Saturday, September 5, 2009

These Uniforms Should Take a Powder

Last night, the Yankees' seven-game winning streak came to an end at the SkyDump -- excuse me, Rogers Centre -- in Toronto, as longtime nemesis Roy Halladay pitched a one-hitter, and it wouldn't have mattered anyway because our pitching just didn't have it. Blue Jays 6, Yankees 0.

But the Chicago White Sox pounded the Red Sox, 12-2, so the Yankees' Magic Number to clinch the AL East was reduced anyway, to 21.

But the shocking thing was the Jays' uniforms. Never mind that policewoman that A-Rod crashed into on Thursday night: Do they not have fashion police in Canada?

What are the Blue Jays doing, bringing back those things as they do these days on home Friday nights? A, those are the road uniforms that the Blue Jays wore from 1977 to 1988, and they're wearing them at home!

B, there's a reason why teams don't wear powder-blue anymore: It's hideously ugly!

And C, the Jays stunk when they wore those togs! Okay, they did win the Division in 1985, but that also included their horrible 107-loss start in 1977, not getting to .500 until 1983, the 3-games-to-1 choke against Kansas City in the 1985 ALCS (and they can't explain it away with steroid cheating like another team I can mention), and the seven-game collapse at the end of 1987.

The following teams wore powder-blue road uniforms:

* Chicago White Sox: 1964 to 1968, and again 1971 to 1975. First team to stop, 1969, and second team to stop, 1976. Thank you, Bill Veeck. Of course, the replacement uniforms were laughable, too.

* Seattle Pilots/Milwaukee Brewers: 1969 to 1985.

* Montreal Expos: 1969 to 1991.

* Texas Rangers: 1972 to 1982.

* Kansas City Royals: 1973 to 1994, the last team to wear them regularly.

* Minnesota Twins: 1973 to 1986. They changed their uniforms in 1987 and won their first World Series. Coincidence? You be the judge.

* Philadelphia Phillies: 1973 to 1988.

* St. Louis Cardinals: 1973 to 1984.

* Chicago Cubs: 1976 to 1981.

* Seattle Mariners: 1977 to 1984.

* Toronto Blue Jays: 1977 to 1988.

* Atlanta Braves: 1980 to 1986.

"My name is Sam Tyler. I was in an accident, and I woke up in 1973. The baseball uniforms alone made me want to get back to my own time!"

In 1973, 8 of the 24 teams then in existence wore powder blue on the road. In 1980 and '81, when I was 10 and 11 years old, 11 of the 26 did. That's 42 percent -- or 42 percent over the limit.

Was it for luck? Hardly: The only teams to wear powder blue on the road and win a World Series were the '80 Phils, '82 Cards and '85 Royals. The only other Pennants were by the '80 Royals, '82 Brewers and '83 Phils.

The worst offenders of all were the Cubs: From 1978 to 1981, their road uniforms were powder blue with pinstripes. White pinstripes. It made the solid blue road jerseys they've worn on and off since look professional by comparison.

Powder blue road uniforms were worse than the "rainbow" jerseys of the Houston Astros, 1975 to 1986. Worse than the White Sox black-and-white, collared uniforms of 1976 to 1981. Worse than the "cornstalk" jerseys of the Braves from 1972 to 1979, with a bit of a variation in 1976. Worse than the bright orange jerseys sometimes worn by both the Baltimore Orioles and the San Francisco Giants. Worse than the mix-and-match black, gold and white clothes of the Pittsburgh Pirates "We Are Family" era. Yes, they were even worse than the bright red "blood-clot jerseys" with Greek-style lettering worn by the Cleveland Indians from 1975 to 1977.

Worse even than the brown and gold the San Diego Padres wore in varying forms from 1969 to 1984 that made Steve Garvey say that when he was in Los Angeles, he'd look at himself in the mirror, wearing his Dodger uniform and and he looked like an American flag; but when he looked at himself in the mirror wearing his Padre uniform, "I look like a taco." (Then again, there may never have been a baseball player who looked at himself in the mirror more often than Steve Garvey -- who is NOT my Padre!)

A blogger calling himself Andy the Saint, a Canadian giving the Blue Jays but not the Expos a pass, judged the Padres to be the worst offenders in the history of baseball fashion.

Even the Mets looked good by comparison. Maybe not their play, but their uniforms.

These were my formative years in becoming a baseball fan. And people wonder why I'm like this.

