MLB’s New Uniforms Continue To Suck Ass

Major Leaguers spent spring training in a state of muted disbelief, grumbling about the cheap, diaperesque uniforms with tiny nameplates unveiled by Nike and Fanatics for the 2024 season. Some players accepted the shitty future, while others pleaded for someone to do something before the regular season began. The Royals used an exemption to play a few spring training games with the old full-sized lettering, before being told to switch back. It’s too late now. These ugly things are part of meaningful baseball games.

With the distribution of these Nike Vapor Premier jerseys, MLB has failed to fulfill the definition of “uniform.” The Angels, Cardinals, Dodgers, Mets, Nationals, Phillies, Reds, Tigers, Twins, White Sox, and Yankees appear to have all played games in mismatched road greys. In this case, we know which of MLB’s two jersey partners to blame.

Per a report from The Athletic last week, Fanatics printed (terribly) on fabric shipped to Pennsylvania and manufactured by Nike-approved vendors. The reason for the mismatched jerseys and pants is because they’re made by separate vendors. From the article:

Different fabrics accept dye differently, and different vendors have slightly different dying processes. Previously, the pants and shirts were cut from similar fabric that was manufactured and dyed at the same factory, making dye differences minimal.

The person said Fanatics raised concerns to Nike this winter about the varying gray tones. In most cases, the person said, Nike said it fell within their window of variance and instructed Fanatics to use the fabric.

The Athletic

Regardless of the shade of gray, the thin fabric cannot handle the sweat of a pro athlete. This was very obvious for the Yankees as the season began; pitcher Marcus Stroman told The Athletic that he felt like the new jerseys “retain water rather than kind of wicking it off.” And we’re still only in April.

While Fanatics is not responsible for the fabric itself, Michael Rubin and his embarrassment of a company should not feel any relief. Teams have started to introduce their City Connect jerseys in the recent weeks, and questionable design choices aside, some of these alternates haven’t even shipped yet. The Brewers and Rangers were each supposed to wear City Connect jerseys in the past week, though they had to swap back to normal home kits because Fanatics had not delivered them. Back on March 31, the Mariners said they hadn’t yet received their cream-colored alternates. The Cardinals reportedly won’t have either of their Saturday alternate jerseys until June because of delays. According to what a Fanatics rep told USA Today, this shouldn’t have come as a surprise to the teams, as they were supposed to tell Fanatics when they wanted shipments of each uniform. It’s a little difficult to believe that the error in communication lies with multiple Major League teams, rather than the company notoriously known for delivering wrong and unwanted merchandise for years now.

Wherever the blame lies, players are still sick and tired. Mets outfielder Brandon Nimmo has been somewhat radicalized by the drop in quality:

“But that’s what happens, right?” said Nimmo, when shown a before-and-after photo of the Braves’ uniforms. “Let’s say your local woodworker is making something. They’ll put a lot of attention to detail, it’s handmade, it’s a good, quality product. As soon as it becomes manufactured — like, big time — usually they start cutting the corners: ‘OK, we don’t need this detail, we don’t need that detail. We just need this product to work and we can sell it for the same price and just mass produce it.’

“It was Majestic before. It was a smaller company. They’d mainly dealt with baseball. Then you get a worldwide company that’s worth billions and billions of dollars. And most of the time, they have to answer to somebody who’s all about the bottom line, and they’ve got to make this profitable. I don’t know the whole story, but I just know how business works.”

The Athletic

And if you’re looking for a more visual reaction, observe Angels pitcher Carlos Estévez’s wistful expression when he was recently asked to autograph one of the old jerseys:

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