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Under Armour to Take Over MLB Uniforms a Year Early

When the word came down last December that Under Armour would be taking over from Majestic as MLB’s uniform outfitter in 2020, my ESPN colleague Darren Rovell’s coverage of the situation included a small detail that many people, myself included, overlooked: “The deal is scheduled to begin in 2020 and run for 10 years, but sources say it could start before that should Majestic decide to bow out early.”

Fast forward to last month: Fanatics bought Majestic’s parent company, including the Pennsylvania factory where Majestic makes MLB uniforms. That led one of my sources to suggest, citing the line in the Rovell story, that the schedule for the Under Armour changeover might be accelerated.

And sure enough, that’s what’s happening. Here’s the story, as reported yesterday by the AP:

Baseball Commissioner Rob Manfred said Thursday that fan merchandise from Under Armour will be available next year and that Under Armour will be used for dugout clothing during the 2018 postseason. The full switch to Under Armour for on-field apparel will take place for the 2019 season.

So the Under Armour logo will begin appearing on jersey chests (not sleeves) in 2019 — a full season earlier than had been expected. Man, it’s like hearing your life expectancy was just reduced by one year.

If you choose to believe that Manfred is also champing at the bit to add uniform advertising, this new development also has implications on that front. Back in February, Manfred said he couldn’t even think about uniform ads until MLB got used to having the maker’s mark on the chest. Well, they’re going to get used to it one year earlier than we thought, so the timetable for considering uni ads will presumably be moved up as well. (To be clear, I’m not saying, nor do I believe, that MLB uni ads are a done deal. But whatever internal process MLB has for evaluating the situation is now on a faster track .)

In short: Enjoy this season and next season, because things are going to get seriously ugly after that.

(My thanks to Phil for bringing this news to my attention just as it was breaking yesterday.)

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The Ticker
By Paul

Baseball News: New bat knob decals for A’s 1B Yonder Alonso. … Here’s an illustrated timeline of Mets home uniforms (thanks, Phil). … The Corvalis Knights — that’s a collegiate wood bat summer team — have new uniforms with the team logo on the upper thigh (from Ben Eshleman). … Cubs 2B Ben Zobrist wore stirrups yesterday. … Just what the world’s been waiting for: stars and stripes umpires. … Pirates first base coach Joey Cora forgot his helmet last night, so pitcher Ivan Nova taped the helmet to Cora’s head (thanks, Phil). … The A’s wore San Jose Sharks-themed BP jerseys yesterday. Here’s a closer look. … Angels OF Cameron Maybin has been hiking up his pants to Hunter Pence-like heights (from Gary Skraba). … Unusual to see that the Yanks’ road BP jersey uses the helmet version of the “NY” logo, rather than the jersey version (from Steve Dodell). … A’s OF Rajai Davis went with white sanitaries, rather than the usual gold, last night (from @UnkieNoah).

Pro Football News: With news emerging yesterday that the opening of the Rams’ new stadium will be delayed by one year, my ESPN colleague Alden Gonzalez is reporting that the team’s new uniforms will likewise be pushed back to 2020. Or, then again, maybe not. … Meanwhile, the L.A. Coliseum, where the Rams will now be playing for an additional year, is getting a new corporate name. Gross. … Here’s a great shot of Raiders RB Marv Hubbard wearing the padded helmet style usually associated with the Chiefs’ Willie Lanier (from Miles Filbert). … After I posted that Hubbard photo on Twitter, Kevin Gallagher responded, “Several Raiders offensive linemen of that era wore the padded crown, including Gene Upshaw and Boomer Brown. I hadn’t known that! … Back in 2011 I did an article on the history of the Pats’ ill-fated “Proto-Elvis” logo. Now Andrew Mason has found a glimpse of Proto-Elvis shown in the end zone during a game! Never seen evidence of that before. Maybe that was the game when they had the halftime vote on whether to replace Pat Patriot with Proto-Elvis..? … A new professional seven-on-seven flag football league is set to debut in 2018 with an interesting innovation: ” The league’s flags, which are patent pending, are attached via magnets instead of the typical Velcro. When a flag is detached, a sensor detects it and an official will be able to see the exact point on the field [where] the flag came off, thus ceding the guesswork to science.”

Hockey News: Longtime reader Richard Craig recently received an email from the Sharks, which invited him to participate in a poll regarding the team’s third jersey. You can see the email and click through the poll questions here.

