Saturday, December 24, 2011

2012 Toronto Blue Jays

The Toronto Blue Jays have been one of my favourite teams in baseball and I've been following them fairly closely since the late 90's, but unfortunately for the team that's when things started to get weird. Although people are familiar with the team's most recent uniforms, most people just can't help but think of their original logos and uniforms when they look at the team, and this is how people assume they should be and fulfills the comfort level for the fanbase. Much like the San Diego Padres, the fanbase in Toronto would in a majority wear the old logos, jerseys, and caps over the current uniforms, so by the 2012 season the team gave the fans what they have been asking for.

The Toronto Blue Jays have had a rich history in Toronto and after going back-to-back in World Championships in 1992 and 1993 the team was hurt fairly badly due to the 1994 MLBPA strike that struck the sport causing the last 6 weeks of the season and the cancellation of the World Series. The Toronto Blue Jays are one of the more well known and more successful expansion teams that have come about in Baseball, and they continue to fall into the shadows of the American League East.

Following the strike attendance was down and the team felt that they needed to change the uniforms slightly to get more people interested in the team and a few slight changes were made to over emphasize the Canadian Maple Leaf, but unfortunately the uniform changes weren't enough to take the bad taste of baseball greed out of their mouths and the team continued to stumble. The team was more than less thought of as a failure which didn't allow them to finish anywhere better than 3rd place in the American League Eastern Division, and much like the previous late decade there was little interest in the team.

Following the 2003 season, the uniforms were such a failure that they were changed immediately, the fanbase felt disconnected and the ownership wasn't doing much to keep them interested in the team. Following roaring Steroid Era in baseball it seemed like the Toronto Blue Jays needed to change their image to a juicing bird holding a bat with the Canadian Maple Leaf tattooed on his arm; by the way, since when did birds have arms? The general consensus in Toronto and it's fanbase hated the uniforms but they looked at them with a blind eye because they just felt that the uniforms weren't that far off, but weren't so drastic to get truly upset about them although the uniforms were not what they were used to or what they wanted. With a new year in place the team attempted to change the uniforms once again, but this was a complete uniform reconstruction that removed all history of the original uniforms and created a more stylish and modern look. The fans were no longer interested, the team had a difficult time getting people into the stadium and the Blue Jays were hurting more than a large majority of the MLB teams.

For the first time the Blue Jays walked onto the field without the Canadian Maple Leaf on their uniform at all on Opening Day for the 2004 season, this was extremely disturbing to the Toronto Fan Base, especially since the Expos left the nation two years later; by 2009 the team began wearing a Maple Leaf patch on their jersey shoulder. These new uniform logos consisted of a sharp Blue Jay's bird head coming out of the stylized “J” which led many of the old time fans to call them the J-Birds, which hints at what they thought of the team. The original hats that were worn for home were a base grey and the away were a base black, but this only lasted for two seasons in which the grey was retired and the black was made their home and away cap, and a stylized “T” logo was made as an away alternative cap.

During the later part of the decade the team began to wear throwbacks to the uniforms prior to 1997 and they were a huge hit for the team, the fanbase loved them and for the first time in Toronto history the stadium began to fill up once again. Following the 2011 season the team promised to put Blue back into Blue Jays, and that's exactly what they had done. No longer were the dominant colours Grey and Black, but were once again Blue and White. The uniform scheme borrowed heavily from their original roots and modernized them creating one of the freshest caps in the MLB and many consider this to be the best On-Field cap that is currently on the market. The cap is a base Navy Blue and utilizes a familiar logo on the front, which is a modernized version of the original team logo.

The front embroidery of the cap is one of the freshest currently in baseball, it utilizes many different levels to create multiple details that would have been previously ignored in earlier years. The bird's blue jay is outlined with a white boarder which flows into the head of the bird, which creates three different layers of stylized feathers that are held in place between the raised embroidery of the black beak and neck area along with the blue crest. The Canadian Maple Leaf is also raised embroidery and tits itself right behind the bird's head, this portion of the cap also utilizes its own white outline much like the logo all together, but it's outline is layered higher than the original and overlaps rather than blends. This style of embroidery permits the Canadian Maple Leaf to subtly emit its dominance in the logo without over-sizing it or giving it strange placements much like the past few uniform changes.

The 2012 Toronto Blue Jays cap quickly became one of my favourite MLB On-Field Caps and I hunted for the cap up until I finally was able to pre-order it on the website Minor Leagues Major Dreams (item #9432512). Being a Toronto Blue Jays fan it is extremely refreshing to see the logo, especially because the previous uniform incarnations were either downright stupid and/or embarrassing. Being in Las Vegas and a current season ticket holder of the Triple-A Affiliate of the Toronto Blue Jays, the Las Vegas 51s, the upcoming season should be extremely exciting to see the new logo take over the current team and hopefully spark interest in changing Las Vegas' current team and uniform.

