Don't look now, but it's that time of year again. The MLB season is almost upon us, which means it's time for the Uni Watch MLB season preview, now in its 19th annual edition.
One thing that's going to be different this year: The New Era logo, which had previously appeared only on minor league and fashion caps, was added to MLB gamers for the 2016 postseason and will become a permanent fixture on the left side of every player's cap in 2017. So every time the first base dugout camera provides a close-up shot of a pitcher, you'll see that annoying logo.
The New Era logo was added to the left side of MLB caps for the 2016 postseason and will become a permanent fixture this year. pic.twitter.com/u7FzD54XO3— Paul Lukas (@UniWatch) March 14, 2017
Some fans have been so upset about this that they've organized a resistance of sorts, using seam rippers and other tools to remove the logos from their caps.
Seam ripper 1 New Era flag 0 pic.twitter.com/1U5FiZSkIN— Brian (@Go_GoSox) February 6, 2017
While the New Era mark is the most prominent and universal uniform change this season, it's hardly the only one. With all 30 MLB teams set to open their seasons on either Sunday or Monday, here's our annual team-by-team breakdown of what you can expect to see on the diamond. Ready? Go!
National League East
• The Braves have left Turner Field behind and are moving into a new ballpark, which of course means they'll be wearing a sleeve patch to mark their first season in their new home.
And speaking of Atlanta's new stadium, here's an interesting design feature: mesh seats.
• Lots of news this year for the Marlins, beginning with a memorial chest patch for pitcher José Fernández, who died just before the end of the 2016 season.
Marlins players will be wearing the 16 patches this year to honor Jose Fernandez pic.twitter.com/wY4cDLK7Qu— clarkspencer (@clarkspencer) February 10, 2017
In addition, the Marlins are hosting this season's All-Star Game, so they're marking that occasion with a sleeve patch.
Marlins hosting All-Star Game this season, wearing patch on right sleeve. pic.twitter.com/iep6seSo8Z— Paul Lukas (@UniWatch) March 17, 2017
Also: The Marlins are the latest team to switch from glossy to matte batting helmets.
Marlins are latest team to switch to matte helmets. Old version on left, new on right. pic.twitter.com/HHlJ5anZfD— Paul Lukas (@UniWatch) March 17, 2017
Also also: Manager Don Mattingly has lifted his ban on facial hair, so expect to see some beards and mustaches out there.
Finally, the Marlins have made a very minor tweak to their primary logo.
• Two small changes for the Mets. First, the brim on their home alternate cap -- the cap that's usually worn with the blue home alternate jersey -- has been changed from orange to blue. This means the only "alternate" aspect of this cap is that the "NY" logo is outlined in white.
Mets have updated their alternate home cap. Brim changes from orange to blue. Old version on left, new on right. pic.twitter.com/sjcIEn8uTf— Paul Lukas (@UniWatch) January 23, 2017
In addition, the sleeve patch on both of the team's blue alternate jerseys is being changed from the club's Mr. Met mascot character to the more traditional skyline logo. Maybe this is Noah Syndergaard's revenge.
Mets changing sleeve patch on blue alt home jersey from Mr. Met to skyline logo. Old version on left, new on right. Same change to road alt. pic.twitter.com/Cx9MXR5iJu— Paul Lukas (@UniWatch) March 17, 2017
The Mets have also 86'd their '86 throwbacks. The old racing stripe design, which was revived for Sunday home games last year to mark the 30th anniversary of the team's 1986 championship team, was always intended to be a one-season thing.
Meanwhile, the Mets have a bunch of T-shirt giveaways this season. One of the designs is based on outfielder Yoenis Céspedes' distinctive necklaces.
Mets T-shirt giveaway for June 30 is based on road jersey and Yoenis Céspedes' necklaces. pic.twitter.com/BxmbLt7f9G— Paul Lukas (@UniWatch) March 17, 2017
• The Nationals have had a stars-and-stripes alternate jersey as part of their wardrobe for years -- and now they have another one. The team is adding a white version to go along with the navy design.
In addition, the Nats are adding a pair of new stars-and-stripes cap designs, which will presumably be mixed and matched with the two flag-based jerseys.
Nationals adding two new stars/stripes alternate caps to their rotation this season. pic.twitter.com/OQxlw1oojQ— Paul Lukas (@UniWatch) March 17, 2017
• The Phillies will be adding a memorial patch for former manager Dallas Green. It won't make its on-field debut until their home opener on April 7. No visuals yet.
