Uniform arguments are always fun. Every couple of years I take a look back at the best and worst uniforms of all time and it never fails to make people talk, be it good, bad, nostalgic, angry or whatever. Uniforms just matter to baseball fans.
Paul Lukas of Uni Watch has made a career out of the uniform criticism game, and this week he’s been rating the uniforms of all of the teams from all of the major sports. Today he breaks out the baseball unis and rates them 1-30. And there are some surprises in there.
First surprise: seeing the most classic uniform of them all — the Yankees — ranked fourth, behind one of the least classic looking teams, the Athletics. Which, OK, I can see that appealing to some people, but I’m sorry, if you wear white shoes you shouldn’t crack the top ten. The A’s shoes make them look like guys wearing dad jeans and gleaming white New Balance shoes at the mall on Saturday.
There are some other surprises in there too. And outrages. The Tigers are ninth? Based on an arguably too-small cap logo? Please. Nothing looks better than the Tigers in their home uniforms and I refuse to be persuaded otherwise.
OK, sorry. See what I mean, though? Ranking uniforms can stir people up.
The Cleveland Indians will unveil a Frank Robinson statue at Progressive Field on Saturday.
Robinson’s tenure in Cleveland was not long, but it was historic. On April 8, 1975, he became the first African-American manager in Major League history. He was a player-manager. One of the last ones, in fact. He spent two years in that role and then a third year — a partial year anyway — as a manager only. Robinson would go on to manage the Giants, Orioles and the Expos/Nationals, compiling a career record of 1065-1176 in 16 seasons. He is now a top MLB executive.
Robinson was, of course, a Hall of Fame player as well, lodging 21 seasons for the Reds, Orioles, Dodgers, Angels and Indians. He won two MVP awards and hit for the Triple Crown in 1966. Overall he hit 586 home runs – 10th all time – and was inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1982. For an inner-circle Hall of Famer with that kind of resume he is still, strangely enough, underrated. I guess that happens when your contemporaries are Willie Mays, Hank Aaron and Mickey Mantle.
Anyway, congrats to Frank Robinson for yet another well-deserved honor in a career full of them.
Here’s an interesting article in the Wall Street Journal. It’s about some studies of hitters who use weighted bats or doughnuts on their bats in the on deck circle. Turns out that, contrary to conventional wisdom, using a weighted bat for practice hacks does not speed up one’s swing when one uses a naked bat in the batter’s box. In fact, it slows it down.
There are lots of caveats here. The sample size in the studies are small and they all involve college and high school players, not big leaguers. The results, however, are consistent with previous studies and they do make some intuitive sense. This is particularly the case with batting doughnuts, which add weight to a very concentrated portion of the bat, thereby changing the center of gravity and thus the swing mechanics of the hitter.
Whether this is applicable at large or to higher level hitters or not, I still find it kind of neat. I always like it when people scrutinize ingrained habits and ask whether or not that thing we’ve always done is, in fact, worth doing.