The University of Maryland's new football uniforms are a lot like oatmeal: You're either going to love them or hate them.
There seems to be no middle ground. On one hand, you have those that are infatuated with the new designs, citing their creative concept and homage to the state of Maryland. On the other, you have a much more vocal group that includes a contingent of people that absolutely hate the new concept, calling out the university for its blatant cry for attention or sellout to the uniform's creator, Under Armour.
Let's face it though. If nothing more, the uniforms certainly are interesting, and that was the intention. Without being a huge school, Maryland needed to find a way to get its name out to an audience, and if there is a better way than doing something controversial on national television versus a team that has been scrutinized for the last two months, I certainly can't think of it.
But what does any of this have to do with baseball? Well, there are a few teams out there that could benefit by taking a page out of the University of Maryland's playbook. While I'm not sure that uniforms crafted by Under Armour could ever be a good thing for baseball, the design is somewhat inspiring.
Just for kicks, let's take apart Maryland's football uniforms and apply some of the concepts to Major League Baseball teams. Not every concept will center around incorporating the state/city flag of each team's respective state, but more importantly, the blending of several different designs.
The Tampa Bay Rays are an interesting choice. They have an excellent front office that finds ways to develop Major League players year in and year out, but without a large budget or fan support, may be doomed to third place or lower for the foreseeable future. Many believe that the only way to actually save this franchise is by moving it out of Tampa Bay and as far away from Tropicana Field as possible.
That's not a simple solution though. Instead, let's focus on improving fan support. I posted the photo of first baseman Casey Kotchman on the right for a specific reason—it's boring. The Rays' uniforms are boring. Even with that sunshine-sparkle-thing on the "R," they're just not attractive. Believe it or not, there's such a thing as being too plain.
The question then becomes, "What can the Rays do to make their uniforms more appealing without making them too busy?" That is a fine line often crossed. One thing that the University of Maryland's new football uniforms did, unsuccessfully or not, was blend colors.
The Rays have a very interesting color palette. If they could somehow find a way to blend the different shades of blue (specifically the light, baby blue color, which just seems like a fit for baseball,) as well as that yellow from the sunshine-sparkle-thing, they could do something nice.
Their current uniforms say to me, "We aren't trying to be interesting." Give up on the traditional, boring whites. You're not a traditional franchise. With an enigmatic front office/manager duo, give the nontraditional a shot. Nothing ventured, nothing gained.
Even though it has little to do with the overall point I'm going to make here, I never quite understood why the Toronto Blue Jays went with the more modern, futuristic look a couple of years back when they introduced the metallic-looking logos and black uniforms. They've had great logos in the history of this franchise, highlighted by the one used during the early 90s, in my opinion.
It finally seems as though the franchise is ready to move away from the current logos, as there have been a few rumblings that a completely new set will be introduced for the 2012 season. Of course, the real question is whether or not the set will actually be "new." Many people are rooting, hoping and secretly praying for a return to those used during the glory days.
Regardless, one of the main reasons for the Jays' future uniform change revolves around the willingness to incorporate more of their Canadian heritage into the concept. Whether or not that means actually using the Canadian flag is yet to be seen, but a Maryland-like scheme would certainly be the way to do it.
I'll leave the actual design up to the imagination, but what I'm thinking is something with a whole lot of red and white and a lot less black.
For a team with a lengthy history, the Chicago White Sox sure aren't afraid to try something new every now and then. That said, there shouldn't be a pressing need to change anything right now. They have a bold, clean design that a lot of people around the game like. Even with that in mind though, it seems like a lot of White Sox fans around the game all want one thing:
If the University of Maryland's football uniforms showed us anything, it's that blending colors can lead to an interesting result. The White Sox, who wear their black uniforms for a lot of home games, could do a lot of interesting things by reintroducing some red into the color scheme.
Be it on the sleeves, outlining the logo and numbers or something completely different, the opportunities are endless for the White Sox should they choose to move into the future with a bit of the past.
It's hard not to suggest that the Kansas City Royals add more gold to their color scheme without thinking of that atrocity on the left, so allow me to go on the record as saying that what I'm picturing looks nothing like that. That said, I think there is a lot of potential for a new Royals' uniform with a gold coloring.
I don't think there's much of a need to explain why a bit of gold would be good for the Royals, so allow me to impose a question instead. With Maryland's football uniforms in mind, how would some mixture of the Royals' dark blue home uniforms and a solid gold color look?
There's really nothing wrong with the Texas Rangers' current set of uniforms. I'm sure there are some traditionalists out there that would rather they display "Rangers" on their home uniforms, as opposed to "Texas" on both the home and road jerseys, but I think that constitutes as nitpicking. The uniforms are nice.
One of the main features of the new University of Maryland uniforms is, of course, the proud tribute to the flag of the state of Maryland. Anyone who has seen a collection of flags of different states knows that you won't be able to make a Major League jersey out of most of them, but the state of Texas represents one of the lone exceptions.
While the team has displayed homage to its namesake in different ways over the years, you have to admit, seeing the state flag turned into some type of uniform is an interesting thought. The flag, which has somewhat of a retro feel to me, would probably be an atrocious home uniform, but as an alternate? Well, it could be worth a shot.
Don't recognize that guy to the left? Well, that's Charlie Hough, a 25-year Major League veteran who threw the first ever pitch for the Florida Marlins franchise, and while that's all rainbows and butterflies, the only real reason he is on this slide is because of that awesome uniform he is rocking from the early 90s.
Now excuse me if I sound a bit bitter here, but it's because I am. When the Marlins move into their brand new stadium next season, it's just about a foregone conclusion that they'll be getting new uniforms. Where they're going to go with those uniforms is anyone's guess, and I've seen speculation from incorporating the colors of the city of Miami's flag to using the numerous colors composing the logo for the Marlins' Ballpark.
