(This a lengthy and opinionated post. Consider yourself warned.)
Unless you’ve been hiding under a rock the last month, or just don’t pay attention to baseball during the offseason, then you’re certainly aware that the Padres released new uniforms for the 2017 season. Even if you’re not a Padres fan, you’ve probably come across this information, as the release essentially went viral, due to how underwhelming the jerseys are. And when I say “underwhelming,” that’s a nice way of saying they’re absolutely terrible.
If for some reason you haven’t seen the new home and away uniforms, or need a haunting reminder, here’s the video announcement; which was released on November 22nd. I’m warning you, though, if you think any combination of blue and white the team has worn in the past is bad, just wait until you get a load of these bland monstrosities. In a nutshell, these uniforms blow everything they’ve previously worn out of the water in terms of being forgettable and tasteless.
Introducing the 2017 #Padres uniform lineup! pic.twitter.com/mDyUO7pMiX
— San Diego Padres (@Padres) November 22, 2016
I don’t get it. There are options available which would satisfy many people and return a unique identity to the team, yet they go with uniforms so boring that they’re basically offensive. It boggles my mind that: A) someone actually designed these and B) someone actually approved them. It just goes to so show that in terms of tradition, branding, and creating a sense of identity, those who call the shots in the Padres organization are tone-deaf and utterly clueless. Going back to brown on a full-time basis, or at least incorporating other colors such as gold or orange, are obvious decisions to make. But hey, leave it to the Padres to screw it up.
Even after a month, criticism has not subsided. Oh and by the way, it’s not just San Diego-related media that’s taking shots at the organization, but social media, blogs, and writers seem to universally hate the uniforms. It’s almost as if the baseball world has united with these opinions, which is weird to me since I’m so used to the Padres going under the radar and without much attention. I’ve even had friends reach out and offer condolences over the uniforms. Each time, the theme seems to be the same, and consists of something along the lines of “Why don’t they go back to brown full-time??” or “Brown is awesome/unique/etc.” or my favorite comment, which is a simple “LOL at the Padres.” Oh, I forgot to mention that these conversations I speak of are usually with NON-Padres fans.
This leads me to the question: How are people, with no rooting interest in the team, aware of the right decision to make in regards to the uniforms, but Ron Fowler, Peter Seidler, Wayne Partello, etc., are completely oblivious to it? This is problematic and representative of many problems the Padres have as a whole.
Brown? Check! Orange? Check! Pinstripes? Check! A beautiful uniform? You know it.
I get it. The Padres have not won a World Series, and while they have gone twice, their winning seasons as a whole are few and far between. I get it. They don’t have a fan-base which is comparable to most Major League teams in terms of size and attention. I get it. There have been major PR disasters in the last few years. I get it. They are in the middle of a rebuild. Really, I can go on (but won’t). What I’m getting at is that the Padres have a number of things that work against them in terms of being a team that is recognizable in a positive, or even neutral light.
Let’s be 100% honest with ourselves here, most people just don’t care about the San Diego Padres. I’d say the general consensus wavers between “Eh, the team sucks, but the weather is nice.” Or, “I liked Tony Gwynn, but don’t know much about the team outside of him.” Oh yeah, you can’t forget about those annual MLB uniform ranking lists, in which friends always seem to tag me in or forward my way. If you’re reading this, then you obviously know that the Padres are always dead last, or near it.
The uniforms have largely been terrible for over 15 years and I honestly don’t think this can be argued. If you don’t agree, then I’d be quick to ask if color-blindness runs in your family? Or maybe it’s not your fault, and you’re just simply unaware of how branding and marketing is detrimentally impacting the team’s legacy. Either way, blue and white has got to go, and something has to be done to make this team stand out in a positive and unique way.
Matt Kemp & Andrew Casher in John Brubaker’s 2015 mockup uniforms.
In the grand scheme of things, I do agree that the on-field product is ultimately what matters the most. Even though it seems insane to me, I’m also aware that some fans honestly just don’t care about uniforms. I know there are other fans who are just entirely burnt out on the topic. I agree that it’s a tired argument, especially when ownership doesn’t listen and shows no signs that they ever will. With all that said, I refuse to hold back my criticism of the team’s uniforms.
I’m very much looking forward to watching the young kids play for the Padres in 2017 (and those coming in the next few years). However, I’m not looking forward to only being able to watch Wednesday throwback games or Friday night home games to visually see a product that can’t be confused with, or looks like, a B-rate version of the Dodgers, Cubs, Blue Jays, Royals, Rangers, Mariners, Brewers, or Rays. I’m sure I’ve missed another team or two, but that in itself is another sign that blue and white has got to go.
2017 is obviously too late for change, and that’s a defeating feeling. I had high hopes that next season was the return to brown on a full-time basis. Still, as fans, we must demand that the team rectifies this uniform issue, more sooner than later. The Padres need a new uniform that sticks out, is true to the history of the franchise, and has a modern twist that will age well. Enter Gaslamp Ball and “Bring Back The Brown 2018.“
I actually finished this post a couple weeks ago and was sitting on it, due to its length and the fact that it largely consists of nothing but me complaining. Writing it was essentially a cathartic release, so I decided to not publish it. However, this changed last week, when Gaslamp Ball’s “Bring Back The Brown 2018” came up in my social media feeds. It reenergized me to know that the Gaslamp Ball crew were being proactive in their approach for new uniforms. In addition, they called for others to do the same. And with that, I decided to bring this post back to life, in order to lend support to “Bring Back The Brown 2018.”
In a nutshell, the campaign’s goal is to push for a return to brown to celebrate the organization’s 50th anniversary, and that in itself is brilliant. This is something that Peter Seidler, Wayne Partello, Ron Fowler (and his wife) can’t ignore. The marketing and revenue-generating opportunities that fall in line with an anniversary of a sports franchise are endless and if the team is in rebuild mode, this adds an element of excitement to the ballpark, which may be lacking due to the current on-field talent.
It’s become increasingly evident that the supposed “vocal minority” is not a minority; especially with Ron Fowler not releasing info related to the team’s marketing studies. So now, we as fans, have to assume that the info we have access to, is fact, and use it to kill the vocal minority myth. Social media, articles, and online polls don’t necessarily represent the majority, but it represents something, especially in this digital age.
In the end, the status quo is no longer acceptable and the Padres organization and fans deserve better. In regards to the uniforms, I often think of Tony Gwynn’s quotes in Tom Krasovic’s ESPN article, “Time is right for Padres to bring back brown.”
“Brown is part of who the Padres are, and it’s definitely unique in baseball, because no one else has brown. How many teams have blue? How many have red? But none of ’em have brown.”
“I think a team loses something when it tries to look like someone else or tries to go after some ideal. The Padres, ever since they dropped the brown in ’91, it looks to me like they’re kind of pretending. They should just go all out and be who they are. The Padres should look like the Padres.”
And honestly, I believe that should be the final word on the matter. Sadly it’s not, and that’s why I urge everyone to lend support to Gaslamp Ball and “Bring Back The Brown 2018.“