NBA News: Earlier this week I wondered if the Cavs might wear this Akron Goodyear Wingfoots uniform as a throwback next season. As it happens, LeBron James showed up at practice yesterday wearing that very jersey design. Not sure what the little logo on the chest was (it appears to include “USA“; on the back it had Kyrie Irving’s number and NOB, along with the Goodyear logo. … SportsCenter put together a series of graphics yesterday about the players named to this year’s All-NBA teams. Interestingly, they chose to show most of the players in alternate uniforms (from Ryan McRyanson). … Golden State has some uneven NOB/number spacing. … The floor at a bar in Syracuse is the original hardcourt used by the old Syracuse Nationals, who are known today as the Philadelphia 76ers (from Bryan Prouse).

Soccer News: New kit for FC Bayern. … New sleeve advertiser for FC Schalke 04 (from Anthony Nuccio). … The Scottish club Hearts has inked a new deal with Umbro (from Ed Å»elaski”). … Borussia Monchengladbach has semi-jokingly accused Borussia Dortmund of stealing their kit idea (from Josh Hinton). … Incredible Hulk-themed kit for Atletico Astorga FC (from The Book Room). … New jersey for Dynamo Dresden (from Ed Å»elaski”). … Also from Ed: The new Pumas kit has leaked. The design is based on UNAM’s American football team.

Grab Bag: A Nike-financed track and field program has raised serious questions about doping. It’s amazing how Nike manages to involve itself in so many unsavory enterprises, even ones that have nothing to do with uniforms. … Fashion designer Naoki Takizawa has been creating really nice uniforms for the staffs of various companies and institutions (from Greg Franklin). … Here’s a story about Nevada’s “Battle Born” uniforms across several different sports (thanks, Phil). … New Dallas-themed golf shoes for Jordan Spieth (from Tony Andela). … Here’s a chart that shows every color of cardigan that Mr. Rogers wore from 1979 to 2001 (from John Muir). … Here’s a look at the liveries for the Indy 500 (from Tim Dunn).

Comments (60)

    Question / clarification:

    What is the difference between a “makers mark” / “sponsor” / “corporate ad”? In my eyes, there seems to be a very thin line between the three.

    1) At the top pro level, there is no such thing as a “sponsor,” a point I’ve addressed in detail here:
    http://www.uni-watch.com/2016/04/19/some-thoughts-about-advertising-vs-sponsorship/

    2) A maker’s mark is the logo of the company that manufactured the uniform. I’m opposed to them, but at least these logo have some direct connection to the garment.

    3) A corporate ad patch is the logo of a third party that has no relationship with the team or the uniform except a financial one.

    The NBA has never had maker’s marks or corporate advertising patches. Next season they will have both.

    The other Big Four pro leagues have had maker’s marks for many years but have never had corporate ad patches.

    MLB’s maker’s marks have always been on the jersey sleeve. When Under Armour takes over in 2019, the mark will move to the chest.

    MLB will have corp ads next, they have been slowly introducing makers marks on the hats, shirts, pants & socks. They are just getting people used to the idea of seeing the makers mark & once they do in come the ads.

    Maybe.

    Or maybe the last thing New Era and Under Armour want is for their newly prominent maker’s marks to be competing with third-party uniform ads. It’s a more complex situation than many people realize, with lots of parties who have to be kept happy.

    That Corvallis Knights set is a great exemplar of “too many bumper-stickers”.

    “USA” logo on Goodyear Wingfoots uniform appears to be that of the Amateur Athletics Union (AAU). An obvious choice, given the Wingfoots’ history as a top amateur team, though I don’t know if they ever actually wore the AAU logo at any time in their history.

    Good to see the action photo of the Wingfoots again. Their opponent in the photo is the Cleveland Pipers, also a leading amateur team before they jumped to the American Basketball League.

    Also don’t forget the wingfoots actually played in NBL one of the forerunners to the NBA and actually were the first NBL champions so there is some legitimate throwback potential

    The Proto-Elvis in the endzone is done all in Blue. not good.

    I DO however, prefer the red/white/blue Proto to the Flying.

    Still not as good a Pat though.

    Actually, I think that’s just a result of the low-definition broadcast, and the subsequent JPEG artifacting. The stripes definitely look to be a different color from the head to me.

    I’m almost with you. The snow whites without the black drop shadow is my favorite Mets look.

    This could earn me a bannination, but the John Olerud picture in the Mets’ timeline is my favorite home uniform of theirs. I know, I know: Stone the heretic!

    I recall the Pats proto logo vote happening at halftime of a Monday night game….it was booed vociferously in favor of Pat Patriot.

    The Pumas jersey looks nice. Problem will be when they add all those ads it has.
    Unless, like with other anniversaries, Pumas manages to convince the advertisers to not be in the jersey and they use it for only a game.

