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Cause for Celebration: A’s to Retain White Shoes

As some of you may be aware, MLB is relaxing its shoe-color rules this season, and the net effect is that teams will no longer have a primary shoe hue. Given the extent to which players have been freestyling their footwear in recent years, this seems like more of a concession to reality than a major change in protocol. Policing the players’ shoes has become a losing battle of whac-a-mole, and most teams no longer have any chromatic consistency in their footwear anyway.

But I did feel bad about the A’s, who’ve made white shoes a key part of their look for more than half a century now, dating back to the franchise’s final year in Kansas City. Other teams tinkered with white shoes in the 1970s and ’80s, but only the A’s stuck with the ivory-footed look and made it a signature part of their uniform. The white shoes are so closely associated with the A’s that at one point they were featured as part of the team’s primary logo.

So the thought of A’s players wearing green, black, yellow, grey, or whatever was a drag. It felt like the latest bit of chip-chip-chipping away at small but enjoyable facets of the game.

But I figured I’d double-check with longtime A’s equipment manager Steve Vucinich, just to be sure. Here’s what he told me two days ago: “We will still wear white 98% of the time. No green shoes, but some have a heavy green presence. Only non-white shoes might be some grey on the road.”

Excellent!

Now, despite what Steve said, the reality is that green shoes were already appearing on some A’s players last year, which means there’ll probably be a bit more of the same in 2019. Like I said, policing this stuff is a losing battle. But if the team remains predominantly white-shod, I’ll count that as a win.

Steve, incidentally, is now entering his 52nd season as Oakland’s equipment czar — an amazing run. He tells me he’s good for at least one more season after this one. Keep up the good work, buddy.

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Glove story: Reader Griffin Smith was watching some college baseball yesterday and noticed that Middle Tennessee State’s first baseman was wearing a regular fielder’s glove instead of a first sacker’s mitt. (According to the MTSU roster, No. 14 is Brycen Thomas, who’s listed as a “right-handed pitcher/infielder.”)

Okay, so it’s college ball — these things happen. But the eye-opener, at least for me, is that when Griffin tweeted that photo, Twitter-er @TheSnortingBull responded by saying, “The Cardinals used to occasionally play Jim Edmonds at first, and he’d play with his outfielder’s glove” — and backed it up with a photo:

That’s pretty wild to see a big leaguer doing that. Does anyone have any other examples of MLB first basemen wearing gloves instead of mitts?

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ITEM! New Wafflebored jersey auction: Yesterday I showed you a photo of reader Matt Brevet wearing the Wafflebored-made Uni Watch hockey jersey that we recently auctioned off. Today I’m happy to show you Wafflebored’s latest one-of-a-kind Uni Watch creation — dig (for these pics, click to enlarge):

Yes, it’s a White Sox-style Uni Watch leisure suit jersey, complete with the contrasting collar. “Figuring out that collar is the most significant jersey thing I’ve done so far,” says a very satisfied Wafflebored. “It is weird but so cool.”

You may have noticed that there’s a slight variation in the letter sizes — “all part of the charm of a handmade jersey with hand-cut letters,” says Wafflebored.

Here’s how it looks on the back:

In case you’re wondering, I did not tell Wafflebored to put my name on the back. That was his idea! In fact, this whole jersey was his idea.

And there’s more! In honor of Chris Sale, the winning bidder will also win this pair of scissors:

Those are left-handed scissors (we couldn’t find a right-handed version), but it really shouldn’t matter, since you’re not actually going to cut up the jersey, right? Also, I’m left-handed myself, so that makes the scissors even more Uni Watch-y.

Here’s a “work in progress” shot:

Just like the last jersey, we will auction this one off, and Wafflebored and I will split the revenue. A few additional notes:

• The jersey measures 23″ from pit to pit (i.e., a 46-inch chest), and 30″ from top to bottom.

• The jersey does not currently have any inner tagging, but Wafflebored plans to add his “W” mark,  similar to the one he added to the hockey jersey.

