Bravo to Torres for putting safety first

Alex Torres told ESPN's "Outside the Lines" that he didn't want to wait for something to happen to him. Jake Roth/USA TODAY Sports

Man, you go on vacation for one measly week, and what happens? The uni-verse kicks into overdrive.

That's what happened last week, as there was uni-related news in all four of the major pro sports leagues, while your friendly uniform columnist happened to be off on a summer getaway.

Here's a quick rundown on the uni-centric news items that dropped last week, along with the official Uni Watch assessment of each one:

1. The padded pitcher's cap finally makes its MLB debut. Major League Baseball has been working on a padded cap to protect pitchers from line drives for a few years. On June 21, Padres reliever Alex Torres became the first pitcher to wear one. Here's some video that provides a good look at the cap and some amusing commentary from the broadcasters who were working the game:

Torres wasn't the first pitcher to try the cap on for size. Blue Jays right-hander Todd Redmond wore one during pregame warm-ups in April but didn't like it, and several Orioles pitchers gave the cap a pregame test drive on June 25. For now, though, Torres is the only player who has worn the cap in a game.

Uni Watch's take: Does the cap look goofy? Sure, and then some. But people initially said the same thing about batting helmets, earflaps, football face masks, hockey goalie masks, and lots of other gear we now take for granted. It's also worth noting that all of those protective elements underwent significant design evolution after some initial growing pains, and the same will probably be true of the protective cap.

Aesthetics notwithstanding, it's hard to criticize a player for protecting his head, so kudos to Torres for enduring the ridicule that comes with being a pioneer. Will other pitchers follow his lead? That remains to be seen, but he deserves credit for taking the first step.

Incidentally, several readers have asked why pitchers can't simply wear a flapless helmet, as base coaches do. The problem is that those helmets don't fit snugly enough to stay on during a pitcher's violent delivery. Something like a hockey helmet might work, but even that would likely require a chinstrap -- something no pitcher would want to deal with. For now, the padded cap is the best option.

2. The Ducks get new uniforms. No, not the Oregon Ducks -- the Anaheim Ducks, who used last week's NHL draft as a coming-out party for their new uniform set:

The new black home jersey is essentially the same as the alternate design that the team has been wearing since 2010, but with a few tweaks to the trim on the numbers, letters and collar, while the new home white design replaces the team's chest lettering with the web-foot crest and adds a shoulder yoke. For now, the team will go without an alternate jersey.

Uni Watch's take: Big upgrade. Except for the Rangers, hockey teams always look better with a big logo crest, not chest lettering, and ditching those awful swoopy stripes is a textbook case of addition by subtraction. As is so often the case in the NHL, the road design looks better than the home, but we're stuck with that until the league comes to its senses and goes back to having teams wear white at home.

3. The Giants add an anniversary patch. No, not the San Francisco Giants -- the New York football Giants, who've added a 90th-season patch (click on the photo link below and then click on it again to see a larger version):

Uni Watch's take: Eh. The design is OK, but "Xth Season" patches are never as good as "Xth Anniversary" patches. Do you celebrate the start of your 10th year of marriage? No -- you celebrate at the end of that year, which is your 10th anniversary. Couldn't the Giants have waited one more year before rolling out the patch?

Also, a patch for the 90th year (or anniversary, or whatever) feels a bit gratuitous. Have the discipline to wait until you hit the century mark.

Meanwhile, as long as we're talking about the Giants, they also announced that they'll once again be wearing their alternate white pants -- instead of their standard gray -- for two games this fall:

The white pants provide a good change of pace from the drab grays, so we count this move as a plus here at Uni Watch HQ.

4. The 76ers raise our hopes ... and then dash them. There was a big stir last week when a new Sixers secondary logo, featuring a mischievous-looking Ben Franklin dribbling (OK, palming) a basketball, leaked. But then a team source put the kibosh on that:

Uni Watch's take: It would be one thing if the team had said, "That? Never seen it before. Has nothing to do with us." But to admit that they actually considered it and then scrapped it? Ugh, what a mistake -- this would have immediately become the best logo design in the league. The only thing wrong with using it as a secondary logo is that it should be the primary logo.

Some observers have suggested that dribbling Ben would have looked too similar to the Knicks' old Father Knickerbocker character, but come on -- the Knicks rarely use that logo anymore, and most fans don't even know it exists. Besides, if the Atlantic Division isn't big enough for two old-timey mascot characters, let's have some sort of colonial-era basketball smackdown -- a game of H-O-R-S-E combined with a duel at 20 paces, say.

Meanwhile, three NBA teams -- the Celtics, Warriors and Kings -- are getting new secondary logos for real, but they're all snoozers compared to dribbling Ben. We can't let this great Sixers logo fall by the wayside. Free Ben Franklin!

Paul Lukas wonders what will happen the next time he goes on vacation. If you liked 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.