1. Yankees. Other teams wear pinstripes. But the Yankees wear Pinstripes. In fact, “pinstripes” has become something of a metonym for the New York Yankees. For instance, if a premiere free agent came on the market and Hank Steinbrenner was jingling the change in his pocket, a pundit might comment by saying, “before you know it, he’ll be in pinstripes,” or words to that effect. In addition, in an age that sees many a major league team putting numbers on the front of their jerseys, or—horror of horrors—player names on the back of their home whites, the Yankees remain the only team in MLB without player names even on their out-of-town uniforms. Love them or hate them, you have to admit that is badass.
2. Tigers. Boston Globe columnist Dan Shaughnessy once described their home uniforms in a column as “baseball tuxedos.” It was a rare moment of accord between Mr. Shaughnessy and myself. No other term better describes the simple elegance of Detroit’s black and white duds. And the away unis with the midnight blue and just a dash of orange? Brilliant!
3. A’s. First, the A’s get bonus points for venturing out of the safe, overdone area of red-white-blue uniforms. Yet they also manage to steer clear of the unfortunate teal-purple-turquoise realm. Oakland’s sunny yellow and forest green is distinctive, attractive, and appropriate for NoCal. (Additionally, many of the team’s players are themselves more attractive than average. This increases the aesthetics of their uniforms.) I know they catch a lot of flak for their white cleats, but I actually think the white looks better than the alternatives—especially when they wear their socks up, displaying a pleasing contrast between green sock and white shoe. In fact, I would like Oakland to consider making this a mandatory thing, because when the players don’t wear their socks up, and choose to go instead with a baggy, full-length pantleg, white blends into white and they end up looking like they’re wearing footie pajamas.
4. Giants. The black and orange? Hot. The interlocking “SF” logo on the cap? Very nice. The understated, sans serif font across the chest? Tres chic. Plus, the home whites with their bolder, more ornate typeface are also an easy hardball classic. They may lose the most games of any team in the majors this year, but they’ll look damn good doing it.
5. Pirates. The duds are simple, elegant, and distinctive. This is a rare example of a vest uniform actually working. (Plus, they get props for their piratical insignia. Pirates are so hot right now. Arrrr!) And unlike Colorado, Pittsburgh knows that if you’re going to go with pinstripes, you can’t add a lot of other elements—you’ve got to keep it clean and simple. The yellow really pops on the away grays, almost like a ray of sunny hope piercing a gloomy sky—all too appropriate for a beleaguered organization from a city that’s seen better days.
6. Dodgers. The Dodgers’ uniform is a statement. They want you to know that they are a classy, classic, all-American organization with a proud history. On another team, this uniform would be a bit too safe—maybe even boring. But because they’re the Dodgers, it just looks just right.
7. White Sox. Teams with too many crazy colors, take note: it’s really, really hard to look bad when you go with black and white. The White Sox are the third team on this list who dress in shades of gray. The simple “sock” patch on the sleeve, the elegant piping on the leg, the classic cursive script across the chest—everything works together seamlessly. In fact, all of Chicago’s various uniforms look equally good. No easy feat. Thus, this play on the right may look hideous, but the White Sox still look dapper.
8. Red Sox. The Red Sox have a clean, classic uniform. I personally liked their old socks a bit better—ridiculous, striped affairs that made one feel as if Ted Williams and Jimmy Foxx were somewhere just out of sight—but I do recognize the thematic consistency in having the Red Sox wear red socks. Red and white are over-used in the world of MLB uniforms (Reds, Angels, Cardinals, Phillies, Twins, Astros), but unlike some of their red-and-white compatriots, the Red Sox never take the field looking like a bunch of tomatoes, strawberries, or other overly red produce, thanks in part to the navy hats. (Red + navy = a fine New England tradition.) I only wish they’d kept the navy undershirts from a few seasons back. But the real tipping point here is the font. The font is so easily recognizable, it’s become synonymous with Boston itself. Not too many baseball uniforms have that on their resume. The one hitch is that nearly all of the Boston players are hirsute, pine-tar covered slobs who wear their unis several sizes too large. Thus, to see the Red Sox uniform as God intended, I have here chosen a picture of Jacoby Ellsbury.
9. Cubs. I love the bear cub. I love the bold, crisp “C” logo. I don’t super-love the pinstripes—the Cubs’ bold colors and clean logos don’t need it. It’s not a deal-breaker, but if they’d gone with a nice blue-and-red piping down the leg instead, the Cubs would be higher on my list. Yes, red-white-and-blue is overdone, but the Cubs do it very well. Even when the ivy hasn’t leafed yet.
Indians. We like the everything-old-is-new-again look they’re sporting as an alternate uni this year, and I like their regular unis quite a bit. But I have to take points off for their insistence on retaining Chief Wahoo as their logo. I have no problem with the team’s name, but that cartoon character looks like something out of the 50s. Oh wait…it is.
Phillies. Philadelphia’s new alternate home uniforms are the hotness. The red-white-and-blue works well for the city of Ben Franklin and the Liberty Bell. The uniform is clean and classic, but not boring, thanks to the two little stars over the i’s and thanks to the slick piping down the outseam. The reason they don’t crack my starting lineup? They don’t wear this kickass alternate uni nearly enough.
Nationals. I love what they’re trying to do here, but it feels like there’s just too much going on—right down to the two competing logos. (One of these, the cursive “W”, looks like a pig’s tail, for crying out loud. They need to stick with the interlocking D and C.) There’s red, there’s blue, there’s yellow. The various uniforms don’t seem to have any bearing on each other, as if the Nats were that old Washington team, the Senators, and they were polling their constituents to see which look they should wear. I like the font they’ve used for the “Washington” across the chest, but they’ve made it look a bit cluttered by using two colors for it. In the words of Henry David Thoreau: simplify, simplify.
A few tips to ballplayers who want to increase the attractiveness of their uniforms: don’t wear the belt too high (yes, we’re thinking of you, JULIO LUGO!). Pull up your socks and show a little calf. Wear pants that fit—don’t go too tight (unless you’re very sure you’ve got the ass for it), but don’t go too loose or it will look sloppy. Finally, I know some of these early spring night games are chilly, but if you’re going to go with an undershirt, treat yourself to a nice fitted underarmor job instead of a wrinkly, bulky old turtleneck.
What do you think, Umpbumpers?
Oh, and if you pick “other,” I think you owe us a comment explaining who we missed. Thanks!