The Best and Worst Uniforms of All Time: The Washington Nationals/Montreal Expos

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I think it’s fair to include the Expos in this one, don’t you? They’re not otherwise represented, and there is franchise continuity here.  To be fair, I’ll include the Browns with the Orioles, Senators v.1 and v.2 with the Twins and Rangers, the Pilots with the Brewers and so on. Cool?
Best: With apologies to Jonah Keri, I can’t in good conscious say that any Expos uniform would make a “best” list. They have their charms, sure, but so much of it is retro-charm and a fondness for things that are no longer with us rather than beauty on the merits.  No one who wasn’t an Expos fan really thought that stuff looked stunning at the time, even when it looked good.  For what it’s worth, the Expos rarely changed anything anyway. They sprung from the head of Zeus (or was it Bowie Kuhn?) fully formed, with powder blue roadies and the cool stylized M on the cap in 1969 and only made the slightest of alterations between then and 1992. The pre-1992 uniforms were good, but if we’re being honest here, we can’t say that they look better than the Nationals’ current road uniforms.  Which are probably the only uniforms that look better than the team’s home uniforms now that I think about it. That may change tomorrow when the Nats unveil new duds.
Worst: The last generation Montreal uniforms were bad, not because they looked so terrible, but because the team lacked the cajones to put the sylized “M” on the jerseys themselves where God, Nature and Rusty Staub intended it to be. And if any team was born to wear powder blue roadies, it was Les Expos, so they looked not quite themselves in gray. I hate the Nats current home uniforms because of that block lettering. Which, as I recently noted, was apparently a historical accident that left them looking like the Diamondbacks-East.  That will presumably be remedied tomorrow, with a script “Nationals” on the front a la the roadies.

Assessment: The Nats are probably limited to threads that are more or less like those they currently wear. They basically have to stick with red, white, and blue.  Marketing probably dictates that they keep the curly W on the cap.  It would be cool if they could experiment a bit, but it’s not gonna happen.  They’ll always look pretty good, but a bit boring. Which describes most teams nowadays, come to think of it.

Oh well, that’s it for the NL East.  Tomorrow we’ll start in with the NL Central.  There’s a bit more history there — the East has only two teams that predate the Kennedy administration — so it will a bit more fun.

Cubs owner Tom Ricketts continues to cry poor

Tom Ricketts
Nuccio DiNuzzo/Chicago Tribune/Tribune News Service via Getty Images
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MLB owners and the MLB Players Association continue to hash out details, some in public, about a 2020 baseball season. The owners have been suggesting a shorter season, claiming that they lose money on every game played without fans in attendance. The union wants a longer season, since players are — as per the March agreement — being paid a prorated salary. Players thus make more money over the 114 games the MLBPA suggested than the 50 or so the owners want.

Cubs chairman Tom Ricketts has been among the more vocal owners in recent weeks, claiming that the coronavirus pandemic and the ensuing shutdown of MLB has greatly hurt MLB owners’ business. Speaking to ESPN’s Jesse Rogers, Ricketts claimed, “The scale of losses across the league is biblical.”

Ricketts said, “Here’s something I hope baseball fans understand. Most baseball owners don’t take money out of their team. They raise all the revenue they can from tickets and media rights, and they take out their expenses, and they give all the money left to their GM to spend.” Ricketts continued, “The league itself does not make a lot of cash. I think there is a perception that we hoard cash and we take money out and it’s all sitting in a pile we’ve collected over the years. Well, it isn’t. Because no one anticipated a pandemic. No one expects to have to draw down on the reserves from the past. Every team has to figure out a way to plug the hole.”

Pertaining to Ricketts’ claim that “the league itself does not make a lot of cash,” Forbes reported in December that, for the 17th consecutive season, MLB set a new revenue record, this time at $10.7 billion. In accounting, revenues are calculated before factoring in expenses, but unless the league has $10 billion in expenses, I cannot think of a way in which Ricketts’ statement can be true.

MLB owners notably don’t open their accounting books to the public. Because the owners were crying poor during negotiations, the MLBPA asked them to provide proof of financial distress. The owners haven’t provided those documents. Thus, unless Ricketts opens his books, his claim can be proven neither true nor false, and should be taken with the largest of salt grains. If owners really are hurting as badly as they say they are, they should be more than willing to prove it. That they don’t readily provide that proof suggests they are being misleading.

It’s worth noting that the Ricketts family has a history of not being forthcoming about their money. Cubs co-owner Todd Ricketts got into hot water last year after it was found he had used inaccurate information when paying property taxes. In 2007, he bought two properties and demolished both, building a new, state-of-the-art house. For years, Ricketts used information pertaining to the older, demolished property rather than the current property, which drastically lowered his property taxes. Based on the adjustment, Ricketts’ property taxes increased from $828,000 to $1.96 million for 2019, according to The Chicago Tribune. Ricketts also had to pay back taxes for the previous three years.

At any rate, the owners want to pass off the financial risk of doing business onto their labor force. As we have noted here countless times, there is inherent risk in doing business. Owning a Major League Baseball team has, for decades, been nearly risk-free, which has benefited both the owners and, to a lesser extent, its workforce. The pandemic has thrown a wrench into everybody’s plans, but the financial losses these last three months are part of the risk. Furthermore, when teams have done much better business than expected, the owners haven’t benevolently spread that wealth out to their players, so why should the players forfeit even more of their pay than they already are when times are tough?