    I thought it was interesting that the football jerseys are UA and the futbol kits are Nike. Most clubs that have teams in multiple sports don’t have multiple manufacturers.

    That’s because the football team (an intercollegiate team made up of students) and the soccer team (a professional team whose players aren’t students) are two somewhat separate entities. A good way to analogize it is to imagine Notre Dame owning an NFL franchise — with a team playing in Notre Dame Stadium and wearing the university’s colors.

    The reason I used Notre Dame as the example is because the UNAM football team was created in the 1920s by students who were Notre Dame fans, having listened to games on the radio. As an homage, they adopted the colors of blue and gold, which eventually were adopted by UNAM as a whole. Accordingly, when the soccer team started, they took the colors of UNAM.

    “Golden State has some uneven NOB/number spacing.”

    I would imagine that the names and numbers are placed on specific areas of the jersey–not necessarily in relation to each other.

    Examples:
    The Name is X many inches below the NBA logo.
    The Number is aligned with the armpit of the jersey.

    Or something along those lines.

    Another thing to highlight, from the article about the Memorial Coliseum:

    Fox Sports, through its partnership with USC, has been attempting to sell naming rights to one of the nation’s most recognizable venues since ’15.”

    WHAT. THE. FUCKING. HELL. The goddamned NETWORK pushed for this shit? That is beyond gross. That is just straight-up evil.

    If an organization that doesn’t have lots of experience in selling advertising wants to sell advertising, it isn’t that shocking for them to hire an organization that specializes in selling advertising.

    Whether non-profit ostensibly educational institutions should advertise is where this went off the rails.

    The example of the UA on the chest of Mets Céspedes shows him wearing a Nike undershirt. Is UA going to also be the official undershirt for MLB?

    I know for sure that Nike will no longer have the undershirt deal. I *think* UA will be getting it, but I’m not positive of that.

    It’s unclear whether the UA taking over for Majestic a year early will also mean Nike losing the undershirt deal a year early. So it’s possible that we could see precisely the situation shown in the Céspedes image.

    That would be interesting, considering that UA got their start precisely as a manufacturer of moisture wicking T-shirts.

    The whole Ram uniform thing is stupid. .. the league tried FOREVER to get a team into LA… the moment that happened, they should have threw aside the big rule and let them redesign on the spot so they could sell new, non-st. Louis looking Rams stuff to the new LA fans. If I were the Rams I would have made that a stipulation of moving. Heck, they changed the helmet big time… there’s lots of gold horn helmet shirts still out there that will go unsold as far as the not wanting to have merchandise go to waste… so scrap the gold trimmed jerseys and just move on so we don’t have to look at this mismatched mess for a couple more years. It just seems embarrassing from a league that’s supposed to be top notch.

    What makes you think the Rams themselves don’t want to sell St. Louis-era Rams shirts to their LA fans?
    That allows them to ‘double-dip’ when they move to the new stadium, by now having those same fans buy yet another shirt.

    From a purely economic standpoint, when a team moves, that’s exactly when you DON’T change shirts.

    Lee

    I think they can “want” to sell them all they like, but one glance at any Rams message board or Rams story shows the distaste the LA fans have for the metallic gold, because that’s st louis, they want nothing to do with it. Then take a look at eBay. … type in vintage nfl shirt…. the majority you will find is st. Louis Rams gear…. those fans are dumping it in droves… hence, no one wants the metallic gold horn Rams gear. … and further hence, LA started decking everything out in white and blue…. if people don’t want it, they aren’t going to but it. Hell, I work in apparel… even on the high school and college level, we have people come in to make custom stuff, because they just think what’s available to them from the school is ugly… they won’t buy it… so, as i said, it’s just stupid they didn’t let them rebrand.

    No doubt about it, LA fans don’t want the St. Louis era shirts.
    That’s one of the reasons its kept as the primary, because the Rams (and the NFL) know what a gold mine shirts are. Some/many fans for some reason feel the need to be wearing what the current team is wearing.
    I don’t get that POV, but facts are facts.

    I agree that an NFL team should be able to re-brand/re-design/etc when they want. But while the NFL has a set of rules, I wouldn’t be so quick to assume that its solely the NFL that isn’t letting the Rams re-brand.

    Teams don’t take this stuff lightly, and I am sure they have many people deciding the most effective way of making money. And that’s it.

    Lee

    Oh and Lee, I get what you mean… from the economics standpoint… it’s just so strange they changed every last bit of the uniform, but they won’t let them just change the jersey so it’s not an eye sore as a full uniform. My uniform OCD kicks in every time I just think about it :)

    Breaking news?