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Miami Marlins Road

I apologize for not posting in a few days, but I have been doing finals at school and whatnot, now that they are all done I'll have more time to put towards my blog.

As we all know the Florida Marlins are a thing of the past and the Miami Marlins have become the new force to be reckoned with in the National League East. With the change we saw some pretty drastic uniform alterations which completely changed their colour scheme from a Black and Teal oriented scheme to something much more “Miami.”

When the caps came out I looked everywhere for them in stores and online, but unfortunately only the flagship stores and local Florida locations were able to get them, and slowly they trickled out to stores such as Lids by November but hit the online MLB Shop stores by October, and through the internet I was able to acquire the Away Cap.

The Away Cap for the Miami Marlins is a base Orange which New Era describes as “Mandarin,” and the logo on the front is one of the few MLB logos to cover quite a large portion of the front two panels. The “M” is in an art deco style which is a solid white raised embroidered “M” outlined with yellow, blue, and orange which is then outlined with a thin later of black and a similar layer of silver. Coming out of the side of the script and raising above it is the Marlin's new incarnation of the fish that is completed with the same silver and black embroidery, but only inverted.

When the Marlins had announced that they were changing uniforms and displayed a few teaser images I can say that I wasn't impressed, but when the final result was leaked I thought it was quite interesting and looked great on a New Era Cap. The Road Cap differs from the home by the base colour only, and personally I think that this cap is just too orange and will be used as either an alternative or retired in a few years; black will be the dominant colour in South Florida.

Monday, December 12, 2011

Casper Ghosts

When it comes to Minor League Baseball, teams generally have absolutely no fear in the way they name their teams, design their logos, insane mascots, or submit their fans to the wackiest promotions, for that I salute them. For if it were not for Minor League Baseball's inability to feel shame, we would not have such great logos on New Era caps that we currently have, instead we could possibly have just the same blend that we see in Major League Baseball, even though they are always respectable.

One of my favourite Minor League Baseball logos is the city of Casper, which decided to take the play on words and emulate the name of that old cartoon that we've all probably seen at least once in our lifetimes, Casper the Friendly Ghost. Casper, Wyoming didn't think their logo needed to be all that friendly though, and through the process of taking the city's name and putting it through the mind of an eight year old we are submitted to the magic embroidered below.

The Casper Ghosts originated as the Butte Copper Kings in Butte, Montana, but the team ended up in its current location of Casper, Wyoming until 2001 when they became the Single-A Affiliate of the Colorado Rockies, but the team was then known as the Casper Rockies. After 7 solid seasons as the Casper Rockies the creativity set in and come opening day of 2008 the Casper Ghosts hit the field.

The embroidered on the front of the cap for the Casper Ghosts is a fierce skull-like face which represents the ghoul, along with this is a simple baseball stitching on the top which makes it appear as if it's a baseball. The background and outline of the logo is embroidered with a shading technique that creates a haze giving the cap an eerie look to it.

One of the most simple and unique aspects of the cap that won't be appreciated until it dawns upon the viewer is the fact that when viewed in the dark a “G” appears due to the glow-in-the-dark threading used for the certain area. The hidden “G” in the hat is what really takes this cap up a notch, and really adds to the cool factor.

As of the end of the 2011 season, the Casper Ghosts will be moving out of their ballpark of Mike Lansing Field and will relocate to Suplizio Field in Grand Junction, Colorado. This move will effectively kill the team name and the brief history the team had, and the team will revert back to the name Rockies. The team called the Casper Ghosts were short lived, and I'm sure they will be missed.

Is that the Pizza Hut symbol in purple and grey?

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Milwaukee Brewers

The Milwaukee Brewers, like the Toronto Blue Jays, went through a 90's with a lack of identify, and saw a pair of logo changes before they finally settled on something that they found fitting for their group. However unlike the Toronto Blue Jays, the Milwaukee Brewers most recent uniform and logo change were very classy and respectable, and didn't require “finding one's self” re-haul a decade later.

The most famous of the Milwaukee Brewers classic logo consisted of a modest blue and yellow colour mixture, the logo itself was a personal mystery to myself up until a few months ago, much like the MontrĂ©al Expos, I couldn't read between the lines to learn the true meaning behind the logo, and I know many people have been the same way regarding the two. The logo appears to be just a baseball glove, but it in actuality is an “m” and a “b” making the letters corresponding to the team *m*ilwaukee *b*rewers. From a design standpoint, this is extremely sophisticated, but it's unfortunate that the logo was a mystery to so many, and most likely still is.

