Cubs outfielder Ben Zobrist received a formal warning from Major League Baseball after wearing all-black cleats during the club’s day games at Wrigley Field. According to Section G(1) of the league’s Uniform Regulations, at least 51 percent of a player’s exterior shoe color must adhere to the team’s designated shoe color. It’s a silly rule, and one that has been used to police several players over the last few years, most recently Indians right-hander Mike Clevinger.
On Saturday, Zobrist took to Instagram to document the shoes and voice his frustration with the decision:
Dear @mlb, I still like you but this is rediculous [sic]. For the last two years, I have worn black spikes exclusively at Wrigley Field for Day games to pay homage to the history of our great game, and now I am being told I will be fined and disciplined if I continue to wear them. When I was a kid, I was inspired by highlights of the greats such as Ernie Banks and Stan Musial in the 1950s-60s and was captured by the old uniforms and all black cleats with flaps. […] I am curious as to why @mlb is spending time and money enforcing this now when they haven’t done it previously in the last year and beyond. I have heard nothing but compliments from fans that enjoy the “old school” look. Maybe there is some kid out there that will be inspired to look more into the history of the game by the “flexibility” that I prefer in the color of my shoes.
Unfortunately, Zobrist’s point — that he chose the color and design of the spikes based on historical significance (unlike, say, the “bohemian elephant” vibe of Clevinger’s kicks) — likely won’t make a difference in this case.