The Best: When I did this a couple of years ago I decided that the classic 70s and 80s uniforms were tops just because so much good baseball was played in them. I’ve changed my mind on this. While a team having its glory years in a given uniform is a plus in its column, it’s not enough to carry the day. Not that the design is bad. Actually, just before the peak of the Big Red Machine, the Reds wore that same basic design in a button down. Small difference, sure, but taking it out of the realm of the pullover makes all the difference, so I’d give those the edge. The current uniforms look a lot like that, but I’d take away the red piping along the buttons and some of the fancy font work to give it that clean look that the early 70s models had.
Worst: 1936 was something of a disaster, as were the vests, though the Reds probably did that look better than any other team that did it (vests are always a negative). There should be a special place reserved in uniform hell for a team with a color in its very name that forgets to use that color prominently, and to the exclusion of all other non-white and non-gray options. Such as when the Reds experimented with black and blue.
Assessment: The Reds have always looked sharp. Cincinnati is a conservative town. Keep it neat and professional like they usually do, and everything will be just fine.
All spring training there was at least some mild confusion about Nationals first baseman Ryan Zimmerman. He played in almost no regular big league spring training games, instead, staying on the back fields, playing in simulated and minor league contests. When that usually happens, it’s because a player is rehabbing or even hiding an injury, but the Nats insisted that was not the case with Zimmerman. Not everyone believed it. I, for one, was skeptical.
The skepticism was unwarranted, as Zimmerman answered the bell for Opening Day and has played all season. As Jared Diamond of the Wall Street Journal writes today, it was all by design. He skipped spring training because he doesn’t like it and because he thinks it’ll help him avoid late-season injuries and slowdowns, the likes of which he has suffered over the years.
It’s hard to really judge this now, of course. On the one hand Zimmerman has started really slow this season. What’s more, he has started to show signs of warming up only in the past week, after getting almost as many big league, full-speed plate appearances under his belt as a normal spring training would’ve given him. On the other hand, April is his worst month across his entire 14-year career, so one slow April doesn’t really prove anything and, again, Zimmerman and the Nats will consider this a success if he’s healthy and productive in August and September.
It is sort of a missed opportunity, though. Players hate spring training. They really do. if Zimmerman had made a big deal out of skipping it and came out raking this month, I bet a lot more teams would be amenable to letting a veteran or three take it much more easy next spring. Good ideas can be good ideas even if they don’t produce immediately obvious results, but baseball tends to encourage a copycat culture only when someone can point to a stat line or to standings as justification.
Way to ruin it for everyone, Ryan. 😉