Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Major League Miscues

By Bowen Hobbs

Washington Natinals? Yes, on April 17, 2009, Ryan Zimmerman and Adam Dunn (pictured) were Natinals, thanks to a typo on their jerseys. It ended up being a pretty big story, with the Nationals being the butt of quite a few jokes. But they weren't the only ones to have committed such an offense.

Within the last week, the Wizards have had two noticeable uniform oddities. On Saturday night Washington called up Mustafa Shakur from the D-League, and didn't have much time to get a jersey ready for him. So his front number was very curiously spaced and his name and back number were far too low. Not to mention his name wasn't arched very smoothly. This uniform miscue is particularly odd because of everything that went wrong on one jersey. But Shakur wasn't the only Wizard with uniform issues. Just two days later big man Kevin Seraphin was seen on the court with his shorts on backwards, which looked especially weird because the Wizards only have a swoosh on one side of their uniforms. There's no way he could have pulled it off. With a more symmetrical uniform design, he may have had a shot.

In hockey, Rob Niedermayer skated around for three games with his name spelled wrong. Jeff Francoeur of the Royals had his E and U reversed for a game when he was with the Braves. The Rockies haven't been perfect either. And Kevin Williams had his A and I swapped. Danny Jennings of West Virginia had his double-N in the wrong spot this season as well. Also in the college ranks, Shane Southwell had some mixed up lettering on his nameplate. And last season Zaza Pachulia, whose name is relatively easy to spell, had this mutation of his last name. But how does someone screw up the name of a sports legend? Just ask Wayne Gretkzy.

There's also another common type of miscue: the team/city name typo. While screwing up an athlete's last name is a mistake, it is generally not as bad since it's usually just one player, and in some cases, the names are difficult in the first place. But team/city miscues are worse because whoever is doing quality control should know how to spell the single word they see on an entire group of jerseys. Also, team name typos usually occur at the manufacturer, while individual player names are sewn on by an independently contracted seamster or seamstress. Large manufacturers should have more levels of quality control. The Natinals debacle falls squarely in the team/city typo category. Joe Carter had to wear a classic example of a team/city typo once. Last year, Nike misspelled Kentucky on John Wall's jersey. Luckily the jersey was only used for a photo shoot. And Eugenio Velez spent a brief one game stint in San Francicso, which isn't far from Minnestoa. And once upon a time in Anaheim (as opposed to Los Angeles of Anaheim), there was a team called the Angees. And women's sports aren't immune to miscues either, as seen in this picture from the fine city of Milaukee.

Yet some miscues fail to fall into either category. For example, the stitcher for the Washington Redskins was channeling the bus when lettering Ladell Betts's jersey. I'm not sure how a backwards letter doesn't jump out at someone. This one's nitpicky, but here goes. Do you see it? Look at this jersey for comparison. Still not seeing it? The number font for #30 is MLB Block, while A-Rod's jersey has the correct block number font. Shakur's isn't necessarily a typo, it's just extermely poor craftsmanship. However, in my research, I cam across this gem of a miscue. That's Ted Kluszewski, although you'd never know it from the backward Z and X for a K. Two typos in one name? Epic typo.

But the most celebrated typo in jersey history is the one that happened twice. Mike Alstott had a typo on his jersey his rookie year. It was a standard last name miscue. But the Buccaneers, decided to honor Alstott by putting the miscue on a jersey plaque for a retirement gift. Congratulations Mike Alsott. Your hard work and dedication will be remembered.

Jersey typos are a part of life. With the proliferation of alternate jerseys and expansions teams, there are more jerseys to manufacture and then personalize. Plus, the typos add an extra little nuance to games and remind us that it is, after all, just a game.

In Other News… The Cavs wore their 2010-11 CavFanatic uniforms over the weekend… UW Green Bay unveiled throwbacks based on this design. The black swoosh looks a little ridiculous; it should have been red… The San Diego Padres just unveiled their new military alternate uniforms… Speaking of the Padres, their former Triple-A affiliate (Portland Beavers) were forced from their home by the MLS's Portland Timbers, an expansion franchise. They have moved to Tuscon, at least temporarily, and they have a new logo. Ladies and gentlemen, the Tuscon Padres… Chad Ochocinco is no more. He's going back to Chad Johnson

Designer's Corner
Sticking in the SEC, this week's design is for the Auburn Tigers, National Champions. Auburn has a lot of tradition, so I didn't want to deviate too much from their current scheme. However, Their striping is painfully inconsistent, and the jersey stripes are named after another school (they are called Northwestern Stripes). More on that later. I tweaked the proportions of Auburn's primary logo and added a serif to the top of the A. I used the proportions of the A to develop the two wordmarks. I also have a tiger-striped version of the primary logo as an alternate option.

Back to the uniforms: I made the striping consistent across all backgrounds (white–navy–tiger–navy–white). On white the outer stripes bleed directly into the background, which was a better option than swapping the navy and white, like the team currently does. This is because of the tiger-striped patter nin the stripes, which I find helpful in enhancing the tiger motif. The player names on the backs of the jerseys are rendered in the different color from the numbers to provide less contrast. This places more emphasis on the numbers and less on the names, which aren't truly necessary information. I added options for navy pants and orange jerseys as well. The fauxbacks combine two eras of Auburn football with the four-striped sleeves and the smaller front numbers. I also wanted to replicate the feeling of leather helmets and the tan pants seen on many old-school uniforms, but I didn't want to replicate the Packers and mismatch the helmet and pants. So I split the difference and used a hue that is roughly half way between the khaki and brown the Packers used. I think it works very well with the navy and orange.

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