In 1994, Major League Baseball adopted a new expanded playoff system which forced the original playoff format to change thus creating two new divisions, which forced the Milwaukee Brewers to switch from the old American League East Division to the newly formed American League Central Division. During this transition, the Brewers made a move to rebrand their team which completely changed their uniform scheme and base team colours, the changes moved from the pale blue and yellow to a gold, green, and navy blue scheme. The caps that came with the new team consisted of the M and B which were stylized to interlock within each other which were abruptly retired in 1996 and replaced with just a taller version of the “M”. The new logo was utilized briefly while still in the American League, but with the expansion of baseball to create the Arizona and Tampa Bay franchises, the Brewers voluntarily moved to the National League Central.

Following the 1999 season, the Milwaukee Brewers had become excited with anticipation of the completion of the construction of Miller Park, and a brand new rebranding of the team had formed. The team kept the current colour scheme to a point, but dropped green completely from their uniforms, hats, and logos.

These are the caps that the team still wears to this day, and they are one of the classiest and most unique caps in all of baseball. The caps are a base Heather Grey with a white stylized “M” which is outlined with gold, and underlined with a gold embroidered stalk of wheat which echos the team name with its symbolism. These caps are worn both home and away by the team and is mimicked on their batting helmets extremely accurately.

In my personal opinion, these are some of the best On-Field Fitteds that are currently being worn in Major League Baseball, they are some of the most intriguing caps that exist and show boldness with modesty all in one with their colour and design choices which click so well. Since the Milwaukee Brewers are one of the hottest and most up and coming teams in baseball, you better pick this up before people hop off of the Phillies Bandwagon and onto the Brewers!

Saturday, December 3, 2011

Tucson Sidewinders

Being an Arizona Diamondbacks fan, this cap was a huge part of my childhood and was a cap that I always wanted to get my hands on. I grew up in Las Vegas, NV and often attended Las Vegas Stars and 51's MiLB games, and I currently am a Season Ticket Holder, so the Diamondbacks' Triple-A Affiliate was always something that had interested me greatly, and I was also a die-hard Sidewinders fan and always wanted one of their caps, but by the time the Sidewinders left Tucson, it appeared that it was too late. The internet allowed me to do the required hunting though, it was a lot harder than it sounds but after 3 years of hunting I finally came upon it and I snagged it up immediately.

The Tucson Sidewinders began their organization as the Tucson Toros in 1969 as part of the Pacific Coast League, this team went through 5 different Major League Affiliates prior to the emergence of the Arizona Diamondbacks in Phoenix, and thus the Tucson Sidewinders were born. When the Arizona Diamondbacks moved in, it was natural that the team wanted the affiliate close to them, and Tucson was a perfect candidate. The team evidently had its name changed from the Toros to the Sidewinders, in an attempt to tie their names together by basing them both off of rattlesnakes local to the area.

Come the 1998 Season when the Arizona Diamondbacks had their first year, the Tucson Toros finally became the Sidewinders and were a strong force in the PCL South for the beginning of the next decade and saw many famous veterans from their MLB affiliate take stints down in the minors. However after constant years of low attendance over location and playing field maintenance at Tucson Electric Park, the Tucson Baseball LLC made the decision to sell the Sidewinders and the team eventually moved to Reno and became the Reno Aces.

The cap is a basic flat black that is complimented with a copper snake with turquoise diamonds on the back, this snake has a single coil that wraps in a loop and points up to reveal it's rattle located at the tip of the tail. The threading on the snake is rather unimpressive when it comes to comparing it to other caps in the minor leagues. The thing that really strikes me about this cap is the way that the logo really sticks out on the base black cap, and this is caused due to the simple fact that New Era utilized a metallic thread on the copper much like they did on the Arizona Diamondbacks road cap of the same era, and these two caps show a great amount of similarities.

The caps both utilize black caps as the base along with copper threading that makes the logo really stand out from the background, and they both have turquoise coloured diamonds radiating from the back of the snake. The sidewinder logo is however much more detailed and more fluent than the Diamondbacks' due to the fact that the “D” on the road cap appears to be a little more forced due to the sharp turn and swoop to complete the typographical image that is trying to be expressed; the detail has since been repaired on the team's current uniform representations.

