Good morning, and happy Presidents/’s/s’ Day. (Did you know that the holiday’s name and punctuation vary from state to state? There’s a good breakdown here.)
Now then: As Phil mentioned in yesterday’s Ticker, the Reds soft-launched their uni advertisement over the weekend via some photos posted on social media. The advertiser’s identity — a supermarket chain — was first reported a few weeks ago by Sports Business Journal. While the Reds still haven’t made an official announcement, the sleeve ads in the social media pics appear to confirm the SBJ report. Cincinnati thus becomes the sixth MLB team to announce a uni advertisement for 2023, following the Padres, Red Sox, D-backs, Angels, and Astros. (Several additional teams have said that they’re actively searching for a uni advertiser, including the Blue Jays, Cardinals, Cubs, Dodgers, Giants, Mets, Phillies, Rangers, Twins, and Yankees. It’s not yet clear whether any of those teams will have uni ad deals finalized by Opening Day.)
While Cincy’s sleeve ad looks more innocuous than some of the others we’ve seen (or at least it looks fairly innocuous on the team’s home jersey; it’s not yet clear if the ad’s white background will be retained for the team’s other jerseys, or if the background color will change to match the jersey color), the ad has brought about a disturbing ripple effect that I want to address here.
Here’s the deal: The Reds, like other MLB teams, plan to maximize TV exposure for the ad by basing its placement on the player’s handedness (you can already see this playing out at the various spring training camps). When the ad appears on the right sleeve, the Reds’ standard Mr. Redlegs sleeve patch will, as usual, appear on the left, where it’s been since 2007:
But what happens to Mr. Redlegs when the player has to wear the ad on the left sleeve? Let’s take a look:
As you can see, they flipped Mr. Redlegs so that he’ll still be forward-facing on the right sleeve (sort of like how the American flag is reversed when appearing on the right sleeve, so it looks like it’s moving forward). Now let’s zoom in on the reversed version and see how it compares with the original:
As you can see, the revsersed version is mostly a mirror image of the original, with two exceptions: First, they flipped the “C,” because they didn’t want it to appear backwards, which makes sense. And second — and this is really the whole point of this blog post — they moved the “C” to the opposite side of the chest.
I reallyreallyreally hate that. The Reds have never worn the “C” on that side, so Mr. Redlegs’ uniform is now inaccurate. Even worse, it’s inaccurate because of a fucking sleeve ad. That’s all kinds of wrong. Just one more reason why uni ads suck.
The proper move, of course, would have been to keep the “C” in its proper spot, which would have meant that only part of the “C” would be visible. You might think that wouldn’t look good, but there’s actually historical precedent for it, as seen here:
They could have — and should have — done something like that. Or else not have reversed the patch to begin with, because it would have looked fine running in the same direction, even on the opposite sleeve. (In case you’re wondering: Thankfully, there should be no similar issues regarding the patches on the team’s road greys and red alts.)
Incidentally, according to that SBJ article I mentioned earlier, the Reds are getting only $5 million per year for this uni ad — an amount that basically buys you a utility player or a second-string catcher. By contrast, the Padres and Red Sox are getting $10 million and $17 million per year, respectively, from their uni advertisers. Why the disparity? Because the Reds are a small-market team with a smaller TV audience, so they can’t deliver as many “brand impressions” as the Padres and Bosox and therefore can’t command as high a price for their sleeve ad. But they’re still competing in the same payroll market as the other 29 teams, and now they’ll be at an even greater financial disadvantage in that market because the bigger teams will be adding more uni-ad revenue to their bottom lines than the Reds will. In other words, uni ads are just another example of the rich getting richer, which is just another reason why uni ads suck.
(Big thanks to pseudonymous reader Block “O Canada” for the Prexy Day link.)
So, sponsors are paying 5-10million per season to ruin team unis…
Why not just let Nike do their job, they been ruining unis for decades…
The money is honestly the most depressing part of the whole thing. Big league clubs (even the Cincinnatis and Tampas of the world) make hundreds of millions per year… and they completely desecrate their uniform for another five.
The Yankees won’t sell naming or sponsorship rights to Yankee Stadium – such as Bank of America Field at Yankee Stadium – which is not something that anyone will see or bother about most of the time, but they will desecrate their uniforms for a few million dollars?
Steve Cohen, who has essentially said that money is meaningless to him will desecrate the Mets uniforms for a few meaningless millions?
Makes no sense. I can see the A’s and Rays doing it, as they struggle (seemingly at least) but for these big market clubs it is disgusting.
Used to think Players Union missed an “Opportunity” to cut length of season in exchange for Uni ads…
But then I see that 5mil-10mil a season is worth, what, how many games…..SMH
I’m curious to know how teams with existing patches on BOTH sleeves (Cubs Road Uni’s) are planning to do this? 2 sleeves on one side? Eliminate an existing patch?
Gotta love the drip…drip…drip of those gross sleeve ads. C’mon MLB, just go full NASCAR already, you know you want to. Disgusting.
The only bigger embarrassment is the NBA All Star Game. Absolutely zero interest in playing D or even playing hard. Can’t imagine paying for a ticket to witness that unwatchable, boring nonsense.
Plenty of things to be grouchy about in this world, why choose to be annoyed at players in an All Star Game not wanting to get injured during an exhibition?
Only commenting on the sad state of NBA basketball. Believe me, not losing a minute of sleep over it. Just find it insulting as a fan to see these guys exert zero effort. Wondering how much longer fans will keep spending their money on this garbage. But it looks like plenty are satisfied with the ROI on their pricy ticket purchase. Guess I’m in the minority. SMH
A HOF-level Uni Watch lead today. Thanks for this, Paul!
Also note that the reversed flag on the right sleeve is only a US Army thing. Others do it, but when they do so they violate basic flag etiquette and are engaged in flag desecration. The Army created a special exception for its uniforms when it switched arm patch locations some years back, but that exception does not apply to anyone other than the US Army. For civilians, it’s actually a double, sometimes triple violation of flag etiquette: 1) The Union always goes on the left. Always. Without exception. 2) When worn on clothing, the flag should always be placed as close to the heart as possible. So left sleeve, not right sleeve, thus reversing the Union should never be an issue anyway. 3) The flag should never, ever be placed on an athletic uniform, where it is liable to be soiled and rubbed in the dirt and grass as a normal part of playing the game.
Not so much soil or dirt on basketball courts so that is why college basketball teams keep wearing the flag on their jerseys, I guess. Or are they still violating flag etiquette? Very interesting point you brought up here.
Preach it, Scott. I’m so tired of “patriots” who don’t understand the flag code at all.
I wish our local chamber of commerce understood this; they leave their tattered and faded flag out in the rain.
I know the flag etiquette, but I also l know that it is not a law because 1st Amendment grants freedom of speech and therefore trumps the flag act. It used to drive me crazy when people would hang flags vertically in front of their houses with the blue starfield on the right, though. Also, I have seen at least one person fly their flag upside down high on a flagpole as a sign of protest (usually means distress), and don’t get me started on the ones with blue stripes or in NFL colors with an NFL team’s logo replacing the stars. I think it is being used as a sticker on NFL helmets (cannot remember if it was every reversed) and that helmet often hits the grass/mud/dirt/turf/other helmets so its inclusion annoys me.
That said, there is something that you did not consider with the 2nd point you listed (“When worn on clothing, the flag should always be placed as close to the heart as possible. So left sleeve, not right sleeve, thus reversing the Union should never be an issue anyway.”): dextrocardia.
“Situs inversus is found in about 0.01% of the population, or about 1 person in 10,000. In the most common situation, situs inversus totalis, it involves complete transposition (right to left reversal) of all of the viscera. The heart is not in its usual position in the left chest, but is on the right, a condition known as dextrocardia (literally, “right-hearted”). Because the relationship between the organs is not changed, most people with situs inversus have no associated medical symptoms or complications.”
There are markets in this country (LA, SF, NYC, probably Seattle, Chicago and Miami) where regular citizens (as opposed to multi state, national, or international companies) can afford a $5mill investment (even if only for a year). I desperately want to see an ad patch that just says “happy birthday Janet McIntosh” or “Bill Farb is the world’s greatest dad!” If that isn’t the perfect marriage of too much disposable income and corporate sports greed, then I don’t know what is.
