Baseball Uniforms Dominate Early Spring Training Talk

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On Thursday, the Los Angeles Dodgers defeated the San Diego Padres, 8-0, in the first spring training game of 2024. The team that baseball online sportsbooks have as the favorite to win this year’s World Series, the Dodgers, opened their Cactus League season looking every bit like a future champion.

Having actual baseball back was good. But it only served to be a brief distraction from the real story of spring training – baseball’s new uniforms.

Nike designed them, Fanatics made them, and the players hate them. One unnamed Baltimore Orioles player said they look like “a knockoff jersey from T.J. Maxx.”

And that’s just the jersey. MLBPA executive director Tony Clark said. “Universal concern is the pant.” The pants are tight and transparent, and for some teams, they are missing.

“There are teams that have pants and jerseys,” said Clark. “There are some teams that don’t have pants. There are other teams that are supposed to be receiving certain things before the start of the year. There are others that – in the event they have an issue with the pants and a player needs a new pair – don’t have anything in reserve.”

Six Years in the Making

Missing pants, and poorly designed pants and jerseys for those teams that have them, make it feel like Major League Baseball made this change over a long weekend. But the league actually began working on these new uniforms back in 2018.

Instead of a tailor’s tape measure, Nike implemented body scan technology, which is supposed to be more accurate. The material also changed, and became lighter and more breathable, and better-fitting, based on the requests from players.

More than 300 players had their bodies scanned. Different moisture-wicking fabrics were tested. Multiple variations of the jersey were tested in past spring training games, featuring different sleeve types. Some teams even tested the new jerseys late in the regular season.

In 2022, each team saw a sample of its home and away jersey, and players got to try the new lighter and sleeker jerseys. In 2023, all players were measured and fitted, as the league prepared for the rollout this spring.

Who’s to Blame?

Fanatics is making the uniforms from the same factory that Majestic used to make the uniforms for decades. As much as fans have criticized Fanatics for poor apparel in years past, they are using the same process.

The change was made by Nike, which is using a material that they claim has 25% more stretching and dries 28% faster. It’s called the Nike Vapor Premier jersey, and along with it allegedly being more hi-tech, it is also cheaper to make.

MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred defended the new uniforms, saying, “The jerseys are different – they’re designed to be performance wear. They have been tested more extensively than any jersey in any sport. After people wear them a little bit, they’re going to be really popular.”

Maybe that will work for the jerseys. But some teams are still wearing the old pants from last year because not enough of the new pants were made. For them, the coming popularity will be elusive.

Padres starting pitcher Joe Musgrove wore the old pants for Thursday’s game. When asked when he expected to get the new pants, he replied, “Hopefully by Opening Day.”

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