Monday, August 9, 2010

Ranking the Uniforms of 2010

I realize it's been a while since I've posted something other than a World Series winner profile, so I thought I'd give my readers a change of scenery. While baseball has an endless number of reasons to love it, the variety of uniforms has always been one of my favorites. Since I have this thing for quantifying my appreciation of stuff, I thought I'd rank each team in Major League Baseball by the picturesqueness of their threads. I'll mainly be considering the subjective strength of the main home and road uniforms, with alternates factored in to a lesser degree. There are also links to pictures, in case you want to see for yourself what I'm talking about.

30. Toronto Blue Jays. I feel sorry for our Canadian friends. Back in the day the Blue Jays had some of the best uniforms in baseball; these days they wear stuff that looks like it was spit out by a machine. On the bright side, they still have a powder blue old-style uni as an alternate. Despite my aversion to that color, I wish they'd wear it every day. It'd be an improvement.

29. San Diego Padres. I always liked the Padre uniforms from the '90s, though I get the impression that a lot of people hated them. I suppose the home unis might've been a little on the "busy" side, with the pinstripes and shadowed letters, but the ones they have now go too far in the other direction. Sorry guys, making your uniform as boring as possible usually isn't a good idea. In their defense, the navy alternate doesn't look bad.

28. Washington Nationals. I hate that blocky lettering. I'm glad they ditched it in favor of script for the road uni. The alternates are awful.

27. New York Mets. So lemme get this straight...the solid white is their main home uni now, and the only one with pinstripes is the retro alt? What a bummer. The "classic" Mets look was their best. Nowadays there's too much black, which doesn't seem...Met-like, I guess? The road gray retains some of the classic style, but it's marred by a black hat.

26. Houston Astros. I guess it's not terrible, but I've never been a fan of the Astros' current design. Houston has never seemed like a "pinstripe" team to me, and there are too many alternate combinations. The best thing I can say is that the reddish-brown jerseys look decent.

25. Minnesota Twins. I do like the retro look they've adopted for the road gray and one of the alts this year. The home uniform isn't too different from before; a thicker border to the lettering is the only noticeable change. I can't explain why, but that minor tweak seems to give it a little less personality.

24. Texas Rangers. These uniforms wear Texas pride on their sleeves...literally. My favorite part is that Texan flag on the left arm. The rest doesn't do much for me. The overall configuration of colors is weird, and the numbering and lettering font is so ornate that it clashes with the rugged team name. I'm glad blue is the primary color rather than red, since blue is more pleasing to my eyes. They have both solid blue and solid red alternates, and the blue one is definitely the superior of the two.

23. New York Yankees. I'm sure some of you want to yell about how I don't respect history, tradition, pinstripes, blah, blah, blah. Look, obviously I love baseball history, since it's the main focus of my blog, and my opinions tend to be pretty traditionalist. I just happen to think this is the most overrated uniform in sports. I can respect the Yankees' preservation of this classic look, but...isn't it kind of boring?

22. Arizona Diamondbacks. Well, it's a definite improvement over their garish previous design. While they're certainly distinctive, they still kind of leave me cold.

21. Cleveland Indians. I like the Indians' uniforms. I really do. They've stood the test of time, having the same basic design since Jacobs/Progressive Field opened. The reason I rank them relatively low is because not much about them stands out besides Chief Wahoo. They're solid, not spectacular.

20. Baltimore Orioles. Basic and tasteful. I like that the road uniform says "Baltimore" instead of "Orioles," since local pride is in the spirit of baseball. I'm also glad that they use orange more prominently than any other team, because the oriole is most distinctive for its orange plumage.

19. Boston Red Sox. The home uniform is great, but I don't like the dullened road gray. It's supposed to recall that ugly '80s road uni? Why exactly does anyone want to remember that? The blue road alternate isn't bad, but the red home alternate looks pretty tacky.

18. Cincinnati Reds. I'm glad they're true to their traditional design, but the black shading and fancy font make it seem like they're trying too hard. On the bright side, they're one of only two teams with a good all-red alternate (which is fortunate, considering their name).

17. Los Angeles Dodgers. Simple, sharp, and traditional. The blue and white make for a good contrast, with the red number adding some visual flavor. They don't wow you, but they're easy on the eyes.

16. Florida Marlins. The Marlins seem to be the patron saints of teal (like the Orioles with orange, the Athletics with green, the Rockies with purple, etc.). Since an actual marlin would be kind of a teal color, it does suit them best. Truthfully, Florida's home, road and alternate are all very nice. These guys have a look that's just right for them.