I think the choice to include the full C is equally as valid as clipping the C to put it on the “correct” side. To me, the C looks like its pretty much centered on both logos. I think sometimes people can go overboard with this stuff.
“I think sometimes people can go overboard with this stuff.”
Boy, have you wandered into the wrong place. :-)
Not only is the logo on the wrong side, the buttons are swapped so that they are on the opposite sides, like on most clothing made for women. Say hi to The Tick for me.
But it fit him so well… B -D
And there’s also the ick labor factor surrounding Kroger. Kroger, based in Cincinnati, is trying to ram through a megamerger ($24.6 billion) with Albertsons (Link is from the News-Review in Oregon …), while running a company with a history of mistreating labor, and four current class-action suits claiming wage theft. Ron Wyden, Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren are demanding answers from Kroger’s CEO.
In other news, Ricky Stenhouse Jr. won the Daytona 500 yesterday in the Kroger-sponsored car …
Very Reds of them to just switch sides like that:
Any ad on an athletic uniform lessens its value to me. This is a deplorable situation and the Reds choosing to reserve space on their uniforms for just 5 million bucks makes it even more deplorable.
That’s the first thing I thought of when he mentioned the ‘wrong side’ issue.
Oops…that was in response to Marcus Hall.
“Because the Reds are a small-market team with a smaller TV audience, so they can’t deliver as many “brand impressions” as the Padres and Bosox and therefore can’t command as high a price for their sleeve ad. But they’re still competing in the same payroll market as the other 29 teams, and now they’ll be at an even greater financial disadvantage in that market because the bigger teams will be adding more uni-ad revenue to their bottom lines than the Reds will. ”
I’ve been trying to make this arguement since 1994 when the Brewers and Tigers were the first two teams to debut rolling ad boards behind home plate. Even then I knew that if the Brewers made $500K, the Yankees (when they’d inevitably do it) would make $2MM. Which naturally made me wonder why the small market teams kept pushing for more revenue streams that would just push them further away from the large market teams.
Now, I don’t have an answer to this now like I didn’t then, but one theory I’ve been working on… even small market teams aren’t hurting for money (as this is just basically being thrown on the pile). So if that’s the case, why are the payroll levels so disparate?
Because for the owners the big value is not in competitive balance, it’s in inflating the value of the franchise. So if everyone finds ways to bring in more revenue even if it increases the gap behind the Yankees/Dodgers/Red Sox mafia, the relentless bidding war between billionaires to buy any franchise available continues, rising far faster than the revenue.
It wasn’t that long ago that no team in sports was worth a billion dollars. Now the Cowboys are worth $8 billion.
“since 1994 when the Brewers and Tigers were the first two teams to debut rolling ad boards behind home plate”
I still remember Keith Olbermann mocking those ads on ESPN SportsCenter back in the day. Before that everyone knew that you wanted a solid dark color behing the plate so that fielders could see the ball. Now it’s only the almighty dollar.
A Pringles logo would actually look quite a bit like Mr Redlegs.
If the Guardians put an ad on their jersey, the winged-G insignia will have to go on some left sleeves. A situation that they tried to avoid by moving the uniform patch from its usual spot on the left sleeve, because it would look like the “G” is speeding backwards. Not unprecedented: the Orioles used to have a right-handed batting cartoon bird on their left sleeve, also facing backwards. And let us not forget the current “C” patch of the Cubs’ home uniforms, whose bear appears to be marching toward the back.
Sad that we are at the point where we are talking about uni ads messing up uniforms in such specific and detailed ways. The obvious answer in the Reds case is just keep Mr Redlegs left facing regardless of the sleeve.
Also thanks for confirming what I assumed to be true about the uni ads and revenue. This just increases the disparity between larger and smaller market teams, rather than help smaller market teams compete with the big markets. It is a wash, and probably won’t help anyone (owners or players) other than just sort of a general inflation in overall salary spending and individual player salaries (which of course isn’t much of anything in the world of billionaires paying millionaires).
Could you imagine them also putting an advertising patch on the Mr. Redlegs’ jersey patch? Patch-ception.