The weird thing is, in the psychedelic era, about 1966 to 1970 or so, baseball teams tended not to pander to the hippie demographic. Aside from the original White Sox powder blues, the only really whacked-out uniforms were those of the Indians and the Kansas City, then Oakland, Athletics. The Indians wore the white vests over red sleeves from 1963 to 1969, predating psychedelia, so you can't blame it on that; and the A's were owned by Charlie Finley, who would do anything to get more fans and publicity -- not that he cared what was going on across the Bay in San Francisco, unless he thought he could make money off it, and he didn't remake the A's uniforms so stoners would make their way out to the Oakland Coliseum.

The Montreal Expos debuted in 1969, with that weird logo, a red-white-and-blue M that was also a red e and a blue b, to mean "Montreal Expos Baseball" -- but Canada wasn't exactly a haven for hippies. Draft dodgers, maybe, but not hippies. With the witty, stylish Pierre Trudeau as Prime Minister, Canada was then more like a New World outpost of Swinging London, more Mod than Hippie. Oh, behave!

No, it was the dreaded Disco Period that was the bottoming-out of baseball fashion. Basketball and hockey fashion, too. To say nothing of the are-you-kidding-me uniforms of the World Football League; no wonder it folded after only a year and a half of play. (Neat piece of trivia: The announcement was made on October 21, 1975, just a few hours before Game 6 of the World Series and Carlton Fisk doing the Fenway Twist.)

The worst-looking moment in baseball history was probably the 1979 World Series. Orioles in orange, Pirates in mix-and-match black-gold-and-white with the 19th Century caps. It was hard to not like Willie Stargell, but those Stargell Stars he put on the caps, while a nice tribute to his teammates, made the fashion nightmare "go to 11." Add on the concrete ashtray that was Three Rivers Stadium, which had maybe the worst-looking artificial turf ever; and the grass at Memorial Stadium in Baltimore, still with yardlines on it and torn up by the Colts, plus that lighting system that always looked awful on TV, and you had the worst visuals ever for big baseball games.

I suppose the worst combination could have been if the White Sox had played the Expos -- hardly impossible, since both teams had some good sides in the Disco and New Wave periods -- but at least then, you would have had Comiskey Park, as well as the Montreal Olympic Stadium. A 1910 stadium against a flying saucer that sometimes has sporting events played inside.

Actually, the worst-looking possible moment, uniforms and stadiums combined, would have been an all-Canadian World Series, Expos against Jays, Le Stade Olympique against the Canadian National Exhibition Stadium. Exhibition Stadium was essentially a football stadium with a baseball field plunked down at one end -- and I don't mean "in the middle."

It was the one stadium where the baselines were totally uncovered but the bleachers, with Argonauts fans in mind, were fully shielded by a roof. The one significant scoreboard was way out in right field, what was an end zone in its CFL setup. The benches on the baselines were all aluminum. And when the wind blasted in off Lake Ontario... let me put it this way: When the SkyDome is an improvement, that should tell you how bad the old stadium was. The worst stadium in Major League Baseball history? The Olympic Stadium wasn't even the worst in Canada. So before you give the title of worst ever to Candlestick, or Cleveland Municipal Stadium, or the Vet, take a look at some pictures of the Big X sometime.

I love Canada, but from Jarry Park to Le Stade Olympique, from the Big X to Rogers Centre, they simply don't know how to do baseball!

I see young people walking around in old-time uniforms sold by sports-equipment and memorabilia stores. In baseball, it's called "Turn Back the Clock." In football, it's "Throwback Uniforms." In basketball, "Hardwood Classics." In hockey, "Heritage Classics."

But there's a reason why so many of these uniforms were abandoned, people. Think about it!


Days until Rutgers plays football again: 2, Monday afternoon. I'm only slightly into it at this point.

Days until Derek Jeter becomes the Yankees' all-time hit leader: 6, at 2,713, 8 short, going into today's game.

Days until East Brunswick plays football again: 6.

Days until Arsenal plays again: 7, at Manchester City, and I won't be able to watch it because I have tickets to the Rutgers game that same afternoon. And I still hate Interlulls.

Days until the final Yankees-Red Sox series of the 2009 regular season: 20, Friday, September 25, at Yankee Stadium II. At this rate, that night could also be the Division Title clincher.

Days until the Devils play hockey again: 28. Four weeks.

Days until the next East Brunswick-Old Bridge Thanksgiving clash: 82.

Days until the 2010 Winter Olympics begin: 160.

Days until the 2010 World Cup begins: 280.

Days until the World Cup Final: 311.

Days until Derek Jeter collects his 3,000th career hit: 616 (projected).

Days until the Rutgers-Army football game at Yankee Stadium: 798.

No comments: