On Major League Baseball’s Players Weekend and How We Can’t Have Nice Things

Michael Kay, one of the current Yankees television announcers, started his career on the radio. One of his known flourishes was to describe the Yankee uniform. He talked about the interlocking NY, and the fact that there were no names on the uniform, “of course.”

I liked it, as far radio routines go. His words were a reminder that the uniform was special, and not like others in sports, subject to the whims of fashion and concessionaires trying to gin up a few more bucks. The Yankees uniform was timeless and Kay’s words were a gentle reminder that not only were the Yanks going to kick your ass on the field, they were going to do so on the runway too.

So, suffice it to say, I was decidedly ambivalent about “Players Weekend,” which took place throughout Major League Baseball two weekends ago. All throughout the bigs, the players were dressed in uniforms that looked like a cross between what you wore in Little League and the beer league softball t-shirt you spend $12 on.

The nicknames on the back were silly and trying too hard – I’m sure they are fine in the locker room, but when you put them on the back of a jersey its just a reminder that ballplayers are kids. (Did Sonny Gray really want to be known as “Pickles”?)

The kids currently playing in the Little League World Series wouldn’t be caught dead in these things. (Although I did like the different colored bats, cleats, and other gear – that was cool. Anyone who tells me that Yadier Molina didn’t look great in gold catching gear during the All Star Game is a crazy person.)

The whole thing felt to me like something 55 year old financial guys come up with for 20-somethings to do and for 11 year olds to purchase. There was nothing authentic about it.

When I was a little kid, wearing the light blue mesh jersey of Barra’s Cafe, I would’ve given anything to have a real deal Yankees jersey. That’s the dream. In fact, when I moved up a level, the teams were named after their big league counterparts. I was on the Orioles, but what I would’ve given to have been on the Yankees. (Turns out those kids were arrogant jerks and we ended up beating them soundly in the playoffs. Hell yeah. I played third in an emergency because during the playoffs the real third baseman had a family vacation to Puerto Rico.)

We didn’t expect that the big leaguers would dress like us.

Sports are taken far too seriously. If a player wants to celebrate on the field go ahead. If they want to wear their hat crooked, knock yourself out. Pants to the ankles? If you dig it, fine with me. I like a little personality and expression. It is all entertainment, after all.

But the whole thing should look like Major League Baseball, not like a bunch 8-year-old kids playing right field.

-Steve

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