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Cardinals will likely feature ‘Victory Blue’ throwback jersey next season

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Over the weekend the St. Louis Cardinals tweeted the famous photo of Ozzie Smith doing a back flip and said “A big announcement is coming soon… you’re gonna flip!”

That was interesting in and of itself, but the most interesting part of it was probably, that, in the photo, The Wizard of Oz was not wearing the white Cards jersey from the famous photo. Rather, Cardinal GIFSTravis Janik and the account Cardinals Rant noticed, Smith was portrayed wearing the old blue Cardinals road uniforms from 1976 through 1984. Which, by the way, were NOT called “powder blue.” The Cardinals’ then-owner Gussie Busch did not like that name, so he called them “Victory Blue.”

Which, fine. But look:

Same photo, clearly Photoshopped.

As they, and later St. Louis Post-Dispatch writer Derrick Goold, observed, this is almost certainly a case of the Cardinals teasing an impeding announcement — to be made on November 19 — that the team is going to bring back the old Victory Blues, most likely as an alternate. They have, on a few occasions over the years, broke them out on turn-back-the-clock days or as tributes to the 1982 World Series winning team, but never for very long. These will, presumably, be Friday or Sunday home alternates, perhaps, as a lot of teams have done with older or bolder styles.

Personally I think it would be cooler if they used them as true road jerseys as almost all of the blue uniforms were used for by the teams that adopted them back in their 1960s-80s heyday, but let’s not make the perfect the enemy of the good here and enjoy them for what they were. And are.

Neal Huntington thinks players should be allowed to re-enter games after concussion testing

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Pirates catcher Francisco Cervelli, who has suffered many concussions throughout his 12-year career, was hit on the back of the helmet on a Joc Pederson backswing Saturday against the Dodgers. Through Cervelli remained in the game initially, he took himself out of the game shortly thereafter and went on the seven-day concussion injured list on Sunday.

Perhaps inspired by Saturday’s event, Pirates GM Neal Huntington suggested that players should be allowed to re-enter games once they have passed concussion tests, the Associated Press reports. Huntington said, “Any player that had an obvious concussion risk incident should be allowed to be removed from the game, taken off the field, taken into the locker room, assessed by a doctor, assessed by a trainer, go through an extended period of time and then re-enter the game. Because right now, all of this has to happen on the field.”

Huntington added, “The player has to feel pressure as he’s standing there with 30,000 or 10,000 or 50,000 eyes on him. He has to feel pressure to make a decision whether (he’s) in or (he’s) out of this game. He knows if he takes himself out and he’s the catcher, there’s only one other catcher, and the game becomes a fiasco if that other catcher gets hurt.”

Huntington, who has been forward-thinking on a number of other issues, has it wrong here. The concussion protocols were created because players frequently hid or under-reported their injuries in order to remain in the game. Especially for younger or otherwise less-proven players, there is pressure to have to constantly perform in order to keep one’s job. Furthermore, there is an overarching sentiment across sports that taking time off due to injury makes one weak. Similarly, playing while injured is seen as tough and masculine. Creating protocols that take the decision-making out of players’ hands keeps them from making decisions that aren’t in their own best interests. Removing them would bring back that pressure for players to hide or minimize their ailments. If anything, MLB’s concussion protocols should become more stringent, not more relaxed.

The powers that be with Major League Baseball have no doubt followed the concussion scandal surrounding the National Football League. In January, the NFL settled for over $1 billion with retired players dealing with traumatic brain injuries, including dementia, Lou Gehrig’s disease, Parkinson’s disease, and Alzheimer’s disease. For years, the league refused to acknowledge the link between playing football and CTE (chronic traumatic encephalopathy), which is a neurodegenerative disease that can lead to dementia and has many negative effects, such as increasing the risk of suicide. Since baseball isn’t often a contact sport, MLB doesn’t have to worry about brain injuries to this degree, but it still needs to take preventative measures in order to avoid billion-dollar lawsuits as well as avoiding P.R. damage. In December 2012, former major league outfielder Ryan Freel committed suicide. Freel, who claimed to have suffered as many as 10 concussions, suffered from CTE. MLB players can suffer brain injuries just like football players.

Huntington seems to be worried about not having enough rostered catchers in the event one or two catchers get injured. That is really an issue of roster management. Carrying only two catchers on the roster is a calculated risk, often justified. Huntington can ensure his team never has to be put in the position of not having a catcher in an emergency by rostering a third catcher. Rosters are expanding to 26 players next year, by the way.