15. Detroit Tigers. The Olde English D is a great vintage touch. That home getup says "baseball" with an emphatic shout. The road gray is OK, just nothing special. Some of you might think my praise of the Tigers' look contradicts my previous criticism of the Yankees. All I can say is: "calligraphic lettering beats slightly-serifed lettering!"

14. Kansas City Royals. As I mentioned for the Dodgers, blue and white contrast well. I particularly like the shade of "Royal" blue that K.C. uses, which makes both the home white and the alternate road blue optically delightful. The road gray is basic but effective, while the light blue home alt looks pretty dumb.

13. San Francisco Giants. I could do without the orange alternate, but everything else is great. This look is a classic that can transport you back to the Polo Grounds (well, "back" if you've been there, while the rest of us are inspired to imagine).

12. Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim. Congratulations, Angels. You're the other team that can pull off an all-red alternate jersey. The Angels have two alts in addition to their home white and road gray, and all four configurations look classy. That's no mean feat. Most teams with that many have at least one stinker in the bunch.

11. Tampa Bay Rays. They've been looking a lot better since they dropped the "Devil" from their name. The light blue alternate is the only one I don't care for. 2008 was a landmark year for this franchise: they got better uniforms, a better name and a better ballclub all at the same time.

10. Atlanta Braves. This team has always had some of my favorite uniforms. I wish the cap for the road gray still had a red bill, but it's all good other than that. Unfortunately, both alternates are terrible. Seriously, what were they thinking with those? At least they'll always have that masterpiece of a home white (I hope).

9. Seattle Mariners. After years of crappy designs, they've stuck with the same basic one since 1993, and for good reason. The compass rose is a nice touch. I've always liked these unis, though the alternate looks weird with that odd-font number in front.

8. Milwaukee Brewers. The Brewers currently sport the best uniforms in team history. The head of wheat on the cap, the stylish lettering, the navy and gold color scheme...what can I say? Everything works.

7. Colorado Rockies. The Rockies haven't made any radical changes since their inaugural season. They've added numbers in front and made the road grays say "Colorado" instead of "Rockies," but the lettering and cap logo are still the same. Being the only team to use purple makes them unique, and it goes well with the black, though I will admit that the all-purple alternate is fairly ridiculous. The sleeveless alts are great, and they're also the only team with a pinstriped road gray since Minnesota got rid of theirs. In addition to looking snappy, those Rockies are a distinctive bunch.

6. Pittsburgh Pirates. I really like these. I wish they'd stuck with the sleeveless unis, since they conjured up memories of the 1960 Beat 'Em, Bucs (well, again...memories for those who were around back then, imaginations for the rest of us), but the sleeved ones are perfectly fine. While they still have a sleeveless alternate which doesn't look too bad, it isn't the same due to the pinstripes. The black alt is just OK.

5. Chicago Cubs. Many teams use red, white and blue, but the Cubs' hues strike the perfect balance. The blue alternate looks great, and the road gray is nondescript but functional. It's a shame most of us haven't seen these great uniforms in the World Series.

4. Oakland Athletics. The only team with green as a primary color, the A's use it well. The thing is, their design is so basic that you sometimes forget how great it really looks. I first came to this realization last month when I saw Andrew Bailey pitching in the All-Star Game and noticed how truly superb the Oakland home white was. The all-black alt is terrible, but the all-green alt is a sight to behold.

3. St. Louis Cardinals. I love the traditional look of the Cards. Those birds have been perched on that bat for a long time, and they shouldn't ever fly away. St. Louis is also the only team still rocking the striped socks, which gives them points for old-school-ness.

2. Philadelphia Phillies. These uniforms have always been among my favorites. Though their shades of red, white and blue don't look quite as nice as the Cubs' do, they make up for it with a fantastic overall design. The cursive lettering and I's dotted with stars remind me that Philly is the home of Independence Hall and was formerly our nation's capital. It's hard to beat patriotic stirring and stylishness all in one.

1. Chicago White Sox. You might think I'm biased as a Sox fan, but I honestly believe that these uniforms represent the pinnacle of baseball wear. The Sox take a lot of crap for their past uniform missteps, but they adopted their current ones at the end of the 1990 season and never regretted it. There's simply no way to improve on them: the vintage "SOX" chest logo, the white sock on the sleeves, the piping, the black all equals perfection. It'll be a sad day if the White Sox ever start experimenting with their look again.


You already know it if you clicked on my links, but thanks go out to Chris Creamer's Sports Logos and Dressed to the Nines for visual references.

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