Atlanta Braves’ New Uniforms Show Sad State of the Game

My Atlanta Braves just unveiled their new alternate uniforms. Read about it at my other site.

Jason Heyward hoping he doesn't suck this year.

The set is a classy look. I’ve always loved when baseball teams go off-white for their home uniforms, as it’s more reminiscent of the golden era of baseball, when home whites weren’t so bleached out. Although I wish they had retained the tomahawk on the front, the look is supposed to be an homage to the first couple of years the Braves were in Atlanta.

The unis have been deemed their home alternate for Saturday and Sunday games. Their red jerseys have been relegated from Sunday home games to Friday home games. That leaves Monday through Thursday as the only guaranteed days for the Braves’ standard home whites.

On top of their home uniforms, the Braves also have their standard road greys as well as their navy road alternates, giving them five uniforms. They’re only topped by the lowly Houston Astros and their six uniform combinations.

This is just the latest in a trend that’s really taken hold in the last 15-20 years. Teams are always going to be revamping their image, and they’ve been losing, they’ll look to change their image and maybe even their luck. Other teams have images so engraved into their names that they would never, ever think about changing things.

There’s been a drastic departure from the aforementioned golden era of baseball, when there was a simplicity and almost a beauty to knowing that in a baseball game, the home team was definitely wearing white, and the road team was definitely wearing grey. Originally, teams were simply differentiated by their colors (most notably on their stockings/stirrups), but the dearth of reliable laundry services forced travelling teams to wear grey on the road, so they could simply re-wear their uniforms without worrying about stains showing as much.

But, with the advent of double knit polyester in the late 1960s, it suddenly became easier to dye uniforms any color.

Even Nolan Ryan wasn't immune
Or every color.

The Pittsburgh Pirates in the 1970s really epitomized having about a zillion different uniforms, but then the New York Mets went through another zillion or so alternates starting the late 90s and still continuing today.

But the giveaway is on the Braves’ official website, where, for some reason, they got a quote from executive vice president of sales and marketing Derek Schiller, instead of someone baseball fans have heard of like Frank Wren or John Scheurholz.

“We always want to give our fans another way to show their pride and allegiance to the team,” Schiller said. “By putting out a uniform like this, it’s just another way they can connect with the Braves. I think it extends our brand. Obviously there are some opportunities to sell the jersey, which is great. But the primary reason is we really wanted to create a look that focuses on the history and tradition the Braves have created.”

Schiller say it extends the brand. Don’t get me wrong. I’m as big of a supporter of capitalism as you’ll find, but it sounds like the main reason they introduced this new uniform is just to sell overpriced polyester shirts, and I find it disheartening that my favorite team in my favorite sport is seemingly abusing what we as fans have given them. We’ve given them our dedication, time, money and even the back of my right calf.

And instead of focusing on churning out a solid product after one of the worst collapses in history, they’re overt about the fact that they’re more interested in money than in the game that has essentially defined a country and gave rise to the prominence of professional sports.

I’m afraid they’re about to join the ranks of bat makers who charge $400 for a metal stick and glove manufacturers who charge $300 for some leather that functions the same as the stuff at Wal-Mart.

Hall of Fame pitcher Bob Lemon once said, “Baseball was made for kids, and grown-ups only screw it up.”

And, boy, do they.

Here’s hoping they can change their tune next year, for the good of the game.

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