First things first: Yes, they've finally brought back the brown. But only on a limited basis.
That's the mix of good and bad news for San Diego Padres fans who've been clamoring for the team to restore brown to its color scheme. The club's new uniform set, unveiled Tuesday, features an alternate home jersey based on the team's brown-and-gold look from the 1970s. It will be worn for Friday home games.
We'll get to that, but first let's take a look at the team's new set, one element at a time.
The new color scheme: The Padres are hosting next season's MLB All-Star Game. The logo for that game, which was released last summer, features blue and yellow, so that was widely assumed to be the team's new color scheme for 2016, and those assumptions have turned out to be correct:
There's nothing wrong with blue and yellow -- they pair well together. But they lack pizzazz, at least in the way that the Padres have deployed them in the new uniform set. And if there's one thing this visually characterless team desperately needs, it's some pizzazz. Changing from blue and "sand" (the official name of the previous accent color, although it was always hard to say it with a straight face) to blue and yellow feels too safe, too conservative. Grade: B
The new home uniform: Changing the "SD" cap logo from all-white to white and yellow is a major upgrade, and a great example of how making a very simple change can have a big visual impact:
The jersey is an improvement as well (the old "Padres" script never felt right), although going with a simple left-chest insignia feels like a bit of a cop-out:
Overall, not bad. Grade: B+, verging on A-
new same old road uniform: Hard to fathom the thinking behind this one, as they've decided to stick with the same design from the previous set, which was, and still is, an utter snooze:
Padres road uniform will remain unchanged. pic.twitter.com/6VxiCB98c4— Paul Lukas (@UniWatch) December 2, 2015
Why bother to unveil a new uniform set without revising your road uni? Why bother to introduce a new team color without including it on your road uni? A confoundingly disappointing move from a franchise that seems to specialize in them. Grade: D
The new retro home alternate: It's great to see the old brown-centric color scheme and the cap with the contrast-colored front panel, but the chest lettering feels uninspired:
Why not go with a throwback insignia from the 1970s? For that matter, why not include some brown piping on the pants, or maybe make the jersey a pullover instead of a button-front? Not bad, but this could have been better: Grade: B+
new same old road alternate: This is just the previous set's solid-navy alternate jersey, which was worn both at home and on the road, redesignated as a road-specific alternate:
Padres blue alternate jersey, previous worn at home and on road, will now be a road alternate. pic.twitter.com/MnKaMGh3mO— Paul Lukas (@UniWatch) December 2, 2015
Again, what's with the all the retreads, and why not showcase your new team color? Lazy and foolish -- a bad combination. Grade: D
The new camouflage alternate: For better or worse, the Padres kicked off the camouflage jersey trend in 1996. If you're keeping score at home, this new version -- which, like the previous design, they'll be wearing for Sunday home games -- is at least the fifth different camo design they've worn since then. And it throws a new wrinkle into the mix -- it's blue:
The new Padres uniform tops are here. Blue digital design modeled after Navy unis. Will be worn at home on Sundays. pic.twitter.com/LZQ8sAvP4F— Rachel Crader (@sdutRachel) December 1, 2015
As you can see in those tweets, the U.S. Navy does wear blue camouflage uniforms, so switching from olive and tan to navy isn't such a stretch. But the Padres' shade of blue doesn't seem to match the Navy's:
Upon closer inspection, the Padres' version looks, well, muddy. Not so bad if you're trying to camouflage yourself, but it doesn't look so great as a baseball uniform. Also, for some reason there are solid navy stretch panels running down the sides, which is the kind of thing that should be reserved for batting practice jerseys:
Maybe you have to live in San Diego -- a town with a strong military culture, especially regarding the Navy -- to "get" this one. But from here, it just looks like a mess. Grade: D+
Bottom line: The Padres will look better at home this season (well, except on Sundays), but they still have major challenges in their visual program.
Meanwhile, there's an additional detail worth noting. All MLB teams will be wearing the MLB logo on the back belt loop of their pants in 2016 (it already appears on the back of each cap and jersey), and the Padres' unveiling has provided our first peek at how that will look:
Padres unveiling provides our first look at the MLB logo on the back pants loop, which all teams will wear in 2016. pic.twitter.com/JQMPHw3hSQ— Paul Lukas (@UniWatch) December 1, 2015
It seems unnecessary, especially since MLB pants have no retail presence to speak of. At least MLB isn't putting its logo at the base of the uniform numbers, like soccer leagues do -- yet.
Paul Lukas will review the Arizona Diamondbacks' new uniforms when they're unveiled Thursday. 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.