More puzzling was the situation with Baltimore's Miguel Tejada. He had a normal cap flag early in the game, as seen in this shot from the fourth inning. But as several Uni Watch readers noted, by the eighth inning he was wearing an upside-down flag. Innocent mistake, political statement, or "SOS" commentary on the Orioles' sinking fortunes?

"We didn't get the flag patches until that morning," explained Orioles PR director Bill Stetka. "They had to be ironed on, and we had to do it in a hurry, and I guess the glue didn't quite take, at least in a few cases. Miguel said that from putting his sunglasses on top of the hat, and taking the sunglasses on and off, the flag inadvertently got dislodged and turned around." Hmm, sounds a bit sketchy to Uni Watch, but Stetka's a standup guy, so let's give him the benefit of the doubt here.

This flag flap recalls last season's Keith Foulke imbroglio. And by coincidence, Foulke is at the center of another cap-centric story line, this one brought to Uni Watch's attention by reader Bryan Cockrell, who writes in with the following:

"While watching the Red Sox play the Blue Jays on July 2nd, I noticed that Keith Foulke had removed the button from the top of his cap, which is one of the first things I do when buy a new cap myself. For the rest of the game I checked every close-up of every other player they showed and couldn't see anyone else who'd removed the button."

Boston's cap button is hard to discern, because it's the same color as the rest of the cap (as opposed to the contrast-color cap buttons that some teams wear). But Uni Watch dutifully checked the game video, and while it's hard to be sure, it does indeed appear that Foulke's cap is button-free.

Unfortunately, Foulke went on the DL and had arthroscopic knee surgery right after that, so he's not available to comment on this crucial bit of cap arcana. But Uni Watch is frankly more interested in Bryan Cockrell and his obsessive button-removal ritual -- what's that all about?

"About 13 years ago, I hit the top of my head against the floor while wearing my old Red Sox cap, which sent a searing pain directly into a concentrated spot on the top of my head, right under that button," he explains. "So I took a pair of pliers and mashed the button a few times and it came off. Ever since, I've always removed it right from the start. I still use pliers -- the top part is just a cloth-covered metal cap and comes off the easiest. Under that is a small metal disc with a thumbtack-like piece 'riveted' into it from the inside of the cap. You have to mash the disc several times with the pliers, but eventually the last two pieces separate and can be removed. There's a slight gap in the top of the cap afterwards, where the cloth panels meet, but after a little stretching or just normal wear it disappears -- the button doesn't seem to serve any purpose other than appearance."

Yowza! As button-abuse rituals go, that ranks right up there with Mets skipper George Bamberger's repeatedly wearing a wad of bubble gum on his cap button in 1982 and '83 (and if anyone has a photo of that supremely peculiar phenomenon, please contact Uni Watch pronto).



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