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Ben Zobrist asks MLB for leniency on rule for shoe color

CHICAGO -- Chicago Cubs veteran Ben Zobrist is publicly asking Major League Baseball to lighten the restrictions regarding the color of his spikes after he received a letter of warning from the league.

Zobrist took to Instagram to plead his case:

Dear @mlb, I still like you but this is rediculous. 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. @newbalancebaseball made a kid's dream come true by making some all black spikes with the special tongue as well as the "Benny the Jet" @pf_flyers cleats. 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. Sincerely, Ben Zobrist

A post shared by Ben Zobrist (@benzobrist18) on

The league claims Zobrist is violating the rule that requires at least 51 percent "of the exterior of each player's shoes be the club's designated primary shoe color." The letter claims Zobrist broke that rule on May 2 in a game against the Colorado Rockies.

In his Instagram post, Zobrist says he was inspired by great players such as Ernie Banks and Stan Musial and was "captured" by the uniforms and "all black cleats with flaps."

Zobrist included a picture of his cleats as well as the letter sent to him by the league. He signed his post, "Sincerely, Ben Zobrist."

"We have shoe regulations that were negotiated with the union in the last round of bargaining," MLB said in a statement to ESPN. "If players have complaints about the regulations, they should contact their union which negotiated them. We have informed the union that we are prepared to negotiate rules providing players with more flexibility, and that issue is currently being discussed as part of a larger discussion about apparel and equipment."

Zobrist would not address the shoe issue after Saturday's game, saying he wants to talk with the league and players' union first.

Manager Joe Maddon backed Zobrist and recalled his own hoodie hoopla when he was managing Tampa Bay. MLB told Maddon that he wasn't allowed to use the hoodie that he often would wear on cold days at the ballpark, and ruled he and other managers and coaches could wear only approved jerseys and outerwear. A few days later, baseball reversed the ruling.

Maddon then got a Patriots hoodie with "J.M." on the front in the mail from none other than Bill Belichick. As for Zobrist's cleats?

"I love the shoes that he's wearing, and the reason that he gave is outstanding," Maddon said. "You know him. If that's coming out of his mouth, it's legit. He was doing that to bring back the history of the game. Hopefully, kids are watching. Those are the kind of things your kids are looking for, and I'm right on board with it -- absolutely."

In addition to Zobrist, Cleveland Indians pitcher Mike Clevinger recently got a letter from MLB warning him that his tie-dyed cleats also violate the rule.

Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.