Bizarre scene yesterday in DC, as the Michigan basketball team took the court wearing yellow practice jerseys, navy shorts, and a hodgepodge of different shoe designs for a Big Ten tournament game against Illinois. As you can see in the video clip above (which is worth watching, even with the annoying pre-roll ad), the whole thing looked amusingly YMCA-ish.
The issue, as you’ve probably heard by now, is that the team’s uniforms were on the plane that skidded off the runway on Wednesday. The plane is the subject of an FAA investigation, which means all of the cargo is off-limits, including the uniforms. And because the Wolverines packed for a multi-game tournament, not just for a single game, they had all of their uniforms stored on the plane, so there were no backup unis available except for the practice gear.
Teams making do with makeshift attire after their uniforms have been lost or delayed is nothing new, of course. I compiled a list of such incidents for a 2007 ESPN column, and there have been several more examples since then.
As for Michigan, of course they won, because that’s what happens in stories like this one. I’m sure Nike could whip up a new set of unis for them in time for their next game, but lots of people, including some of the players, are already saying they should stick with the practice gear — in part out of superstition and in part as a symbol of the hardship they’ve endured, what with the plane incident and all.
I agree — they should ride this uniform as far as it’ll take them. Technically speaking, the mismatched shorts and jerseys are an NCAA violation (Rule 1-22.4 states, “The perceptible majority color of the game shorts shall be the color of the neutral zone of the game jersey”), but the rule was obviously waived for the game against Illinois, so let them keep on waiving it. As a nice bonus, the practice jerseys are reversible — yellow on one side, navy on the other — so they can even vary the look depending on whether they’re the designated home or road team for a given game.
Imagine if Michigan ends up doing well in the Big Ten tourney, earns an NCAA tournament bid, and advances to, say, the Sweet 16 — all while wearing the practice jerseys. It would be a great story, right? Well, at least until Big Uni inevitably commodified it by cranking out copycat practice-themed jerseys for lots of other schools.
Baseball News: Check it out: an old Mariners Camaro (from Shawn Anderson). … The Aberdeen IronBirds will become the Steamed Crabs for one game this summer (from Matt Kent, among others). … A Brewers blogger thinks the team’s current state of uni-related affairs is a debacle. … Way back in 1942, Variety was criticizing Joe DiMaggio’s and Carl Hubbell’s longer-than-usual pant legs, which were described as “droopy drawers” (from Will Shoken). … The Down East Wood Ducks’ new identity is bringing out the seventh grader in everyone, which was probably by design. … The great Threads of Our Game database has added a bunch of new uniform designs from 1889. … The Double-A Erie SeaWolves will wear pink jerseys with 1970s styling for weekend games this season (from @ww0b). … We’ve previously seen this shot of Willie Mays wearing a Reds helmet in the 1965 All-Star Game (more info on that here), but he also wore a Milwaukee Braves helmet in the ’64 ASG (from @kinestealshome). … Some very interesting new socks for the Giants. But ugh, the logo creep really ruins them (from A.G. Redshield). … The Fresno Grizzlies will be doing a “Classic Vinyl Night” promotion on June 1, including Sgt. Pepper’s-style jerseys (from Scott Whitt). … The Salt Lake Bees will wear Utah Jazz-themed jerseys on July 1. … Two players on the Venezuelan WBC team wore Texas Rangers caps yesterday. They’re Rangers players who were loaned to the Venezuelan team. … Some players on the Dominican WBC team are wearing non-matching shoes. … Mexcio was the visiting team for yesterday’s game against Italy but nonetheless wore white pants (from Tyler Johnson). … Interesting article about one of the big contractors that supplies seats for ballparks (from James Gilbert).
NFL News: Whoa, check out all the patches and repairs on the inside of this old Broncos jersey once worn by Rich “Tombstone” Jackson. Love the number-outline stitching, too (great stuff from Broncos collector Tom Jacobson).
Hockey News: New third jersey for the Charlottetown Islanders (from @96_PEI_Senators). … Here’s the story behind each Blackhawks player’s uniform number (from Steve Johnston). … Flames rookie Matthew Tkachuk somehow ended up with an opponent’s stick stuck in his helmet visor (from John Chapman).
NBA News: Years ago, fans debated whether the NBA logo should be changed to show Michael Jordan instead of Jerry West. Now there’s some discussion about whether the logo should depict LeBron James. … Former NBA player Vernon Maxwell trashed the Jazz’s uniforms and then sorta-kinda apologized (thanks, Mike). … I put this in the baseball section, but it works here too: The Salt Lake Bees will wear Jazz-themed jerseys on July 1. … The Sioux Falls Skyforce — that’s a
D-League Gatorade League team — will wear Corn Night uniforms on March 18 (from Brett Hansen).
College and High School Hoops News: Long shorts are getting shorter. … Whoa, look at these awesome Purdue uniforms from 1968 (from Brian Carroll). … Here’s a look at this year’s March Madness sneakers. … Cedar Shoals High School in Georgia has some very unusual uniforms. … Kansas’s new March Madness jerseys have larger chest typography than their regular season counterparts. … Jesse Gavin, covering the Iowa high school championships, reports that the trend of teams wearing non-contrasting uni numbers has reached “near-epidemic levels.” Additional examples here, here, here, and here. … Xavier’s team name, Musketeers, was misspelled as “Mustketers” for yesterday’s game against Butler at Madison Square Garden (from @JMLedgewood). … Bill Walton wore an ESPN polo shirt last night, which wouldn’t necessarily be notable except that he was working for the Pac-12 Network at the time (from Mike Christy). … UCLA’s number font has some infilling problems.
Soccer News: Looks like Man U player Juan Mata was wearing a different jersey than his teammates were wearing (from Eric Thompson). … “SV Darmstadt 98 from the German Bundesliga will be wearing special jerseys on Saturday,” reports Anthony Zydzik. “They say ‘Du musst kÃ¤mpfen’ (you have to fight) and ‘Jetzt erst Recht’ (now more than ever) on the front, which honors Jonathon Heimes, a fan who died of cancer a year ago.” Anthony, incidentally, is a German teacher, so he knows his stuff when it comes to German soccer. … Here’s an odd one: Inter Milan has a 109th-anniversary jersey. “I can’t figure out if there’s some special significance to the number or if it’s just an excuse to sell merch,” says Trevor Williams. “Can’t wait for the 110th anniversary to buy another limited edition!” … Also from Trevor: “The new Red Bulls jersey includes one of the most insane design explanations I’ve ever seen: ‘The intersecting lines speak to the style of play of the team and its composition … The pattern and fabric are symbolic of the connective thread that bring everyone together in this metropolis.'”
Grab Bag: The USPS has issued a new set of stamps based on old WPA posters. Gorgeous stuff (from Jeff Ash). … Mike Ortman points out that the logo for January’s Women’s March on Washington owes a strong stylistic debt to the English Beat’s I Just Can’t Stop It album cover from 1980. … Indiana Michigan Power — which sounds like an arena football team but is actually an electricity utility — has a new logo. … A new women’s cricket league in Australia has released its inaugural logo. … Three different vehicles from the Norfolk, Va., fire department, three different fonts. “That would drive me nuts!” says Jay Abbott. … When the Celtics recently unveiled their GE jersey patch, someone informed me that the GE logo is known among the company’s employees as “the meatball.” Turns out NASA uses that same nickname for its own logo (from James Gilbert).