It doesn’t seem like the original and reversed logos are even mirror images of each other. The bat in the original logo has a rounded end. On the reversed it is more square. There is also more of a gap between the bat barrel and his hat on the reversed. Mr Redlegs face on the original is more round and on the reversed it looks more oval. Sorry if this has all been noted before. I hadn’t seen the two side by side before.
Smaller iris on the reversed Mr. Redlegs, too.
The eyebrows are even different between the two.
And in a fun twist, the winner of the Daytona 500 (Ricky Bobby…er…Ricky Stenhouse, Jr) has the same advertiser as the CReds.
In Canada, have variously named provincial holidays today in the majority of the provinces/territories. Most are Family Day but there is also Louis Riel Day, Heritage Day, and Islander Day.
Big deal about the C on the reversed Mr Redlegs logo. The Reds have more serious problems than how a patch – which no one will be able to make out on TV or in person unless you are real close or zoomed in- will look. I’m also sure heads will explode the first time the wrong patch is sewn the wrong way.
But for sake of ascetics- it could be worse- the Kroger patch could be slammed right above the Reds crest on the front of the jersey.
Just sell the team names already and get it over with.
Rob Manfred and the owners are ruining baseball.
I said this a week or so ago and although I hate to put it out into the universe again, I think we’re less than a decade away from individual players having so-called sponsors. “Batting 3rd for the Reds, State Farm presents Tyler Stephenson. And in the clean-up spot, Brandon Drury, brought to you by Cintas…”
I highly don’t recommend frequent readers of this site to check out the Mexican League.
It does not excuse the fuckery afoot in MLB, but it could be worse.
A taste of what’s coming. Ads on each sleeve. An ad on the front. And ads on the cap and helmet. MLB is every so slowly turning up the heat. Get fans used to one ad…then eventually two…three and so on.
Like frogs in a pot of water as the stovetop heats to a boil …
The Reds are pathetic for whoring out their uniforms for a paltry $5 million dollars, which the owner will pocket and not spend on improving the Reds. Absolutely shameful and disgusting.
I hate Manfred and the current owners for butchering our beautiful past time with this garbage.
It won’t be long now until there is the same ad on both sleeves or two different ads. Non-max TV exposure sleeve ad – 20% off sale!
Sadly yes. I think soon, team oriented sleeve patches will be a thing of the past. Although, I always thought that most uniforms did not need one anyways. It’s a cleaner look and it was redundant for a team like the Dodgers to have LA on the sleeve when LA is already represented on the hat.
95% of sleeve patches are superfluous and might just as well be removed. The only teams whose patches are in any way important are the Mets’, Athletics’, Cubs’, and Reds’. Worst offenders are the Angels, whose two (!) patches in no way elaborate on the information already on the front of the jersey.
I like sleeve patches on road uniforms where the chest lettering is the name of the city and the patch is something related to the nickname. “CHICAGO” on the front, balanced by a bear logo to represent “Cubs” on the sleeve. Same with “BOSTON” and that pair-of-red-socks sleeve logo.
It’s not our game anymore.
Has anyone brought up the fact that uniforms with some patches on the left and others on the right are no longer uniform?
Re: Mr. Redlegs; Kroger missed a golden opportunity to insist that he’d be wearing a tiny ad on his sleeve.
Doh! Didn’t see this before I posted my comment. Sorry. Did not try to plagiarize.
HATE HATE HATE the Kroger ad. Could they not at least make it red? Not as if The Reds have tried to compete in decades, but being a fan of this team is miserable. League’s oldest team. It just gets worse.
They should sell the team names, as well. Go full whore. I’m sure Kroger would give a couple more million for the team to be the Cincinnati Krogers.
Or the Kroger Reds of Cincinnatti, brought to you by Kroger. And have this full name, with the Kroger name twice, on the jersey. Even better: have every player change their family name to Kroger during the season. Out of season they can use their real names.
You know… theres one silver lining to teams having the ad patches facing towards the cameras…. at least fans in the stadium wont have to look at them when the guy is batting. At least not the fans close enough to actually be able to see them.
Normally this kind of thing would really bother me.
But in this case, I just can’t get behind “That jersey patch with a baseball player with a GINORMOUS handebar mustache’d smiling baseball for a head is unrealistic because the C is in the wrong place” movement.