This is a great cap for any fan of the Arizona Diamondbacks, but it evidently may be uninteresting or bland for a casual baseball or cap fan, or just anyone from the Tucson or Arizona area. The details on the cap are fairly static and doesn't appear to express any great breakthroughs in embroidery in regards to detail.

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

2012 Seattle Mariners Alternate

Now I know I'm a little late to the game with this announcement, but I am finally back online with a brand new PC, so I will be able to update regularly once again. However, the Seattle Mariners have announced that they will be re-releasing a version of their cap that they have been known to wear for years now.

Since the Seattle Mariners changed to the uniforms they are currently known for in 1993, they have used the solid Navy Blue base crown with the teal brim up until the 2003 season, starting that year the entire cap went solid Navy Blue. A few weeks ago the team had announced that they would be bringing their original cap with the teal brim out of retirement and will be used as an alternate starting in 2012.

On another note, the 2012 season will be the Seattle Mariners' 35th anniversary, and as expected the team will be wearing patches on their jersey arms to commemorate this milestone as most teams do who have such anniversaries.

Monday, November 28, 2011

Low Profile On-Field Fitted

When it comes to the New Era 59Fifty style baseball cap, most if not all people have the assumption that they are the traditional Brooklyn style crown that they are famous for, however for years New Era has been in the production of similar Low Profile cap, and these low crown versions of the caps have a significantly smaller crown than their traditional counterparts.

These Low Profile hats are built the exact same way as the traditional On-Field Fitted, and the recent hats are made out of the same Performance Polyester Cool Base material as a regular cap, and they both contain the black underbrim. In a literal sense, these caps in a identical in every way except for the fact that the Low Profile has a much lower crown than the traditional.

Generally, these caps are not sold in stores, but they can rarely be found in locations such as Flagship Stores, and even then they may be unavailable. The Low Profile style is most famous with baseball players themselves, even though a small minority of the MLB population wears these style caps, they take up a majority of the New Era population who desires such style. Several Major League baseball players who do wear this style of cap can be some of the more famous players and you would have never thought that they'd be wearing a uniform different than their counterpart, some of the more famous players who prefer the lower crowns include Ichiro Suzuki, Chris Carpenter, and Derrek Lee.

Chris Carpenter
Brooklyn vs. Low Crown

The style of Low Crown caps has been becoming ever more popular with the fans who wear the New Era style, and the style of Low Crown has been becoming slightly easier to find online. I have been a Diamondbacks fan since their formation in 1998 and have been buying their New Era caps since then, and up until recently I have held back on purchasing a Low Crown cap because I didn't know what to expect with it.

Low Crown vs. Brooklyn Style

Both caps pictured above are brand new New Era caps, the one on the Right is the traditional 59Fifty and the cap on the Left is the Low Crown style. As you can see above there is a significant difference in regards to the shape of the front two panels and this leaves the crown with more of a slope to it instead of the near vertical slope of the traditional.

Brooklyn Style 59Fifty

Low Profile Style 59Fifty

Given the fact that these caps have a lower crown, they also sit lower on your head and give you more of a snug feel to them, and wearing this cap for several days was an extremely different sensation in regards to an original. The fact that these are so rare really adds an element of intrigue to it that a traditional would not, but the lack of availability keeps this style of cap in the darkness. Should New Era decide to promote this style of cap more, I believe that they would create another fan base which they currently lack, more casual fans who do not like the “Elmer Fudd” look to their caps. Given New Era's current obsession with their adjustable “Snapback” caps, I do not see the Low Crown style getting the attention it deserves any time soon.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Downflap Cap On-Field Fitted

Since winter is approaching us quickly, I thought it was about time we discuss the New Era 39Thirty style caps that include a downflap used to cover ones ears in cold temperatures.

Last winter I took my annual trip to Massachusetts and along with my girlfriend we took a one week trip down to New York City, and as I'm sure one could imagine it is no where near warm in the North East during winter, so I decided to give one of these caps a try. After checking out MLB's webpage, I finally decided to pick one up, so I decided to order the black Arizona Diamondbacks cap, however I considered getting more of a wintery team to go along with the North East, but my Dbacks ultimately prevailed.

The cap is actually an approved on-field cap in Major League Baseball, and it can be spotted on occasion during the later months of the season and also in the Post-Season on certain players. This cap is a wool blend, 97% wool and 3% spandex, and is also a stretch fit unlike the regular fitted 59Fifty brand. The cap's downflap includes the MLB's logo on the back which is present in unfolded mode and has the team's logo on the back while it is folded down to go along with the second MLB logo above it.