National League Central
• No changes on tap this year for the Brewers, but it's worth noting that the team's promotional schedule includes a Jonathan Villar bobblehead giveaway, and the bobble includes an unusual true-to-life detail: a face guard, just like the one Villar wears.
Also: You'll likely see fewer tobacco stains on the players' jerseys this year, because Miller Park is the latest MLB stadium to ban smokeless tobacco.
• Last year the Dodgers pioneered the use of raised, 3-D batting helmet logos. Several other teams are hopping aboard that bandwagon this year, including the Cardinals, whose classic "StL" logo looks sensational in the raised rendition (additional info here).
• The Cubs, basking in the glow of their long-sought World Series title, will follow the lead of other recent MLB champions and wear gold-accented uniforms. The gold-trimmed design will be worn for the Cubbies' home opener April 10 and for their ring ceremony game April 12.
As you can see in the video, the gold-trimmed jerseys include a "World Series Champions" sleeve patch. The Cubs haven't yet confirmed whether that patch will also appear on the team's standard 2017 jerseys, but it's worth noting the patch was included on the jersey the Cubs gave to President Obama during a White House visit in January. Draw your own conclusions.
Cubs haven't yet announced if they'll be wearing a "Champions" sleeve patch in 2017. But the jersey they gave President Obama had one. Hmmm. pic.twitter.com/m6pUS2RhcE— Paul Lukas (@UniWatch) March 17, 2017
• Interesting change for the Pirates: The team will still wear its camouflage jersey for Thursday home games, but they've ditched the matching camouflage cap and will instead wear a new mustard-toned lid.
• The Reds are changing the cap worn with their camouflage alternate jersey. The camo cap is out, and a new olive cap is in.
Reds replacing cap worn with camouflage alternate jersey this season. Old version on left, new on right. pic.twitter.com/Xo8RWWaW3e— Paul Lukas (@UniWatch) March 29, 2017
National League West
• Last year the Diamondbacks unveiled an ambitious new uniform program. This year they're fine-tuning it, beginning with the extremely welcome news that last year's pant design, with its "blood-soaked" lower-leg color gradation and truncated piping, has been scrapped. The team will now go with more traditional pants.
Halle-freakin'-lujah: No more blood-soaked pants this year for the Diamondbacks. Old version on left, new on right. pic.twitter.com/Ayj9olldCY— Paul Lukas (@UniWatch) March 17, 2017
Second, the D-backs have announced that their black "A" cap will be their primary headwear this season.
Third, the lettering for the player names on the back of the team's primary road jersey has been changed from red to sand.
Color change this season for the lettering on the back of the Diamondbacks' primary road jersey. Old version left, new on right. pic.twitter.com/sBWCcAfCjo— Paul Lukas (@UniWatch) March 17, 2017
Fourth, two tweaks have been made to the team's teal-trimmed road alternate jersey. The front number and the back lettering, both of which had been black with teal outlining, will now be teal with black outlining.
Front number on Dbacks' teal-trimmed road alternate had been black w/ teal outlining. Colors now reversed. Old design on left, new on right. pic.twitter.com/617hlJni0B— Paul Lukas (@UniWatch) March 17, 2017
Back lettering on Dbacks' teal-trimmed road alternate was black w/ teal outlining. Colors now reversed. Old design on left, new on right. pic.twitter.com/eBGoBvgGJ9— Paul Lukas (@UniWatch) March 17, 2017
• Dodgers: No announced changes.
• Simple but effective upgrade in San Francisco, where the Giants have changed the "SF" logo on their black home alternate jersey from outlined to solid. Much better.
Giants changing "SF" logo on black home alternate jersey from outlined to solid this season. Old version on left, new on right. pic.twitter.com/dHn07ZBf5J— Paul Lukas (@UniWatch) March 20, 2017
• Remember how the Padres added some sorely needed juice to their visual program by adding yellow to their home jerseys in 2016? Remember how good that looked? Well, now you can forget it. The yellow was just a one-year thing to coincide with the team hosting the All-Star Game. Now that that's over, the Padres are reverting to an utterly characterless home design, although there's also a new road uni that's a slight upgrade over last year's. You can see the full 2017 uniform set in the video shown below (additional info here).
