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Georgetown University’s Newspaper of Record since 1920

The Hoya

Georgetown University’s Newspaper of Record since 1920

The Hoya

BLUMENFELD | MLB Hopes to Put More Balls in Play With New “Performance Wear” Uniforms

In this edition of “Rounding the Diamond,” Eli Blumenfeld (CAS ’25) mocks MLB’s new uniforms and calls for the league to resolve the see-through pants and small lettering, among other issues.
@apnews | The new MLB uniforms have drawn criticism from players and fans, especially due to the see-through pants.

Nike’s new “Vapor Select” uniforms, which players have donned for the first time this spring training, have recently drawn criticism on social media because of their increased price, their reliance on screen-printing instead of stitching and the smaller, more curved lettering on the back of the jersey.

Oh, and also — most importantly — the see-through pants. 

Philadelphia Phillies shortstop Trea Turner said that players dislike the change in uniforms. 

“I know everyone hates them,” Turner told the Associated Press. “We all liked what we had.” 

The new product, designed and engineered by Nike but manufactured by Fanatics, a manufacturing company which is the official licensing partner of several American professional sports leagues, has drawn criticism from Major League Baseball (MLB) fans as well. While the uniforms were first worn during last year’s All-Star game in Seattle, most fans didn’t seem to notice the difference until media day photos for the 2024 season were released, when many players’ undergarments and unmentionables were out for display.

In a recent press appearance, MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred claimed that the new jerseys are “going to be different but they have been tested more extensively than any jersey in any sport.” 

Some say that such thorough testing would have included some photographs, but I think MLB’s exhaustive product testing must have been fruitful. 

Yes, that’s right. MLB players and fans are all wrong about the league’s new uniforms. In fact, I think that MLB’s new uniforms have many benefits that most are just not thinking about yet. 

For example, the smaller lettering on the back nameplates of a player’s jersey could be part of MLB’s greater initiative to attract a younger audience, a topic I’ve discussed plenty in past editions of “Rounding the Diamond.” 

How so? Well, only those with the best vision, such as young people (and not elderly people dealing with cataracts), are able to see a player’s last name with the new jerseys. Naturally, this will help shift baseball to a younger demographic, as only young fans will know the names of the game’s brightest stars. 

Furthermore, I, for one, think it’s great that baseball is finally realizing that it’s a team sport. It’s entirely possible that the large lettering on the back of a jersey could distract a fan from the uniform’s front, where the team name is displayed. Luckily, these new jerseys will render it nearly impossible for the backs of the jerseys to be legible. It’s the definition of a win-win.  

As for the reported thinness of the new uniforms, I believe that this is yet another marketing success and display of business savvy by Nike and Manfred’s teams. The newfound scantiness of the uniform pants could lure in a potential undergarment sponsorship thanks to the increased product visibility, similar to Skims’ partnership with the NBA. Perhaps players will even be able to rake in sponsorship deals of their own, with advertisements on a player’s backside visible through their pants to be seen on television. 

Lastly, I believe that the new jerseys’ increased price point from $135 to $175 is simply part of the process of transforming MLB into a luxury brand akin to Balenciaga or Rolex, smartly forgoing its efforts of accessibility to maximize profits. As an economics major and teaching assistant, I can pretty confidently say that increased prices always lead to increased consumer demand. Thus, I’m sure that many consumers will be more than happy to fork over some extra cash for what is clearly a superior product. 

Okay, fine, I’m obviously joking with all of this nonsense. 

MLB’s new uniforms are a disgrace to the sport, especially given how aesthetically perfect they have been in recent years. Manfred’s limited attempts at swaying fans have proven worthless because most fans, much to his chagrin, have eyes. MLB, please, let’s sort out this nonsense before the start of the regular season before casual fans realize they can find better quality jerseys at the bookstore.

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    VikramMar 22, 2024 at 10:28 am

    Great piece- made me LOL (laugh out loud)