Heavy on the Hot Dogs: How Baseball Has Gone Soft

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Heavy on the Hot Dogs: How Baseball Has Gone Soft
(Photo by Jed Jacobsohn/Getty Images)

I remember watching Barry Bonds set up camp at home plate. He always looked like he needed oil—not so much for his joints, but for his armor.

That elbow "pad" he wore looked like a complicated device Leonardo da Vinci fashioned long ago when focusing on medieval weaponry.

Top that off with bionic batting gloves and super-sized wristbands, and you had what amounted to a Transformer.

I'm still not sure if he wore four regular wristbands or two industrial models. In any case, I always thought the ensemble looked ridiculous.

Steroids aside, I'd keep him out of the Hall for his accessorizing alone.

The fact that flashing the leather was a very literal case with him and his lackadaisical, one-handed grabs only lent credence to my vision of him as a Hot Dog, First Class.

Yeah, I know he backed up all that (bad) attitude with performance, but so did Ty Cobb, without all the fashion statements.

Sadly, Barry's look is the norm today rather than the exception.

I still haven't figured out the need for it all, other than it’s some kind of strange plumage to attract attention. I'd think standing at home plate in front of 40,000 fanatics would have that covered.

What happened to the pride associated with blisters and calluses and bruises? These guys have the hands of accountants.

And if wearing the flashy accessories wasn’t enough, you have the fidget factor to go with it as well. I'll cite Nomar Garciaparra of the Oakland Athletics and Skip Schumaker of the St. Louis Cardinals as Exhibits A & B.

Each pitch calls for a batter's box bail out, followed by a passion play with the batting gloves. If the at-bat lasts for 12 pitches, that’s 12 times the gloves are adjusted. Maddening.

It’s so refreshing to see a Jason Kendall come to the plate with nothing more than the tools he was born with. He almost looks naked.

In the field of accessorizing, we've got a whole lot of diamonds gliding around the diamonds as well. Jewelry galore. Gold. Stones. Studs.

Some of these guys look like Mr. T knock-offs.

I can’t see where a chain hanging around your neck can improve your performance at all. If I’m missing something, please feel free to clue me in. Seems like a bunch of fancy pants stuff to me.

Speaking of pants, I'm not so sure we shouldn’t call the lower half of today’s MLB uniforms trousers. Or more appropriately, pajamas.

What happened to elastic and stirrup socks? These uniforms look like Keep on Truckin’ bellbottoms from the '70s.

Doesn’t the definition of "uniform" mean they’re all the same?

Here’re a few MLB regulations concerning uniform pants:

* No alterations, writing, or illustrations are to be made to any part of the uniform.

* Players may not cut or in any way alter the Club-supplied outerwear.

* The elastic string may not be completely removed from the bottom of the pants.

* Pants may not extend below the top of the heel of spikes.

Seems pretty clear, yet it looks like pajama party sleepovers at stadiums around the league.

Of course, this is not to mention all the armor players wear. Wrists, elbows, shins, ankles, instep...who’s afraid to dive across the plate for an outside fastball when you’re contained in your own biosphere?

I guess I'm impossibly old school on the appearance issue, but I make no apologies for it.

Give me sweat and spit and dirt. Give me hook slides and complete games. Give me men who play a boy’s game but still require deodorant.

When I shake a player's hand, I want to be reminded of a carpenter, not The Carpenters.

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