    From the Akron Beacon Journal:

    “The Cavs and Goodyear announced a partnership this week that will have the Cavs sporting the iconic Wingfoot logo on their jerseys starting next season. The Cavs logo will also appear on the Goodyear blimp.”

    Did we already know that the Cavs logo would be on the blimp? Does anyone have more details?

    Interesting information on the Patriots Paul. The way Foxboro was spelled in the old article is the way I remember it and not the current which is Foxbourough.
    Which brings me to why change the spelling of a town name?
    And why is the logo called Flying Elvis? Does it resemble Elvis therefore give it a nickname? or is the blue on the side of the face look like an Elvis sideburn?

    The USPS has both city spellings on its website.

    Yes it resembles Elvis (Presley not Costello).

    A tweak to make that logo look like pre-1980 Elvis Costello would be fun.

    Flying Elvis is one of those interesting examples of unofficial names for a logo that stuck with us uni watchers to identify certain logos.

    Many other interesting examples. Like how the Vancouver Canucks logo from 1978 to 1997 is just referred to as the “Plate of Spaghetti” logo. Attached below is the logo taking the description literally:

    https://www.google.ca/search?q=Plate+of+spaghetti+logo+Vancouver+Canucks&tbm=isch&tbo=u&source=univ&sa=X&ved=0ahUKEwjhz8XEgv3TAhVF02MKHck5AMwQsAQIIQ&biw=1366&bih=662#imgrc=EWUJ5F7o-gi9YM:

    My interest in sports begins and ends with MLB. It hangs by a thread. If the ads come to the uniforms, I am most certainly done.

    Oh well, lots of other interesting things in this world to pay attention to I guess.

    I’m really, really trying to not be Get Off My Lawn Guy. But MLB seems determined to push me there.

    Regarding those awful stars and strips umpire shirts – I have never considered those shirts to be acceptable. There are far better ways to be patriotic without desecrating the US Flag. For example, when we umpire a tournament on Memorial Day weekend and we have a three man crew, one of us will wear a red shirt, one white, and one blue. When we have a four man crew we put the red-white-blue on third, second and first.

    I would refer the maker to the US Flag Code:

    §176 (d): The flag should never be used as wearing apparel, bedding, or drapery.

    §176 (j) No part of the flag should ever be used as a costume or athletic uniform. However, a flag patch may be affixed to the uniform of military personnel, firemen, policemen, and members of patriotic organizations.

    Being a Reds fan I dread the logo on chest. I do not want to see a blazing red UA logo on a snow white home uniform that could possibly make the team alter the height of the uniform number. Though the logo will be a distraction on all uniforms, I get the feeling seeing it in black or blue won’t be as much of an assault on the eyes.

    Not a lot of room here:
    https://img.bleacherreport.net/cms/media/image/4d/8c/ba/fe/4996/4886/a30e/d96b52fc276e/crop_exact_680504186.jpg?h=400&w=600&q=70&crop_x=center&crop_y=top

    This also makes me wonder, how long until UA has the nerve to do what we know they will want to? Use the highest contrasting team color as possible for each uniform. Bright orange on the Mets home pins, red on LAs snow whites, etc.

    This is going to get worse before it gets better.

    Here is where I say, I believe most trends in life run in cycles. Will it ever return to uniform perfection of the mid 1950? No. I truly hope that at some point, a contract disagreement occurs and ads have to be dropped do to arguments over who receives what percentage.

    Irony to all of this is that 10 years ago I would have said uniform ads would go in this order:

    1. NHL
    2. NFL
    3. NBA
    4. Minor League Baseball
    4a. MLB

    Looks like I was a bit off.

    Oh, I don’t know; putting the number directly under the UA would steal attention from the maker’s mark, in my mind’s eye.

    Should say Manfred is chomping at the bit, not champing. Love the content today.

    The lesson about “bated breath”, “rack and ruin”, “baring one’s teeth”, and “wreaking havoc” is my favorite.

    I purchase way too much Cleveland sports merch, 99% Majestic made. I’m glad Fanatics saved jobs by purchasing the company but worry that the quality of the merch will suffer. Majestic only produced jerseys for MLB too so I think the loss of that exclusive relationship could bite MLB in the backside too. #notamajesticemployee

    I recall that when you unpacked a recent Manfred interview, you pointed out that he misspoke in saying there would UA chest logos in two years. Then a bit later the Fanatics/Majestic deal went through, and now he’s correct. I’m assuming he had a well-founded feeling.

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