Meanwhile: Clayton Richard has joined the small fraternity of pitchers wearing single-digit numbers. Last year he wore No. 27, but this year he's going with No. 3.
• For years the Rockies have had trouble standardizing their shade of purple, which often looked blue under certain lighting conditions. So the team has come up with a new, more vibrant shade of purple that should provide more visual consistency. Your friendly uniform columnist thinks all shades of purple are better avoided but nonetheless applauds the team's attempt to clean up its look. Lots of additional info in this excellent article.
Meanwhile, in a move that doesn't amount to much more than bookkeeping, the Rockies have swapped their primary and alternate logo designations, although this won't have any impact on the team's on-field look.
American League East
• The Blue Jays have routinely celebrated Canada Day -- July 1 -- by wearing red- or red-trimmed uniforms. Now they've gone ahead and added a red alternate jersey and cap to their wardrobe. The red uni will make its on-field debut April 16 and will be worn for Sunday home games and other select dates.
It's also worth noting that catcher Jarrod Saltalamacchia, whose 14-letter surname is the longest in MLB history, has been in Jays camp on a minor league contract. It's not yet clear whether he'll make the final roster cut, but the Jays' treatment of his name on the back of his jersey is among the clunkiest of his career (you can see photos of how his name has looked on other teams' uniforms here).
When your last name is 14 letters long pic.twitter.com/0QGBwW8n2b— Melissa Couto (@ThrowinSmoke) February 21, 2017
• The Orioles are marking the 25th anniversary of Camden Yards with a sleeve patch.
• Nothing new has been announced for the Rays, but word through the grapevine is that they will likely be reviving the road version of their fauxbacks -- a design that was previously worn for a 2014 game against the Cubs at Wrigley Field -- for a game this August. No word yet on the exact date or opponent.
Source: Rays will likely wear road fauxbacks - previously worn for a 2014 game at Wrigley - for a game this August. Date/opponent uncertain. pic.twitter.com/1kPm8nub7a— Paul Lukas (@UniWatch) March 22, 2017
• Nothing new this season for the Red Sox, but you can expect to see their "Boston Strong" uniform -- home whites with "Boston" on the front, instead of "Red Sox," plus a "B Strong" chest patch -- making its annual appearance on Patriots' Day, which is April 17 this year.
Expect to see the Red Sox wearing their "Boston Strong" uniforms on Patriots' Day (April 17 vs. Rays, 11:05am starting time). pic.twitter.com/N4vfkvjhZm— Paul Lukas (@UniWatch) March 24, 2017
• No uniform changes this year for the Yankees, but the Bronx Bombers will be retiring Derek Jeter's No. 2 on May 14. Interestingly, that is also the date of Mother's Day, which means the Yanks will likely be wearing pink-trimmed uniforms that day -- an odd look for a game featuring a number-retirement ceremony.
American League Central
• A few small changes for the Indians. The retro cream alternates have been scrapped, and the red cap that had been worn with that uni will now be worn when the team wears its navy alternate jersey at home.
So this is what the red block c cap will look like with the navy jerseys to be worn next season. I honestly don't mind the look. pic.twitter.com/c91bVUql5x— #DefendTheLand 45-22 (@Believeland1994) December 12, 2016
When the navy alternates are worn on the road, they'll be worn with the navy Chief Wahoo cap -- or at least that's the plan. These strict jersey/cap pairings always sound good on paper, but teams tend to start mixing and matching as the season progresses.
• The Royals are adding a memorial patch for pitcher Yordano Ventura, who died in January.
Also: Last year the Royals celebrated their 2015 championship by wearing gold-trimmed uniforms for the first two games of the season. The design generated so much positive response that the team requested and received permission to keep wearing the gold design for Friday home games throughout the 2016 season.
Royals gold uni, worn for 1st 2 games of 2016 season and then for Friday home games throughout '16 season, is being retained as '17 alt uni. pic.twitter.com/kKXnIYE0f4— Paul Lukas (@UniWatch) March 20, 2017
• The Tigers added a "Mr. I" memorial patch for owner Mike Ilitch during spring training. They'll definitely honor him during the regular season as well, but there's a chance they'll revise the patch design. Stay tuned.
• Single-digit pitcher alert! Former Nationals reliever Matt Belisle is now with the Twins and wearing No. 9, the same number he wore in Little League and high school. He says it reminds him of his childhood love of baseball.
