Tributes gone awry

Italian heritage or just plain bizarre? You decide.

Major League Baseball teams have more than enough reasons to wear special uniforms. The ability for the teams and MLB to market the games, jerseys, and hats is a huge revenue booster. How many teams sport throwbacks or special uniforms that are almost always up for sale? Answer: nearly all of them. Heck, even the Tampa Bay Rays, who started playing ball in 1998, announced this week that they’re creating fake 1970s era throwbacks. Yes, the Rays are wearing uniforms that never existed for a team that didn’t exist in the 1970s. It’s not the wackiest alternate uniform idea I’ve ever seen, but still outrageous. However, this leads me to the most bizarre culprit and that’s heritage nights. I have no problem and in fact I respect the fact that teams want to honor the heritage of ethnic groups that helped to define that city. Frankly, we don’t do enough to honor the rich culture our great cities have as a result of the many cultures that worked together to build them. Heritage games are a small tribute and honestly, more should be done.

More after the jump.

Many teams across MLB and the NBA have participated in Latino Nights, which usually includes a change to the uniform. Simply add “Los” in front of the team as in “Los Mets” and somehow you’re honoring the Latino community. The Milwaukee Brewers have taken it one step further. They’ve done a few Latino games over the years, usually sporting jerseys that say Cerveceros. They didn’t change the color of the uniform, just the name, which is outrageous enough. This year, the Brewers are going a step further, this time in their efforts to honor the Italian community of Milwaukee. The uniforms are vastly different from their usually navy and gold, instead sporting green and orange with the word “Birrai” or Brewer in Italian across the chest. To complete this very bright color combination, the Brewers will wear orange caps with a white M and green outlines. Saying this hat/jersey combination is bright might be the biggest understatement in the history of baseball uniforms. (Ok, maybe the Marlins take the cake.)

The Brewers are taking on the Arizona Diamondbacks for this upcoming Italian heritage game, and naturally the Diamondbacks are taking part by sporting alternate jerseys that say “iD-backs“. At first glance in our technology obsessed society would have one believe that Apple was sponsoring the game, but alas, the Diamondbacks felt that they only needed to at the “i” meaning “the” in Italian to provide adequate support for what I’m sure is a massive Italian community in the Phoenix metropolitan area.

Reiterating what I stated, I have no problem with heritage nights, but this is just plain wacky and seems like nothing more than an attempt to sell additional jerseys and caps. Given the fact that the Brewers already have five (yes five) jerseys, including 3 home options and 3 road options (oh, and this doesn’t include the Cerveceros unis), it makes sense to pile on the options for fans. When you start putting it altogether, you come to only one conclusion, this is a motive driven mostly by profits, with a slight nod to a group’s heritage. The official Brewers online shop isn’t currently selling these outrageous jerseys and hats, but rest assure you can still find them and will be at Miller Park when the game takes place on July 1.

Oh, and the best heritage games, remain the teams that go old school and wear wool or flannel Negro League throwbacks. The Royals and Pirates did this over the weekend and the results were outstanding. It honors a culture, time, and place that baseball should continue to support. Other heritage nights just look plain goofy, especially when you decide to completely change what your team looks like. Just one man’s opinion. Oh, and if you’re going to the Milwaukee game on July 1, you might want to bring some shades. Those hats are going to be bright in the lights of Miller Park.

Good for the Brewers for honoring a key part of the Milwaukee community, but bad for the Brewers for designing such shockingly bizarre uniforms for the occasion.

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