The flap is designed to be folded up when not in use, but in colder weather the flap would be pulled down in order to cover ones' ears to help add that little bit of warmth that might be desired. The cap's crown is a traditional six-panel cap as the rest of New Era's American style, and the front bill has a manufactured bend to it as much of the rest of the 39Thirty style caps and has a more squared out brim than the traditional on-field 59Fifty. The interior of the cap is also different than a regular 39Thirty cap due to the fact that the back four panels have a line of fleece to help hold in more warmth and to keep the cap from getting too cold when not in use. This fleece loops up the downflap and is designed to be placed upon ones ears or back of the neck during use.

The embroidery on these caps are also extremely different than on the 59Fifty models, which is an interesting series of events due to the fact that they are all made by the same company. In fact, the logo designs also vary between the styles and are often extremely noticeable when compared to the original. Some of the logos have an extreme shift to them which most likely can be explained due to the lower profile of the caps, in order to attempt to visually trick others due to the fact that the cap's logo is being seen at a different angle. The more realistic answer to this question is the fact that the changes were implemented because the modified logos were easier to embroider on the lower profile 39Thirty crown.

If you're from an area that will endure extreme cold, I would recommend this hat if you're someone who can't be seen without the logo of his/her team on. The cap worked surprisingly well in the cold and it worked extremely well at cutting down on wind that slices through the air like a knife, however the only downfall to the cap is that they all appear to be Chinese made, a conundrum that seemingly can't be avoided.

Monday, November 21, 2011

High School New Era by Lids

"The wait is over! Introducing the High School New Era 59FIFTY at LIDS! Fans will be able to buy merchandise bearing the school colors and logos at your local LIDS store and on starting today!" - Lids on Facebook

This afternoon it was announced by Lids that they will be creating High School caps soon in partnership with New Era. New Era caps have featured just about every team logo up to this point in the United States including the MLB, NFL, NHL, NBA, MLS, and many different corporations and university logos, and today the news was broken that local high schools will be able to take in the fun of purchasing a cap local to their High School. These caps will be available to purchase in store and online, but schools are currently limited to a select few with more coming in the near future.

I think that these caps are somewhat unnecessary, but I come from a community in the United States that doesn't exactly have any school spirit until one reaches college; so I would assume that these would be a hard sell here for anyone over the age of 18. There are huge pluses and minuses that will come out of the New Era high school collection, the pluses include a vast amount of new logos and neat designs that one would not recognise. The minuses would include the fact that these caps will most likely be a hit or miss, should they be a miss they will not be available for long, so if you want one and your school is available now is the time to order.

New Era By You

Several days ago the program "New Era By You" was finally launched by New Era. For years people have been wanting to design their own caps from scratch, and New Era finally launched the ability to do so. New Era By You seems to be a really fun program to play with, and I have even designed a few myself.

Currently New Era By You permits you to use 44 different MLB team selections, many of which are Cooperstown, and 1 section of New Era brand logos are available. One thing that I noticed was that the Florida/Miami Marlins are completely absent for whatever reason.  As of now, New Era permits customization of the 59Fifty Model and the current Snapback model, other models may be available for customization in the future, but that is yet to be confirmed by New Era themselves.

Complete Customization:

New Era By You permits complete customization of the caps in regards to colourization

1. All 6 panels of the cap's crown.
2. Upper and Lower part of the brim.
3. Stitching on the brim and up the cap's panels.
4. Eyelets
5. New Era Flag (unavoidable)
6. Rear logo (should you decide to use one)
7. Top Button

In all, there are 33 different material colour choices available for selection for the colour customization of the base cap, but in regards to the logo customization there are 56 available tread colour choices.

My Custom Cap

Now I'm sure you're all wondering about the price of a 100% custom designed cap made by New Era, and the price should amaze you all. When I finalized my cap and clicked the order form, this is what came up for me:

Shipping ($7.95) is included in the total cost of the cap.

The price honestly amazed me, and this is due to the fact that complete customization should seemingly cost more for these caps, being that traditional On-field fitteds which are mass produced run around $33.99, and this custom runs just under the price of two caps.

I am reluctant to order the cap though, I can make two assumptions about the cap that are currently keeping me from pressing the "Add To Cart" button, and they are:
1. Made In China
2. Awesome Chinese Quality

Ordering a cap online is always a craps shoot when it comes to quality and sizing, and Chinese made New Era caps always leave quite a bit of grey when it comes to quality control, and it would really be irritating to order a one of a kind custom *non-refundable* cap that has an unevenly attached brim or horrid sizing. If anyone does decide to drop the coin on a New Era By You I'd love to see what it looks like in comparison to the generated images from the design page.