Sometimes MLB rolls out new caps for spring training. Sometimes it rolls out new jerseys for spring training.
This year it's doing both.
The new spring training gear, announced Thursday, adds a bunch of new wrinkles to Grapefruit League and Cactus League apparel. Here are the highlights:
All spring training caps will now have a side patch shaped like an Interstate highway route marker, reinforcing the notion of spring training as a winter travel destination. The patch for teams training in Florida will carry an "FL" designation; teams training in Arizona will have "AZ."
For some teams, the addition of the side patch is the only change being made. But several other teams have completely reworked their spring training headwear. You can see all of the designs in this slideshow. Here's a closer look at some of the more notable ones, along with some instant-reaction assessments:
Royals' new spring training cap is a winner, esp. now that they're the reigning World Series champs. Great design. pic.twitter.com/On1I4IKm5B— Paul Lukas (@UniWatch) January 28, 2016
Marlins color scheme looks more electric than ever on new spring training cap. pic.twitter.com/TMqwmL8trD— Paul Lukas (@UniWatch) January 28, 2016
Dodgers' new spring training cap features script "D" logo - first use of such logo in team history. Not bad! pic.twitter.com/74aXcPg5Dv— Paul Lukas (@UniWatch) January 28, 2016
Astros' rainbow stripes look sharp on the new navy spring training cap. Better contrast than on old orange design. pic.twitter.com/X9xjAv7uAt— Paul Lukas (@UniWatch) January 28, 2016
Blue Jays' new spring training cap: Simple, classic -- but maybe too easily mistaken for a Maple Leafs cap? pic.twitter.com/obE98FGoqa— Paul Lukas (@UniWatch) January 28, 2016
Tigers have 2 new spring training cap. One is navy, but get the sunglasses ready when they wear this orange design. pic.twitter.com/PNR6qgyDC3— Paul Lukas (@UniWatch) January 28, 2016
Padres adding yellow to home uniform color scheme this year, but not to spring training cap. Lame. pic.twitter.com/Kz2noUINZb— Paul Lukas (@UniWatch) January 28, 2016
Anything is preferable to Wahoo, but the block-C looks soooo plain, especially on Indians' new spring training cap. pic.twitter.com/9sivF7y9FV— Paul Lukas (@UniWatch) January 28, 2016
By the way, does the new Dodgers logo look familiar? You might have a flashback to the Chunichi Dragons from the 1992 movie "Mr. Baseball" -- or to last season's Oklahoma City farm team:
Dodgers new spring training cap logo was used last year by the Oklahoma City Dodgers. pic.twitter.com/iNtIhof1rK— Paul Lukas (@UniWatch) January 28, 2016
The "FL" and "AZ" cap logos will also appear on the spring training jerseys as right-sleeve patches.
The basic template of the jerseys has also changed. The colored piping on the collar and the contrasting underarm panels are gone -- addition by subtraction in both cases:
Comparison of old (left) and new spring training jersey templates. Piping on collar and underarm gussets now gone. pic.twitter.com/ZZ0Y7MYtEp— Paul Lukas (@UniWatch) January 28, 2016
The spring training jerseys also have a new feature -- or, really, a gimmick: All of the letters and numbers will now feature a potpourri of sublimated logos. Look closely and you can see the MLB logo, assorted spring training-related logos and more. This will likely be invisible on the field and on TV and is almost certainly being added only as an enticement for fans considering a retail jersey purchase:
New gimmick for spring training jerseys: Numbers/letters filled with assorted sublimated logos. pic.twitter.com/n21FnB9XQt— Paul Lukas (@UniWatch) January 28, 2016
Just as with the caps, some teams have stuck with their basic spring training jersey designs and others have gone back to the drawing board. You can see all 30 teams' designs here. Let's take a closer look at some of the new entries:
Love the new White Sox spring training jersey with the Veeck-era logo. pic.twitter.com/D55cJOWq2i— Paul Lukas (@UniWatch) January 28, 2016
Rays' new spring training jersey is strong. They should go ahead and make this their full-time cap logo, too. pic.twitter.com/hdevatFXaf— Paul Lukas (@UniWatch) January 28, 2016
No more old-timey "Reds" script for Cincy's spring training jersey - too bad. pic.twitter.com/GMzOoQAIsb— Paul Lukas (@UniWatch) January 28, 2016
MLB's uniform outfitter, Majestic, has rendered all of its jerseys in a new "Flex Base" fabric and tailoring system, which we will hear more about in the days and weeks to come. Expect to hear a lot of the same things that Nike and Adidas say when they unveil new football uniforms: The fabric is lighter, the seams and stretch panels allow for better performance and so on. Does it really make a difference, especially in a sport where the players spend most of the time standing still or slightly crouched? We'll see.
Paul Lukas is counting down the days to pitchers and catchers. 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.