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Cardinals break tradition, wear red tops in spring debut

I hadn't heard St. Louis Cardinals manager Mike Matheny say earlier this week that he was going to adopt a new policy when it comes to spring training uniforms.

So, as happy as I was to see the Redbirds back on the field in their first spring training game of the year, I was shocked to see the team decking out in... batting practice jerseys.

Matheny's philosophy is that players should have to earn the right to wear the team's game uniform by winning a spot on the regular season roster. So they'll hold back the good gear until when the games start to count.

It's a noble thought. But it puts traditionalists in a tight spot because while this is supposed to be all about reverence for the Birds on the Bat, in practice the Cardinals are sacrificing their beautiful, traditional game jerseys.

I've never been a fan of colored alternate tops like the Chicago Cubs and Milwaukee Brewers often wear. It stinks of a money grab that these clubs wear lots of different uniforms to they can sell more stuff in their team store. Plus, it waters down the identity on the field.

For decades the Cardinals have been identifiable at a glance with their crisp home whites with red caps and their subdued road grays with navy caps and flashes of red trim. When teams wear combinations of five different jerseys, it gets to the point where you can't tell one team from the next.

It's just spring training, you say? Well, I am a little bit afraid that this is an audition to see how fans will react. But then again, why would the Cardinals bother to fly a trial balloon? they didn't seem to care when fans came out in force in favor of keeping the blue road caps.

So... Here is  my thought: Let the rookies and the free agents wear their traditional Cardinals uniforms. But don't sew their names on the back of them until they've actually made the roster.