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.


There’s No Crying in Baseball, Except When There Is

Most of you know that I coach baseball at the middle school level. It’s a pretty sweet gig. I get to hit baseballs with a longer than usual bat, yell across a field and then have the people at whom I’ve been yelling clean it up afterward.

Yelling. Like this.

Today, though, was the final day of tryouts. It was the moment of truth, if you will, and it was inevitable that a large portion of the 27 seventh and eighth graders would not be happy with truth with which they faced. The truth was they weren’t as good as the other guys who made the team.

In fact, they were failures, at least in that regard.

Most took it in stride as I made the cuts face-to-face, as opposed to the cold, impersonal method of posting who made the team on a list. I told them all exactly what they needed to work on and to prove me wrong next year. Most of them seemed to be happy just to have had the shot to come out and maybe that they had more for a glove than a milk jug like the Dominicans do.

A couple of them, however, didn’t take it very well. In fact, they started crying.

Granted, they’re 12 years old, but come on, this is baseball. Immediately, I thought of this.

Now, I was obviously a lot nicer than Tom Hanks when informing them that their baseball services were no longer needed, but it at least gave me a chance to embed one of the greatest movie scenes ever in my blog. It also allowed me to witness something I by no means expected to see.

I saw exactly no one poking fun at anyone.

In fact, I saw the more accomplished players encouraging those who had just been told, essentially, that they sucked and had to find something else to do.

I saw pats on the back, head nods and the like. Nothing akin to, “Thank God that kid won’t be out here anymore.” (At least that I heard.)

You must understand. Some of these guys have been told their entire lives how awesome they are, how they’re God’s gift to baseball and they might as well be the second coming of Babe Ruth. A couple of them really do have presidentially sized egos, but they at the very least noticed that saying something degrading at that moment would have made them look like a jerk, which no one wants.

In a world full of super baggy baseball pants, flat bills, stupid rap music and people who actually think Barack Obama has done a good job during his first term, it was nice to see the gestures of people who realize that they too could have just as easily been cut from the team. It is, after all, a benevolent dictatorship of sorts.

Maybe, if we have more people in the next generation who back up these actions with more actions and act like they have a brain (or at least vote for people with a brain), there might be some hope for the future.