Single page view By Paul Lukas
Special to Page 2

The weirdness continues in major-league baseball, where it turns out that the assorted jersey snafus detailed in Uni Watch's last column were just the tip of the double-knit iceberg. Now we have teams dressing like minor-leaguers and spring training squads.

Check it out: On April 20, the Padres had their sixth annual military tribute night – always a uniform watershed, because the team dons camouflage jerseys and olive caps for the occasion. (Memo to the Blue Jays: If you'll consent to dress up as Canadian Mounties for one game, Uni Watch hereby offers to kick in for the horses!) But as reader Mayer Weisel points out, there was something different about this season's camouflage game: The Padres' caps had the New Era logo on the left side, a designation that normally appears only on minor-league and, umm, "fashion" headwear.

Although Uni Watch initially viewed this as the latest insidious example of MLB's sellout to corporate logo creep, it turns out that the real explanation is more benign: New Era mistakenly sent the Padres the wrong caps, and nobody with either organization realized it until it was too late.

"We received a box, we delivered it to the clubhouse, and that's it," said Padres purchasing director Michael Babida, who ordered the green lids. "I never actually opened the box – when you've done the same promotion for five or six years, you generally don't need to open every box and inspect every cap, every jersey."

New Era media rep Crystal Howard confirmed the glitch. And judging by her reaction, it doesn't exactly sound as though anyone at New Era is too upset about it: "It looked really cool – we're like, 'Yeah, let's get all the teams to do it!'"

Hmm, innocent clerical error or calculated stealth-marketing maneuver? Uni Watch will let the conspiracy theorists sort this one out.

The next oddity came on April 27, when the Nationals played an entire game in their red batting practice jerseys, complete with the embarrassing contrast-color gussets. Batting practice jerseys are normally worn for, you know, batting practice, and also for spring training games. So why would the Nats wear them in a real game?

Because starting pitcher Esteban Loaiza asked to wear them, according to the game report. Nats manager Frank Robinson said he granted the request because he didn't want to "mess with [Loaiza's] psyche," although Uni Watch posits that anyone who'd ask to wear this outfit for a real game is already pretty messed up to begin with. Ironically, as attentive readers might recall, Robinson is the one who recently opined that today's uniforms have "too much red" (no doubt because his own psyche was messed up by being forced to wear this 30 years ago), all of which makes Uni Watch wonder: Was Loaiza's request for garnet garb a passive-aggressive swipe at his crimson-averse manager? Hmm, mutiny by uni – a tantalizing possibility, no?

Unfortunately, this potentially juicy intrigue was apparently nipped in the bud five days later, when the team wore its regular road jerseys for Loaiza's next start.



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