Former Nats reliever Matt Belisle wearing No. 9 this season for the Twins. Same number he wore in Little League and high school. pic.twitter.com/YDjXfmP7RR— Paul Lukas (@UniWatch) March 17, 2017
• The White Sox will retire Mark Buehrle's No. 56 on June 24.
And while not strictly uni-related, it's worth mentioning that the Sox really went the extra mile with their season tickets this year, hiring uniform designer Todd Radom to create a fantastic-looking package. Get the full story here.
American League West
• Angels: No announced changes.
• Astros: No announced changes.
• Athletics: No announced changes. (The AL West is a very uni-uneventful division this year.)
• Most commemorative patches these days are round, but the Mariners are celebrating their 40th anniversary with a square patch, which looks pretty big on the sleeve (further info here). A smaller version of the patch will also be worn on the team's caps for the home opener April 10.
FIRST LOOK: Mariners adding 40th-anniversary patch next season. Alternate version is for alternate uniform. pic.twitter.com/etV7IpbNET— Paul Lukas (@UniWatch) November 1, 2016
Per team spox, Mariners will wear 40th-anniversary cap patch for home opener on 4/10. (Anniversary sleeve patch will be on jersey all year.) pic.twitter.com/0l2sPsPAY8— Paul Lukas (@UniWatch) March 17, 2017
Also: The M's will retire Edgar Martinez's No. 11 on Aug. 12.
• Rangers: No announced changes.
• Last year the Dodgers unveiled MLB's first raised batting helmet logo. As already noted in our team-by-team roundup, the Cardinals are following suit. You can expect a bunch of additional MLB teams -- possibly as many as six of them -- to be going this same route in time for Opening Day, although so far no announcements have been made. Stay tuned.
• You can also expect at least one more team to unveil matte-finish batting helmets (in addition to the Marlins, whose new matte lids are already a matter of public record).
• Although nothing has been announced yet regarding the uniforms teams will be wearing for various spring and summer holidays -- pink for Mother's Day, blue for Father's Day, camouflage for Memorial Day, stars and stripes for Independence Day -- it's a safe bet that they'll be rolled out soon.
• The sock company Stance became MLB's first-ever official sock provider midway through the 2016 season. As the year progressed, players wore a mix of Stance hosiery (easily identifiable by the Stance and MLB logos on the sides of the socks) and older non-Stance inventory. This year everyone should be wearing the new Stance product, except for players who wear stirrups, which Stance doesn't yet produce. Of course, most players still wear their pants down to their shoe tops (an admittedly unscientific Uni Watch survey suggests that only 15 to 20 percent of MLBers show their socks), but those who choose to go high-cuffed will, in many cases, have new stripe patterns to choose from. Expect to see additional styles rolled out for holidays and other special occasions as the season progresses.
Good view of how Stance and MLB logos will be appearing on big league socks this season. pic.twitter.com/Tgb3gBxFJj— Paul Lukas (@UniWatch) February 28, 2017
• This year marks the 20th anniversary of MLB retiring No. 42 in honor of Jackie Robinson, and the 10th anniversary of the number being brought back into circulation for one day per year -- April 15. Expect to see all uniformed personnel engaging in the annual 42-fest on that date.
• The BP jerseys and BP caps for this year's All-Star Game, which is being played in Miami, haven't yet been officially released. But they recently appeared in the video game MLB the Show, which in past years has been a reliable indicator of the All-Star designs.
• Finally, if you want to look several seasons down the road, Under Armour will be taking over for Majestic as MLB's official uniform outfitter in 2020. The big news there is that the Under Armour logo will not be relegated to the sleeve, as Majestic's has been -- it will appear on the chest. According to this report, allowing the maker's mark to appear on the chest doubled the value of the deal for MLB.
Digital renderings of how the Under Armour logo may look when it's added to MLB jersey chests, slated to take place in 2020. pic.twitter.com/inDKL6Trwi— Paul Lukas (@UniWatch) March 14, 2017
And that's it for now. Did we miss anything? If so, you know what to do. Now let's play ball.
Paul Lukas, a lifelong Mets fan, expects to see a lot of on-field mix-ups between the primary and alternate caps this season. If you like this column, you'll probably like his Uni Watch Blog, plus you can follow him on Twitter and Facebook. Want to learn about his Uni Watch Membership Program, be added to his mailing list so you'll always know when a new column has been posted, or just ask him a question? Contact him here.