Preparations for MLB inaugural Players Weekend are almost complete. As part of the PR push ahead of August 25-27, MLB recently rolled out the jerseys and caps that clubs will wear. “Bold and colorful” is the way these uniforms have been described. I can’t argue with that qualifier, nor can I argue with the ideas behind Players Weekend: to celebrate player’s identities, to allow them to thank people who have supported their journey and to recognize youth baseball. I have said once or twice before that MLB needs explore ways to make the game more accessible and enjoyable to the next generation of fans and future stars. This is a small step but not insignificant step. A bigger step would be to make Big Papi commissioner for a day. Quizás, quizás, quizás.
Below I provide my exclusive ranking of the uniforms and caps. I used three criteria: Interpretation of the occasion (not just a retread of alternates), respect for club history, creativity within the day-glow color schemes.
30. Mariners – Someone tell the Mariners’ execs that they need to start trying when it comes to special events and social media. #rhyminandstealin.
29. Rays – Something’s wrong when a clubs traditional look and Players Weekend look are almost indistinguishable.
28. Cubs – Four shades of blue? Doesn’t really work and it makes the bear cub look like a fantastic aquatic beast. It would have been better to see the Cubs play off the red.
27. D-Backs – These unis are more traditional than at least two other uniforms that Arizona wears.
26. Braves – The cursive Braves and tomahawk cap are classic, which does not win the Braves any points here. Some riff on the Hank Aaron era blues and lowercase “a” would have worked better.
25. Marlins – More like “Meh”-lins. These Players Weekend unis are not unlike the everyday ones, which I’m going to be consistent in saying doesn’t work. Could they have played off the neon green of the stadium walls? Would that have been a green screen nightmare?
24. Astros – Of all the sky blue swings and misses, this is the most puzzling. Where is blue coming from? The uniforms the club has sported over the years give them a much richer canvas to use.
23. Angels – The Halos present a classic look: respectable color scheme and retro logo. Sill, this look is too similar to their everyday unis.
22. Red Sox – This was a swing and miss for the Red Sox. They could have gone with the “anthropomorphic athletic hose” logo on the cap. Another option would have been to use the “X” from “Sox” in the same font. This cap would have sold, and the Xander Bogaerts hat and jersey combo would have been epic. X needs a boost too–he’s really been dragging since the end of June.
21. Nationals – Part of the fun for players and fans should be rolling out distinct looks from other alternate unis. This look is too similar to the 4th of July uniform.
20. Blue Jays – Didn’t Toronto wear these last weekend?
19. Cardinals – Plus rating for classic combo. Zero for creative reinterpretation. Some creative “STL” combo could have worked, perhaps a riff on the Clippers “LAC” logo.
18. Indians – Cleveland swapped the blue “C’ out for w white one. Otherwise this is a look they roll out consistently. Interesting what-if: what if the arbitrary rules of engagement meant no text on the lids? What would Cleveland do? How would other teams play this?
17. Brewers – My impression of this combo is that it will make all the players on the field look like the mascot for some reasons. If this is intended, it might work. If not, well, not.
16. Rockies – The Rockies deserve credit for playing up the purple and staying away from the sky blues so many other clubs whiffed with. [As a sidebar, a mashup of logos and color schemes MLB and NBA would be gold. Imagine a rainbow Rockies/Nuggets number, or a blue and gold A’s/Warriors blend!]
15. Mets – The Mets unis find a spot right in the middle of this list. Why? I can’t decide if it’s a miss or an understated masterpiece. Like the Mets themselves, this is a hard one to figure out. My suggestion: the Mets could have gone with an “Ñ” logo or some “Ñ + Y” combo.
14. Giants – The Giants could have done so much more given their color scheme and their rich history. Also, they fell prey to the space gray, just like Detroit and Baltimore.
13. Rangers – The geography lesson seems like a misplay for Players Weekend. If this Weekend is all about expanding reach and having fun with relaxed restrictions, reminding us the Texas Rangers are from Texas seems like a wasted pitch.
12. Twins – Ditto.
11. White Sox – The sans serif “SOX” is a go-to for Chicago, and the alternate jerseys are safe from the scissors since Chris Sale is out of town. They fall just outside the Top 10 because the black on red doesn’t quite work. [A more creative White Sox/Bulls mashup could have been a hit.]
10. Yankees – This is a tough one. The Yankees have strict standards when it comes to branding, so branching out is difficult. I’d like to see the cursive “Y” in “Yankees” on the cap. Maybe the bat and the top hat too. Either would have worked, I think.
9. Royals – The Royals are onto something, but the jerseys and caps just a bit are too traditional. A really nice look would have been the crown on the cap and nothing more.
8. A’s – The colors are classic. The logo is timeless. Dress it up. Dress it down. Retro. Futuristic. This combo can win many ways. The only question is whether these are a touch too close to the typical alternates.
7. Dodgers – Where the Cubs, Astros and Rays forced the sky blue, the Dodgers made it work. We’ve see the cursive “D” design in spring training games, so LA loses some points for creativity here.
6. Orioles – This combo is slick for the Birds. If they swapped out the space grey for black on the jerseys, they might be in running for the #1 spot.
5. Tigers – Ditto for Detroit.
4. Reds – Like the A’s and O’s, the Reds took style cues from golden age of the franchise. It doesn’t hurt that Cincinnati earned a lot of “Ws” during the V-neck era. Plus power in the categories of respect for club history and creativity.
3. Padres – The Padres score style points and pull some heartstrings. If you were a teenager in the 90s, you see in this cap an homage to the caps from The Game.
2. Pirates – This look is timeless and trendy, classic and fresh. Fun and simple, really just moving the Pirate from the sleeve to the cap. Sometimes the simplest solutions are the most elegant.
1. Phillies – This has been a tough season for the Phillies. This uniform combo–nice coloration, unique Liberty Bell logo–represents a “W.” They were the only team to debut a whole different logo. Points for history, originality and inspiration.