As I’m sure you all know by now, the MLB season will not start on time, as the ongoing labor impasse yesterday led MLB commish Rob Manfred to cancel each team’s first two series. With both sides seemingly dug in, further cancellations are possible.
What does this mean for the prospect of ads on MLB uniforms, which were widely considered to be a fait accompli as part of the new collective bargaining agreement? Here are some thoughts:
1a. Players receive their paychecks only during the regular season — not during the offseason or even during spring training — so the cancellation of regular season games means that players will lose some pay. The union previously said that if that happened, the players would rescind their previously stated support for expanded playoffs and uniform ads. So yesterday’s move by MLB will presumably reset the possibility of uni ads back to square one.
1b. However: As part of the ongoing negotiations, MLB could offer to provide retroactive backpay to the players, despite the cancelled games, which would presumably make the union more amenable to uni ads and expanded playoffs.
2a. As I wrote last week, the best hope for ad-free MLB uniforms may be that the two sides clearly can’t stand each other — and the collapse of negotiations yesterday no doubt exacerbated that situation. As long as the two sides view each other with mistrust, bad faith, and spite, the more likely it is that they’ll fail to come together on things like uniform ads.
2b. However: Just as the pandemic provided a handy excuse for things like MLB mound ads and NHL helmet ads (“We’ve lost so much revenue, we have to make it back somehow!”), the cancellation of regular season MLB games may provide a similar fig leaf for the imposition of uni ads (“We have to make back that revenue somehow!”).
Overall, the most likely outcome is still that MLB’s new labor deal will include a provision for uniform advertising. Both sides want it — it’s just a question of how many concessions on other issues the players can extract in return for signing off on it. Still, nothing is settled yet, so we’ll wait and see.
One thing I’m certain of: Nobody is happier about yesterday’s developments than the folks at USFL 2.0, whose schedule is slated to begin on April 16. I’m sure they’re rooting for the MLB mess to drag on as long as possible.
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Speaking of MLB uni ads: With MLB uni ads very much in the air, my latest piece for Bulletin provides a close look at the eight neutral-site series that have included uniform advertising over the past two decades, along with an FAQ section about the potential new uni ad program.
My premium subscribers can read the article here. If you haven’t yet subscribed, you can do that here (you’ll need a Facebook account in order to pay). If you want more info on what you’ll get for your money, you can find that here. And if the Facebook requirement is a dealbreaker, email me and I’ll keep you in the loop about developments regarding non-Facebook payment options and possible workarounds. Thanks!
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Start ’em young: I received a note yesterday from reader Jimmy Berry, as follows:
My 10-year-old son, Mase, had a hockey tournament this weekend. You can see what he did with his stick tape — our family does not have a Ukrainian background, but he thought it was important.
It must have worked, as he had four goals and five assists in four games (including the game-winner in the finals). He is asking for fresh tape this weekend!
Very cool. Thanks for sharing, Jimmy, and big congrats to Mase!
By Lloyd Alaban
Baseball News: New logo for the West Coast League (from multiple readers). … The next few items are from Kary Klimset: What was the first-ever baseball card? It’s complicated. … Point Loma Nazarene University of San Diego’s Carroll B. Land Stadium has been described by some as “America’s Most Scenic Ballpark.” … The Scranton/Wilkes-Barre RailRiders, the Yankees’ Triple-A affiliate, have unveiled the promotional jerseys they’ll wear this season. … Black vs. black last night for South Carolina and Appalachian State (from Rick Johnston).
Football News: New 20th-season logo for Coastal Carolina University, which established its football program in 2003 (from Kyle Hardee). … A shop in Fort Collins, Colo., has created a 1994 Holiday Bowl hoodie, complete with era-appropriate logos and ads. Colorado State and Michigan met in that 1994 matchup and will play again this season (from Bob Hillie). … Here’s a great colorized photo of Bears players wearing warm-up jackets with the 1939 World’s Fair logo (from John Turney).
Hockey News: Pride-themed warm-ups for the Blue Jackets last night (from Wade Heidt). … Leftover from last weekend: color vs. color for Notre Dame and Michigan (from Dan Cichalski). … New logo for Ak Bars Kazan of the KHL (from multiple readers). … The Sheffield Steelers of the Elite Ice Hockey League will raffle off sweaters in support of Ukraine (from Simon G.).
Basketball News: Here’s more news about the Mavericks’ recently leaked jerseys. … 25th-anniversary logo for the WNBA’s Washington Mystics (from Lynn Addington). … For Senior Night on Monday, Iowa men’s gave its departing players framed jerseys in a template they haven’t worn in three years (from Kary Klismet). … Kentucky men’s retired No. 48 in honor of Bill Keightley, the team’s uniform manager who died in 2009. The jersey retired is one Kentucky wore in 2009 (from Michael Kinney).
Soccer News: Before a women’s German Cup quarterfinal game between Carl Zeiss Jena and Bayern Munich yesterday, both teams posed with a banner saying, “Stopp den Krieg!,” which translates to “Stop the war!” Carl Zeiss Jena’s colors are blue and yellow, and they wore a yellow/blue/yellow combo for this game when they usually go mono (from our own Jamie Rathjen). … Adidas has withdrawn as the kit manufacturer of the Russian Football Union (from multiple readers). … Brighton & Hove Albion will wear their third kits this weekend, which are the colors of the Ukrainian flag (from Mark Coale). … The next few items are from Kary Klismet: Adidas is apparently manufacturing on-field jerseys for MLS teams using lower-quality fabric that the rest of the world’s top clubs usually use for retail jerseys. … Here are renderings of some Italian stadiums that were never built. … Here’s a 1992 prototype of a shirt that Brazilian side Flamengo never wore. … New home shirts for Union Omaha of USL League One.
Grab Bag: Tennis star Venus Williams has inked a new deal with Lacoste (from our own Brinke Guthrie). … A high school and middle school in suburban Seattle are soliciting public submissions to design new mascots (from Kary Klismet). … Also from Kary: Here’s a look at the new uniforms in Star Trek: Strange New Worlds. … The NYPD has unveiled the uniforms for its new anti-gun unit (from Timmy Donahue). … Remember Paul’s coverage of Baltimore saltboxes? Here’s one featuring the Ukrainian flag (from Marcus Hall).