AP Photo/Kathy Willens

Joe Maddon started Matt Szczur on Tuesday because Villanova won


If you thought the Cubs’ starting lineup on Tuesday looked a little weird, you’d be right. Matt Szczur is starting in left field and batting eighth.

Why? Szczur played baseball for Villanova University. Villanova won the NCAA men’s basketball championship on Monday night, defeating North Carolina 77-74 thanks to a buzzer-beater three-pointer from Kris Jenkins.

Manager Joe Maddon thought he’d get some of Villanova’s winning juju by starting Szczur, per MLB.com’s Carrie Muskat. Maddon said, “Villanova wins the national championship, so I thought it was a good bet for tonight again.”

Szczur, 26, hit a three-run double in his only at-bat during Monday’s 9-0 victory against the Angels. But he hadn’t exactly been Mr. Productive in his 146 previous at-bats between 2014-15, compiling a .224/.276/.343 triple-slash line with three home runs and 13 RBI.

Even ignoring the Villanova connection, starting Szczur does make some sense. Jorge Soler is already in the lineup as the DH, and Kyle Schwarber would be at a disadvantage in the lefty-lefty match-up against Angels starter Andrew Heaney.

The Players’ Weekend uniforms are terrible

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The Yankees and the Dodgers have a storied World Series history, having met in the Fall Classic 11 times. Part of what made those falls so classic was the livery worn by each club.

The Yankees’ uniforms have gone unchanged since 1936. The Dodgers, though changing cities in 1958, have had the same basic, classic look with only minor derivations for almost as long. You can’t even say the names of these teams without picturing pinstripes, those red Dodgers numbers, both teams’ clean road grays, the Yankees navy and the Dodgers’ Dodger blue.

They looked like a couple of expansion teams last night however, at least sartorially speaking.

As you probably know it’s Players’ Weekend this weekend, and teams all over the league wore either all black or all white with player-chosen nicknames on the back. We’ve had the nicknames for a couple of years now and that’s fine, but the black and white combo is new. It doesn’t look great, frankly. I riffed on that on Twitter yesterday a good bit. But beyond my mere distaste for the ensembles, they present a pretty problematic palette, too.

For one thing the guys in black blend in with the umpires. Quick, look at these infields and tell me who’s playing and who’s officiating:

The white batting helmets look especially bad:

But some guys — like Enrique Hernandez of the Dodgers, realized that pine tar makes the white helmets look super special:

There was also a general issue with the white-on-white uniforms in that it’s rather hard to read the names and the numbers on the backs of the jerseys. This was especially true during the Cubs-Nationals game in the afternoon sunlight. You’ll note this as a much bigger problem on Sunday. It’s all rather ironic, of course, that the players have been given the right to put fun, quirky nicknames on the backs of their jerseys but no one can really see them.

The SNY booth was reading many people’s minds last night, noting how much Mad Magazine “Spy vs. Spy” energy this is throwing off:

I’ll also note that if you’re flipping between games or looking at highlights on social media it’s super hard to even tell which team is which — and even what game’s highlights you’re seeing — just by looking which, you know, is sort of the point of having uniforms in the first place.

I’m glad the players have a weekend in which they’re allowed to wear what they want. I just wish they’d wear something better.