Cheap Seats

ESPN: Cardinals uniforms second best in MLB

ESPN gives the Cardinals second place accolades in their ranking of the best uniforms in major league baseball.

According to the piece, only the Dodgers have nicer dud. The Yankees, who may have the best known uniforms in professional sports, came in third. Writer Jim Caple notes that that the most successful franchises in baseball have generally changed their uniforms very little over the years.

1) Dodgers: According to Caple, the Dodgers uniforms are "as dazzlingly gorgeous as Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie's children will be." Um.... okay. Did we have to take something as pure and all-American as baseball uniforms and make it creepy right off the bat? Still, the Dodgers do have some pretty nice get-ups. I liked them best a couple of years ago when they took the names off the back and let the numbers speak for themselves. Since numbers are supposed to help fans identify the players, I never understood why you need numbers AND names on players' outfits. 

2) Cardinals: I wonder how many times Albert Pujols has looked down this spring and been shocked not to see the birds on the bat on his chest. With all due respect to Caple, I think the Cardinals uniforms are better than the Dodgers. The logo on the front is better. And the red just pops more than boring old blue. I especially like the contrast between the Redbirds' home and away duds. The white and red makes a bold statement at home. On the road, there is something about the subdued gray and navy blue with a smattering of bold red in the stirrups and the sleeves of players' undershirts.

3) Yankees: When Tiffany and Co. designs your logo, it's pretty hard to argue that it's not one of the best. The Yankees cap is the purest and most iconic in baseball and their pinstriped uniforms have set a trend that many teams have tried less successfully to copy. It's funny to me when players who used to toil for the Cubs, Phillies or Mets find themselves with the Yankees and announcers say "we'll see how they look in pinstripes." I guess those other clubs' pinstripes don't count.

4) Tigers: It's hard to argue with the Tigers home uniforms as being one of the best in baseball, although the team has done some goofy things in the past with it's road outfits, especially the caps. I like the traditional ones with "Detroit" across the front in navy blue script.

5) Twins: The Twinkees made biggest uniform improvement in baseball last year going from that tired pinstriped outfit from the late 80s to a more classic style that reminds me a lot of the Cardinals use of red and blue between home and the road. Those new get ups were only suposed to be alternate uniforms. The team ought to ditch the Homer Dome era outfits in favor of the throwbacks fulltime.

Rounding out the top 10 of the list were the Pirates at 6, the Giants at 7, the Marlins at 8, the White Sox at nine and the Cubs in tenth. At the bottom of the barrel were the Rockies (26), Nationals, (27), Rays (28), Indians (29) and Padres (30.)

I have some pretty major disagreements with the list.

First, I think the Marlins' new uniforms are absolutely nasty. And it's a shame because I really liked the previous generation. It's far too obvious for teams from Florida to go with pastels or other overly happy colors because of the areas reputation as a vacation haven. The Marlins went through an early awkward stage with a bunch of teal in the mix before phasing it out in favor of black and silver used in a way that made the uniforms a modern classic. Change your name to Miami if you must. But the black caps with the Marlin jumping in front of the F were the best of the expansion teams that gave us ugly uniforms in Colorado, Tampa and Arizona.

While the Marlins were given too much credit for their over the top, art deco inspired new uniforms, I believe one of the great traditional uniforms of baseball has been overlooked.

The Giants deserve to be right up there with the Cardinals and Yankees for their cream colored home uniforms with the traditional black and orange block lettering on the front. My problem with San Francisco is its unfortunate decision to add a third jersey that looks like it should be worn by a highway construction worker. The traditional block letters and numbers are there. But instead of cream, the color is day-glo orange. Some of that foul coloring has spilled onto the bills of the alternate road cap. Gross. Keep them simple and they're amongst the best in the game.

Other notes:

While I am generally opposed to alternate jerseys, I am a big fan of the Phillies' third uniform with the traditional blue cap with a red bill and no pin stripes on the tops or pants. I'm not a big fan of the everyday uniforms they wear. It's not that I am offended by them, they just don't do very much for me. If I was in charge, the alternate would become the everyday outfit.

The Mets were one of the first teams in baseball to ride the wave back to a more traditional styled uniform back in the early nineties. But they let a lot of nastiness creep in with more alternates than one could shake a Louisville Slugger at, especially the black tops. Seriously, who puts a black uniform on a team that plays outside in the heat of summer? The Mets have started to wear their more traditional uniforms -- including an all-blue cap -- more often lateley. Hopefully it is a trend that will start to pick up momentum. Unfortunately, Clubs like Atlanta have started to slide the other way, picking up over the top caps and tops that subtract from their otherwise classy uniforms.

Teams that are ready for a uniform overhaul: Houston, Seattle, Tampa Bay and, especially, Milwaukee.