By Paul Lukas
Special to Page 2

Pitching, shmitching. In the World Series, as in everything else, it's all about the uniforms. And while the Astros and White Sox may look fairly traditional today, they both have some major skeletons in their uni closets, like your big sister who was an out-of-control party girl before settling down to raise a family in the suburbs.

In fact, these franchises have been so sartorially spectacular (literally: they've made spectacles of themselves) that this would be an ideal time for Major League Baseball to take the unprecedented step of dressing its World Series participants in throwback uniforms. Consider some of the possibilities:

The 1982 White Sox vs. the 1975 Astros: Whoa, talk about your clash of titans! Nothing says "subtlety" like Chicago's gonzo beach-blanket stripe squaring off against Houston's tequila sunrise (the 1975 version of which had the added bonus of the bull's-eye uni number on the back). Possibly the only uni matchup that could challenge the 1979 Fall Classic -- when the bumblebee Pirates faced the tomato-can Orioles -- for the rank of World Series MVP (that's Most Visually Painful). Free sunglasses for all fans!

The 1976 White Sox vs. the 1962 Colt .45's: Uni Watch, for one, pines for the politically incorrect days when MLB players could wear a smoking gun on their jerseys. Or the quaint days when they wore wide-collared pajamas. Or that one very special day -- Aug. 8, 1976, to be precise -- when they wore shorts.

The 1979 Astros vs. the 1988 White Sox: Another classic confrontation: The only franchise ever to have worn uni numbers on the right pant leg vs. the only franchise ever to have worn them on the left pant leg (note that Floyd Bannister had the unfortunate distinction of pitching for both of them). Uni Watch can see the TV graphic now: "The Thigh's the Limit!"

The White Sox, incidentally, have a history of wearing special uniforms for the World Series. In 1917, after dressing like this in the regular season, they trotted out a punchier version for the Series (which they revived as a Sunday alternate uni in 2001). And in the 1959 Series, they lived up to their name by trading in their usual dark stirrups for special white stirrups (which reappeared in 1969, but with blue sanitaries).

The Astros have never been to the Series, natch, but they staked their claim to postseason uni eccentricity earlier this month, by wearing five different uniform combos in Games 1, 2, 3, 4, and 5 of the NLCS. They're already off to a good start in the Series, having worn two different uniforms in the first two games, and will wear at least one more now that the Series is shifting to Houston.

Other World Series tidbits:

• The umpires are wearing a "CW" sleeve patch (plus Joe West wore an additional patch on his chest protector in Game 1), in honor of former ump Charlie Williams, who died last month.

• Gee, ya think those cap and sleeve patches are big enough this year? And how come the one on the cap is different than the one on the sleeve? First time that's happened.

• Joe Crede, who wore Rawlings-branded socks in the ALCS, has been wearing them again in the Series. So 2005 will go down as the year that hosiery logo creep hit the Fall Classic -- ugh.

• In a less objectionable milestone, reader Brett Robertson points out that the Sox and 'Stros are among the handful of MLB teams whose caps make no reference to their home cities. By Uni Watch's reckoning, this marks the first time two teams with geographically indeterminate caps have faced each other in the Series since way back in 1931, when the St. Louis Cardinals, whose caps were blank in those days, met the Philadelphia Athletics. So no matter what happens in the remaining games, this Series is already historic.

Paul Lukas, a lifelong Mets fan, still hasn't fully recovered from the 2000 World Series (not because the Mets lost, but because they wore their horrific black jerseys in Games 1 and 4, and didn't wear their blue caps even once). His full-length "Uni Watch" columns run on alternating Thursdays, while "Uni Watch: Weekend Update" appears each Monday. Archives of his columns are available here, here and here. Got feedback for him, or want to be added to his mailing list? Contact him here.



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