer reflects the lunar year (2017 would have been year of the rooster),” says Jimmy Wong. … The woman who was supposed to sing the national anthem at last night’s 76ers game says she was told at the last minute that she couldn’t perform because she was wearing a “We Matter” jersey. A member of the Sixers’ cheerleading squad sang the anthem instead. … Menswear label Joseph Aboud is once again outfitting NBA coaches this season (from Tommy Turner).

College Hoops News: New uniforms for College at Brockport, a Division-III team (from Andy Hyman). … Louisville coach Rick Pitino wore a shirt with a retro Cardinals logo that dates back to the 1980s. The school brought it back in 2014 (from Antoine Lynch and @N__C_K_).

Grab Bag: Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump’s campaign has reportedly spent more on baseball caps than on polling or direct mail (from Phil).

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Special birthday wishes to membership card designer and longtime Uni Watch pal/ally Scott M.X. Turner. Hope you get everything you wish for when you blow out the candles, Scott!

Comments (92)

    Is it just me, or are the Sixers wearing two different jerseys? In the picture you linked, it looks like #33 has 3 stars on the side of his jersey, but #9 has 4 stars.


    The Sixers have a total of 13 stars on their uniforms (for the 13 original colonies), so the star count on the left and right sides of the jersey is uneven.

    Ah cool. Thanks for the explanation (for, I’m sure, at least the 2nd or 3rd time). As much as I don’t really like the Sixers (or anything Philly…), they’ve developed a really sharp look since ditching the AI-era black and red

    Does MLB’s deal with Fanatics also mean that their replicas are going to be Fanatics branded?

    Not clear. MLB deal doesn’t kick in until 2020 (as opposed to NHL deal being effective a year from now), so there’s a lot of time to figure out those details.

    If that does happen, it’ll be just one more opportunity for folks to kill the logo creep and hone their removal skills.

    Pants on the ground
    Pants on the ground
    Lookin’ like a fool with your pants on the ground.

    to me this is probably the best looking match up for the Cubs and Indians.. those are the two looks that i associate with the teams.. plus it’s vibrant and not visually boring like white vs grey

    Blue vs. blue looks like a Cactus League game to me. I’m not intrinsically opposed to wearing alts, but both teams wearing the same (basic) color doesn’t work.

    But most teams’ home white and road gray uniforms are vibrant and are not visually boring. The 1924 Washington Senators, sure: their home uniform was essentially a plain white shirt over plain white pants. That’s a boring uniform. But nobody has worn anything like that at home in about seventy years. I’m not a huge fan of the Cubs road uniform, but the one thing it has going for it is colorful vibrancy. The bold lettering in royal blue pops and almost shimmers. The muted gray of the jersey, along with the vibrant royal of the lettering, gives the cap a bright visual pop as well, something it doesn’t have when worn over a floppy royal shirt.

    The dominant visual impression of most white or gray uniforms in baseball is not the color white or gray; it is the color and shape of the script and lettering and the colors of the cap.

    I like white vs. gray, but setting that aside…

    Blue vs. blue is awful. I know the blues are far enough apart that they don’t look the same (unlike some navy vs. navy games) but it really would make sense if only one team was aloud to wear a color alt, regardless of how similar the colors are. This looked a little minor league.

    (Of course if it were up to me, postseason would always be white vs. gray, particularly two teams dating back at least to 1901 trying to win their first Series in decades.)

    I find gray to be totally dull and prefer the road team to wear color, and I also really like the Cubs’ blue road jerseys: the walking bear logo contains no lettering except the C that surrounds it, and the National League patch looks great on the sleeve of the only team to be in the league for every year of its existence.

    If I had my way, the visiting team would always wear color (any shade is fine, from pale powder blue to deepest black) and the home team would wear white. Gray would not appear anywhere except as an optional color for road pants.

    Speaking matching – the Patriots have no throwbacks with a silver helmet – is it safe to assume they’ll be wearing standard road gear vs. Bills in throwbacks?

    True – but it is a shame and could be arranged with minimal issue (except for the helmet thing).

    “Pennsylvania Sen. Bob Casey wrote to the MLB about the league’s switch from Majestic to Under Armour.”

    “the MLB”?

    Come on. This place has standards and a respect for accuracy!!

    Actually, the singular possessive is correct, given that it reflects MLB as a single entity — a major “League.”

    my question regarding the switch to UA is, wasn’t it a bidding type thing? MLB isn’t pulling out of Majestic, Majestic didn’t bid high enough, right?

