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Chief of the fashion police

Page 2 columnist

Personally speaking, a baseball uniform has never looked better to me than the high-stirrup look of Yaz, circa '71. Over the years, it has taught me that even perfection cannot resist the crumble of time.

Chris Webber
Chris Webber wore the baggy look at Michigan and still sports it in the NBA.
During the past 89 years, baseball alone has presented us with nearly 3,000 different uniforms. The White Sox are responsible for 56, though none so bizarre as the Bermuda shorts and high-stocking humiliation of 1976 -- a look that makes a man shy to slide, and conjures images of AC/DC's schoolboy-gone-bad Angus Young in a high-speed collision with a shuffle-board geriatric.

In the ensuing years, we've seen baseball pants pulled all the way down to the cleats, retro super baggy uni's and even the baggy-knee-high-knickers phase. Whatever the sport, no two generations of players look the same.

Many of these new looks work. No fashion critique is complete without me weighing in on the Buccaneers makeover: Trading pewter for tangerine, and a skull for the be-plumed gentleman I always referred to as Lance, was nothing short of miraculous.

But let's face it, they don't bring me in from the bullpen to wax poetic as I capture the moments of glory. That being said, here now are some of the fashion gaffes that get high grades for daring, and even higher grades for disturbing results, some of which make small children weep:

  • The ripples from Michigan's Fab Five baby pants are still being felt. The NBA took heed and traded their hot pants for boxer shorts. Which was fine, until the WNBA decided not to flash girl-gam in favor of emulating the big men.

    Just goes to show, the world of sports has something in common with the fashion industry: It's all about the hem lines.

    Terrell Davis
    Two Super Bowl wins made the Broncos' new uniforms suddenly en vogue.
  • The mega-wide waistbands of baseball in the '70s got my attention ... but lost points when hugging the pot belly of a crusty coach. All the polyester in T-neck can't justify one of those cummerbunds tilting 45 degrees under the sway of a life spent pounding that Budweiser.

  • The solid-white unitard Anne White sported at Wimbledon spoke less of tennis, more of a cast member of Mummenchauntz. Or, on a good day, one of the Solid Gold dancers. It also made me pine for the hint of panty look of late '60s and '70s. ... But perhaps I'm revealing too much about myself.

  • I miss the old Padre logo -- what's not to like about a bucket bustin' monk swinging for the fences? However, owner Ray Krok's idea of emulating the color scheme of a McDonald's burger made them the only team that mattered if you were into earth tones ... and doodie.

  • Hockey is the only sport that requires a toothless enforcer to wear a garter and stockings -- with the possible exception of the year the Philadelphia Flyers switched to long warm-up pants. I think it lasted about five minutes. Maybe the guys missed the forbidden tug of lingerie.

  • Sometimes a change in uniform is philosophical: Switching your colors to Silver and Black is a universally accepted way for bad teams to indicate "We no longer suck," primarily so they can slam you with a PSL. The Raiders should get royalties from the Falcons, L.A. Kings, and Astros. Add all the teams that went to black as a base color, and you can toss in Canucks, Penguins, Heat, and Sabres.

    (Ironic note: Al Davis still prefers to lounge in a silver warm-up.)

  • And on a judgmental note, the Hawaii Rainbows dumped the pastels and hitched their homophobic wagon to the "new-look" Warriors. So much for the Purple teletubby getting a fair crack at Tight end.

  • The Broncos' Nike makeover looked cheap and vaguely USFL. Two Super Bowl wins later, they are swooshy proof that winning is the best style.

  • And sometimes necessity is the mother of style: Case in point, my favorite accessory -- stick-on turf elbow guards, the NFL's answer to the tweedy academic elbow patch. Keeps players looking slick while protecting them from turf burns at the Vet, a virtual petri dish of staph infections.

  • And last but not least, the fans do their share, too.

    My highest grade goes to the Bronco fanatic "Barrel Man," who capitalized on his physical limitations. Instead of trying to hide his flaws, this yeasty fashion pioneer wisely chose to work with his tendency to remind us of a hummel figurine. Are you listening, Bill Bidwell?

    But what the hell do I know? I'm writing this in a guinea-T and a well-worn pair of gamederpants.

    Humorist Nick Bakay, currently a writer for the CBS sitcom "King of Queens," is a regular contributor to ESPN The Magazine and Page 2. He has a Web site at

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