Tuesday, November 15, 2011
Cheering for Laundry - In Anticipation of the New Unis
If you've been reading this blog for awhile or follow us on Twitter, you know that the aesthetic considerations weigh heavy on our pointy head. The look and feel of the team's brand matters to us. The proper execution of high socks - one which doesn't lead to the ridiculous pantaloons like those Shawn Camp has sported for years - matters to us. Having a blue ball cap - any shade will do! - matters to us.
So the news that the Jays will unveil a brand new brand this week ranks as a high point in the offseason for us. Finally! We can say goodbye to the absurd Black Jays lids, and goodbye to the black alternate jerseys. We can set aside the Angry Jay logo, and the Toothpaste T-Cap. The cartoon-ish, Comic Sans-like sparkly numbers and names on the back of the jerseys will have taken their final bow as well.
And not a moment too soon, because we had begun to get accustomed to some of the lousy design of the previous iteration of the team's playing duds. (A couple of moments of weakness popped up, where we almost considered a black cap. Almost, not quite.)
There's a cycle that we recognize across baseball of teams changing aspects of their uniforms every few years. Teams will introduce a new uniform - often referring to a "modernizing" of the look and feel - with a minimal amount of input from the fans. This strikes us as the brand managers within the organization getting bored with what they see on the field, or attempting to impose their vision onto the team's work wear.
And while some of these rebranding exercises work - like the Miami Marlins' vibrant new South Beach influenced look - there are many cases where they simply fall flat or leave fans clamouring for a return to the old look. On the other hand, a team who does it just about perfectly when it comes to its uniforms is the Boston Red Sox, who never radically change brands, but who add on features (such as the red and blue jerseys or the "hanging sox" caps) that seem germane to their historical look.
The branding cycles of teams seem to have become shorter in recent years, with teams introducing the "new modern feel", only to bring back the "retro feel" at the behest of the fans within four or five years. It should have surprised no one that when the Blue Jays reintroduced their powder blue uniforms a few years ago, the fans adopted it almost immediately as the primary colour scheme for their merchandise purchases. If you looked through the Rogers Centre over the past few seasons, you would find far more powder blue in the stands than black, and far more retro caps than the new and allegedly improved black ones.
(BTW, if you were curious to see just how delighted we were by the return of the powder blue unis, check out this piece that we wrote for Big League Stew at the time.)
The journey of the Jays' brand over the past two decades has been an interesting one, in that there have been numerous changes and adaptations and tweaks and reformatting, and yet the logo and look to which the fans innately relate are those that the team sported in the World Series years. The new uniforms introduced in 1997 never seemed to gain much of a heartfelt following, even as the team tweaked them for the better in subsequent years. We not-so-secretly loved the 2003 version, which was the only season in which the T-Bird acted as the primary logo for the team. While we've generally heard nothing but guff about the T-Bird, we fully attribute Roy Halladay's Cy Young that season and Vernon Wells' best offensive performance to the plucky determination and cartoony muscle of the T-Bird.
(If you want a full rundown of all the permutations of the Jays' uniforms over the years, Chris Creamer's Sportslogos.net has an exceptional accounting of all the elemental changes over the 35 seasons.)
So what do we hope to see when the new look is fully revealed? We know with some certainty that the logo leaked a month back will likely be the main emblem going forward, and it seems just about right to us: A smart update on the classic 1992-1996 look. We'd like to see an blue alternate jersey, which could be powder blue, though a darker royal blue would be fine as well. We'd like to see a font that evokes the old school script with the white inline, but does not absolutely revert back to it, as we find it a bit flat and sparse by the time it makes it onto the chest of a player.
But mostly, we're dreaming of blue. Lots and lots of blue.