The Best: Wow, this is tough! Do I go with 1937? 1947? 1957? 1967? 1977? 1987? 1997? 2007? 2017? OK, that last one was merely speculative, but there you go. The point is: there are so many options!
The Yankees, obviously, know what looks good and how to stick with it. With the exception of an occasional patch, some updated fabrics, and differences in tightness and looseness depending on the fashion of the time, their uniform has been unchanged for 74 years. You don’t mess with perfection, and the Yankees’ uniform is perfect. In 20,000 years, when alien archeologists excavate the ruins of our planet and try to piece together the important aspects of our culture, they will find the Yankee uniform and hold it up as the ideal. It is baseball. And no matter how much you hate the Yankees, if you don’t admit it, you’re lying.
The Worst: This is all relative, of course. Pfun Pfact: they first put the interlocking “NY” on the uniforms in 1905, but it was an off–and-on thing for years thereafter, and didn’t stick for good until 1936. Still, they never looked bad. Even in dark blue. Even without pinstripes. Though, I suppose, we have to pick one of those for the worst of all time, because the Yankees look freakin’ weird without pinstripes.
Assessment: I have a personal, idiosyncratic favorite that is not the New York Yankees — we’ll get to it on Monday — but you could put any ballplayer in history in a Yankees uniform and they’d look pretty damn spiffy. Even guys like David Wells.
On Sunday, we heard from former Ray and current Giants third baseman Evan Longoria. The Rays recently traded pitcher Jake Odorizzi to the Twins for a prospect and designated All-Star outfielder Corey Dickerson for assignment, which didn’t make a whole lot of sense outside of a cost-cutting perspective. Longoria said, “I just kind of feel sorry for the Rays fan base.”
Today, we’re hearing from a current Ray: center fielder Kevin Kiermaier, who is set to enter his fifth full season with the club. Via Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times, Kiermaier said, “I am 100 percent frustrated and very upset with the moves. No beating around the bush. It’s one of those things that makes you scratch your head, you don’t know the reasoning why. And then you see the team’s explanation and still it’s just like, okay, well, so be it.”
Longoria — formerly the face of the franchise — was traded to the Giants in December and the Rays continued to subtract with their recent moves involving Odorizzi and Dickerson. Odorizzi has a career 3.83 ERA in what has been a solid, if unspectacular, career. Dickerson put up an All-Star season, posting an .815 OPS with 27 home runs in 150 games. Moving either player was not done to fix a positional log jam. In fact, with Odorizzi out of the picture, the Rays are planning to use a four-man starting rotation for the first six-plus weeks of the season, Topkin reported on Sunday. Dickerson’s ouster simply opens the door for Mallex Smith, who posted a .684 OPS last year, to start every day in the outfield.
The Rays got markedly worse after going 80-82 last season. They saved a few million bucks jettisoning Odorizzi and Dickerson. And Rays ownership still wants the public to foot most of the bill for their new stadium.
When it was just one small market team pinching pennies, it was fine. But now that more than half of the league has adopted penny-pinching principles popularized by Moneyball and Sabermetrics (with the Rays among the chief offenders), the game of baseball has become markedly less fan- and player-friendly. This offseason has been less about players signing contracts and changing teams in trades — which helps build excitement and intrigue for the coming year — and more about front offices doing math problems concerning the $197 million competitive balance tax threshold and other self-imposed monetary restraints. Fun. Kiermaier is right to be upset and he’s very likely not alone in feeling that way.