Of course, with either of those concepts, the University of Maryland's football uniforms seem to be an easy comparison. While I agree that the Marlins need to spice up their uniforms a bit, and that light orange color could do them some good...
Bring back the teal for goodness sake!
For the life of me, I just don't understand why they would want to do away with such an awesome, unique color, specifically to the MLB. There is so much potential for that teal color, hinted with a bit of orange and black.
Use Maryland's football uniforms as a reference point and give the people a uniform they'll be proud to represent.
Ah, the New York Mets. Where to begin?
Let me just start by saying that the slew of uniforms the Mets wear are a lot like the team itself: It looks like there is a lot of potential there, but when they start playing the games, you can see how wrong you were. With one of the most recognizable logos in all of sports, you would think that they would be able to pull off great uniforms with ease.
Well that's certainly not the case.
I think that a lot of the hate for the Mets' uniforms comes with the ridiculous numbers of sets they wear. Going to a game is kind of like musical chairs. You can go to five different games, sit in a different seat, and get a different result (uniform) every time.
Just at home, the Mets have worn their white tops, white with blue pinstripes, cream tops, cream with pinstripes, black tops, blue tops (pictured on the left for Spanish Heritage Night) and they've even worn batting practice uniforms! Add those worn on the road and you can see the problem.
What the Mets need to do is simplify, and adopting a concept like the football uniforms of the University of Maryland could help solve that. Ignoring the fact that blue and orange should never have shared a color palette (I mean really. It vibrates like crazy), I realize that those colors make the Mets.
Instead of wearing a different uniform for every day of the week, the Mets need to sit down and come up with a concept that satisfies all of their color needs, resulting in three uniforms: a home, home alternate and a road set. That's all you need!
The University of Maryland blended colors well. The Mets can do it too!
The Washington Nationals are sort of in the same boat as the New York Mets, but to a much lesser extent. Since they made the move back to Washington in 2005, the team has used a number of different uniforms and combinations. A lot of times, change for the sake of change isn't the best of ideas. The Nats should try for a bit more simplicity and consistency as well.
In 2011 alone they've used four different sets: home and road uniforms as well as a pair of alternates, one red, one dark blue with that ridiculous flag-patterned "curly W" on the chest (the concept is great, the execution is overkill). Moreover, there is nothing wrong with their basic home and road uniforms. Except for a few minor details, they're not bad.
It's the alternate uniforms that the team can do away with, replacing the pair with one alternate uniform that pays homage to the nation's capital. Like I said on the Texas Rangers' slide, there aren't many teams that can pull off a flag-based uniform, but the Nationals can.
The flag of Washington, D.C. is a very simple design, with two red stripes separated by a white stripe and three red stars at the top. I'm certainly no designer (something worth repeating), but there is definitely a bit of wiggle room for a uniform design concept in that flag. It just takes some creativity.
The next two slides are going to be closely related for reasons that have yet to become obvious, but will be a lot like both the Maryland football uniforms and oatmeal—you're either going to love these ideas or hate them. First, let's focus on the Houston Astros.
Once a proud franchise, the Astros have fallen on hard times, set to eclipse the 100 loss mark for the 2011 season. With talented prospects stacked within the farm system, a return to competitive baseball is only a matter of time. Baseball in Houston is not dead—just hibernating. The current set of uniforms, however... Well those might as well be dead.
The current set, from the logo to the script, is just plain boring. The color scheme abandons the team's roots, which of course come from relating to the stars, space and all things astronomy. It's time for a complete re-branding. After all, the Astros are a team simply waiting to be reborn. They're in development, if you will. So where do we start?
A lot of Astros fans have been calling for a return to the past, and while the color uniform being modeled by Nolan Ryan on the left is less than awe inspiring, there are many great aspects of the uniforms that have come to be known as the "Tequila Sunrise" that we can draw from.
Imagine something less intense, but with a similar color scheme. Imagine a home uniform that was mostly white, but was accented with different shades of red, orange and yellow. After all, the Astros were never meant to be a simple team. The name is bizarre and represents an aspect of life we'll never be able to understand.
I've never been a fan of giving baseball jerseys football-like shoulder stripes, but the Astros are one team that can pull it off, with a great design. The real question is, are they the right team to wear something as colorful as a tribute to the "Tequila Sunrise?"
What I'm about to suggest is nothing short of crazy, but we all need to be a little crazy to get by in today's world, right?
I've never been a big fan of the new Arizona Diamondbacks' uniforms. They have that modern feel that everyone loves and a standard color scheme. That's great. Maybe it's such a drastic change from the old teal and purple they became known for that I just haven't become fully acclimated to them. Whatever the reason, it's just not my taste.
But that's not the issue. I don't even know where to begin changing them.
What I want to do is introduce a new concept all together; maybe used as an alternate jersey, maybe a promotion or maybe something new entirely. On the last slide, I alluded to a team being better suited to wear a colorful jersey. Well here they are. The Arizona Diamondbacks.
With one of the most colorful flags of any state in the United States, imagine the D'backs wearing the flag of Arizona in some sort of tribute fashion. It took me a moment to wrap my arms around, but when you think about it, there are some interesting concepts on that flag.
Maybe, we can do away with the blue base, place a star in the middle of a white jersey and have the red and yellow stripes angle back. It would certainly be interesting.
With such a controversial topic at hand, I'm interested in your thoughts. As I stated over and over again, you're either going to love or hate the University of Maryland's football uniforms, so I expect the same type of concept would apply here.
Would you be interested in seeing baseball teams wear crazy uniforms? Is there a team that I didn't mention that you could see doing something out of the ordinary, or am I just an all out loon?
Leave your comment below and we'll discuss!