Friday, February 19, 2016
Today we baseball fans get to shout our favorite 4-word phrase for all to hear: PITCHERS AND CATCHERS REPORT!!! It not only literally represents the start of the MLB calendar, but is a symbolic day to remind us that the doldrums of winter will soon be behind us. One of the things I look forward to most every spring training is seeing the new uniforms players are donning at camp. Seemingly every year now, teams will unveil some type of new cap, logo, and/or jersey in spring ball so that fans will have more crap to buy when they travel down to Arizona and Florida. That new apparel will usually become the team's batting practice gear during the regular season.
The 2016 crop of uniforms retain a lot of the strong secondary logos that were featured in the last few years - such as Cincinnati's Mr. Redlegs or New York's Mr. Met - and expounds on those even further, including the Rays' sunburst and the White Sox and Brewers retro 1980s logos. My personal favorite is the new Dodgers' alternate logo that is a clear ripoff of the Chunichi Dragons logo from Mr. Baseball. Beyond the usual cosmetic changes, this year's jerseys are unique in that they incorporate changes to help player performance as well. They use a fabric called Flex Base that is 10-20% lighter with mesh panels along the sides to provide for greater movement and comfort during those long days in the hot sun. The first thought that immediately popped into my head was when George Costanza implemented cotton uniforms for the Yankees on Seinfeld, and we all know how that ended. But these have supposedly been in testing for 2 years so I will trust that analysis over George's ill-thought idea. The other noticeable change to the uniforms this year is the increase of branding. As MLB does with Opening Day, the All-Star Game, and the postseason, so too are they giving the Grapefruit League and Cactus Leagus more of their own identity and marketing. Each team will have either an 'AZ' or an 'FL' road sign patch sewn on the side of their cap to identify them with their particular league, and the playing fields and game-used baseballs will be emblazoned with the logos as well. I think that increasing the promotion of spring training as its own event is a great idea for MLB and will help capture another 6 weeks of the calendar from which to draw a larger fanbase.
I will most definitely be purchasing one of the new Brewers spring training caps and I cannot wait to wear it to Miller Park in only 45 short days.