    We don’t know that. None of the key players has said anything about the deal — not MLB, not Under Armour, not Majestic. The whole thing is based on reporting (all of which I trust, given the reporters and media outlets involved).

    So we don’t know if Majestic was “fired” (as Adidas was by the NBA), or if they lost a bidding war. I strongly suspect it was the former. I think MLB wanted to go in a new direction.


    I mean, I wouldn’t be surprised. MLB needs to stay relevant and Majestic isn’t really what the cool kids are wearing these days.

    It feels like I’m seeing that phrase “the MLB” a lot lately. Was there some kind of advertising campaign that used it (like video games did for “the Show”)? “The Major League Baseball” doesn’t make any sense at all; it adds a syllable and thus isn’t even easier to say. The only explanation I can think of is that people are piggybacking on the fad of attaching “the” to other abbreviations that don’t really make sense with it, such as “the ATL” for “Atlanta”. In any case, I can’t wait to see this siilly fad die.

    If the American Needle story is correct that that was the first time team caps were sold to the public at retail – something I doubt – then the first cap available to the public would have had a red wishbone C on it.

    The Cubs also had Welington Castillo behind the plate a few years ago. Some day they will have a catcher whose first name starts with W but has the correct number of Ls.

    I’d say that colour-vs.-colour looks terrible in basketball and football. And it’s the second-worst-looking thing about world football (the worst being the advertisements, of course). For instance, the blue vs. red in a Chelsea-Liverpool match robs that matchup of its grandeur, and gives it the look of a kiddie game. Chelsea have a beautiful white change kit this year; ideally every team should have such a kit, and every soccer match should have one team in white.

    And certainly basketball and American football should not be moving towards the amateurish and undignified colour-vs.-colour presentation.

    Chelsea’s popular club nickname is “the Blues”. Liverpool are known as “the Reds”. For these 2 storied clubs to wear anything but the primary kit would be almost blasphemous. There is plenty of contrast between blue and red and nobody watches games on black & white TVs any more. The nice thing about European soccer is that a team wears its primary kit unless it looks too much like what the opponents wear. Only then do they change.

    I’d generally agree with you. However, who on earth would argue that USC vs. UCLA on the football field looks bad?

    No one would argue…USC/UCLA is a tremendous look.

    I wish Alabama/Tennessee would go color vs. color.

    I like USC/UCLA color vs. color but gold pants are too similar. I always want as much contrast as possible. Too many football games with non contrasting pants.

    With regard to Fanatics, it won’t be the first time there’s a company making NHL jerseys for retail that aren’t supplying them to the teams. Starter made replica jerseys for every team before they started supplying NHL teams, and CCM continued to make replicas for teams that had jumped to Nike or Starter.

    Though this will be the first time a replica jersey maker will be completely separate from the on-ice jersey maker. And I’m not thrilled with the idea of the continued use of the “jock tag”, an element which DOES NOT BELONG ON A HOCKEY SWEATER!!!

    It’s been said before, but it’s so stupid that Illinois tries to defend their GFGS unis as a tribute to Red Grange. It’s nothing like what he actually wore when he played. link and his nickname was the Galloping Ghost, not the Gray Ghost.

    The Bills helmet transformation doesn’t actually show the nose bumper being removed/replaced, but it still somehow transforms from streaking to standing bison.

    Considering it shows the throwback stripes snaking in from behind the helmet, I think we can accept a little artistic license with the nose bumper logo changing while it’s hanging upside-down in front of the helmet there. (Though why it would be doing that, and not just go out of view with the facemask and then come back, is an odd choice anyway.)

    The Florida Fire Frogs have just made satire of minor league baseball team names impossible. A team in the third most populous state, a state with 17 professional baseball teams, calling itself the “Florida” team? That’s something you’d only do to ridicule the pomposity of bad sports team naming. And of course the nickname itself is a composite of a noun used as an adjective plus an animal name to form a new type of creature that doesn’t actually exist. Pretty much the acme of bad modern team names. From here on out, any attempt to create a fake team name to make fun of bad team names will run up against the problem that it cannot be more ridiculous than the Florida Fire Frogs, a team that actually exists.

    There are only two ways calling a minor league team “Florida” would make sense:

    1. If they were the only team in that league that was in that state. They fail that because it’s the FLORIDA STATE LEAGUE; every team in the league is in Florida!

    2. If they were from Florida City (which is located south of Homestead, at the southern end of the Miami metro area). They fail THAT because they’re in Kissimmee.

    Actually, I recall seeing a story maybe in the 1990s when an Astros minor league moved to Kissimmee and change to Cobras, ostensibly so as not to be called the Kissimmee Astros.

    I think the Kissimmee team went by the county(?) name Osceola just to avoid “Kissimmee” entirely.

    have you seen the other options they had.. they all were beyond terrible

    “The team’s name was announced on October 26, 2016 at the conclusion of a name the team contest.[2] The finalists from which the team’s name was selected were: Florida Dragonflies, Florida Fire Frogs, Florida Mud Kickers, Florida Rodeo Clowns, Florida Sorcerers, and Florida Toucan”

    Aside from the insipid “Florida” moniker, all of those are superior nicknames to Fire Frogs. Dragonflies is a good enough nickname with such a broad potential for interesting imagery that it’s kind of surprising nobody else uses that already. Rodeo Clowns is at least an actual thing, and Sorcerers would be perfectly in line with common pro team names. Toucans, assuming it would be plural, would be a great name for a team in Florida. Mud Kickers is the only bum name on the list, and even it is worlds ahead of Fire Frogs.

    How many jaws dropped and gaped open when FOX cut away from the World Series focused on the guy with the Indians fan in full headdress?



    Why would anyone’s jaw drop? Why would it be the slightest bit surprising that a team with a questionable name and an outright racist logo has people come to the games dressed like idiots?

    For anyone that’s been following the story, its far from jaw dropping.


    “The best the pro-Wahoo people can do now is say, “This guy, he’s just one asshole. Most of us pro-Wahoo fans would never do anything like that.” That’s true, of course. But it’s also true that this isn’t the first time Indians fans have gone the minstrelsy route. More importantly, keeping Wahoo on the active roster gives license and encouragement to this type of behavior. Like, if the Chief is an official team logo, why shouldn’t fans be painting their face with his likeness? That’s what fans do, right? As long as the Indians keep Wahoo around, they can’t credibly disavow this kind of stuff.”

    I wear the Wahoo hat because i bought it well before the “PC” revolution and I think it represents the team history from when i lived there. Now you can call me an idiot if you like, and I really dont care.

    The Fanatics deal has me excited – they already produce great t shirts in sizes for bid dudes like me, and Im excited that the new replica NHL jerseys may be better suited for regular life wear (if that makes sense)

    just recently I bought a Penguins replica Reebok jersey and its huge. I could never wear it out and about, not that I ever wear jerseys to anything but the game Im going to. Maybe that will change.

    Hey Paul,

    Rockin the “Brooklyn Blazer” in the panel discussion vid.

    Great discussion btw and rather go on to a long winded diatribe on the matter let me just say that Native American imagery in sports today is not a “Branding” problem, it is a much more than that. Treating it is as such may appeal to one’s wallet, but not the heart of the matter.

    -The Cubs blues are actually my favorite Chicagi jersey,m to be honest. I was happy to see them in the Series.

    -I’m confused about something on the Fanatics deal. Will Addidas have anything to do with the manufacture of replica jerseys and they’ll just be tagged Fanatics, or are they out of the picture entirely? If so, Inwonder how not needing to directly worry about retail will affect their designs, especially one-offs and throwbacks.

    -Since I know you like the jersey swap stories Paul, here’a one about Tom Brady and an injured Big Ben from this past weekend’s Pats/Steelers game. link

    I think both the Cubs and Indians colored unis look fine individually and when paired against a team in a white uni… but the two of them together on the field, ughhh, they just do not go together to my eyes.

    Great point about the free-wheeling stylin’ of the old All Star games, A’s and Indians players all wearing different colored versions.

    Paul, how did you manage to type the words “$359 authentics” without any commentary? THREE HUNDRED AND FIFTY NINE DOLLAZ FOR A JOISEY?!


    Anyone willing to spend $359 on a jersey deserves to spend $359 on a jersey, or something like that.

    The whole Fanatics/retail thing doesn’t much matter to me, because (a) I don’t buy this stuff and (b) I don’t really care about what everyone else buys. It’s interesting to watch it all unfold, though, sort of like watching a lab experiment to see how people respond.

    Replica or not, I don’t understand the function of putting a jock tag on a hockey jersey. Football, basketball, baseball are all intended to be tucked in, but not hockey (#99 aside).

    Just watched the entire panel video and thought it was interesting. Was amused by the guy next to Paul who kept going on about his Quebec family roots, and trying to create a parallel with that to the experience of Native Americans. The point he probably chooses to gloss over is if he hadn’t told us of his family background, none of us would know.

    I loved the first speaker, Simon I believe, opening in Lakota. Just a beautiful language to my ear. I could listen to Lakota all day long just for the aesthetically pleasing sounds of it.

    It was really powerful when he began by speaking in Lakota, then switched to English, and then noted that English is “a foreign language.” Such a simple, obvious point, but I’d never thought of it that way.

    Sorry if this has already been submitted – those baseball posters are circa 1971 from Pro Motions (think its two words). They were sold at stadiums, in magazines, and also from the back of cereal boxes (as in your photo). There was a set of basketball from this company as well but NFL and NHL had different licensee at that time. NFL went from Dave Boss art in the mid-60’s to Hoyle set in late 60’s/early 70’s to the Bartell series around 1972 or so. Problem with the Pro Motions posters is that they are not standard poster frame size.

    Thanks so much for the panel video link…very informative and engaging. I went ahead and watched the unedited version so that I could see the lively Q and A.

    You make a very good point, and one that I think oughta be the focal point of anti-native rep arguments (maybe instead of screaming RACIST!! at them), that this culture is alive, and does not belong to many (most?) of the entities using it. I sympathize that people are very attached to these icons, particularly the Blackhawks logo and yeah, even Wahoo…but they don’t belong to the fanbases in Chicago and Cleveland, they never did. They were stolen, and should probably just be retired as a means of righting a decades-old wrong (the act of beginning to use such iconography, that is…not the violent treatment of indigenous people themselves). It’ll hurt a little, but really, it’s the right and civilized thing to do. Personally, as much as I try to reconcile it, there’s a nagging feeling in my conscience that tells me its wrong.

    The Q and A kinda shows us what kind of loggerheads we’re at, though, with the woman in effect attacking all the participants on the panel simply for being male, and the one participant espousing his bootstrapsy beliefs about the supposed myths of white privilege. Gonna be a bumpy road.

    Setting aside the basic notion that all culture is theft, I have a fundamental issue with the role of the team nickname. Was it ever intended to honor the mental image that we keep of yankees, raiders, titans, blue jays, kings or cardinals? I would posit that what we seek is a crusading and evocative image that resembles but doesn’t copy the team down the street. Maybe I’m not honoring American Indians but you can’t say I’m not admiring them. Fans who wear face paint are jerks and they don’t represent me; what the Indians of this nation offer me is their “pixie dust”, an image worthy of emulating. Yeah, sometimes pedestals are lonely places. Ask anyone who has been idolized. And I know they are sincere. But ultimately, they have as much authority as those who would have me embrace the vegan lifestyle, or call me a potential rapist owing to my Y chromosome.

    Very cool story Paul, meeting Bill Kobe’s daughter, I feel like that kinda thing only happens to you. Funny how the world works. I guess doesn’t hurt that you seem to be very social, unlike me, my shell would never allow something like that to happen. Anyway, very cool story and I cant wait to see what comes of it.

    I guess doesn’t hurt that you seem to be very social…

    Thanks, but I actually spend most of my days working by myself in my apartment! Not such a social way of life, really.

    But I do try to be open to interesting experiences as I encounter them. This one just happened to work out. Thanks for the kind words.

    I don’t know that I’ve seen a pro athlete in basketball, baseball, or football wearing New Balance in some time. Mike Napoli is the first I’ve noticed.

    The Tug McGraw picture does bring back memories…I have just about every Met yearbook from 1969 through about 2010. Why did I stop collecting? The book stopped having a lot of the cool pictures and features I loved and became very corporate, bland and boring. The Mets of the late 1960’s and early 70s were a fun, family run outfit.

    That version of the Mets script Tug is wearing seems perfect to me. The one they wear today has several annoying distortions only I seem to care about.

    My sister-in-law posted on Facebook stating that she had a tough time distinguishing between the Cleveland and Chicago uniforms the other day.

    I said, “Really? You don’t notice the racist caricature on the foreheads and sleeves of one team?” (She liked my comment — I wasn’t picking a fight.)

    I can sort of understand why the owners would continue to have Chief Wahoo: they make a lot of money mocking American Indians. I can understand being a Cleveland Indians fan, even though their mascot is horrible. What I can’t understand is why anybody would buy a cap or jersey and march around wearing a racist image.

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