• The winning bidder will have to cover the shipping charges from Vancouver, where Wafflebored lives. That should be $20.

This will be a blind auction, with a minimum bid of $75. To bid, send me an email with your bid by next Tuesday, March 19, 7pm Eastern. High bid wins!

Sorry, shorts not included.

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ITEM! ’Roni-o-rama: For years I’ve loved The Wall Street Journal’s “a-hed” stories, which is their name for the one slightly quirky/eccentric article that they run each day. Today I’m proud to have written my first a-hed piece (and hopefully not my last), about cupping pepperoni.

The WSJ website is paywalled, but you can subscribe for two months for only $1! And then you can unsubscribe right away after reading the article if you want. (The article also appears in today’s print edition, but the print version had to be cut for space and kinda got butchered, frankly.)

But wait, don’t unsubscribe — I have another WSJ piece in the works, and that one is actually uni-related. Should run either Friday or next week — stay tuned.

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The Ticker
By Lloyd Alaban

Baseball News: The New Hampshire Fisher Cats, Double-A affiliate of the Blue Jays, will wear these jerseys for Franco-American Heritage Day in June (from James Christopher). … The Dodgers have put their script below the MLB logo on the back of their helmets in recent years, but it hasn’t been there during spring training (great spot by JD Denison). … The NBA’s Phoenix Suns will host Diamondbacks Night next week and caps with the Suns logo rendered in Diamondbacks red will be made available. … Here’s a sticker of the Mets road jersey lettering on a change machine in upstate New York (from Eric Abneri). … Both starting pitchers in yesterday’s Alabama/MTSU game wore single digits. … Color vs. color for Gardner-Webb and UNC (from James Gilbert). … Anyone know why Saint Mary’s has Mike Tyson stickers on the back of their batting helmets? Is this a merit thing like Ohio State’s buckeye stickers? (From Ian Gerig.) … Here’s a fun article from 50 years ago today — March 13, 1969 — in which Pirates P Dock Ellis wished he could dress more flamboyantly on the field (from Jerry Wolper).

Football News: Here’s a photo of Santa riding into RFK Stadium on a football-shaped float adorned with the NFL’s 50th-anniversary logo. This was taken from a December 1969 game between New Orleans and Washington (from Russell, who didn’t give his last name). … ESPN Photoshopped WR Odell Beckham Jr. in a Browns jersey soon after his trade from the Giants was reported. … Here’s a welding helmet painted like a Steelers helmet. The real question, of course, is whether the logo also appears on the other side (from @YourCarGuyStan). … Here’s what the teams in the Indoor Football League have been wearing through Week 3 of this season. … Here’s a visual history of every uniform Auburn wore in the 1990s (from Clint Richardson).

Hockey News: Rangers F Pavel Buchnevich has a picture of Ivan Drago from the Rocky film series on his skates (from Jason Gregor). … Soccer team Las Vegas Lights FC of the USL will be wearing these Golden Knights-inspired shirts for a match later this month (from Josh Hinton). … The Tucson Roadrunners of the AHL will reveal Coyotes-inspired sweaters next week (from Adam Vitcavage).

NBA News Cross-listed from the baseball section: The Suns will host Diamondbacks Night next week and caps with the Suns logo rendered in Diamondbacks red will be made available. … A photographer has taken pictures of all the unusual places he’s found basketball courts, from silos to the woods (from William F. Yurasko). … The Wisconsin Herd, D League affiliate of the Bucks, will be wearing these jerseys for Make-A-Wish Foundation Night next week. … Former Lakers great Kobe Bryant’s high school jersey, which had been stolen from a display case more than two years ago, has been returned.

College Hoops News: Gonzaga F Zykera Rice usually turns heads with her blue hair. However, yesterday might have been a bit more noticeable, as her blue hair matched the blue in opposing team BYU’s uniform (from Michael Alpei). … Pitt and Boston College went color vs. color last night in their ACC Tournament matchup (from TJ Morrison). … ESPN rendered the Saint Mary’s logo with an “M” that looks like it’s peeling off the screen. Here’s the actual logo for comparison (from Chad Fields). … ESPN also had similar issues with BYU’s logo. … Oklahoma Athletics’ Instagram page is poaching the March Madness logo (from Anthony W. Tucker).

Soccer News: A follow-up on yesterday’s lede: Here’s what the creative process (NYT link) was like behind Nike’s Women’s World Cup kits (from Paul Friedmann). … Georgia Revolution FC of the National Premier Soccer League has unveiled new uniforms. … Cross-listed from the hockey section: Las Vegas Lights FC of the USL will be wearing these Golden Knights-inspired shirts for a match later this month (from Josh Hinton).

Grab Bag New logo for the NCAA’s West Coast Conference (from multiple readers). … Golfer Jason Day was spotted at the Players Championship practice round wearing a Nike golf shirt with two different-colored swooshes (from Eli Swanson). … Here’s a spirited debate about whether a driver should leave his helmet on or off when fighting in NASCAR. … A graphic designer made all of the cars in the IndyCar series in pictures reminiscent of 1980s video games (from Dan, who didn’t give his last name). … Looks like matte helmets have made their way to the world of ski jumping. Here’s a video of Norway’s Maren Ludby competing in a dark matte helmet (from Jim Vilk). … The US Patent and Trademark Office has rejected Penn State’s application to trademark “Happy Valley” (from William F. Yurasko). … He might have been ahead of his time: This professor wrote in 1967 about logo creep around his local neighborhood (from Brad Loliger). … Jeffrey B. Jacobs recently saw the Red Hot Chili Pipers, a rock cover band that plays their music on bagpipes. They wear some sweet-looking uniforms when they’re onstage. … Speaking of uni-centric bands, Scott M.X. Turner writes: “The Japanese punk band Chai’s “Choose Go!” video is uni-yummy. plus there’s a smart Who shout-out in the middle.” … The US Army is set to roll out new protective gear. A similar helmet from the new set saved one soldier from being shot in the head. … New logo for hotel chain Sheraton. Here’s the old logo for comparison. … Twitter is rolling out a new beta app with a new logo and a painfully early-2000s name: twttr. In true Twitter fashion, the logo was quickly roasted.

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Tomorrow: Paul’s final ESPN column.

Comments (43)

    Here’s a spirited debate about whether a driver should leave his helmet on or off when fighting in NASCAR.

    Is this actually a common occurrence?
    I’ll give the same answer I give for hockey: keep your helmet on, don’t fight and play the game.

    In the article about the basketball court photo exhibition, the last court (from Namibia) is clearly a netball court. No backboard or key, rounder goal circle (rather than a 3 point line).

    Concerning the Women’s World Cup uniforms: The article talks about the womens’ being derivations of mens jerseys. I beg to differ, as they have only recently started to match each other. And from the leading pic, Brazil and England still look the same as the mens.

    Yeah, that sentence is wildly inaccurate also because it says all 28 kits that were revealed are specific to the women, which is nowhere near true.

    However, England’s kits are specific to the women, even though one is the same color (white) as it otherwise would be. For Brazil, I think the blue one is specific, but the yellow one isn’t (there are internet rumors that the men are to wear white instead of blue for the Copa America this summer).

    See what I wrote yesterday as well.

    Paul, do you have an instagram account? I don’t think I’ve ever seen mentioned one before, so I’m guessing no. I think you take interesting photos and come across a lot of interesting things, so I just wanted to check (I know, I know, social media is annoying and creeping into our personal lives too much, etc etc).

    Technically, I do have one, but I don’t use it.

    I’m not against it, and I think I’d probably like it, but I already devote a not-insignificant amount of time to Facebook, Twitter, and this website (which, when engaging in the comments like I’m doing now, is essentially a form of social media), so a while back I made the decision to draw the line at Instagram.

    I wish I had time for it. And maybe one day I will! But not today.

    The pepperoni article was a good read. I’ve had both the cupped and flat styles, and I prefer the cupped style because of the char on the edges. The texture just seems to make it taste better. If the slice looks too greasy, I just use a napkin to soak up some of the excess.

    I always used an outfield glove for playing 1B in little league and Babe Ruth, but I think it’s because my parents didn’t want to shell out for a first base mitt when I was already perfectly incompetent with a regular glove.

    Sure. But wow, that Jim Edmonds picture is jarring! Those are the St. Louis Cardinals, and MLBers obsess over the right tool for the right job…even down to going to a lighter bat late in the season to combat fatigue. It would be one thing if it were a 17th inning emergency, but it’s so weird to see a ball player wear the objectively wrong glove. You’d think that if first base were a premeditated possibility (no matter how remote), he’d have a mitt ready.

    To add to the weirdness of the Edmonds photo, it looks as if he’s wearing turf shoes on a regular grass/dirt diamond!

    Those are his Oakley M-Frame sunglasses resting upside-down on the brim, but they really do look like wings now that you mention it

    I played soccer a lot growing up and through intramural college team so not big time in anyway obviously but I absolutely hated molded cleats for soccer as the cutting I did really messed with the pressure spots for my feet. I did not have this problem with baseball cleats when I played the little I did.

    Instead I eventually bought soft ground replaceable stud cleats for when it rained and I bought turf cleats to use when it wasn’t raining. College fields would dew up pretty regularly at night without rain but the turf cleats were never an issue for slipping.

    Way more comfort and control of cuts as well. But that was just me.

    I will never like the vision of a ballplayer displaying nothing but pure white from the wordmark on his chest down to his spikes.

    Dark shoes for all teams if I’m commish in the long-pants era MLB.

    I will never like the vision of a ballplayer displaying nothing but pure white from the wordmark on his chest down to his spikes.

    Colored belt doesn’t count?

    I’m absolutely not prepared to see a Chicago Cub take the field in a pair of solid red shoes. I foresee a fan revolt. Even if it’s just me.

    New Hampshire Fisher Cats, Double-A affiliate of the Blue Jays, will wear these jerseys for Franco-American Heritage Day in June

    Expos fan in southern New England here. This is wonderful stuff (even if I have no French Canadian lineage).

    Well, as a New Englander who does have French-Canadien heritage, I agree this is wonderful stuff!

    There must be one. Re: WCC logo revamp. Can anyone name a new logo design in any realm that beats the old one?

    Odd: The WCC launched a new logo and brand the day after what I presume is its signature event of the year and before it has updated its website to match. Maybe the basketball tournament featured new signage or an in-person launch, but I’d think you’d just wait until everything is ready at a crisp transition point between academic years.

    Hey, I remember the Noles revealed their new logo about 12 seconds after their last national title win.

    So glad to hear the A’s retaining the white shoes. It’s a club staple (along with the gold sanitary socks). Wasn’t a fan in ’82 when they abandoned the white for the green on the road

    I did a double-take when I saw the byline on the pepperoni piece in today’s WSJ. Congrats, Paul, I look forward to seeing more of your work there.

    Odd for Saint Mary’s to use stickers of a convicted sex offender on the back of their helmets.

    Oh, they’re a Catholic school?

    Makes sense.

    I’m anxious to read the pepperoni article. One of my favorite subjects!

    But, alas, the WSJ paywall has me blocked out. I had an existing account, paid again, went back to the article, and it told me I needed to subscribe. Clicked again, it told me I already had a subscription, back to the article, endless loop.

    I contacted customer service. Maybe I’ll get to read it some day!

    Fossey has been calling out the other teams wearing white shoes over the last couple of seasons. I liked the exclusive A’s-white-cleat look. So I’ll miss that.
    FWIW when I started playing league softball a few years ago
    I could not wear anything but white cleats. I always felt like I was wearing street shoes. Go figure.

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